In the past several years, the use of CBD has become a popular remedy for pets. Just as in humans, it’s being used to treat anxiety, pain, nausea, cancer, loss of appetite, arthritis and even seizures.
That being said, there’s not a lot of scientific data to back these claims up. This is due mostly to questions of legality on the federal level which have prevented major studies.
However, there are some veterinary studies and plenty of anecdotal evidence from pet owners that suggest the benefits of CBD for pets are real. As legislation on medical marijuana continues to change, we can expect more studies to be done in the near future.
It’s also interesting to note that just like humans, all mammals have an endocannabinoid system (also known as ECS). These receptors manage our appetite, pain-sensation, mood and regulate the effects of cannabis!
If you’re considering the use of CBD for your own furry friend, here are a few things you should know before you get started.
CBD vs THC
CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are both extracts from the cannabis plant. The main difference is that THC has a psychoactive effect. Translation: it gets you high.
Then there’s CBD. It has numerous scientifically proven benefits for human beings, but unlike THC, it has no euphoric effect. The main thing you need to know is that THC can be toxic for both dogs and cats.
This is because they’re more sensitive to THC and also metabolize it at a slower rate. For them the effects can last up to 24 hours or even longer.
THC can produce vomiting, lethargy, drooling, staggering, loss of bladder control, seizures and even induce a coma in pets.
CBD, on the other hand, IS safe for pets.
And while CBD products usually contain a very low level of THC (usually .3% or less), it’s not enough to get your pet high or incur adverse side effects when dosed properly.
Benefits of CBD for Pets
As mentioned above, CBD is being used to treat various ailments in pets just like humans.
If your pet suffers from separation anxiety, CBD can be used to keep your friend calmer when you’re away from home. It can also help with noise phobias, such as fireworks.
Need to travel with your pet? CBD may also be a good option when you have to fly or drive with your animal companion.
It’s also been well-reported that CBD can help with various forms of pain. Inflammation, nerve-related pain and arthritis can all be treated with CBD.
Appetite and Nausea
If your pet is suffering from a loss of appetite, CBD can get them to eat again. It’s also beneficial for nausea and vomiting.
CBD may also be a good alternative if your pet suffers from seizures. And unlike other medications, it has no harmful effects on the liver.
May Fight Cancer
Some studies also suggest that CBD has an anti-tumor effect as it stops cancer cells from producing energy.
Getting Started: Talk To Your Vet
If your pet suffers from any of the above symptoms and you would like to give CBD a try, the first thing you should do is talk to your vet.
Because CBD still isn’t legal on the federal level, your vet may or may not be willing to discuss it with you.
However, it’s important that your vet at least know that you plan to use CBD as it could affect other medicines that he or she prescribes.
In states where CBD is legal, your vet may be open to discussing the option with you at more length.
Sourcing Your CBD
When choosing a brand of CBD, it’s safest to use one that is specifically made for animals.
That’s because many of them don’t contain ANY THC. That being said, you’ll still want to check the label as there are some full-spectrum products that do have trace amounts.
Those products can still be safe for your pet as long as they are properly dosed. But THC-free products may give you more peace of mind and are safer for animals.
Another thing you want to look for is a Certificate of Analysis. This means the product has been checked for high amounts of pesticides or other toxins that could be harmful.
Want to be extra safe? Go organic!
Many companies are now offering organic CBD in a range of flavors.
Finally, don’t cheap out. If the price seems too good to be true, it may mean the CBD is of poor quality.
As a general rule of thumb, don’t give your pet any product you wouldn’t take yourself.
Oil, Capsules or Soft Chews?
CBD comes in a variety of forms for pets. So which is best?
Most experts recommend using CBD oil. That’s because it’s easier to control the dosage with drops. Also, unlike treats, it hasn’t been baked at high heat, which may break down the CBD and lower its effectiveness.
It’s preferable to squirt the oil right into your pet’s mouth. Then you can follow it up with a treat to make sure he swallows it.
If your pet doesn’t cooperate, you can also squirt the oil onto a soft treat or other yummy snacks that he likes.
If your pet gobbles down their food, you can also mix it in with their breakfast or dinner. But for pets that tend to graze over the course of the day, this isn’t the best option.
How Much CBD Should I Give My Pet?
There’s no one correct answer to how much CBD to give your pet.
This will depend on their size and ailment. It will also vary according to the brand you buy as products come in different potencies. So it’s very important to read the instructions on whatever brand you buy.
As with any medication, it’s best to start with a small dosage and increase it slowly as necessary.
Here are some examples of what would be considered low, medium and high doses:
- Low Dose: Use .05 mg per pound of body weight, 1-2 times a day
- Medium Dose: Use .125 mg per pound of body weight, 1-2 times a day
- Higher Dose: Use .25 mg per pound of body weight, 1-2 times a day
It’s best to start your pet with a low dose at first and observe him for positive and negative effects. If you see an improvement with the low dosage, you can keep it there.
If there are no negative effects, you can increase the dosage to medium after one week if necessary.
Again, observe your pet for one week before increasing to a higher dosage.
Don’t forget to read the packaging as the number of drops you need will vary. Ultimately, you know your pet best and may have to do some fine-tuning before you hit the sweet spot with the exact dosage.
Possible Side Effects
Side effects from CBD are rare but can include dry mouth, lower blood pressure and drowsiness.
If your pet has any of these symptoms, you’ll want to decrease the dosage.
An overdose of CBD would be extremely rare, but if your pet is vomiting or has diarrhea, consult your vet immediately.
Happy Furry Friends
For most of us, our pets are cherished members of the family.
That’s why keeping them happy and healthy is so important.
If you decide CBD would benefit your animal companion, be sure to do your product research, invest in quality oil and begin with a low dosage.