Does your dog suffer from diabetes?
If so, you may have heard that CBD can help regulate their metabolism and protect against the damage of this chronic condition.
Well, it can.
Read on for a detailed look at the benefits of CBD for diabetic dogs.
What is Diabetes?
To understand diabetes, we need to understand the role of insulin in the body.
Insulin is a hormone that plays a vital role in regulating how our body uses energy from our food.
In healthy animals, the pancreas releases insulin after a meal, signaling cells around the body to start absorbing glucose from the blood and use it as energy.
When there’s an excess amount of glucose in the body, insulin signals cells to store the excess in the liver to be used at a later stage.
Insulin also helps regulate the release of glucose from the liver into the blood and signals cells to absorb amino and fatty acids following the digestion of proteins and fats.
Diabetes causes your dog’s body to stop producing insulin.
There are 2 main types of diabetes that affect dogs:
- Insulin-Deficiency Diabetes (Type 1): This kind of diabetes occurs when your dog’s body doesn’t produce enough insulin. This is usually caused by some kind of problem in the pancreas keeping it from working properly. This is the most common type of diabetes in dogs and needs to be treated with daily insulin shots.
- Insulin-Resistance Diabetes (Type 2): Insulin-resistance diabetes occurs when the body produces insulin but the cells in the body do not respond to it and do not absorb glucose from the blood. It is more common in older, obese dogs, although female dogs can also develop temporary cases of insulin-resistance diabetes when in heat or pregnant.
Spotting the Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs
If your dog suffers from diabetes, it’s really important you catch it early.
To do so, look out for some of these signs:
- Thirst. Excessive thirst and increased appetite is something to keep an eye on.
- Weight loss. Dogs with diabetes might start losing weight despite eating and exercising their normal amount. That’s because their body isn’t able to absorb and convert nutrients from food.
- Increased urination. Dogs with diabetes suffer from excess glucose in the blood. In response, their body will try to flush this excess by taking in more fluids and urinating more frequently. You might notice your dog soiling the house or needing to be let out more often.
Dogs with advanced cases of diabetes may also show signs, like a loss of appetite, lethargy and a general lack of energy, vomiting, and depression.
What are the Risk Factors of Canine Diabetes?
There are a couple of factors that can put your dog at a higher risk of developing diabetes.
- Genetics. Some dog breeds are more at risk of developing diabetes than others. Dogs whose parents have diabetes are also more likely to develop diabetes themselves. Breeds that are more at risk of developing diabetes include Miniature Poodles and Schnauzers, Pugs, Dachshunds, Pulis, Fox and Cairn Terriers, Beagles, Australian Terriers, and Bichons Frises.
- Age. Diabetes is least common in young dogs and most common in middle-aged and senior dogs. Roughly 70% of dogs with diabetes are diagnosed after turning 7 years old.
- Diet. While diet can’t directly cause diabetes, it can cause a variety of other problems that put your dog at a higher risk of becoming diabetic. Dogs who eat high amounts of fat, for example, are at risk of developing pancreatitis. Your dog's diet should also consist of at least 30% protein and low amounts of carbohydrates.
- Metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome refers to a variety of symptoms including obesity, vascular inflammation, insulin or glucose resistance, high cholesterol, and more.
- Gender and castration. Female dogs and castrated males are more likely to develop diabetes.
- Weight. Being overweight can cause cells to become resistant to insulin, putting your dog at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Pancreatitis. Chronic or recurring pancreatitis puts your dog at a higher risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
- Long-term steroid use. Steroid medications, when used regularly over long periods of time, can increase the risk of developing diabetes.
Understanding the Health Risks of Canine Diabetes
Canine diabetes can’t be cured, but it can be very effectively managed if detected early.
Unfortunately, canine diabetes can also cause serious health problems if left undetected/untreated for long periods of time.
Because the cells in your dog’s body aren’t able to get energy from their food, the body will start breaking down its own fats and proteins as an alternative source of fuel.
Plus, the high levels of glucose in your dog’s blood can also cause significant damage to other parts of their body, including the liver, kidneys, heart, eyes, and more.
Some of the health risks associated with diabetes include:
- Kidney problems and kidney failure.
- Liver problems.
- Urinary tract infections.
- Liver damage.
- Ketoacidosis, a potentially life-threatening condition caused by a buildup of keto acids in the blood.
How to Manage Diabetes in Dogs?
As I said, diabetes can’t be cured.
However, when detected early, most cases of canine diabetes can be controlled well using a combination of medication, a nutritious diet, and exercise.
Here’re a few tips to help you manage your dog’s diabetes:
- Feed and medicate your dog at the same time each day.
- Keep your dog active and make sure they stick to a healthy weight.
- Tailor your dog’s diet. Cheap dog foods tend to be low in meat and rich in carbohydrates to cut costs. Talk to your vet about prescription diabetes diets or even consider cooking your dog’s meals yourself. Diets rich in fiber, for example, are especially good for normalizing glucose levels.
The Role of The Endocannabinoid System in Diabetes
Now that we’ve covered diabetes and its effects on a dog’s body, let’s start talking about CBD.
CBD works by activating the endocannabinoid system, a chemical communications network that scientists now believe is responsible for promoting homeostasis, a state of equilibrium that allows the body to work at its best.
Because its involved in regulating so many different bodily processes, the endocannabinoid system has become a potential therapeutic target for a wide variety of conditions and symptoms.
One of those conditions is diabetes.
In fact, a growing body of research suggests that imbalances of the endocannabinoid system (in particular endocannabinoid overactivity) could contribute to diabetes.
Restoring this endocannabinoid balance with natural cannabinoids like CBD, therefore, could help both prevent and treat diabetes and some of the other complications it causes.
Below I’ll take a closer look at CBD, the endocannabinoid system, and how they relate to diabetes.
The Endocannabinoid System Regulates Metabolism
Research shows that the endocannabinoid system plays a vital role in controlling how the body uses and stores energy.
Studies show very clearly that activating CB1 receptors, for example, directly increases food intake.
This is essentially why cannabis causes “the munchies.”
THC, the main psychoactive chemical found in cannabis, can directly activate CB1 receptors in the hypothalamus, triggering the release of specific endorphins that make us feel hungry.
THC can also inverse the functioning of specific brain cells (known as POMC neurons) that control our appetite and make us feel full.
Studies also show that activating CB1 receptors can affect dopamine reward circuits in the brain, which is what causes food cravings.
CB1 receptors are also present throughout the peripheral organs where they play a key role in managing metabolism, anabolic processes, and energy storage.
Cannabinoid receptors have also been found in both white and brown fatty tissue, and research from Korea has actually shown that administering CBD to premature fat cells encourages a process called “fat browning.”
Whereas white fat cells store energy, brown fat cells actually burn it, and animal studies have shown that increased brown fat stores help improve glucose tolerance, which can help protect against diabetes.
Endocannabinoid Hyperactivity and Obesity
Obesity, as I mentioned earlier, is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
Studies show that the endocannabinoid system tends to be overactive in people with obesity.
Patients with abdominal obesity, for example, have been shown to have higher expressions of cannabinoid receptors and higher concentrations of endocannabinoids.
Research has also shown that endocannabinoid hyperactivity seems to increase the uptake of glucose into fat cells, as well as insulin resistance.
The overactivity of the endocannabinoid system also causes humans and animals to seek out more food, increases food intake and appetite, and encourages the body to store energy from food rather than burn it.
In fact, some researchers believe that the endocannabinoid system, when overactive, drives our body into a state of crisis as if in times of food shortage, causing it to store as much energy from food as possible.
On the other hand, blocking CB1 receptors has been shown to reduce food intake and encourages weight loss.
The Endocannabinoid System in the Pancreas
Cannabinoid receptors can be found on specific cells in the pancreas.
When activated, these receptors have been found to stimulate the release of insulin.
Studies have found that activating or blocking these receptors can also directly influence the health of beta cells in the pancreas.
Animal-based studies, for example, have shown that CB1 agonists decrease the loss of beta cell function in the pancreas.
Activating CB1 receptors has also been shown to slow down the progression of type 2 diabetes in mice by protecting these same pancreatic cells.
Studies also suggest that activating CB2 receptors, which play a key role in regulating inflammation, could help drive down inflammation in the pancreas and thereby protect against pancreatitis.
Other research also shows that, while activating CB1 receptors in the pancreas produces glucose and glucogen, activating CB2 receptors seems to reduce the production of glucose-dependent insulin.
CBD: An Exciting Supplement for Diabetic Dogs
The research I’ve covered above shows that the endocannabinoid system plays an important role in managing your dog’s metabolism, weight, and pancreatic health.
So, how can CBD help evoke the endocannabinoid system and benefit dogs with diabetes?
Well, CBD doesn’t actually bind to either cannabinoid receptor.
Instead, it activates over 60 different molecular pathways that activate the endocannabinoid system indirectly.
When it does so, it can have a ton of benefits for diabetic dogs.
Studies show, for example, that administering CBD to non-diabetic mice drives down the incidence of the animals developing diabetes later from over 80% to 30%.
Researchers believe that this is because CBD helps protect against pancreatic inflammation.
Other research has also shown that CBD can fight diabetic cardiomyopathy by reducing dysfunction of the heart, driving down oxidative stress (the imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the body), fibrosis, and inflammation.
CBD can also help regulate our immune system, and studies have shown it can reduce the onset of autoimmune diabetes in mice.
Further Reading on CBD and Diabetes
The area of study into the endocannabinoid system and diabetes is huge, and there’s no way I can cover all of the research into this field in a single article.
For more information on this topic, make sure to check out some of the following resources:
- Role Of The Endocannabinoid System in Diabetes And Diabetic Complications, British Journal Of Pharmacology, 2015
- The Endocannabinoid System In Obesity And Type 2 Diabetes, Diabetologia, 2008
Also, make sure to check out my previous article on CBD for cats with diabetes.
Are Other Dog Owners Using CBD for Diabetes?
If you’re a bit skeptical about trying CBD with your dog, I totally understand.
I was much the same.
After my dog Rosie got diagnosed with hip dysplasia and cancer, I quickly learned about the potential benefits of CBD for pets.
However, I wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about the idea of experimenting with CBD on my own dog.
But once I consulted my vet and learned that CBD is completely safe, legal, and produces hardly any side effects, I decided to give it a try.
And I’m not alone:
Many other pet owners also use CBD with their furry friends.
Deuce, for example, is a little diabetic Dachshund who has seen great results using CBD for his diabetes.
Deuce also suffers from anxiety as well as joint and back pain, and CBD is also helping him deal with all of these symptoms.
Sebastian, on the other hand, is an older cat who suffers from diabetes, cancer, and a variety of other health problems.
Luckily, his owners learned about CBD.
Within just 3 days of using CBD, his owners saw huge improvements in Sebastian’s health.
Find the Best CBD Products for Your Pet
If your dog suffers from diabetes, I highly recommend looking into CBD.
For this particular ailment, I recommend trying CBD supplements such as oils and capsules.
Right now, one of my favorite brands of pet CBD is HolistaPet.
I really like HolistaPet’s CBD Tincture, which is available in 3 different strengths to help you find the perfect dose for your pet.
Alternatively, HolistaPet’s CBD Capsules (also available in 3 strengths) are great because they can easily be hidden in a treat or even opened and mixed into food.
For more information about HolistaPet and other CBD pet brands, make sure to check out the rankings on my homepage.