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Case Study Finds That Cannabis Could Help Dogs With Skin Conditions

Emily Mullins

by Emily Mullins

February 27, 2024 11:33 am ET Estimated Read Time: 3 Minutes
Fact checked by Kymberly Drapcho
Case Study Finds That Cannabis Could Help Dogs With Skin Conditions

A new case study published this month by researchers at the Federal University of Santa Catarina in Brazil uncovered that cannabis could be a viable treatment for dogs with discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE), a common autoimmune skin disease in canines.

The standard treatments for this condition include corticosteroids and other medications, which can be tough on a dog’s liver. Some dogs react poorly to these medications and cannot tolerate them at all, as was the case with the dog in this study. The two-year-old pup was battling with DLE and associated liver problems, so his vet tried another approach–cannabis.

The dog was presenting with lesions, hair loss, and elevated levels of liver enzymes. To help, the vets started by giving him one drop per day of a 2:1 THC:CBD ratio, and the dosage gradually increased until they found the optimal amount.

“Within a few weeks of starting [cannabinoid therapy], the dog showed significant improvement in skin lesions and in liver enzyme levels,” researchers wrote in the study, which was published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science. “After 1 year, the dog remains clinically stable on a low dose of full-spectrum CBD-rich oil. No evidence of DLE recurrence was observed.”

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As a bonus, the dog’s owner also reported improvements in his behavior within just a day of receiving the first dose of CBD oil. This unintentional, but pleasant, side effect has also been noted in other studies, such as a recent report documenting that dogs given CBD do better on long car rides.

“Cannabis derivatives, beyond their pain-relieving prowess, are emerging as potential knights in shining armor against inflammation and immune system overwork in the veterinary world,” researchers continued. “Unlike traditional drugs, these compounds dance with the body’s own endocannabinoid system (ECS), a master conductor of cellular harmony, homeostasis and diverse functions.”

Since CBD is safe for long-term use, dogs with chronic conditions like DLE can comfortably use it for extended periods with little risk of adverse effects. Traditional corticosteroids are only safe for short-term use, highlighting the need for safer therapies.

“While the song of cannabis therapy for DLE in dogs holds immense promise, we must continue listening closely, gathering more evidence, and refining the tune,” the researchers wrote. “This case report adds its verse to the growing chorus, paving the way for future research and potentially offering a new rhythm of hope and a haven from the long-term reign of corticosteroids for dogs battling this challenging disease.”

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