Mad cow disease is the common term for what is known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). This is a serious neurodegenerative disease in cattle. In this context, neurodegenerative means any disease that causes eventual destruction and loss of function in brain cells (known as neurons).
Mad cow disease can spread to other species of mammals, including dogs. It is caused by a deformed protein known as a prion. The presence of this prion in the mammal’s body causes other proteins to also replicate with the same deformed structure. This then causes a catastrophic chain reaction.
Using a cannabis derivative known as cannabidiol (CBD) for Mad Cow Disease in dogs can be incredibly useful in treating the symptoms. It is an all-natural and safe supplement that is very well tolerated in dogs.
What is Mad Cow Disease?
Mad cow disease is a disease of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) in cows. In the formal scientific literature, it is referred to as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). Encephalopathy is a catch-all term referring to any disease or condition that causes dysfunction in the brain and neurons. It is transmitted to cows via the food they eat.
In an effort to cut operation costs and bulk up the volume of food fed to cows, meat-and-bone meal (referred to as MBM) is fed to cattle. There was a large scale outbreak of the disease in the late 1990s in the United Kingdom.
This the best-known outbreak of mad cow disease. The primary source of this infection probably came from a disease in sheep known as scrapie.
Once this scrapie was transmitted to certain cows, those cows were then slaughtered and processed into MBM. This MBM was then fed to other cows who developed mad cow disease.
Mad cow disease has a very long incubation period. This means that it takes a long time from the point of transmission until the affected animal shows signs and symptoms of the illness. The incubation period of mad cow disease is typically 4 to 5 years.
Mad Cow Disease: Safety Precautions
Due to the outbreak in the UK, there are various safety precautions in place to keep infected cows from entering the human food chain. However, these same precautions are not in place for pet food. Low-quality beef products and byproducts of slaughter (known as offal) are frequently used in inexpensive dog food to bulk up the volume.
In fact, in 2010 there was a cow in Alberta, Canada that succumbed to mad cow disease. A post-mortem examination was postponed as the cow was deemed a “downer” or 4D (diseased, disabled, dying, dead) before it went to the slaughterhouse. However, it was sent to a rendering plant and turned in to dog food. There was then a voluntary (not mandatory) recall of the affected food by the manufacturer Champion Pet Foods.
Most specialists assert that this is protocol is not strong enough to protect our beloved pets from exposure to mad cow disease. There have also been cases of cows with the disease in the United States in the past 15 years, with the most recent one occurring in Florida in 2018.
Symptoms of Mad Cow Disease
Though the prion that causes mad cow disease has a long incubation period, once full-blown BSE is developed it generally kills the cow within 6 months. The symptoms of mad cow disease include:
- Agitation and/or restlessness
- Aggression due to agitation
- Tremors and/or seizures
- Pain and/or discomfort
Most of these symptoms have to be observed in the animals affected as they obviously can not communicate to veterinarians precisely how they feel.
The phenomenon of tremors and seizures, as well as general pain and discomfort, are apparent in an animal suffering from these conditions. It is also quite plain to see that they have involuntary contractions and spasms of their muscle tissues.
This causes the animal tremendous pain and in the final stages of the disease renders them unable to even walk. All their coordination and ability to move is entirely destroyed by the progression of the infection.
What Causes Mad Cow Disease?
To understand what causes mad cow disease, we must first learn how proteins work. Proteins are essentially the building blocks of animal bodies.
They are large and complex molecules that have long chains of what are called amino acids. These long chains have to be folded in a very specific shape in order for the protein to function properly.
Mad cow disease is caused by what is called a prion. A prion is a type of protein that has been folded improperly, resulting in a deformed shape.
This prion exists only in nervous tissue (neurons in the brain and spinal cord). However, its presence causes other proteins in the nervous system to also fold improperly until there are large numbers of this deformed protein. This then causes the development of mad cow disease and has disastrous consequences on the mammalian body.
It is not entirely clear how the prion originally transmitted from a sheep to the original cow. What is clear, however, is that the practice of feeding uninfected cows with infected MBM results in a full-blown outbreak of the disease. This is precisely what happened in the 1990s during the major UK outbreak that resulted in the euthanasia of thousands of infected cows.
It is also possible for the disease to spread from animals to humans. In this scenario, it is called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (or vCJD for short). The prion is not destroyed upon cooking meat, so it is possible for humans to be infected when they eat beef that is properly cooked and prepared.
CBD and Its Benefits
CBD has a long and comprehensive list of benefits for mammals who take the supplement. It interacts with structures called cannabinoid receptors in the mammalian brain.
These are part of a control and regulatory system known as the endocannabinoid system (also referred to as the ECS for short). This ECS controls homeostasis in the mammalian body. This is a comprehensive and overall sense of healthy balance and well-being in the animal.
The Long List of Benefits of CBD Include:
- Controlling pain
- Reducing inflammation in tissues all over the body
- Treating nausea and/or preventing vomiting
- Reducing anxiety
- Treating feelings of restlessness and/or agitation
- Reducing spasms and/or tremors in the muscular system
- Improving heart health and “good” fat levels
- Controlling appetite and blood sugar levels
The link between CBD and the overall health of a dog is clear. This is because CBD plays such a central role in achieving homeostasis in the mammalian body.
Rather than considering CBD as a medicine that treats just one ailment or one set of symptoms, it is more accurate to view it as an overall booster of health and balance. Consuming it does not result in just one or two limited benefits. It results in an overall state of homeostasis.
How to Use CBD for Mad Cow Disease
CBD’s wide applicability in treating various symptoms makes it perfect for many of the symptoms associated with mad cow disease.
One of its most effective uses is decreasing instances of muscle spasms and tremors. This is because it reacts with various cannabinoid receptors, known specifically as CB1/CB2 receptors, that are located all over the mammalian body. They are even located in various muscle and skeletal tissues. Activating these receptors results in a decrease in tremors and even seizures.
Furthermore, CBD is extremely effective at treating agitation and restlessness. Because of its indirect activation of CB1 receptors, located in the mammalian brain, it will cause the animal to be relaxed and calm. This will also decrease the signs of aggression that most dogs exhibit when they are experiencing disorientation.
CBD Dosage for Dogs
CBD is easily and effectively metabolized by a dog’s digestive system. All mammals tolerate CBD very well.
It is perfectly safe to start with a standard dose of 2 mg or 4 mg for a medium-sized dog (40-50 pounds).
Start off slowly and work your way up until the desired results are achieved. CBD does not cause overdoses. Eventually, if the dosage is high enough, the dog will simply become drowsy and fall asleep.
Until the pet food industry implements safer food recall procedures, it is best to be vigilant and protective of your dog. They are, after all, our greatest companions.
Having CBD on hand to treat any of the symptoms of mad cow, as well as many other conditions, is just a good idea.