Cannabidiol (CBD) has seen a huge surge in popularity for its potential health benefits in recent years. Likewise, there has been a growing interest in whether CBD is helpful for our pets too. Before we discuss the potential health benefits of CBD for animals though, let’s first review what CBD is exactly.
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is a naturally occurring compound found mostly in the flowers of the cannabis plant. CBD is one of over 100 chemical compounds known as cannabinoids. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main intoxicating cannabinoid found in cannabis which causes the “high” that’s often associated with marijuana. However, unlike THC, CBD is not intoxicating. This makes CBD an appealing option for pets. In fact, most CBD products are derived from hemp and not from marijuana.
How Does CBD Affect Our Pets?
To date, there have been very few studies examining the health benefits of CBD in dogs or cats. What researchers do know is that cannabinoids like CBD interact with the naturally occurring cannabinoid receptors in humans and pets; actually all animals with a backbone. This naturally occurring cannabinoid system is known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS functions to maintain balance in the body and keep it in a normal, healthy state.
There’s no clear scientific data on the benefits of CBD in pets. However, anecdotal evidence from pet owners suggest it may be effective in treating pain and controlling seizures. In addition, CBD has been used for its anti-inflammatory properties, anti-anxiety effects, and appetite stimulation. CBD has even been used to treat cancer in pets, however there is no clear scientific evidence which shows this benefit.
Are There Side Effects of CBD?
Many dog owners have used CBD to treat their pet’s anxiety. The calming effect of CBD may cause some drowsiness, especially at higher doses. Diarrhea has also been reported. No clear scientific data exists on the side effects of CBD in pets. However, a 2018 study from Colorado State University concluded, “CBD appeared to be well tolerated in dogs.” Although despite the probable safety of CBD, it’s important to consult a veterinarian and follow proper dosage instructions.
Choosing the Right CBD Product for Your Pet
An important fact to keep in mind after consulting a veterinarian is that not all CBD oils are the same. A high-quality CBD oil will provide a greater chance of health benefits for your pet.
- Look for organic. If the CBD oil is not organic, it should at least be free from pesticides, heavy metals, and other contaminants.
- Don’t price shop. The higher the quality and purity of the CBD product, the higher the cost. Don’t waste money on a cheaper option. Cheap products are more likely to contain toxic substances. They also may not contain the amount of CBD oil that the label claims.
- Get the lab analysis. The manufacturer should provide a certificate that tells you the product is free of contaminants. The lab analysis should also show how much CBD is in the product.
- Dose gradually. Many CBD products have dosing instructions on the label. However, little is known about what the proper dose should be for your pet. A 2018 study examined the effects of CBD in dogs with arthritis. It concluded, “2 mg/kg of CBD twice daily can help increase comfort and activity in dogs with OA [osteoarthritis].” However, every pet is different and it’s probably best and safest to follow the adage, “Start low and go slow.”
Tinctures, chews, and topical salves have become the most common ways for pet owners to give CBD to their pets. Inspired by anecdotal reports, many people are turning to CBD to help manage their pet’s pain, arthritis, anxiety, and more.
McGrath S et al; A Report of Adverse Effects Associated With the Administration of Cannabidiol in Healthy Dogs; Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association; 2018 Fall; 52: 34-38.
Gamble L et al; Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs; Frontiers in Veterinary Science; 2019 Jul; 5:165.
This content is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a veterinarian. All readers of this content should consult their veterinarian regarding specific health questions. CannaGlobe, LLC does not take responsibility for possible health consequences of any pet whose owner is reading and/or following this informational content.