Many pet owners have shown interest in finding new ways to enhance the health and wellbeing of their pets. In their search, people have ventured into the cannabis space and read that CBD offers a wide range of health benefits for animals. For those that have personally tried CBD on their pets, they say it has the potential to reduce pain, anxiety, and seizures, among other advantages. To help clarify any misconceptions about the use of CBD on animals, we wanted to outline important information regarding effects, dosing, and scientific research related to CBD use on pets.
Although your veterinarian will likely tell you something along the lines of “research is ongoing and we’re not making recommendations now,” it’s worth doing your own research to find the best solution for your pet.
You may be on your own, but you can still find healthy solutions that work—just know that you’ll be giving your pet CBD at your own risk.
CBD for Dogs
When it comes to cannabis, dogs have a slightly different endocannabinoid system than humans. Canines have a higher concentration of CB1 receptors in the cerebellum than any other species, and THC is a partial agonist of these receptors. This means that dogs have increased sensitivity to THC, but is CBD is different because it does not have much direct action with these CB1 receptors. Because if this, it’s unlikely that CBD would harm your dog, but anything heavy in THC should probably be avoided unless prompted otherwise by a trusted vet.
While THC may have medicinal value, it can produce a psychoactive effect that might actually increase anxiety in animals when administered in high doses. If you want to introduce cannabis extracted ingredients into your dog’s diet, it’s generally safer to use CBD dominant extracts. Although THC and CBD can be used in conjunction for therapeutic purposes, it’s more difficult to obtain extracts with a high concentration of THC—unless you live in one of the few states that allows for recreational marijuana use. Cannabis extracts that are high in CBD and low in THC are preferred, as they are considered to be widely available and legal in more areas. Lab test results, especially from a third party lab, can determine the percentage of CBD and THC within a cannabis extract. This way, you can ensure that any cannabis extract given to your dog is accurately labeled.
CBD for Cats
It seems there is much less available information about people’s own experiences using CBD on cats, although that’s not to say they can’t benefit from CBD just the same. While dog owners commonly use CBD to help with separation anxiety or arthritis, cat owners have another ailment of concern. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects 3 out of 10 geriatric cats according to Pet Health Network, and some felines are taking CBD for possible symptom relief. Cats suffering from CKD often show signs of decreased appetite and weight loss due to chronic nausea, but CBD may restore appetite by alleviating feelings of nausea and reducing inflammation. Regardless of why you choose to use CBD, we do suggest starting in small dose amounts and increasing this slowly until you find the “sweet spot” that works best for your pet.
Potential Health Benefits of CBD for Your Pet
There a plenty of personal stories about the health benefits of CBD on pets, but what science is there to back up these claims?
One survey from the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA) included responses from more than 600 pet owners, and found that the most successful uses of CBD in pets were:
- Pain relief
- Sleep aid
- Anxiety relief (including thunderstorm or firework phobia)
- Nervous system support
- Reduced inflammation
- Reduced seizures
- Preventing vomiting and nausea
- Mitigating muscle spasms
- Helping with digestive tract issues
- Skin condition treatments
- Prevent and kill cancer cells
On top of these findings, a recent scientific study conducted by Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine has shown that CBD oil helped decrease pain, and increase activity, in dogs suffering from osteoarthritis.
With this information, it appears that there may be some validity to the health claims of CBD. But how do you introduce CBD to your pet?
How to Choose the Right CBD Product for Your Pet
With increased popularity in CBD and hemp products, new sellers are popping up everyday. There are a range of CBD products designed for the pet owners, including:
- Sprays (oral and topical)
- Dog treats
- Balms, salves, and other topical treatments
It can be difficult to distinguish between the quality of different brands and what product is best suited for your pet. You’ll want to do your homework before buying anything. We recommend using CBD products that are intended for pets, as well as brands who use third-party labs to verify CBD potency and test for the presence of any pesticides, microbials, or solvents. Most quality CBD pet products will have dosing guidelines, which makes it easier for owners to give their animal the right amount. But these guidelines are often coming from the company, not a veterinarian, so keep this in mind.
It’s important to take existing medications into consideration before using CBD on your pet, as it may alter the efficacy of these treatments for certain conditions. According to Dr. Tim Shu, CEO and founder of VETCBD, “CBD has been shown to be very safe across a wide range of doses in multiple animal species. But if an animal is on other medications, especially ones with narrow therapeutic ranges, a pet owner should discuss the concurrent use of CBD with their veterinarian prior to starting.”
Using CBD products designed for human consumption can be a bit more difficult, and they may include ingredients that are not healthy for dogs or cats to ingest. Currently, there are no pet products certified by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
So how do you know which product to buy?
Here are a few things to look for:
1) CBD products extracted from hemp
CBD can be extracted from hemp or marijuana, as both plants are from the cannabis family. Marijuana plants contain more THC than hemp plants, so it’s likely that marijuana extracted CBD products will have a higher concentration of THC. However, these extracts can still offer wellness advantages for pets, but they may not be readily available to everyone. Hemp extracts, on the other hand, are widely legal and may include beneficial cannabinoids (even small amounts of THC) in full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD products. CBD oils extracted from hemp can sometimes distill out these cannabinoids and terpenes to create a CBD isolate, but we recommend using full-spectrum CBD extracts for a synergistic effect and greater therapeutic value.
2) The product’s origin story
Since cannabis is a hyperaccumulator, it absorbs the elements of the ground within which it was grown. This is of particular concern when it comes to CBD oil because heavy metal toxicity can be prevalent, and you certainly don’t want to feed your pet anything toxic.
Even “natural” doesn’t always equal safe. For example, xylitol is a “natural” sugar-free sweetener used in many human foods, but it’s highly toxic to dogs according to PetMD. This is another reason why pet-specific CBD products are a safer choice, because human products may contain ingredients that are toxic to other animals.
Wherever you choose to buy from, look at the supplier’s website for information on their sourcing and standards.
3) Is it infused with oil?
CBD oil for dogs is easy to add into your pet’s food without them detecting a difference. For ease of absorption, look for a CBD product that’s infused with olive oil. Olive oil is rich in unsaturated fats, and healthier for your pet than other options like coconut oil. According to Healthline, the saturated fats in coconut oil may cause diarrhea or even high cholesterol when given to your pet in excess.
4) Is it made with CBD or hemp seed oil?
CBD is what generally has high response rates for pain relief, anti-inflammation and other health improvements in pets. Hemp seed oil is not the same as CBD oil, and this can cause some confusion. Hemp seed extract is pressed from the seeds of hemp to produce an oil that may help give your dog a shinier coat or better skin, but it does not contain any cannabinoids. Health advantages are attributed to CBD, which is taken from the trichomes of the flowers of hemp plants.
We know this is a lot of information to take in while searching for quality hemp extracts for your pet, and to help you get started, we’ve curated a list featuring some of our favorite CBD brands selling pet products.