As CBD is becoming more and more popular for its medicinal properties, its use is widening. In particular, its ability to reduce anxiety is now being used to help pets. CBD dog treats or mouth sprays for cats have been appearing in CBD shops all over the world. They boast benefits such as calming pets down and helping them with appetite and nausea problems. But can CBD be safely administered to cats or dogs? And does it really have benefits for them? Let’s have a look at what the science says:
What is CBD?
CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is a compound present in the cannabis plant. In recent years, it has been widely researched for its medicinal properties. For example, CBD has been found to help with sleep issues, anxiety and depression, as well as epilepsy, Parkinson’s or Crohn’s disease. This is all due to its ability to act on our endocannabinoid system, a function of our bodies that controls mood, appetite, and inflammation among many others.
The effects of CBD that have been observed on humans and laboratory animals are so promising that many have looked to create products suited for pets. Here’s what they do and how they work:
Why use CBD for pets?
Since pets have endocannabinoid systems that are similar to ours, they can get the same range of benefits from CBD that humans commonly experience. In particular, CBD for pets is used to alleviate symptoms such as:
- low appetite
In fact, many of the CBD oil for pets products that can be found on the market are not targeted at any specific condition. Rather, they claim to help with all of them.
It makes sense: the same system that regulates appetite and nausea also regulates pain and inflammation. This makes CBD oil for pets a pretty powerful holistic treatment that can help cats and dogs with any number of these conditions.
And indeed, pet owners find that giving CBD to their animal makes them more relaxed, restores a normal appetite, and can help them to keep moving even with painful joints or an injury.
CBD oil can also be used for animals who don’t suffer from any medical conditions. For example, cats and dogs can take it if they are feeling anxious before a trip. Or you might give your pet a CBD chew before guests arrive for a dinner party at your house. In case of thunder or fireworks, some dog-owners also find that CBD can help their dogs to relax and stay calm.
What kind of CBD products for pets can I find?
The first pet-owners to use CBD as medicine likely tried to get their pets to consume drops of CBD oil either by administering it directly or by mixing it in with food.
These days, this is no longer a necessary step. You can find CBD oil for pets products that cats and dogs actually look forward to eating. These include:
- dog treats
- cat treats
- CBD-infused peanut butter
When choosing a CBD product for your pet, we recommend that you choose one that is meant especially for them. This will help you choose the right dosage for them, and most importantly make sure that it is free of THC. Here’s why:
CBD is often confused with its cousin, THC. THC is another cannabinoid with several medicinal properties. But unlike CBD, THC is psychoactive, meaning that it causes changes in the brain as well as changes in consciousness and perception. In other words, THC is what makes you “high” when you consume marijuana.
People who consume CBD for medical reasons will usually take broad-spectrum CBD oil. That term refers to a hemp oil with a high CBD content and a very limited THC content. In some cases, people might prefer to ingest full-spectrum CBD oil, which also contains THC. Both have their pros and cons. For example, THC might provide additional pain relief, but it could also cause more unpleasant side effects.
But when it comes to pets, THC should in no way figure in the medicine that we give them. It should go without saying, but giving recreational drugs to your pets, no matter what their medicinal properties, is a no-go! Ingesting THC can cause dogs to have strange behavior, feel confused, and sick.
It should be clear from the packaging, but whenever you give CBD oil to a dog, make sure that the THC content is none or trace.
Research on CBD oil for pets
As of yet, research on the use of CBD oil for pets is severely limited. There have been just a few studies conducted directly on dogs and cats showing the benefits of this cannabinoid.
The few studies that do exist are very promising. A 2019 study found that 89% of epileptic dogs saw a reduction in the frequency of their seizures when treated with CBD. The scientists even noticed that the higher the dose of CBD administered, the less likely seizures were to happen.
More studies need to be conducted for results to be conclusive. That being said, we do know that pets have an endocannabinoid system that is very similar to ours. In that regard, it is not unlikely that something that has an effect on us should have an effect on them too.
In fact, many of the studies that show the potential of CBD oil as a treatment for humans were conducted on mice. Although scientists stress the importance of conducting more clinical trials on human patients, the mice studies are well-respected in the field.
The fact that all animals (mice, humans, cats, and dogs…) have the same endocannabinoid system suggests that we can all get similar benefits from consuming CBD. From that point of view, we can consider that CBD oil for pets has already been researched. What remains to be defined is the appropriate dose to give our furry companions.
Although CBD oil for pets is not nearly as thoroughly-researched as CBD for humans or mice, it is a new and very promising field. The fact that all mammals have an endocannabinoid system makes them receptive to CBD in much the same way. This is great news, as it means that dogs, cats, and horses can get the same effects of CBD for arthritis, nausea, anxiety or epilepsy as we do. Using CBD oil for pets has been shown to be safe, and effective in a lot of cases. Just make sure to find a dosage that is appropriate for them—and never give them anything containing THC!