The vet turned to me and told me something I had known for quite sometime,


“Your dog has severe arthritis.  Her knees are so arthritic, that they’re crunchy. She’s virtually a cripple and she’s got to be in a lot of pain.”


Typical Progression of Arthritis


After 11 years of dashing, jumping, bolting, lunging, and hunting, my German Shorthaired Pointer had nearly wore her knees out.  She was increasingly intolerant of standing and she hunched her back in an effort to shift weight from her painful knees to her front legs. In order to sit, she had to gingerly slide her legs and rear end out from under her and ease her way wincingly to the floor. It was hard to watch.


How To Treat Arthritis is Pets? There Are Three Proven Treatments, But An Exciting 4th Emerges


“There are three treatments that are proven to be effective therapies for arthritis in pets,” explained the veterinarian, “Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, omega three fatty acids, and Adequan.  I’m going to put her on all three, but you may consider researching another that’s available for purchase online.  It’s a new supplement that incorporates the pain relief benefits of cannabis without the ‘high’.  It’s called ElleVet Sciences Mobility and contains an ingredient in hemp known as cannabidiol (CBD).  The supplement has been linked to reduction of inflammation, pain, and anxiety in both humans and dogs.”


CBD Oil: An Effective Solution For Arthritic Pain


To date, studies on the therapeutic effects of CBD in animals have been limited, mostly restricted by the hazy border between states like New York that allow for the medical use of marijuana and federal law that still considers it to be a Schedule I drug (more on this, below).  Only the Cornell and Colorado State colleges of veterinary medicine have conducted research (Auburn awaits approval for a planned study), but study leaders of both renowned institutions are enthusiastic.   Dr. Joseph Wakshlag, who headed up the study at Cornell wrote a full-throated endorsement of ElleVet Mobility:


Over the past 8 months we have conducted a pharmacokinetic and clinical trial on the efficacy of ElleVet Sciences CBD…To date our findings have confirmed that their product is safe and efficacious for pain in dogs with arthritis, chronic joint pain and geriatric pain…We saw dramatic beneficial effects in our more geriatric patients. Considering these very promising initial results, we are continuing our work with ElleVet Mobility examining post-surgical and cancer pain at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.


Read more of Dr. Wakshlag’s comments on the Cornell study


Federal and New York Laws on CBD Clash


Under federal law, even the ‘non-high’ cannabinoid, CBD, is illegal.  Vets in New York are precluded from prescribing its use and some attorneys would argue even recommending its use, despite that anyone can purchase hemp-based CBD oils and supplements online. Yet, at least one veterinarian in Oregon prominently displays CBD drugs for sale at his practice satisfied that a 2013 memo written by Deputy Attorney General, James Cole, sufficiently eliminates concern that vets would be the target of federal prosecution (though DEA and state board censure is another matter).   In an important side note, Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, issued his own memo in 2018 that untied some of the constraints put on prosecutors outlined in the 2013 memo, but the focus of federal prosecution remains on the bigger issues with state-legalized marijuana: abuse of the drug by children, organized crime, and interstate trafficking.  In Jeff Session’s words, “I am not going to tell Colorado or California or someone else that possession of marijuana is legal under United States law, but federal prosecutors haven’t been working small marijuana cases before and they are not going to be working them now.”


Federal CBD Law Restricts Research


When asked why states don’t green light the use of CBD  for use in pets, most cite the lack of information on efficacy and safety, yet when veterinary research colleges petition the federal government for permission to do research on CBD, they are often denied on grounds that there isn’t sufficient information on efficacy and safety.  It’s a Catch 22 that would have delighted Joseph Heller, but makes for lousy progress in CBD animal research. Fortunately, ElleVet and Cornell bravely waded these murky legal waters when they conducted their valuable study in 2017 and Colorado State continues their own studies in the face of conflicting state and federal law, but there’s little doubt that more clarity from the federal government and looser federal restrictions would increase the amount of much-needed research.


Hemp-based and therefore…legal?


Products like ElleVet Mobility distance themselves from federal law by extracting all of their CBD from industrial hemp, a close cousin of marijuana that contains only trace amounts of the ‘high’ part of pot, and a plant that is perfectly legal in the U.S.  Still ask any attorney (as Colorado veterinarian, Dr. Sarah Wooten did), or interview Tom Davis, Department of State, State Board of Veterinary Medicine in Pennsylvania, as I did, and you’ll get a scope of opinion that spans from ‘I think it’s okay’ to ‘I’m not sure’. From 30K feet, it seems quite clear that pet owners who purchase products like ElleVet won’t be carted off to federal prison, but look closer and it is apparent that more detailed state and federal laws are what’s really needed to improve understanding of the drug; to ease concerns about recommending or selling it in veterinary practices; and to one day, have it available by prescription for pets.


My Dog Responds to ElleVet in 48 Hours


ElleVet Mobility is available as a chewable and contains both CBD and glucosamine, but since I own the only dog in the world that refuses to eat a chewable anything, I ordered the CBD oil (a version of which is also available for cats, btw). Rye responded to treatment within 48 hours.  I first noticed it when I saw her lying on my bed.  Was it my eyes or was my dog one foot longer than usual!?  In fact what I was witnessing was my dog’s muscles relaxed for the first time in more than 2 years.  The hunch in her spine was gone.  She no longer grunted and sighed when she got up or down.  Outside, she was once again tearing down the trails of my farm.


Time for the Next Chapter?


It’s my observation that the ElleVet supplement dramatically improved my dog’s mobility and reduced her pain, but remember that Rye was given other medications to treat her arthritis besides ElleVet, so my findings are hardly scientific.  Still, Data from Cornell, Colorado State, and the many testimonials by vets endorsing the benefits of CBD are positive enough that we should explore how to make legal, safe use of CBD.  Clarity from the federal government on how it will act inside states with medical marijuana laws and looser restrictions on research will go a long way in improving our understanding of CBD; reducing our concerns about DEA and federal law illegality; and easing state boards’ concern over safety and efficacy.  In the meantime, don’t allow your pet to suffer from the physical restrictions and pain of arthritis.  Reach out (845-638-3600) to Animal Medical, schedule an appointment, and get an evaluation.  I’m thrilled with my dog’s results.


Bash Halow is a licensed veterinary technician and blogger that frequently contributes to Animal Medical’s online content.  Animal Medical and its doctors make no claim to the efficacy of CBD oil or supplements in the treatment of arthritis or other conditions, but agree with the author that more research to support the initial, positive response of animal patients to CBD is warranted. 


Dr. Howard Gittelman, Animal Medical’s director, is enthusiastic about the promise of drugs like CBD that may be effective at treating arthritis, seizures, and anxiety in pets and will be lecturing on the topic soon.  To find out about Dr. Gittelman’s next lecture or to reach out to him for help treating your pet’s pain, anxiety or seizures, fill out the form at the bottom of this page or simply call.



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