Does CBD help dogs with Vestibular Disease, and which pet CBD products most effectively reduce symptoms?
Vet holding dog on leash

What is Vestibular Disease in dogs?

In animal healthcare, the word “vestibular” is used when talking about animals’ inner ears or their sense of balance. Vestibular Disease is a lack of ability to maintain balance, leading to feelings of dizziness and nausea, as well as mobility problems.

These symptoms can be serious or mild and can last for a few days or many years.

Vestibular Disease can happen to dogs of any age, but the risk grows from around the age of 8. The disease is generally a secondary condition, which means that it occurs as a result of other issues such as ear infections, neurological disorders, or seizures. Other common causes of Vestibular Disease include hypothyroidism, stroke, and other kinds of viral infection.

Sometimes, Vestibular Disease is idiopathic, which means it happens without a clear reason behind it.

Does your dog have these symptoms?

  • Difficulty standing or walking
  • Holding their head at 45°
  • Circling or falling down
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Stress or anxiety

If you notice your pet displacing a majority of these symptoms, they may be suffering from Vestibular Disease – especially if they recently recovered from an ear infection.

How is Vestibular disease normally treated?

If Vestibular Disease is a symptom of an underlying condition, then it can most often be resolved by finding and treating the original illness.

For dogs who don’t have an underlying condition, Vestibular Disease has no direct treatment. Instead, vets are likely to prescribe a range of medications that help to manage symptoms.

  • If dogs experience nausea as a result of Vestibular issues, they may be given anti-nausea medication.
  • If dogs have vestibular issues due to ear infections, antibiotics are likely to be prescribed.
  • If dogs have vestibular issues due to inflammation and swelling of the ear, they might receive steroids.

Does CBD help dogs with Vestibular Disease?

Because CBD is associated with the treatment of infections and inflammation, many people believe it can reduce symptoms in dogs with Vestibular Disease.

Reminder: what is CBD?

CBD is a natural anti-inflammatory compound found in hemp plants – a type of cannabis that’s known for its soothing effects.

Unlike other types of cannabis (such as marijuana), hemp contains very low amounts of psychoactive compounds, which means that consuming them won’t produce a high.

Pet CBD producers extract these anti-inflammatory compounds from hemp and infuse them into carriers – most commonly oils and treats.

A quick search of the internet provides some promising results about CBD’s credentials:

  • “CBD oil is thought to reduce nausea and help to alleviate stress, both of which are symptoms associated with Vestibular Disease.”
  • “CBD offers a sense of calm and positivity while warding off anxiety and depression.”
  • “CBD oil may also help in a vestibular episode in dogs by providing a sedative effect.”

But is there actually any evidence behind these claims?

Scientific evidence

Currently, no scientific studies have been published that test the effects of CBD on Vestibular Disease, either in humans or dogs.

However, there is research suggesting that CBD can help dogs with many of the common symptoms of the condition, as well as the inflammation that often underlies Vestibular Disease:

Endocannabinoid system

The endocannabinoid system is a part of dogs’ bodies that releases hormones and enzymes during an immune response. As a result, stimulating the endocannabinoid system can help to reduce inflammation.

Many studies have shown CBD’s ability to interact with the endocannabinoid system, but this scientific paper from 2006 pinpoints an association between CBD, the endocannabinoid system, and management of vestibular function.

Dizziness & Nausea

Two of the most common symptoms of Vestibular Disease in dogs are sickness and dizziness – and while no studies have tested the effects of CBD on the disease itself – this 2018 study on the usefulness of CBD for Treatment-Resistant Epilepsy did find that CBD can effectively reduce discomfort.

In a cohort of 117 human patients, the study found that “CBD reduced the occurrence of fatigue, sleepiness, irritability, insomnia, appetite loss, aggressiveness, nausea, dizziness, anxiety, confusion, weight loss, vomiting”

Another well-cited 2011 study performed on mice and rats found that CBD “suppresses nausea and vomiting within a limited dose range.”

Tinnitus

Some dogs will experience ear ringing, pain, and discomfort as a result of Vestibular disease.

When a 2020 review of how cannabis compounds affect the inner ear looked into CBD’s effects on these symptoms, it found that it may produce a “protective reaction to auditory damage, and in most non-auditory circuits known to be associated with tinnitus.”

Other evidence

While there are no CBD oils designed specifically for Vestibular Disease in dogs, CBD oils for dogs with anxiety are made to target many of the same symptoms – including stress, inflammation, and nausea.

When it comes to treating anxiety in dogs, CBD does have a significant amount of testimonial evidence from owners and animal healthcare experts.

So what’s the verdict?

Because Vestibular disease in dogs is often caused by high levels of inflammation, pet-safe CBD oil may help to reduce symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, and anxiety.

These products would help the most

For dogs with Vestibular Disease, we recommend trying Honest Paws Calm Oil. It’s the company’s best-selling product, and our pick for the best CBD oil for dogs with anxiety symptoms.

 

More ways to support dogs with Vestibular Disease

Like any health supplement, CBD oil for dogs should be used in combination with other relevant therapies and/or prescribed treatments.

Here are some other commonly recommended ways to help manage the symptoms of canine Vestibular disease:

1. Make your home safe and accessible

While your dog’s mobility and balance issues continue, there are many simple adjustments you can make around the home to improve your pet’s daily wellbeing.

  • Put food and water bowls on risers so that your dog won’t need to bend their neck to reach them.
  • Close off rooms and spaces that are more difficult to navigate (especially if they have tight turns or large steps).
  • Leave the lights turned on and install cameras so that you can monitor your pet if you need to leave them alone.
  • Cover any slippery floors with high traction carpets.
2. Support your dog while they sleep

Rest is important for dogs dealing with Vestibular Disease, giving them a chance to relax and recover.

To improve dogs’ stability while sleeping, most experts recommend using rolled towels to keep them safe and properly positioned. Tightly roll a few towels and put them around your dog’s back and under their neck.

Also, make sure the areas where they sleep don’t contain sharp edges or large height differences.

3. Try the “stand and rock” routine + other exercises

One exercise that’s very commonly recommended for dogs with Vestibular Disease is the Stand and Rock routine.

This exercise involves placing your arms around your dog’s torso while they’re standing, and rhythmically rocking them – first forward and backward, then side-to-side. The idea here is to encourage dogs to relearn the small muscle movements necessary to stay balanced.

Other recommend techniques include:

  • Using treats to encourage dogs to practice a wide range of movements, such as moving their head in a full circle, and bending their neck to the left and right.
  • Some vets recommend weighted jackets that are designed to compensate for a dog’s imbalance by adding extra weights on one side of their body.

Summary

  • Vestibular Disease in dogs is often a secondary condition, caused by an underlying infection or other issues.
  • When vestibular disease symptoms result from inflammation, pet-safe CBD oils may help some dogs.
  • Clinical studies have shown CBD oil to reduce inflammatory symptoms associated with Vestibular Disease, including dizziness, nausea, and anxiety.
  • Owners who combine CBD oil supplementation with other appropriate therapies are more likely to see positive results.