Between recreational and medicinal use, 30 states across the U.S. have legalized marijuana as of 2018. And while the number continues to grow every year, there’s no denying the controversy surrounding marijuana use makes the issue complicated at best.

There’s more to cannabis than meets the eye, and not every element of it is always met with the same reaction. Cannabidiol, often referred to as CBD oil, is just one of the 104 chemical compounds derived from the marijuana plant, and you might be surprised at how often it’s linked to far-reaching health benefits.

Perhaps even more surprising, the potential benefits of CBD oil aren’t exclusive to people. Far and wide, pet owners are using CBD oil on their four-legged friends for everything from their emotional concerns to physical maladies. From topical oils to CBD biscuits, we polled over 1,000 pet owners to find out which puppy (and kitty) parents are using CBD oils on their fur-children, how they’re administering it, and the individual effects they’ve observed. Curious how cannabidiol could help improve your pet’s life? Read on for an inside perspective.

An Alternative Remedy

Unlike fully ingesting marijuana, CBD oil is a very specific extract from the cannabis plant that creates a unique set of effects. Without tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD produces none of the psychoactive effects typically associated with “getting high.”

Instead, various research studies over the years have linked CBD oil to numerous health benefits in pets and people. While some findings could use more trials to cement the impact of CBD, enough testing has led doctors to agree on some of the most basic uses of CBD oil and even prompted the first FDA-approved drug derived from CBD in recent years.

Available in a pill form, as a liquid, and even infused in pet treats, studies suggest a strong link between CBD and managing or relieving everything from stress and anxiety in pets to joint pain, seizures, and the spread or growth of malignant tumors. Of course, it’s also important to consider the recommended dosages and recognize the possible side effects associated with CBD. While uncommon and often mild, some pets may exhibit signs of disorientation, drowsiness, vomiting, or excitement after ingesting CBD.

A Remedy You Can Trust?

Just because the list of potential benefits from CBD is lengthy doesn’t mean pet owners are jumping at the opportunity to introduce the substance into their pets’ lives. For many people, there’s still a tremendous amount of confusion surrounding both the safety of CBD and the legality of it.

Overwhelmingly, the biggest roadblock for pet parents not currently using CBD wasn’t either of the aforementioned issues; it was the approval of their vets. And while your vet may not be prescribing CBD publicly yet for one reason or another, at least one veterinarian says most doctors in her field recognize the positive health implications and have seen extremely encouraging results in their own fur-patients. In most cases, CBD presents a more holistic alternative to prescribed medications that can often lead to intense (and sometimes harmful) side effects.

Our survey found that while 70 percent of pet owners hadn’t used CBD oil on their pets, more than 4 in 5 of those still believed it was OK for other people to use it as an alternative remedy, and more than 1 in 3 would consider giving it to their own pets in the future. For some, their primary deterrent for not using CBD was that their pets weren’t sick (48 percent), they didn’t trust alternatives like CBD oil (31 percent), and they didn’t know where to purchase it (20 percent). Because not all CBD products will offer the same level of quality or manufacturing, it’s important to research products thoroughly before purchasing them. Even though the odds are slim that your pet could get sick, it’s worth noting that low-quality products could be completely ineffective on their health.

Healthy Habits

The popularity of CBD for pets is still relatively new, so it’s natural to be skeptical about its medicinal properties helping to treat medical concerns. After all, no matter what health issues your cat or dog might be experiencing, we all want what’s best for our pets from the food they eat to the medicine we administer. The good news is that extreme reactions to CBD oil are very rare in both cats and dogs, and health risks remain low.

Thirty percent of pet owners surveyed had given their pets CBD oil in at least one instance, though nearly 60 percent were hesitant at first. In general, it was the recommendation of friends (33 percent) and online research (28 percent) that helped encourage them to experiment with the health benefits for their pets. Another 6.5 percent of pet owners learned about CBD oil for animals from their veterinarians.

Nature’s Best Medicine

As with human consumption, CBD oil comes in a variety of fashions explicitly designed for pet consumption. The oil form can be mixed into food or water, baked into treats, or administered orally with an oil dropper. Regardless of form, nearly 40 percent of pet owners turned to CBD oil for their pets’ issues with chronic joint pain. When you look at the standard medical treatments, it’s no surprise why.

  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories (NSAID) can lead to decreased appetite, diarrhea, or even behavior changes.
  • Tramadol, another popular pharmaceutical solution, can induce incoordination or sedation.
  • Gabapentin is now prescribed for joint pain in pets but originally started as a way to treat seizures.

While these solutions may work in many situations, are the possible side effects worth the risk? Perhaps that’s why over a third of Americans have turned to alternatives to prescription medication for themselves, and why so many are now considering CBD oil as a way to help their pets.

Promoting Pet Health

Natural remedies, such as CBD oil, are sought out to provide an alternative to “Big Pharma” solutions. In fact, 94 percent of pet owners said they were satisfied with the perceived benefits of CBD oil use for their pets’ ailments.

Owners perceived their pets as less anxious after being administered CBD oil in over 53 percent of instances. Other emotional benefits, including a more positive mood (43 percent) and stress relief (41 percent) were among the most common health benefits of CBD oil. Another 37 percent saw a decrease in overall pain after using CBD, and roughly 1 in 5 saw a decrease in overall barking, which can be one of the hardest behaviors to instill in your pet from training.

Life on CBD

Pet owners wagged their tails in glee over the improvements in their pet’s quality of life after administering CBD. Nearly 72 percent reported an improvement for their cuddly companions. Still, 22 percent felt the addition of CBD oil to their pet’s diet didn’t improve their quality of life, and another 5.6 percent said it made their quality of life worse.

Digestive issues, decreases in appetite, self-isolating, and lethargic behavior could all be signs your pet is suffering from anxiety, and who wouldn’t want to put their furry friend at ease? While there are many causes for pet anxiety – situational elements such as thunderstorms or behavioral elements like separation anxiety – CBD oil was observed to lessen pets’ anxiety levels in over 71 percent of situations. Only 8 percent of pet owners felt the introduction of CBD oil made their pet more anxious.

Putting Pets First

The bond we create with our pets is often so strong it’s said to rival the less meaningful connections we sometimes create with other people. Whether it’s a cat or a dog (or any other kind of animal), the love we have for our pets also means wanting the best for them in terms of both nutrition and care. When a pet is sick or in pain, finding the right treatment for them is sometimes easier said than done.

CBD oil may not be the solution you would have thought of a few years ago, but today it’s rising in popularity as a natural alternative to some conventional pet medications. With positive effects on everything from separation anxiety and stress to joint pain and seizures, people we surveyed are doing their own research (or getting first-hand recommendations) on just how powerful CBD oil can be. Even if it might not be the first thing your vet recommends for your fluffy fur-family, an overwhelming amount of people who try CBD oil as a natural remedy are happy with the results it produces.

Methodology and Limitations

In this analysis, we conducted an online survey of 1,020 pet owners about their thoughts on administering CBD oil to their pets. Respondents had to identify their status as a pet owner prior to answering questions. Only dog and cat owners qualified to take this survey – 23 percent of respondents identified as cat owners, 47 percent as dog owners, and 29 percent claimed to own both types of pets. An attention check question was placed throughout the survey to filter respondents entering wrong or inconsistent information.

Additionally, we submitted queries via HARO (www.helpareporter.com) to engage well-informed medical professionals, veterinarians, and researchers in the field. Their insights were used to determine perceived benefits of CBD oil for pets – based on past studies and anecdotal evidence – as well as the proper dosage per pet, approved methods of administration, and potential side effects.

The main limitation of this study is the effectiveness of CBD oil administered to pets is based on anecdotal evidence. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a lot of research into the benefits of CBD oil in pets, but it is currently a topic of active research. A lot of what veterinarians can recommend comes from human studies that are available. The proper dosage for CBD in dogs and cats depends on the product being used, the condition that is being treated, and the pet’s overall health status. Owners should discuss whether or not CBD is a good option with their pet’s veterinarian.

Disclaimer

This study contains anecdotal evidence and expert insights for administering CBD oil to pets. The findings presented in this content is not medical advice and should not serve as a substitute for recommendations from professional veterinary services.

Fair Use Statement

Want to help share the benefits of alternative medicine for your pets? We encourage you to share the data and graphics from our survey with your readers for any not-for-profit use. Just throw us a bone, and please cite this page directly to ensure your readers have access to the full scope of our survey.

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Sources

https://www.petmd.com/dog/centers/nutrition/signs-your-dog-is-stressed

https://www.petmd.com/dog/care/evr_dg_managing_pain_in_dogs

https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1439/cannabidiol

https://www.refinery29.com/2018/04/196771/where-is-weed-legal-state-marijuana-laws

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/cbd-oil-benefits

https://www.health.com/pain/cbd-oil

https://www.straight.com/cannabis/1051381/i-cant-imagine-practising-without-it-local-vet-says-cannabis-derived-cbd-helps-her

https://edition.cnn.com/2015/02/11/health/feat-alternative-medicine-study/index.html

https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/dog-pain-medications#1

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/canine-corner/201711/why-people-sometimes-care-more-about-dogs-humans

https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/understanding-why-dogs-bark#1

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