Cancer is a sad reality for many dogs and their owners, especially as more pups than ever reach a senior age.
Treatments for canine cancer vary depending on the type and progression of the disease. Unfortunately, a number of cancers in dogs have limited treatment options. Even when chemotherapy is available, it may be ineffective.
For dogs undergoing chemotherapy, drugs can cause uncomfortable and life-limiting side effects, such as nausea and lethargy.
As part of the ongoing effort to improve canine cancer treatments, a team of veterinary researchers ran an experiment to test the effects of CBD on dogs with bladder cancer.
Bladder cancer is a deadly disease in dogs – even when chemotherapy is initially effective, most diagnosed dogs will die within a year.
Studies on humans with other types of cancer have suggested that CBD can enhance chemotherapeutic drugs and trigger tumor “apoptosis”, the mechanism for natural cell death that’s prevented during cancer progression.
That evidence led researchers to wonder whether CBD has similar positive effects on canine cancers. To find out, they exposed canine urothelial carcinoma cells to CBD in a lab test.
Let’s take a look at the study and what its results might say about the benefits of CBD for dogs with cancer.
Method: How did the study work?
This was an in-vitro study, which means that the researchers worked on cells outside of the body in a laboratory.
While there’s no guarantee that the experiment’s results can be replicated in real life, a positive outcome indicates that CBD has viable potential uses in canine cancer treatment.
This study focused on “canine urothelial carcinoma (UC), also known as transitional cell carcinoma,” which is the most common type of bladder cancer in dogs.
With bladder cancer being so common, deadly, and hard to treat, researchers chose this disease to test out CBD’s reported anti-cancer effects.
Most dogs diagnosed with common forms of cancer will be prescribed chemotherapeutic medications. For that reason, the study tested the effects of CBD in the presence of the anti-cancer drugs Vinblastine, Carboplatin, Piroxicam, and Mitoxantrone.
The CBD applied to canine cancer cells in this study was made by MediPharm Labs. But the study doesn’t mention if the CBD was a full-spectrum extract.
Results: What did the researchers find?
The researchers were looking for whether CBD can trigger apoptosis – a form of programmed cell death. Apoptosis is the body’s mechanism for triggering abnormal cells to destroy themselves, which is blocked by cancerous cells.
In previous studies performed on humans, CBD has been shown to start tumor cell apoptosis.
After exposing CBD to cancer cells in the lab, the researchers found that CBD did cause the cancer cells to enter apoptosis and stop growing:
“CBD treatment reduced viability and induced cell death in canine urothelial carcinoma cells in vitro.”
Cell viability is the medical term for the general health of cells.
In addition, the researchers found that CBD “significantly improved the effects of mitoxantrone and vinblastine chemotherapy.”
In isolated cells, CBD seems to work well in combination with the chemotherapy drugs mitoxantrone and vinblastine.
The researchers noted that CBD enhances chemotherapy “in a synergistic manner,” meaning that some forms of chemotherapy could be more effective when paired with CBD supplementation.
Key point: Is CBD good for dogs with cancer?
This study produced some exciting results!
But it’s important to remember there’s no guarantee researchers will see the same results when they test out CBD’s anticancer powers in dogs themselves.
Tumor cells may not be sufficiently exposed to CBD when dogs take it in real-life environments. It’s possible that the metabolic effect of CBD being digested could prevent the cannabinoids from working in the same way.
Still, the current evidence is promising.
After human research demonstrated CBD’s ability to slow cancer progression, the success of this study suggests similar effects are possible in dogs, paving the way for future CBD experiments on living dogs diagnosed with cancer.
- Source: Combination therapy with cannabidiol and chemotherapeutics in canine urothelial carcinoma cells. PMC.