The benefits of CBD are generally split into two categories: those that help with anxiety, and those that reduce inflammation. But are CBD’s inflammation-busting credentials good enough to make it a genuine treatment for arthritis? Let’s look at what the science says:

Canine arthritis
is on the rise

Dog ownership is increasing dramatically. In their 2018 demographic survey, the American Veterinary Medical Association found that 38 percent of US households have one or more dogs, with ownership rates at their highest since AVMAs surveys began in 1982.

Alongside this increase in ownership is a general rise in the level of knowledge and care people exercise when looking after their pets. Higher numbers of better-cared-for dogs equal lots of senior mutts in homes across the country. With age comes the increased risk of arthritis, which dogs are already prone to thanks to their highly active lifestyles.

Aging dogs are particularly vulnerable to osteoarthritis, which is defined as the degeneration and alteration of synovial joints—the joint found between bones moving against each other, such as the hip and knee.

A 2018 review of the state of canine osteoarthritis found that the condition affects between six and twenty percent of the UK dog population, while US data suggests prevalence values ranging from 20 percent in dogs of more than a year old, to 80 percent in dogs older than eight years.

Male dogs and larger breeds are generally thought to be at higher risk of developing osteoarthritis—as well as purebreds, who can develop the condition due to inherited defects.

CBD is a bonafide anti-inflammatory

CBD gets its status as an antiinflammatory from its classification as a cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are compounds that affect the body through the endocannabinoid system, a far-reaching internal mechanism related to the regulation of inflammation, the immune system, and stress in all mammals.

In studies on cannabinoids’ ability to affect inflammation through the endocannabinoid system, CBD has proven successful in suppressing inflammation due to auto-immune issues, stress, injuries, and even cancers—all with super low levels of toxicity in both humans and dogs.

These findings are backed up by countless human and pet users, who rely on CBD and other cannabinoids as a side-effect-free alternative to drugs such as NSAIDs, which many dogs cannot safely take.

See our Best CBD Oil for Dogs with Arthritis

So, just how good is CBD as an arthritis treatment?

The results are in—and they’re pretty good! CBD has proven an effective inhibitor and defense against both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis in humans, mice, and dogs.

A recently published study by Baylor College of Medicine looked at how CBD affected dogs with arthritis over four weeks of daily dosages. Researchers found that CBD treatment significantly improved quality of life for dogs diagnosed with arthritis, as assessed by both owners and veterinarians. Results were so impressive that improvements lasted for two weeks after the study ended.

A 2016 study from The European Journal of Pain on the use of CBD on rats with induced arthritis found that “transdermal CBD gel significantly reduced joint swelling, limb posture scores as a rating of spontaneous pain, immune cell infiltration and thickening of the synovial membrane in a dose-dependent manner.” The findings were significant enough to satisfy researchers that, when applied directly to the affected area, CBD has serious therapeutic potential for arthritis and inflammation without side-effects.

A similar study from The National Academy of Sciences on mice with murine collagen-induced arthritis, designed to approximate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, also showed significant success with CBD treatment. Daily ingestion of CBD improved the quality of mice’s hind paws, as well as having immunosuppressive effects on further arthritic damage.

What’s the best course of CBD treatment for dogs with arthritis?

If you find all that science convincing, you’re probably wondering how exactly you should introduce your dog to CBDs benefits. There are lots of CBD products on the shelves of pet stores—from treats and snacks through oils, capsules, and creams—and the currently unregulated nature of CBD manufacturing makes it hard to know which is best for your intended purpose.

For treating pain and inflammation as a result of arthritis, a topical application is common. Applying CBD to the sight of stiffness, swelling, or pain allows the cannabinoids to directly interact with cannabinoid receptors present in that part of the body.

Orally ingesting CBD, through treats or tinctures of oil, should also have some effect on inflammation—so it’s definitely not a bad option. But delivery via digestion means losing some of CBDs potency to the metabolism’s first pass, as well as spreading the effects of the CBD across the whole body, instead of keeping them targeted.

Of course, you could try both approaches at the same time! As long as owners start small, follow our dosage guide, and carefully observe their dogs for signs of CBD working, there’s no reason why pups shouldn’t benefit from a CBD treat at some point in the day, before having CBD oil applied to their joints later on.

This kind of strategy can offer the best of both worlds—keeping constant low levels of cannabinoids in your dog’s system while giving painful areas a single targeted dose. For a look a the top-ranking CBD oils on the market right now here’s our review of the best CBD oil for dogs with arthritis.


  • Arthritis, especially osteoarthritis, is a major issue for dogs. Levels of the chronic condition can be as high as 80 percent in dogs over eight years of age, while larger, male, purebred dogs are at a very high risk of at least some kind of joint damage.

  • As a cannabinoid, CBD is a verified anti-inflammatory. Unlike many traditional inflammation-targeting drugs, however, CBD operates via the endocannabinoid system, a far-reaching internal mechanism that affects stress, swelling, and other contributors to bodily homeostasis. Operating through the endocannabinoid system makes CBD a highly safe and stable treatment.

  • CBD has proven its effectiveness in treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis in clinical trials on animals—including dogs. Studies normally consist of daily topical treatment for a series of weeks.

  • Topical treatment of joints using CBD oil or cream is most often recommended for arthritis. This can always be combined with oral ingestion of CBD treats and snacks, so long dosages remain within safe limits for your individual dog.