Close your eyes and count to 3.
Could you imagine what life would be like if you lost your vision?
Unfortunately, for roughly 40% of dogs with glaucoma, vision loss is a reality.
If your dog has glaucoma, chances are you’ve already heard a little bit about CBD and how it may help.
I’ve actually used CBD successfully with my dog, and I created this article to show you how it works to treat glaucoma and its symptoms.
I’ll also recommend some high quality CBD pet supplements if you’re ready to give them a shot.
Quickly Understand What Glaucoma is
Glaucoma is a condition characterized by the build up of pressure inside the eye.
Over time, this build up of pressure causes damage to the optic nerve, which eventually leads to vision loss.
In order to better understand canine glaucoma, it helps to better understand how the eye works first.
Just like humans, dogs perceive the world thanks to light rays that enter the eye via the cornea before passing through the lense of the eye and the pupil.
As they pass through the eye, these light rays are focused onto the retina, a piece of tissue that lines the back of the eye.
From the retina, all the visual information your dog perceives from his environment is sent to the brain via the optic nerve.
In order to function properly, the eye naturally produces a clear liquid known as aqueous humour.
This liquid helps to nourish the various tissues of the eye and also helps protect it against dust, wind, and other environmental hazards.
The build-up of aqueous humour in the eye creates pressure, known as Intraocular Pressure (or IOP).
A healthy eye will closely regulate the production and drainage of aqueous humor to keep an IOP of roughly 10-20 mmHg.
This pressure is important and helps the eye keep its proper shape and also helps keep the walls of the eyeball rigid.
Sometimes, however, this pressure can build up and cause damage to the eye, particularly to the optic nerve that transports visual information to the brain.
This condition is known as glaucoma.
Dogs with glaucoma suffer from chronic ocular hypertension, sometimes reaching 30 or even 50 mmHg.
There are various factors that can lead to an increase of Intraocular Pressure, such as inadequate production/drainage of aqueous humour, or trauma.
Primary glaucoma, for example, is generally caused by physical or physiological traits that a dog has inherited genetically.
These traits can lead to a blockage of the drainage canals in the eye that drain aqueous humour, causing a build-up of liquid and increased intraocular pressure.
Secondary glaucoma, on the other hand, is usually caused by some other trigger.
Some of the conditions that can lead to secondary glaucoma in dogs include:
- Advanced cataracts
- Cancer of the eye
- Chronic retinal detachment
What are the Symptoms of Glaucoma?
The number one symptom of canine glaucoma is pain, caused by the chronic build up of liquid and pressure in the eye.
Unfortunately, pain can be really hard to diagnose in dogs, mainly because they can’t come out and tell you that they’re experiencing pain or feeling unwell.
Unlike humans, dogs won’t scratch or rub at their eyes as a result of pain.
Instead, they might push their heads against walls or furniture to try and relieve headaches (a common symptom of glaucoma), or rub their eye against a piece of furniture or even your leg.
Unfortunately, these are all really subtle signs and very easy to miss.
Some other key signs that your dog is feeling unwell include a loss of appetite and a disinterest in activities or things that would usually capture their attention (like playing fetch, for example).
On rare occasions, pets with glaucoma may have red or bloodshot eyes, or a “cloudy” cornea.
Sometimes the pupil of the affected eye may also be slightly enlarged.
Again, these are all pretty subtle symptoms and easily go unnoticed.
The best way to catch glaucoma early or prevent it is by taking your dog to regular checkups and asking your vet to check their intraocular pressure.
Also, if your pet has dealt with any of the conditions I mentioned earlier (such as eye cancer or cataracts), remember that they are at a higher risk of glaucoma. Make sure to get your vet to keep a close eye on their IOP.
Are Certain Breeds More at Risk of Glaucoma Than Others?
Yes, unfortunately certain dog breeds are more prone to developing glaucoma than others.
The following breeds are known to have genetic predispositions to glaucoma:
- Cocker Spaniels
- Chow Chows
- Jack Russell Terriers
- Siberian Huskies
- Alaskan Malamutes
- Great Danes
- Basset Hounds
Glaucoma is also most common in dogs aged been 3 and 7 years and upwards.
And while the condition can strike at any age, it isn’t very common in dogs under 2 years of age.
How is Glaucoma Treated?
Glaucoma needs to be diagnosed and treated quickly.
The longer your pet deals with ocular hypertension, the more damage is inflicted on the eye due to the built up pressure.
If the condition is left untreated for extended periods of time, the eye may physically stretch.
By this stage, your dog will already be suffering of permanent vision loss.
If your pet gets diagnosed early, however, your vet should be able to slow the progression of glaucoma using either surgical procedures, medical treatment, or a combination of both.
Nonetheless, it’s important you realize that there is no cure for glaucoma, and roughly 40% of all dogs diagnosed with the disease end up blind in the affected eye within 1 year of being diagnosed.
Because there is no cure for glaucoma, treatment is usually focused around 3 main objectives:
- Pain reduction
- Draining of excess fluid from the affected eye
- Reducing the production of aqueous humour
If your pet is diagnosed with glaucoma, your vet will likely focus on bringing down their intraocular pressure as quickly as possible.
This is usually done with a combination of medications, such as special eye drops.
In some cases, your vet may also opt to drain excess fluid from the eye and then follow up with a procedure known as cyclocryotherapy, which kills cells that produce aqueous humour.
This helps to reduce the production of the fluid and, together with regular medication, may help your pet maintain a healthy eye pressure and slow down the damage to the optic nerve.
In some cases, this treatment may significantly reduce or possibly even stop the progression of the glaucoma.
However, this isn’t common.
Instead, most dogs with glaucoma will end up losing the affected eye, which is then removed.
The empty eye socket may then be closed permanently, or filled with a prosthetic eye.
And while it sounds tragic, most dogs are capable of leading a good-quality life even with just one eye.
In fact, most dogs with glaucoma have already experienced some kind of vision loss and developed the ability to make up for it with their other eye.
Just keep in mind that dogs that have had glaucoma in one eye are more likely to develop the condition in the other eye later.
Can CBD Help Dogs With Glaucoma?
Now that I’ve covered the basics of canine glaucoma, let’s look at whether CBD can help treat or manage this complicated condition.
As you probably know, CBD (or cannabidiol) is a molecule found in cannabis and hemp plants that has attracted a ton of attention over the last few years for its potential medical effects.
Some of the first studies investigating the effects of cannabinoids like CBD on glaucoma date back to the 1970s.
These studies found that the compounds in cannabis were able to reduce intraocular pressure in patients with glaucoma.
One study from this era, published in 1971, found that the ingestion of cannabis could help reduce intraocular pressure by up to 30%.
Since then, other studies have also shown that cannabinoids like THC and CBD can help protect some cells in the eye against glaucoma.
Despite these findings, most ophthalmologists working in places where medical cannabis is legal do not prescribe cannabis as a treatment.
Because, unfortunately, the effects of cannabis on intraocular pressure are short-lived.
And because glaucoma patients need to control their IOP 24 hours per day, they would need to use cannabis every 3 or 4 hours, which isn’t feasible for most patients (especially if they’re using cannabis medicine that contains psychoactive THC).
Another major reason ophthalmologists don’t liberally prescribe cannabis to glaucoma patients is because the act of smoking cannabis can raise IOP
However, some studies suggest that non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBD, CBN (cannabinol), and CBG (cannabigerol) may be beneficial for reducing IOP in animals.
Now, before I go any further, I need to make something clear:
When I talk about CBD, I’m not talking about “pot for pets.”
Sure, CBD and cannabinoids come from cannabis and hemp plants.
But the supplements I mention in all my articles are nothing like the recreational drug we know as marijuana.
Marijuana contains a compound known as THC, which is responsible for producing the classic “high” we associate with recreational marijuana use (although it has also been shown to have its own range of medicinal benefits).
The supplements available for pets that I’ve used and reviewed on this site do not contain THC.
That means they won’t get your pets “high” or “stoned.”
Instead, these supplements may help reduce intraocular pressure in dogs with glaucoma.
A 1984 study, for example, published in the journal Experimental Eye Research, showed that these cannabinoids can help reduce intraocular pressure in rats.
Moreover, the study showed that the positive effects of the cannabinoids increased with increased dosage, suggesting that using hemp and cannabis supplements may serve as a long-term solution for treating glaucoma in pets.
Cannabis pet supplements like those I review on this site generally don’t just contain CBD. Instead, they are made using hemp extract.
This extract harnesses all the chemicals inside the hemp plant, which can include CBD, CBN, CBG, and hundreds of other compounds such as cannabinoids, terpenes, and more.
This is a good thing, and offers a more holistic approach to treating glaucoma rather than just using a single isolated chemical.
How to Use CBD Supplements With Your Pet?
I first used cannabis supplements with my dog Rosie to help her manage the symptoms of cancer and hip dysplasia.
Since these products had such impressive effects on Rosie’s condition, I decided to create this site dedicated to informing pet owners like you about the benefits of CBD supplements.
Unfortunately, I haven’t used CBD to treat glaucoma in dogs.
Nonetheless, from my research into the topic, I suggest starting with either a CBD oil or infused treats.
CBD oil, when administered under the tongue, tends to offer faster relief from symptoms, seeing as the oil is absorbed quickly.
Treats, on the other hand, will take longer to take effect, seeing as they need to be digested first in order for the hemp extract to enter your dog’s system.
That being said, they are easier to administer.
Using a combination of treats and oil is great for more serious conditions.
Are Other Dogs Using CBD for Glaucoma?
Just like me, there are thousands of other pet owners using CBD with their pets.
Many of them actually use CBD to treat glaucoma, but there are others who use these supplements for arthritis, anxiety, and many other conditions too.
Here are a few case studies from pet owners who have seen great results using CBD for to treat canine glaucoma:
Zeus is a Chow Chow who suffers from glaucoma in both eyes.
Before starting to use CBD, Zeus’ eye pressure was 31 and 50 in his left and right eyes respectively.
After several months of using CBD oil, Zeus’ eye pressure dropped to 18 and 20, which is considered normal.
Ayla the Beagle and a Shih Tzu named Osita have seen great results using CBD supplements.
Ayla uses it for joint pain and Osita uses it to relieve the pressure and pain in her eyes. Their owner is extremely happy to have found CBD for them.
Find the Perfect CBD Product for Your Dog Today
I know we’ve covered a lot of ground in this article, but hopefully you’ve learned a bit more about CBD and how it can help relieve some of the key symptoms of glaucoma.
If you’re ready to try CBD with your dog, I highly recommend using a strong CBD oil that is recommended for serious ailments.
Honest Paws is a really good brand.
Their oils are available in 3 "sizes" (based on your dog's weight) and in my opinion these are the best solution for treating serious chronic conditions like glaucoma. I would recommend Honest Paws Wellness CBD Oils here.
Unlike treats and topicals, I find oils are the best solution for serious cases in which your pet needs constant, long-lasting relief.
Besides Honest Paws, another brand of CBD pet supplements I highly recommend is HolistaPet
HolistaPet's CBD Tincture, for example, might be particularly good for dogs with glaucoma, given its high concentrations of CBD extract.
Either one of these brands is a great option in my opinion.