October 3, 2019

Should we be giving CBD to our pets?

What to know before dosing your doggie

More and more people are swearing on the strength of CBD, using it to assuage issues ranging from inflammation to anxiety, but should you be giving it to your pet, too?

Just like nearly everything else having to do with CBD, the early information is promising, but the jury is still out in quite a lot of ways.

The medical community is currently in the process of researching this exciting little extract, but it’s certainly fair to say that what we know so far seems pretty promising: Among a multitude of uses, CBD has been shown to help with things like pain, anxiety, appetite and sleep problems, inflammation, and more…in both humans and animals, alike.

Is it safe to give CBD to pets?

But how much is enough? Perhaps more importantly, how much is too much? While we’re in the process of learning about how CBD can help us out, and even improve the quality of life for our little fuzzy friends, there is still plenty we don’t know.

As such? Caution is the name of the game. Those of us looking to use CBD to enjoy our quality of life have the exciting availability of a relatively new health product that can deliver some substantial benefits. Still, it’s important that we exercise caution while doing so, as the medical community is still very much in the process of figuring out exactly how CBD interacts with our bodies and just what it can do for us in the long run.

CBD, THC, and the Endocannabinoid System

Cannabidiol, known more commonly as CBD, is a cannabinoid, a naturally-occurring substance that interacts with a part of the nervous system known as the endocannabinoid system (or the ECS, for short). Cannabinoids interact with the nervous system in ways that release neurotransmitters, which are essentially chemical messengers that tell your body to do things (like “get hungry” for example).

In terms of its purpose, perhaps the simplest way of describing the ECS is to say that it’s dedicated to preserving homeostasis within the body, altering bodily functions and conditions in whatever way that will help accomplish this (Science is still figuring this part out).

In other words, the ECS is in charge of maintaining balance. In order to do its job, it has dominion over everything from inflammation to the sleep cycle, helping the body balance itself out by modulating things like stress and anxiety levels, helping to regulate the appetite or sleep schedules, and controlling inflammation and muscle soreness throughout the body.

Under normal circumstances, the ECS is working to keep the body operating as it’s supposed to. So when we load it full of cannabinoids, we’re tipping the scales in a decidedly positive direction.

And here’s the thing about the endocannabinoid system: Animals have one, just like humans do.

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CBD and Pets: Why?

Probably one of the first questions you’re asking at this point involves getting to the bottom of why one might need to start treating their pets with cannabis extract in the first place. Don’t they typically seem to be doing just fine on their own? Sure, we humans have jobs and responsibilities that can interrupt our sleep cycles and give us a ton of anxiety…but aren’t our cats and dogs pretty content to just chill out and sleep all day?

Most of the time, absolutely. But our furry little friends have bodies that experience problems just like ours do — both in the mental and physical senses, believe it or not. And when those problems arise, the ECS in cats and dogs can be utilized for therapeutic benefits in exactly the same way the human endocannabinoid system can be utilized.

Research into the exact biological mechanisms that inform the interaction between animals and CBD is still ongoing, in a big way. There is a lot that the medical community doesn’t know for sure about how CBD can help our animals…and yet there has been a significant amount of anecdotal evidence in which pet owners have found CBD to help their animals cope with a variety of issues:

  • Seizures
  • Stress and Anxiety
  • Arthritis
  • GI Issues
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Inflammation
  • Appetite Issues
  • And more

What studies do exist have been pretty promising, showing that CBD can help dogs and cats deal with some relatively debilitating issues. One study, conducted by Colorado State University found that nearly 90% of the dogs treated with CBD oil had significantly fewer seizures (side note – human epilepsy is the only condition recognized as treatable with CBD by the FDA). Another study conducted by Frontiers in Veterinary Science found that dogs dealing with osteoarthritis experienced an “increase in comfort and activity” after treatment with CBD.

As mentioned, more research is certainly needed. But the research we have is very promising, indeed.

CBD for My Cats or Dogs: How?

Very, very carefully.

Seriously, this really cannot be stressed enough: If you’re going to administer CBD to your pet, you must do so very, very cautiously. It’s also highly recommended that you talk to your vet before doing so — but remember this very important caveat before you do. This whole “CBD and animals” thing is so new that just about every state (except for California) is still in the process of figuring out where they stand, from a legislative perspective. As a result, the vast majority of vets are barred from speaking to you about the potential benefits of CBD for your pet unless you bring it up to them first.

But you won’t be alone: Consumer Reports tells us that a survey conducted by the Veterinary Information Network ultimately showed that two-thirds of vets have been asked by patients about administering CBD to pets.

And it’s not like animals are without the need for it, either. It’s estimated that around a quarter of all dogs deal with some form of osteoarthritis. Cats and dogs alike can experience seizures, stress, and anxiety, and that’s not even taking into consideration the deterioration and loss of function that can often come with old age. This particular writer happens to have a mom who swears CBD oil brought her super old dog back to life, but it’s important to recognize that every animal is different. Speak to your vet if you think CBD might be a good way to improve your pet’s quality of life: Chances are, they’ll thank you for it in their own way.

We are neither doctors nor vets. So before giving yourself or any of your pets CBD, THC or anything else you don’t know, do your due diligence.

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