This article will investigate some of the research on CBD oil and various stomach problems. If your dog is suffering from problems related to digestion this article will give you the information you need to make informed decisions in consultation with your veterinarian. We don’t just tell you about the research, we provide links to the original scientific studies.
Before we get into the science behind cannabidiol and digestive health in dogs, we think it is important to remind our readers that digestive issues can be a signal that something more serious is going on with your pet. Some of these problems need immediate veterinary treatment, including:
Symptoms of gastrointestinal distress in dogs can range to include a wide variety of signs that something is wrong. These may include:
If you sense something is wrong, trust your instincts and get into the vet. Your veterinarian can perform critical diagnostics to identify the root cause of the problem as well as address any immediate medical needs.
Once you have identified the problem or at least ruled out a crisis situation, your vet may recommend cannabidiol (CBD oil). The rest of this article will dive into the science behind this natural product and how it interacts with the digestive systems of all mammals, including dogs.
Gut Health and the Endocannabinoid System
In the early 1990s, researchers discovered the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) that includes a series of receptors, neurotransmitters, and specialized proteins that work together to regulate a variety of functions in the body. In fact, all mammals naturally produce compounds that mimic the actions of compounds found in cannabis known as cannabinoids as part of normal functioning.
One of the areas where the elements of the ECS are found in exceptionally high concentrations in the digestive system1. This fact has led to a great deal of research on cannabinoids and their use for regulating a variety of digestive and metabolic functions.
Gastrointestinal Motility is the medical way of saying how well the intestines are moving waste along the intestinal tract. Problems with GI motility can be wide-ranging since the functions of the digestive system are complex and work together. And, it turns out that the ECS plays a vital role2 in regulating GI motility.
In fact, CBD oil (also known as cannabidiol), has been specifically shown to improve gastrointestinal motility in laboratory studies3. It does this both by radically reducing inflammation4 while also playing a role in triggering the muscles and enzymes5 critical for the proper functioning of the digestive tract.
In fact, some researchers have gone so far as to suggest that IBS (among other disorders) may even be related to Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency (CECD).6 In other words, those suffering from IBS may actually be showing signs of a deficit in the ECS itself.
Below are some links to research on CBD and more specific conditions related to GI motility:
The intestinal barrier is a thin layer of tissue that lines the entire intestinal tract. It performs the work of the intestine by preventing unwanted waste from entering the bloodstream while processing the much-needed nutrients from the food we eat.
In fact, the role that CBD oil may play in helping to restore the intestinal barrier function is of particular note for owners with dogs that have food sensitivities and allergies13. For those of us with dogs that require grain-free dog food, or limited ingredient diets, this is really good news. In fact, many holistic vets will recommend CBD oil as an important supplement to help canines who seem to have sensitive stomachs to certain foods or ingredients.
The Brain-Gut Axis
One of the big breakthroughs in research on the gut over the last few decades is the realization that gut health is deeply related to other systems, including the central nervous system, immune system,14 and even mental health15. The relationship between the gut and nervous system is known as the brain-gut axis16.
You may be familiar with the central nervous system which includes the brain, spine, and a host of neural receptors and transmitters along the way. This system controls much of the body’s functions, including both voluntary (such as thinking or moving) and involuntary (such as the beating of your heart).
What you may not know is there is another nervous system that includes all of the neurons which live in the lining of the gut: the enteric nervous system.
This system is designed to be able to communicate with the central nervous system, but also to act independently. In fact, there are about five times as many neurons in the enteric nervous system than in the entire spine! This has led some researchers to coin this system “The Second Brain.”17
At this point in our article, you are probably not surprised to find out that the Endocannabinoid System plays a pivotal role in the gut-brain axis by taking an active role in regulating and facilitating the brain-gut axis. In fact, many of the neurons in the enteric nervous system are responsive to cannabinoids18 including CB1, vanilloid, and 5‐HT3 receptors.
It turns out that using CBD oil to aid your dog’s stomach problems may have further health benefits than you might have imagined. Perhaps that is why so many holistic vets recommend CBD oil as a preventative care supplement for their canine patients.
As you've learned, digestive problems in dogs, and pets in general, can be a sign that something serious is occurring. When in doubt always contact your vet to discuss any issues to ensure nothing serious and life-threatening is happening. Once you've determined that your dog is only dealing with a slight issue and there is no serious concern, trying CBD may be a beneficial addition to your dog's regimen. We have recommendations for some of the best CBD oil products on the market that you can find here.