Management of inflammation, chronic pain and allergy symptoms in our dogs.

The management of inflammation, chronic pain and allergy symptoms in our dogs can be challenging for most pet owners, which is why I’m so happy that my doggy clients have access to an amazing natural compound called Palmitoylethanolamide – or PEA for short!

What is Palmitoylethanolamide?

Palmitoylethanolamide, or PEA, is an intriguing health molecule that has been studied for over eighty years. PEA is what’s called an endocannabinoid-like compound. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is an important biological system that regulates and balances a wide range of physiological functions in the body.

Imbalances in the ECS have been shown to contribute to the development of several pathological conditions and disorders. PEA supports the ECS by regulating endocannabinoid signalling and indirectly activating cannabinoid receptors (the same receptors that cannabis (CBD) works on). 

What are the benefits of PEA?

What makes PEA so unique is that it’s naturally made by the body whenever the body feels threatened. For example, PEA levels increase when our dogs are subject to stress (psychological or physical) or if they suffer from infections, inflammation, trauma, allergies, pain, heart or kidney disease - or even if they are obese. In short, PEA is our dog’s go-to molecule to restore balance in the body (homeostasis) and maintain optimal cellular health.

Unfortunately, due to our current lifestyles, our dogs are bombarded with lots of different external and internal stressors on a daily basis, and evidence suggests that when this happens, the body’s natural production of PEA simply can’t keep up with demand.

In these instances, giving our dogs a supplemental form of PEA has been shown to bridge the gap and provide extensive health benefits, particularly when it comes to counteracting the debilitating effects of inflammation, joint and nerve pain, and allergic itch.

From allergies to pain, why your dog needs P.E.A


Some of the main ways PEA can help your dog 


Antihistamines work by preventing histamine release from a type of immune cell in the body called mast cells. When activated, mast cells trigger an allergic response by releasing compounds such as histamine, prostaglandins, and other inflammatory compounds. Mast cells then communicate with other key players in the inflammatory process, setting off an inflammatory cascade.

In humans, most of our mast cells are located in the sinus cavities, which is why we are more likely to experience a runny nose, watering eyes and sneezing when exposed to allergens. However, for our dogs, most of their mast cells are located close to the skin’s surface, which is why for them, allergies tend to show up primarily as skin lesions, redness, and chronic itching.

Due to its powerful mast cell stabilisation properties (and hence antihistamine properties), PEA is useful in all forms of allergies, including airborne, food and contact allergic dermatitis - and without the side-effects caused by more traditional antihistamines.


Canine Atopic Dermatitis

Canine atopic dermatitis (cAD) affects up to 15% of the dog population worldwide and accounts for up to 27% of the animals referred for persistent pruritus (itchiness).

A 2015 study assessed the efficacy of ultra-micronised PEA in canine atopic dermatitis. After only 8 weeks of treatment with PEA, the following benefits were seen:


A reduction of pruritus (itching) to normal levels in 33% of dogs

An improvement of skin lesions in nearly 80% of dogs

Significantly improved quality of life in dogs suffering from moderate atopic dermatitis


Chronic Pain

Chronic pain remains a major challenge in veterinary medicine and can have a serious impact on quality of life for our dogs. Common causes of chronic pain include:

  • Musculoskeletal disorders (i.e. osteoarthritis, hip/elbow dysplasia)
  • Nerve pain (i.e. as caused by spinal injury, IVDD), and
  • Surgery

There are a variety of different veterinary drugs that are commonly prescribed to treat pain conditions in our dogs, including opiates, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and others. 

Conventional pain medications generally work by either downregulating prostaglandins, and therefore the inflammatory response, or by changing the pain messages in the brain.

The research demonstrates that PEA exerts a clear anti-nociceptive (pain-blocking) effect, but because it works differently in the body as compared to conventional steroidal and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), PEA has the ability to relieve pain without the common side-effects seen with other medications, as well as the ability to be used in conjunction with other pain medications without interaction.

Conditions for which ultra-micronised PEA has shown beneficial pain-relieving effects across human and animal studies include:


✔ Spinal injury

✔ Fibromyalgia

✔ Sciatic nerve pain

✔ Constriction injury

✔ Diabetic neuropathic pain

✔ Failed back surgery

✔ Carpal tunnel syndrome

✔ Osteoarthritis

✔ Neuropathic/nerve pain

✔ Migraine and headache pain

✔ Low back pain

✔ Osteoarthritis

✔ Chemotherapy-induced pain

✔ Pelvic pain (endometriosis)

✔ IBS pain

✔ Interstitial cystitis/bladder pain

✔ Post-surgical pain

✔ Shingles


Digestive Disorders

Lower levels of PEA are seen in animals with acute intestinal disorders. Extensive evidence shows that the endocannabinoid system plays a pivotal role in gastrointestinal health, which is why PEA has been referred to as an intestinal “gate keeper”.

Higher levels of PEA in the body helps to reduce intestinal inflammation and improve the way that the tight junctions between gastrointestinal cells are regulated. By working in this way, PEA ultimately protects against a leaky gut by restoring the integrity of the intestinal barrier. 

PEA supplementation has also been shown to:

  • Decrease diarrhoea (viral-induced and chronic)
  • Normalise intestinal motility, and
  • Reduce the Canine Inflammatory Bowel Disease Activity Index score (CIBDAI)


Kidney Disease

PEA is naturally found in the kidney and levels change in response to kidney damage. Studies have found that PEA supplementation decreases both renal dysfunction and injury triggered by ischemia/reperfusion and aids in re-establishing the main markers of glomerular function, i.e., creatinine and urea.

Moreover, it has been found that PEA protects renal blood vessels due to its ability to reduce the expression of endothelial adhesion molecules and pro-inflammatory transcription factors. It has also been shown that lower doses of PEA are needed to exert a protective function of the kidneys if natural antioxidant compounds such as silymarin (from Milk Thistle), are given at the same time.

These studies highlight the role of PEA in preserving the physiological features and function of kidneys during adverse conditions.


Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidant Support 

The main way that PEA reduces inflammation is by preventing the release of damaging pro-inflammatory molecules in the body. PEA has also been shown to neutralise the damaging effects of free radicals by binding to them and preventing their destructive action.

This is particularly important for the extra sensitive and highly prone neurons in the brain, which is why PEA is so effective in treating nervous system disorders.


Bioavailability Matters

PEA is a lipid (fat) molecule which means that it has poor solubility, absorption and overall bioavailability in the body. To overcome these hurdles, special manufacturing processes are required to ensure that the PEA gets into the tissues so it can do its good work.

Ultra-micronised PEA is a pharmaceutical grade formulation in which >99% of the PEA has particle sizes below 6 µm, which helps to improve its effectiveness in treating pain and disease. So always make sure that any PEA product that you purchase is ultra-micronised.

Because PEA is fat soluble, combining it with a healthy fat source such as sunflower lecithin further serves to enhance absorption into the body. Sunflower lecithin is also rich in the nutrient choline, which supports nerve and cellular health.



Ultra-micronised PEA has a long track record of use in veterinary medicine with good-to-excellent tolerability. Unlike other chronic pain medications, no serious side-effects or adverse drug-drug interactions have been reported with the use of PEA. This factor alone stands it apart from other strong pain medication, some of which can cause side effects almost as incapacitating as the pain itself.

As PEA is produced naturally in the body, some suggest that this may be one of the reasons why PEA supplements cause no known side effects and no adverse drug-drug reactions.

Due to its outstanding safety profile, PEA also represents a suitable addition to standard pain medications, opening-up a new therapeutic avenue for those dogs suffering chronic and debilitating pain.


In Conclusion

The management of chronic pain and allergies is the burden of veterinary practitioners. There is now strong evidence supporting dietary supplementation with ultra-micronised PEA for the management of a range of different health conditions, but most importantly, for the management of chronic joint pain, nerve pain and allergies in our dogs.

If you'd like to learn more about PEA, click HERE to listen to my podcast episode talking on this subject.

Or if you believe that PEA could benefit your dog, why not take a look at our P.E.A Plus pain and allergy support powder.

P.E.A Plus

Prefer to learn by listening? Then check out Narelle's podcast episode on Why Your Dog Needs P.E.A here.


  1. Clayton, P., Hill, M., Bogoda, N., et al. (2021). Palmitoylethanolamide: A natural compound for health management. Int J Mol Sci, 22(10).
  2. Nibber, T. Palmitoylethanolamide (pea): The multiple target molecule: Key player in the endocannabinoid system.
  3. Noli, C., Della Valle, M.F., Miolo, A., et al. (2015). Efficacy of ultra-micronized palmitoylethanolamide in canine atopic dermatitis: An open-label multi-centre study. Vet Dermatol, 26(6): p. 432-440, e101.
  4. Della Rocca, G. and Gamba, D. (2021). Chronic pain in dogs and cats: Is there place for dietary intervention with micro-palmitoylethanolamide? Animals (Basel), 11(4).
  5. Gugliandolo, E., Peritore, A.F., Piras, C., et al. (2020). Palmitoylethanolamide and related aliamides: Prohomeostatic lipid compounds for animal health and wellbeing. Vet Sci, 7(2).
  6. Keppel Hesselink, J., Boer, T., and Witkamp, R. (2013). Palmitoylethanolamide: A natural body-own anti-inflammatory agent, effective and safe against influenza and common cold. International journal of inflammation, 2013: p. 151028.
  7. Re, G., Barbero, R., Miolo, A., et al. (2007). Palmitoylethanolamide, endocannabinoids and related cannabimimetic compounds in protection against tissue inflammation and pain: Potential use in companion animals. Vet J, 173(1): p. 21-30.
  8. Gabrielsson, L., Mattsson, S., and Fowler, C.J. (2016). Palmitoylethanolamide for the treatment of pain: Pharmacokinetics, safety and efficacy. Br J Clin Pharmacol, 82(4): p. 932-942.

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