We all know how annoying a persistent itch can be.
Well, pets suffering from skin allergies or dermatitis deal with these kinds of itches on a daily basis.
Luckily, there is a simple way to help relieve your pet’s symptoms of skin allergies and dermatitis.
CBD is a natural compound found in cannabis and hemp plants that shows plenty of promise in relieving symptoms of these conditions in both humans and animals.
In this article I’ll take a closer look at skin allergies, how they affect dogs, and how CBD can help relieve their symptoms.
What are Skin Allergies?
Skin allergies, or atopies, are a type of allergic reaction.
They are a very common in dogs, and tend to affect some breeds more than others (Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds are said to be extra sensitive to allergies).
The tell tale sign that your dog has an allergy is itching.
Dogs with skin allergies are known to lick, chew, and scratch at certain parts of their body profusely, often damaging the skin.
Some common areas affected by allergies include the:
What Causes Skin Allergies in Dogs?
Just like in humans, skin allergies in dogs are caused by an overactive immune system.
A dog’s immune system is designed to protect it from disease and infections by attacking harmful agents in the body.
However, some dogs may have an overactive immune system that also attacks non-harmful environmental substances, mistaking them as biological threats.
This is essential what causes an allergic reaction.
There are a variety of environmental allergens that your dog may be sensitive to.
- Dust mites
- Mold and pollen from grass or plants
Dogs can also be allergic to certain ingredients in food, including:
Understanding Atopic Dermatitis (Chronic Skin Disease)
Some dogs may simply be allergic to a specific allergen.
Hence, when they come into contact with that allergen (let’s say mold spores, for example), they’ll usually develop acute symptoms or an allergic reaction.
However, some dogs may also suffer from chronic skin diseases that can affect them all throughout their life.
One of the most common skin disease affecting dogs is atopic dermatitis, a chronic inflammatory disease associated with allergies.
Dogs generally show signs of atopic dermatitis between 3 months and 6 years of age.
However, dermatitis can be quite mild (especially in its early stages), and therefore might not get diagnosed until much later.
Usually, the symptoms of atopic dermatitis become worse during certain seasons (like spring, when there is more pollen circulating in the air).
Atopic dermatitis is usually caused by a family history of skin allergies running in the dog’s family.
Dogs with chronic skin diseases like atopic dermatitis may be more susceptible to allergens like:
- Animal danders
- Airborne pollen
- Mold spores
- Dust mites
How are Skin Allergies Normally Treated?
Skin allergies are usually treated using medications, allergy vaccines, and topical solutions.
- Allergy medications: Common allergy medications for dogs include corticosteroids (like Prednisone), antihistamines (like benadryl), and cyclosporine (like Atopica).
- Allergy vaccines: Allergy vaccines can help gradually reduce allergy symptoms over time.
- Topicals: Using special shampoos, conditioners, rinses, creams, and sprays can help reduce symptoms of allergies and dermatitis, and usually make up an important part of treatment.
Corticosteroids are very effective at treating skin allergies and dermatitis in dogs.
However, they are not recommended for long-term use.
Antihistamines, on the other hand, are less effective, although they may help reduce itching.
Hence, they’ll usually be used in conjunction with corticosteroids.
Cyclosporine is effective in most cases, but it can cause stomach upsets.
It’s important to remember that skin allergies can be treated but not cured.
Hence, most dogs will need to have regular check-ups with their vet to ensure they are responding.
If you suspect your dog has a an allergy or atopic dermatitis, it’s important you consult your vet early.
Early detection and treatment can be vital in reducing your dog’s symptoms.
Can CBD Treat Dog Skin Allergies?
On my blog, I share a lot of information about the health and medicinal benefits of CBD.
CBD is a compound found in hemp and cannabis.
And, unlike THC (the main psychoactive ingredient in “marijuana”), CBD produces no psychoactive effects at all.
In fact, CBD is extremely well tolerated, non-toxic, and produces no side effects.
Below I’ll explore how the effects of CBD carry over to the skin and can potentially help your pet deal with skin allergies and dermatitis.
The Endocannabinoid and Healthy Skin
The endocannabinoid system (or ECS) is a biological system found in all mammals (that includes your dog).
It is made up of 2 types of receptors (CB1 and CB2) and has been shown to be involved in a wide variety of bodily processes (including everything from memory to pain management).
Some of those processes directly involve and affect the skin.
A paper published in the journal of Trends In Pharmacological Sciences in 2009 reviewed the growing literature highlighting the relationship between skin health and the ECS.
For example, the study shows that recent research has found that the activation of both CB1 and CB2 receptors causes specific reactions in a variety of skin cells.
In fact, CB1 and CB2 receptors have also been found directly in keratinocytes, one of the predominant cell types in the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin).
Endocannabinoids (like anandamide and 2-AG) have also been found in rodent skin and human hair follicles.
These findings show that the ECS exists in various parts of the skin, and could therefore be a solid target for skin treatments.
In fact, research discussed in the above paper suggests that the ECS plays a key role in maintaining skin “homeostasis.”
Homeostasis is a term used to describe the unique balance of cells in the body needed to promote health and wellbeing.
Studies suggest that the endocannabinoid system can help maintain this balance by regulating skin cell proliferation, survival, and more.
In fact, some studies go so far as to suggest that fine-tuning the ECS in the skin is key to stimulating healthy skin growth and development.
CBD Can Help Fight Skin Allergies
In 2005, researchers from the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of Kuopio, Finland, examined the effects of CBD-rich hemp oil on atopic dermatitis.
The researchers compared the effects of the oil with that of olive oil over a 20-week randomized, single-blind crossover study.
During the trial, they kept close tabs on fatty acid profiles of the patient’s’ skin and also asked patients to fill out a questionnaire and provide more info on skin dryness, itchiness, and more.
The results from the study showed that the use of hemp seed oil increased the levels of many essential fatty acids in the skin.
Moreover, the use of hemp seed oil also helped relieve skin dryness and itching, and the use of other traditional medicine also decreased, implying the hemp oil provided enough significant relief.
The researchers concluded that hemp seed oil clearly relieved the symptoms of atopic dermatitis.
They suggested that this could be due to the high amount of omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the oil.
CBD Promotes Healthy Cell Growth
Apart from directly treating the symptoms of skin conditions like atopic dermatitis, CBD oil has also been shown to promote healthy skin growth.
In 2013, researchers from the Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Teramo, Italy, also explored the effects of phytocannabinoids like CBD on the skin.
More specifically, they tested the effects of CBD, CBG (cannabigerol), and CBDV (cannabidivarin) on human keratinocytes.
Out of these compounds, both CBD and CBG had beneficial effects.
By repressing certain actions in the cells, the researchers noted that both compounds (especially CBD) were able to control the proliferation and differentiation of these skin cells.
The researchers thereby concluded that CBD has great potential to become a primary ingredient in new, natural medications designed to treat skin diseases and allergies.
Using CBD to Treat Skin Allergies in Dogs
There are obviously more studies examining the effect of CBD on skin than those I discussed above.
However, it is impossible to cover all of them in this one article.
So, for a more comprehensive list of research on CBD and how it affects the skin, check out this website.
For now, if you’re interested in learning how you can use CBD to treat symptoms of skin allergies and atopic dermatitis in your dog, keep reading.
How to Administer CBD for Dogs With Skin Allergies
There are currently 4 kinds of CBD pet products available on the market:
- CBD oil
- CBD capsules
- CBD treats
- CBD topicals
Which way you decide to to administer CBD to your dog is up to you, but I would recommend either using topicals or CBD oil.
Topicals can be applied directly to the skin and contain CBD as well as other compounds (like aloe vera, manuka honey, and coconut oil) designed to promote healthy skin.
These are great for spot-treating itchy areas, as well as wounds caused by excessive biting, scratching, or licking.
Alternatively, you can also try CBD oil, which can be administered orally (underneath your pet’s tongue) or, better yet, directly to the skin, too.
How effective orally administered CBD is for treating skin conditions is unclear, so I’d usually look for a topical solution where possible.
Finding the Right Dosage
Dosage is obviously important whenever trying a new medication or supplement.
Luckily, CBD is completely non-toxic and considered incapable of causing an “overdose.”
Nonetheless, it’s still a good idea to use structured doses and keeping a close eye on your pet to see how they respond.
When administering CBD oil orally, dosages usually range between 2-4 drops administered 2-4 times per day.
However, as I mentioned before, I’d recommend using a topical solution whenever treating skin diseases.
Topicals like balms and sprays, for example, usually come with specialized dosage instructions.
However, a good rule of thumb is to apply the products once per day, assess the results, and then adjust the dose if needed.
It is also a good idea to feed your dog right after applying the cream or spray to distract them and stop them from licking/scratching the area.
Are People Having Success With CBD?
Pet owners like you and I all over the world are using CBD for all sorts of conditions.
Some even use CBD as a regular health supplement to regularly promote the health and wellbeing of their pet, too.
Unfortunately, I haven’t used CBD for skin conditions.
Instead, I used it to help my dog Rosie deal with hip dysplasia and cancer.
However, many other pet owners use CBD pet products to treat skin conditions, and find they help to reduce itching and promote healing.
Some also use CBD drops or treats to help control obsessive behaviour like constant scratching, licking, or biting.
Choosing the Right CBD Product for Your Pet
If you’ve researched CBD pet products, you probably saw the huge variety available to you.
On my site, I review some CBD brands to help pet owners like you make informed decisions about the products they’re buying.
After all, we always want to be sure that what we’re giving our pet is safe and reliable.
Up until now, I’ve tried 2 brands of CBD pet products, Canna-Pet and King Kanine.
Both these brands produce great products that are reliable, safe, and easy to use.
For dogs with skin conditions, I especially recommend King Kanine’s Soothe or Balm, 2 topical products that can be applied directly to your pets skin.