CBD and Pet Health
With the legalization of CBD and the development of hundreds of new companies offering thousands of products, it can be overwhelming for potential consumers and challenging to determine which claims you can trust. Not only does CBD provide therapeutic effects for humans, but studies have demonstrated its benefits for your favorite pets. Check out the information below to find out how CBD can help your dog or cat and learn how to choose the best product for their needs.
Can CBD Help My Dog?
CBD refers to cannabidiol, a type of chemical compound called a cannabinoid that is produced in the cannabis plant and naturally occurs in the human body. Research on the therapeutic benefits of CBD indicates its usefulness in a variety of conditions in humans that are also experienced by dogs, such as anxiety, inflammation, irritable bowel disease, pain, and epilepsy. Consumers are paying attention, as a recent survey of veterinarians found that patients’ owners inquired about CBD products for their pets at least once every month.
Anecdotal stories from pet owners claim the CBD provides pain relief and anxiety management, but most experts are wary. They emphasize that testimonials do not carry the same weight as scientific evidence and note that the lack of regulatory procedures around this new industry makes it difficult to determine if and how much CBD is helping pets. Veterinarian Stephanie McGrath started investigating the therapeutic potential of CBD in pets in 2016. She has determined that dogs have an endocannabinoid system, but she is unsure if CBD interacts with this system in dogs the same way it does in humans. Along with other researchers, she is currently conducting several research studies on the effectiveness of CBD in treating osteoarthritis, seizures, and postoperative pain.
What the Research Says So Far
Research on the effects of CBD in dogs is conducted less frequently than research on the effects of CBD in humans, but it is becoming more prevalent. A 2018 clinical trial conducted at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine tested the anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing effects of regularly providing CBD oil to dogs suffering from osteoarthritis. The test subjects were given CBD oil every 12 hours for four weeks, and assessments were completed after week two and week four. It found that 80% of dogs showed a significant decrease in pain and a considerable increase in activity levels with no side effects.
In 2019, a clinical trial published in the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association tested the effects of CBD on dogs with epilepsy. CBD was administered in addition to anti-seizure medication, and this combination resulted in significantly fewer seizures compared to anti-seizure medicines and placebo. However, both groups showed decreases in seizures, and researchers indicate that further testing should be conducted before drawing any definitive conclusions.
Types of CBD Products for Pets
CBD products for pets come in the same forms as CBD products for humans, such as edibles in the form of capsules or chewable treats, oils that may be administered under the tongue or added to food, and topical products that are applied directly to the skin. McGrath’s research has found that oils demonstrated the most reliable effects, reaching the highest concentrations in the bloodstream, staying there the longest, and performing consistently among various subjects. The capsule performed well, but the cream was too inconsistent to draw any concrete conclusions. These results make sense based on what we know about CBD in humans, but the finding is not significant enough to influence medical decision-making.
Considerations in Choosing a Product
Choosing a CBD product for a pet should follow the same guidelines as choosing a CBD product for a human, focusing on potency testing, traceability, and quality control. Do thorough research and only purchase products that have been tested by reputable third-party labs. The manufacturer should include information on the specifics of the product, including a certificate of analysis (COA) that features a batch number matching the number on the product’s packaging. A COA proves that an independent lab has tested the product to confirm its ingredients and CBD potency. Look for the word “organic” or a guarantee that contaminants such as pesticides, solvents, and fungi have been removed. Choose products with 0.0% THC as this cannabinoid can be toxic to pets.
Risks and Warnings
As with most supplements, CBD products for pets do have potential side effects. These include:
- Decreased saliva production and dry mouth, indicated by increased thirst
- Lowered blood pressure, which can create light-headedness
- Drowsiness, especially in high doses
Always consult your veterinarian before administering CBD products to your dog. If they approve, start with a low dose and monitor your pet for signs of any reaction, positive or negative. For example, if your dog appears relaxed during a firework display or other loud incident when usually they cower in fear, this is a good indication the CBD is helping. Only increase doses if necessary and do so slowly.
If you notice any of the following symptoms, this is a sign that they have consumed too much and should seek immediate medical attention:
- Increased panting
- Loss of balance
CBD for Cats
Compared to dogs, there is not as much clinical or anecdotal evidence on the effects of CBD in cats, but cat owners have been giving them CBD for its potential therapeutic effects. The studies detailed earlier showed CBD could help with arthritis and seizures in dogs, so it makes sense that it would have the same results in cats. Cat owners and veterinarians have reported some significant effects, such as reduced stress and anxiety, higher levels of activity, improvements in the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, and enhanced skin health, including more hydrated skin, softer coats, and less shedding. Just as with dogs, you must consult your vet before giving CBD products to your cat and carefully monitor their behavior.
As CBD is proving increasingly popular for its therapeutic benefits among humans, it is also appealing to pet owners for a variety of reasons. From anxiety and pain relief to seizure reduction, dogs and cats seem to respond to CBD products similarly to humans. However, more research must be conducted, and further evidence gathered to substantiate any claims before they can be considered medically valid. If you do decide to try giving your dog or cat CBD, always do your research, choose reputable companies, and stay in contact with your veterinarian. Royal Health offers a premium broad-spectrum CBD tincture for pets that is vegan, lab certified, pesticide-free, and contains 0.0% THC.
This post is meant to be informational and should not be taken as veterinary or medical advice.