Written By Staff Writer: Georgie
Hey, if CBD works for humans, why shouldn’t it help our four-legged friends? Pet owners around the world are now touting the benefits of feeding their non-human companions a small dose of CBD every day. Although research is still ongoing, it appears this popular cannabinoid can safely help cats, dogs, and even horses combat a myriad of ailments. Indeed, there are even a few veterinarians who’ve openly praised CBD’s effectiveness for conditions ranging from anxiety to osteoarthritis.
Before you buy a packet of CBD pet pellets, however, you need to consider a few things. Below, we’ll highlight a few key points surrounding CBD’s legality, uses, and safety for pets.
What’s The Official Status Of CBD For Pets?
Hemp cultivation is now legal in the USA provided the hemp contains less than 0.3 percent THC content. Short for tetrahydrocannabinol, THC is the primary psychoactive component in marijuana that gets users “high.” Cannabidiol (CBD), however, is a non-psychoactive compound found in high quantities in the hemp plant.
Despite the legality of hemp cultivation, CBD use for medicinal and recreational purposes varies from state-to-state. This is especially the case with CBD for pets.
Indeed, due to the legality and lack of studies on CBD’s effectiveness for pets, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) still cannot recommend vets prescribe CBD to patients. While the AVMA’s official stance is that CBD use for pets is not officially approved, it is aware of the therapeutic potential of this cannabinoid. In 2018, the AVMA put together this informative pamphlet to help explain the basics of hemp-derived CBD to vets.
Changing views about CBD for pets
While the AMVA’s stance is against CBD use for pets, there are many vets who openly use this product at home and in their practice. For instance, Dr. Jeffrey Powers, who works for the AVMA’s Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents, has openly discussed using CBD to calm his Saint Bernard.
Currently, California is the only state that allows vets to recommend CBD to patients openly. So, if you’re curious about using CBD for a particular ailment, then don’t expect your vet to bring up the topic on your next trip for a check-up. Be sure to look up your state’s laws regarding CBD and ask your vet for his/her opinion about buying a CBD product for your pet.
What Conditions Could CBD Benefits Pets
Like humans, hemp CBD can potentially help your furry friends with a number of ailments. Let’s see them in more detail.
One of the most comprehensive studies on CBD use for pets took place at Cornell University in 2018. Researchers involved in this trial split dozens of osteoarthritic dogs into two groups. Pet owners in the first group received authentic CBD oil while the other participants received a placebo oil. Over the course of four weeks, pet owners gave their dog 2 mg/kg of oil every 12 hours.
To assess pain levels, each dog went to the vet at the two and four-week marks for physical exams. In addition to testing joint flexibility, doctors took blood samples of each dog to get a sense of CBD’s effectiveness.
According to the data, CBD had a potent anti-inflammatory effect on these dogs. A remarkable 80 percent of dogs that took the CBD oil had a statistically significant reduction in osteoarthritis symptoms.
While these findings are encouraging, doctors have yet to fully understand how the endocannabinoid system works in different animals. So, what may work for dogs might not work as well for cats, horses, or even humans. Hopefully, as researchers continue to explore this issue, they will be able to tell precisely how to use CBD for this common condition.
Even CBD skeptics have to admit this cannabinoid works wonders for patients with epilepsy. Numerous clinical trials have shown that high-CBD cannabis can effectively be used for children who suffer epileptic seizures. Indeed, the FDA has approved a CBD drug called Epidiolex for this very purpose.
Will CBD work on my pet?
If CBD works so well for humans with epilepsy, then it makes sense this cannabinoid should work for pets too…right? Well, we don’t have a lot of hard evidence that CBD works as effectively for pets as it does for humans, but many scientists are working on this issue.
In 2017, the American Kennel Club announced it would work with Colorado State University to study the effect of CBD on epileptic dogs. Anyone interested in following this research can visit this official link to Colorado State’s website.
Until we have more research, it’s essential to talk with your vet before supplementing with CBD for your pet’s epilepsy. This is especially true if you’re already giving your pet an anti-seizure drug.
A Few Conditions With Anecdotal Evidence
Unfortunately, we currently don’t have many other clinical trials exploring CBD’s effectiveness on pets. There is, however, a great deal of anecdotal evidence that suggests this product could be helpful with dozens of other symptoms.
For instance, many customers claim CBD oil helps their pets naturally calm down. This is especially the case if your pet is particularly sensitive to loud noises like thunder or fireworks. The reason for CBD’s effectiveness might have to do with its ability to increase the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is associated with feelings of contentment.
Another reason people buy CBD oil for pets is to take advantage of its anti-nausea effects. This is especially the case with animals who are undergoing treatment for cancer.
Academic Research About the Efficacy of CBD for pets
A recent study out of Canada’s University of Guelph appears to prove CBD’s antiemetic properties. According to researchers, CBD dramatically reduced nausea-related symptoms in a group of mice. Again, more data is needed to confirm these findings could be transferred to pets and people, but preliminary evidence is encouraging.
Lastly, one issue that’s of particular interest to horse owners is CBD’s potential to cure gastric ulcers. Well over 50 percent of horses get at least one gastric ulcer over their lives, so pet owners are always looking for safe and effective treatments for this condition.
Thankfully, recent research out of Semmelweis University suggests medicinal cannabis could improve gastrointestinal health by reducing gut inflammation. In addition to gastritis, scientists are hopeful CBD could help with other digestive ailments like ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Dosing CBD For Pets
Since CBD has only been in the mainstream for about a year, doctors have yet to set standardized doses for people, let alone pets. To be on the safe side, most vets recommend starting with the smallest possible dose and monitor how your pet reacts. This is especially important with younger or older pets who are more susceptible to CBD’s effects.
Cornelia Wagner, a prominent CBD advocate who works at the Hawthorne Veterinary Clinic, suggests starting any pet with no more than 1 mg/ml CBD per day. If you don’t notice any adverse side effects, you could up the dosage by about 0.5 mg/ml every five days. Keep increasing the CBD until you notice the effects you’re looking for in your pet.
CBD Side Effects
As with any other supplement, it’s important to look out for the side effects of CBD in your pet. A few of the most common side effects related to CBD use include dry mouth, sleepiness, digestive issues, and changes in appetite.
CBD also tends to intensify other drugs you might be feeding your pet. Please discuss any potential adverse drug interactions with your vet before adding CBD oil to your pet’s daily diet.
Consult A Qualified CBD-Friendly Vet
CBD has a long way to go before it becomes a staple in veterinary clinics. There is, however, an increasing number of vets who are encouraged by recent studies into this fascinating cannabinoid. Over half of American vets say they are asked about CBD at least once per month, so don’t be shy about bringing up this topic on your next visit.