Jun 17 2019 . 8 min read

Jun. ’19: Inhale/Exhale with Shoshanna Silverberg - June

Jun. ’19: Inhale/Exhale with Shoshanna Silverberg - June

Reader has many questions about safety of giving French Bulldog CBD for hip dysplasia

Reader has many questions about safety of giving French Bulldog CBD for hip dysplasia

Dear Shoshanna,

I have a beautiful 10-year-old French bulldog named Duke who is in constant pain as a result of hip dysplasia. I have heard about CBD and how wonderful it is for canines especially those with chronic pain and arthritis. I would like to give it a try but am very concerned about Duke’s safety. I would like to know about CBD’s side effects and anything else pertinent I need to know such as will Duke get high or become lethargic. Also, how is CBD best administered to a dog: orally, as an injection or as an edible treat. What dosage do you recommend? When can I expect improvement and for Duke to feel better? Finally, I have seen it in dispensaries and online, where do you recommend that I buy from? 


Dear Reader,

I STRONGLY identify with this question. I have a Staffordshire Terrier Pitbull Mix named Madame. She is between 12 and 13 years old. We have been keeping each other company for eight years or so and I could not love her any more than I do.

Although Madame is in excellent condition (she has been a regular running, hiking and even bouldering companion for me for a long time) because she is 12, I have been forced to acknowledge that she will not be the Energizer Bunny I’ve been so lucky to have by my side in the past. And, I found out this past year, she has developed a pretty advanced heart murmur due to a degenerative disease affecting her mitral valve.

I gave Mad glucosamine chondroitin for years, but eventually, as she got older, she began rejecting her chewables and I decided to see what she was like without the glocosamine (our family’s Golden Retriever responded to GC for sure). I will be honest, I didn’t see an appreciable difference in the immediate. What I have witnessed though, is that once she hit 11, she began to slow down. More than a mile jog was out of the question. And then I found out she had developed a heart condition.

This transition has actually been tough for me. Both Madame’s companionship in general and on adventures in the outdoors has been an aspect of my life that has been very joyful. So, adjusting to life with Madame being older and less mobile has been a process. With that said, it doesn’t feel like what I need to do is pump her full of things to mask any discomfort she has. It feels like I need to respect her station in life (e.g. not expect her to do long hikes or runs in the mountains) and at the same time, see how I can enhance her quality of life so that she is as comfortable and happy as she can be.

For Duke, it seems like the situation may be similar. It sounds like you just want him to have as great a quality of life as is possible. And, as much as you are willing to go outside the box and seek “alternative” therapies such as CBD, you are looking out for Duke’s safety and want to make sure you are working with as much information as possible when it comes to making decisions about your dog’s health. This makes you a responsible pet owner and a responsible cannabis consumer.

My advice to you is based on both my experience as a pet owner and as a conscious consumer of cannabis. And that is, consider these questions the same way you would for treatments you were investigating for yourself. By that I mean, when you are assessing options outside of those a physician is prescribing, is there a clear ingredient list on the label of whatever you are buying? Are there instructions as to how to consume the product in line with its intended use(s)? Does it specify where the product was manufactured? Does it contain information as to how much of its active ingredients, such as CBD, are present? For me, a brand I feel comfortable experimenting with fulfills all of that.

In terms of possible side effects, if you read my column in the May issue of elevate, which explored CBD from every conceivable angle, you know that when you are buying a hemp-based remedy, you are buying a product that is not supposed to contain any more than .3% THC, the cannabinoid that gets you “high.” Further, if you are purchasing anything that is sold as “pure” CBD, the same can be said. That is, if you can trust what the packaging and labeling on a product tells you. How do you know if you can trust this, you ask? Well, to be honest, it’s tough.

There are no clear requirements put in place as of yet that forces CBD manufacturers to state all of the criteria I listed above in order to assess the credibility of products we find on the market. We also don’t know if what is on that package and labeling is accurate. We are in an in-between stage where the FDA is on the verge of regulating remedies with CBD in them, including for animals. However, currently, there is no statute holding producers’ feet to the fire. Lots of what is involved here is trusting your manufacturer because you know them, knowing and trusting others whose animals have seen benefits from a product, or trusting the recommendations of your veterinarian, if they are willing to make such recommendations for you.

Keep in mind, we are not talking about a veterinarian writing a prescription or “recommendation” for your pet the way physicians in some states have been “prescribing” and “recommending” cannabis to people. That is a different type of process. What we are talking about is finding out if your vet’s office can steer you in the direction of a manufacturer whose products other patients have reported back about positively. While many vets have been reticent to do this in the past for fear of garnering attention for even peripheral involvement with the cannabis industry, the recent de-scheduling of hemp per the 2018 Farm Bill has been shifting this conversation for many who have up until now held off on wanting to outwardly participate in or even endorse the CBD industry. At this point, vets who are not comfortable providing information about or referring patients to others who are knowledgeable about CBD are not doing their patients a service. And when you seek that advice from your vet, you are helping to push forward this conversation on behalf of many animals, not just Duke.

For Madame, here’s what I have discovered: she will typically eat anything, and that has included various CBD treats I’ve offered her over the years. She will consume tinctures, but only the bacon-flavored one so far. A THC-based salve once really helped an inflamed paw. But CBD-only salves I’ve tried have not been overly effective (at aiding in the healing of skin irritations, abrasions, etc.). She does not enjoy smoke of any kind. And wow…we have not had any need for an injection, but again, I would say this is an exciting avenue of medicine to explore, with your veterinarian’s input if that is possible.

Regarding where to make your purchases—I hate to sound like a broken record but consult with your vet or find others in your community who have had success with particular brands and remedies. Do NOT assume that because one person had great results with a certain dosage of CBD for a certain condition in their dog, that that is empirical research you can rely on as a perfect fit for your dog and his or her particular situation. Just like people, there is diversity among animals, and you need to identify brands that you can trust and go from there to find specific treatments and dosages that make a difference in terms of quality of life. And, know that when you order products online, you have even less of an ability to hold your supply chain accountable. Locally sourced—and licensed—products where the people who manufacture these remedies are known and can respond directly to any of your questions is the kind

of operation you ideally want to be transacting with.

Should you have a question or ethical conundrum you have been struggling with, please drop Shoshanna a line at info@elevatenv.com so she can offer her sage and practical counsel.


Shoshanna Silverberg is a mover of information and a connector of people. Her background as a civil liberties and human rights advocate were her foray into the cannabis space, where she currently directs business strategy for national consulting firm Pistil + Stigma. She holds a Juris Doctor from Elon University School of Law, a Master of Arts in Holistic Thinking and a bachelor's degree from Hampshire College. She is a true believer that compassion and critical thinking, together, drive positive social change.