CBD for Pets: 8 Ways CBD can Improve your Pet’s Health
Our pets mean a lot to us, otherwise, why would we keep them in the first place? They have a way of filling us with love, happiness and laughter. They forgive and forget easily, they are loyal, always pumped up to see us and no matter what, they never judge us. That is why it can be catastrophic when your pet gets unwell. Seeing these cute, four-legged friends suffering can make you sad, even depressed. It is no surprise, therefore, that recent research on CBD for pets such as cats, dogs and horses, indicating that this cannabinoid can help treat various conditions has gotten animal lovers very interested.
CBD has a myriad of therapeutic effects that can help both animals and humans; including the ability to reduce/stop seizures, reduce pain, relieve anxiety, arthritis, digestive disorders, mood issues and memory. Furthermore, CBD can help speed up healing and increase appetite in pets that are recovering from illness or surgery. This begs the question, how can one compound have all these therapeutic effects in both humans and animals? As we shall see, CBD is able to interact with different body cells in different ways, hence the various therapeutic effects.
What is CBD? A quick look
CBD (cannabidiol) is a compound found in the hemp or marijuana plants which both belong to the cannabis sativa family. Even though both hemp and marijuana are both classified as cannabis, they vary in major ways. Marijuana is highly controlled in the U.S. and around the world due to its high THC content. On the other hand, CBD is normally extracted from the hemp plant, which contains high CBD content with less than 0.03% THC content. THC is the cannabinoid known for giving users psychoactive effects. Most CBD extracts contain only trace amounts of THC, meaning they offer therapeutic effects without the mental intoxication associated with marijuana.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA) recently approved a resolution seeking for federal rescheduling of cannabis. AMVA argues that the potential benefits offered by cannabinoids such as CBD for both humans and pets outweigh the risks by a huge margin. If the pressure finally pays off, it will provide opportunities for more studies, funding and clinical trials in order to find out more about CBD and how this compound interacts with the endocannabinoid system to provide its many medicinal qualities. But for now, let us go ahead and see the potential ways of how CBD can help you and your pets lead a healthier and happier life.
How CBD Works in Pets: Pets have an Endocannabinoid System Too
In the 1970s, researchers in Israel established that all mammals have an endocannabinoid system which was named after cannabis, the plan that led to its detection. This system plays a crucial role in terms of regulating various activities at the cellular level and maintaining homeostasis, or biological balance.
This system has a network of CB1 and CB2 receptors throughout the body that can be activated by naturally-produced endocannabinoids such as 2AG and anadamide. These receptors can also be activated using external compounds such as cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, one of them being CBD. The cannabinoids produced in the body get synthesized quickly and as a result, they often fall short especially when needed in large amounts.
This is where external cannabinoids such as CBD come in. CBD is able to activate CB1 and CB2 receptors and in this way, maintain homeostasis at a cellular level. By activating these receptors, CBD mimics the natural cannabinoids and provide the same and even more therapeutic effects. Recent research and anecdotal evidence has put CBD on the map due to its efficacy in treating various conditions in humans
Different ways that CBD can Help your Pet
When it comes to the issue of how CBD affects pets, the body of existing research is small but growing. There is already a reliable amount of evidence showing that just like in humans, CBD can also help pets since we all have the endocannabinoid system. The anecdotal reports from pet lovers is especially overwhelming, and this has led various companies to develop various oil extracts that are specifically designed for pet treatment such as GFB Full Spectrum CBD Hemp Oil For Pets from GreenFlowerBotanicals. Note that the reason local pet shops are allowed to handle the product without the need for a license is because unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive, meaning it cannot get you “high”.
In 2016, the CSU carried out a customer survey for companies specialized in producing CBD products for pets. According to the results, more than 60% of the participants acknowledged that the products were able to help treat different conditions in their animals either “a great deal,” or “moderately”. According to Dr. Gary Ritcher, a veterinarian based in Oakland, CBD for pets can be used to treat various medical conditions in pets including bone injuries, sprains, pain, anxiety, loss of appetite and inflammation. CBD is also an antioxidant, an analgesic, and has been shown to cause the reduction of certain tumors.
Currently, researchers and veterinarians have little knowledge about how CBD works in pets to manifest its various medical qualities. This situation has been fueled by cannabis’ status as a federally illegal drug in the U.S., which is holding back much needed research and funding. As a result, there is still no reliable way of establishing the effectiveness of various CBD products since they vary in standard and potency. Therefore, it is difficult for veterinarians to give accurate consultations concerning the medicine. However, there is enough evidence from pet owners who have reported nothing but positive results when using CBD for pets to treat their furry friends for a wide range of ailments. This has led the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine to launch another survey to learn more about the efficacy of cannabis products on pets. As we await for the results, here are some of the conditions that CBD can help your pets with:
- CBD Oil and Anxiety
Pets can undergo either behavioral or situational anxiety. In most cases, your pet will suffer from situational anxiety, especially during thunderstorms, when traveling or during the festival season where people are all out in “scary” costumes. CBD oil has been shown to be extremely effective in relieving stress and anxiety due to its soothing and calming effects. In humans, CBD has been found to reduce anxiety during public speaking, reduce anxiety in both healthy people and those with anxiety disorders as well as the ability to reduce anxiety in people with panic disorders and PTSD. When it comes to behavioral anxiety in pets such as separation anxiety and aggression, you might need to seek the help of a professional since CBD for pets treatment alone may not do the trick in such cases.
- CBD Oil and its effects on Cancer
Research shows that CBD and other compounds found in the hemp and cannabis plants can be effective in reducing the spread of tumors. For instance, studies show that CBD is able to stop the growth and invasion of cancer cells as well as increase the death rate of cancerous cells without affecting the healthy ones. CBD has various mechanisms of killing cancerous cells. First, it helps the immune system’s killer cells to initiate the death of the affected cells. Secondly, CBD kills cancer cells by disrupting the energy production process in these cells. Lastly, its anti-cancer qualities are able to inhibit and slow down uncontrollable cell growth. Pets too can suffer from various types of cancer, and there is a wide range of anecdotal reports showing CBD’s efficacy in treating our furry friends from this awful disease.
- CBD and seizures/epilepsy
Approximately 5% of dogs suffer from some sort of seizures. This is normally treated using over the counter drugs such as potassium bromide and phenobarbital. Even though these drugs might work in controlling seizures for some pets, they also pose a threat to their livers and other organs. Furthermore, these treatments do not work on all pets. In humans, CBD has been shown to work greatly in controlling epileptic episodes even in patients that are resistant to normal medication. In one of these investigations, seven out of eight subjects with epilepsy reported a definite improvement after using CBD for 4-5 months. In another study focusing on children with drug-resistant epilepsy, the researchers found that CBD reduced the frequency of seizures in 84% of the subjects. Just like humans, CBD can also help your furry friends by reducing the severity and frequency of seizures.
- CBD’s efficacy in Pain Management
The current research shows that CBD is a very effective anti-pain agent, so much so that scientists are considering it as a new class of treatment for chronic pain. This is highly attributed to CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties. Consequently, the compound has been found to be effective for reducing nerve-related pain by reducing the pain signals fired by the affected cells.it is also able to decrease general inflammation, even in patients suffering from acute pancreatitis and intestinal inflammation. Pet owners have been applying the same treatment to their furry family members and the results are nothing short of great. In case your pet is suffering from any form of chronic pain, CBD can greatly improve the quality of its life.
- CBD in reducing inflammation and fighting auto-immune diseases
As already noted, CBD comes with useful anti-inflammatory properties that can improve your health and that of your pet significantly. CBD is able to decrease inflammation by reducing the production and release of inflammatory cytokines. These compounds are responsible for causing allergies, autoimmunity and hypersensitivity. In addition, CBD suppresses what scientists refer to as Th17 dominance, which is believed to play a major role in the development of autoimmune diseases. CBD is also able to inhibit the release of inflammatory macrophages which in turn reduce chronic inflammation. Lastly, CBD has been shown to be a more powerful antioxidant even compared to vitamins C and E. This effect helps injured pets heal faster.
- CBD is able to treat various neurodegenerative conditions and protect the nervous system
CBD activates CB1 and CB2 receptors which are found throughout the nervous and immune systems respectively. CBD has been found to help patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, ALS and Parkinson’s disease by protecting the nervous cells from degeneration and toxicity. In pets, CBD is able to help dogs with degenerative myelopathy as well as other nerve and spine problems. Moreover, CBD protects brain cells from death caused by toxins and free radicals, a common scenario especially in senior pets.
- CBD helps with nausea and boosts appetite
In case you are having trouble getting your pet to eat, CBD may just be the drug you are looking for. The National Cancer Institute acknowledges that CBD is able to improve appetite in patients besides its many anti-cancer effects as already shown. Animal studies have also suggested strongly that CBD is able to reduce nausea and vomiting in subjects even as a result of side effects caused by other drugs and toxins.
- CBD and cardiovascular health
Giving CBD to your pet will improve your pet’s cardiovascular system as discovered by Dr. Bassingthwaighte. Results from various studies show that CBD is effective in reducing the damage caused by an injury to the blood vessels and also protect the walls of blood vessels from further injury. Furthermore, CBD is able to dilate the arteries and hence reduce the blood pressure and heart rate usually associated with anxiety and depression.
As clearly shown above, CBD comes with a plethora of medical applications that can be very useful in improving the health of your pets. Before going to order CBD for your animals, however, there are some things that you will need to keep in mind, some of these are discussed below.
How to choose the best products for your pets
When looking for the best CBD products for your pets, it is important that you consider the trustworthiness of your supplier, the potency of the product, the ingredients and the method of administration you would prefer. For instance, when it comes to administering CBD to your pet, you can use CBD capsules, CBD oil dropper or edibles infused with CBD such as biscuits and crackers.
As a rule of thumb, go for CBD products advertised specifically for pets. This way, you can be sure that the products do not contain any sweets or chocolate which may be bad for your pet. It is also crucial to ensure that the product you choose does not contain much THC since this might make your pet confused and terrified, especially when consumed in large amounts.
How to determine CBD dosage for your pet
To give your pets the correct CBD dosage, it is best to start them with a small amount and slowly increase the dosage until the desired outcome is reached. According to Dr. Gary Ritcher, the safe CBD dosage for cats and dogs should be anything between one and five milligrams for every ten pounds of body weight. Therefore, if your cat weighs 20 pounds, you should administer 2-10mg of CBD, 3-15mg for a 30-pound dog and so on.
CBD can be accessed in many local and online shops and in many forms, most commonly as some form of oil. You can administer CBD oil extracts in a number of ways, including using a dropper, mixing with food/water or even by applying it to your pet’s bare skin. Its effects should start taking effect within half an hour.
Using CBD for pets may come with some mild side effects such as drowsiness, also, rare cases of vomiting and skin irritation have been recorded. In case this happens to you, stop administering CBD to your pet and seek further consultation with your vet.
Can my pet overdose on CBD?
Although your pet cannot overdose on CBD, administering too much can cause an unwanted experience for both you and your pet. To avoid such a scenario, always give the smallest amount possible and gradually work your way up to achieve the smallest yet most effective dosage for your pet. Also, be sure to check the contents of your medicine since the different brands out there vary in both potency and ingredients.
As a rule of thumb, do not give THC to your pets. In case your pet is suffering from a THC overdose, CBD can be used as antidote to reduce some of its unwanted effects. If your pet fails to recover from an overdose, be sure to visit a doctor.
A lot of dogs with CBD overdose may manifest what is known as static ataxia, where they start tipping over when they are standing perfectly still and then they catch themselves before hitting the ground. If the overdose is very serious, your pet’s blood pressure may become unstable and your pet may not be able to eat. Though not fatal, overdosing your pet may cause both of you stress, not to mention large sums of money after making the visit to a veterinarian. Be careful when administering CBD for pets via edibles since the effects can last for up to 12 hours in their systems.
How to administer CBD to your pet
Deciding the best method for administering CBD to your pet depends on a number of factors and can take some research. Currently, CBD for pets is available via capsules, treats/edibles, tinctures, topical sprays etc. When choosing an administration method, consider the condition you seek to treat in your pet. For example, if it is a case of anxiety, nausea or vomiting, using a dropper to administer the correct amount of CBD oil orally would be the best choice. In the case of skin allergies and inflammation, you can use a CBD topical spray to apply a decent amount of CBD oil on the affected area. This has been shown to stop scratching and discomfort for up to six hours. Other methods you can use to give your pets CBD include: CBD-infused edibles for pets and rubbing on their paws for them to lick.
The resolution by the AVMA to declassify cannabis as a Schedule I drug comes at a time when both the scientific and medical communities are beginning to appreciate the medical benefits of the various cannabinoids such as CBD. This is some great news for both humans and pet owners. As more research becomes available, we will be able to uncover more and more secrets about this amazing drug and we can rest assured that there will be some positive implications for our pets. Recently, Colorado State University petitioned pet owners to volunteer their animals for clinical trials. You may never know, your furry friend may make it to the books of history as one of the medical pioneers on thus front.