What are the Benefits of CBD for Pets?
Posted on July 26 2021
In recent years, many pet owners have begun to learn more about the benefits of CBD extract for their pets, especially dogs and cats. While the cannabis plant is historically associated with marijuana, its key compound cannabidiol (CBD) has started to gain attention in recent years for its ability to help with a wide variety of health issues, ranging from skin conditions to anxiety and even chronic pain—for both humans and animals.
7 Benefits of CBD Oil for Pets
- Relaxation and Essential Sleep
- Pain Relief
- Anxiety Treatment
- Nausea Relief
- Treats Skin Conditions
- Could Be Helpful for Seizures
- Possible Cancer Treatment
Previously illegal in the United States, hemp plant production gained favor with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, providing the CBD industry with a path forward for use and testing. Currently, hemp-derived CBD products are legal for treating pets. You do not need a prescription for these products, but do note that most veterinarians are not allowed to recommend the use of CBD oil for your dog or cat, per state laws. However, you can ask your vet for advice about a CBD treatment regimen you have researched on your own. Advocacy work is currently ongoing in an attempt to change state laws to grant veterinarians more flexibility to recommend and dispense pet CBD products in their practices, but you should understand your state’s current climate and regulations before beginning a discussion with your veterinarian.
One of the chief misunderstandings people have about CBD (cannabidiol) is that it will have hallucinogenic or psychoactive effects on pets. This is simply not true. That “high” effect for humans is caused by another compound in the cannabis plant, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the key psychogenic compound that leads humans to the high associated with marijuana. THC is not present in any pet CBD products.
CBD is extracted from the flowers and buds of mature cannabis plants and is known for providing medical and therapeutic benefits for humans. Only recently has its ability to provide similar therapeutic benefits for pets started to be explored.
As you choose a CBD oil to use with your dog or cat, one important thing to keep in mind is that CBD oil and hemp oil aren’t the same thing. While CBD is harvested from leaves, flowers and stems of mature cannabis plants, hemp is harvested from cannabis seeds and contains little to no CBD. That doesn’t mean hemp oil isn’t useful. In fact, it’s full of nutrients and vitamins, and many pet owners choose to give their pet hemp oil for that very reason, but it probably doesn’t contain CBD and will be less effective. It’s just something you need to keep in mind while shopping for a CBD pet tincture and other CBD pet products.
CBD use in pets is rapidly gaining in popularity. In fact, one 2017 survey showed that many pet owners endorsed CBD dog treats, oil, and other CBD pet products because of the perceived improvement in numerous pet ailments, including separation anxiety, chronic pain, inflammation, digestive issues, and sleeping.
How Safe is CBD Oil for Pets?
Early research shows positive signs for the safety of CBD oil in pets. Studies have shown that lab-tested CBD products show a wide margin of safety in both dogs and cats. Some veterinary studies published over the past two years have shown that, even when given high levels of CBD, pets involved in the studies experienced no major adverse events.
The safety of CBD oil products for your dog or cat largely depends on the CBD brand you purchase. Keep in mind that CBD remains unregulated in the United States, so you’ll need to do your research and purchase a CBD pet product from a company you know and trust. Additionally, you should only use pet CBD products that are specifically formulated for animals, or do not contain THC. Some CBD products contain small traces of THC, an additional compound present in cannabis, which can be toxic to animals. Products formulated for pets will have the THC removed.
Farmer & Chemist prides itself on the quality of its CBD products, only selling CBD that meets the highest of lab standards. Our CBD pet products must meet the same requirements, ensuring your furry friend receives the safest, most effective CBD treats.
CBD Oil for Pets Research
Formal veterinary research into the safety of CBD for pets is in its very early states. One study out of Colorado State University showed that healthy dogs participating in the study tolerated CBD well, with a few minor side effects reported.
Of course, more research is necessary to determine the long-term effects of CBD for our pets, but in the meantime, the internet has many anecdotal stories from pet owners about the positive effects of CBD for pets. While CBD offers many promising benefits for pets, it’s important to talk to your veterinarian before starting any pet CBD regimen. A CBD pet product may, in fact, be most beneficial when used as part of a comprehensive health care plan that you and your veterinarian work on developing together.
There are no formal studies that address how, exactly, pet CBD affects animals. What we do know is that cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid receptors, which are located in the central and peripheral nervous systems. These receptors help maintain homeostasis (balance) in the body and keep it in a normal, healthy state. The endocannabinoid system can affect many important functions, including how a pet feels, moves, and reacts to stimuli.
While there is no specific evidence related to side effects associated with CBD when used with pets, there is much we can glean from the effects of CBD on humans. If you’re using CBD with your pets, you should watch for the following side effects:
- Dry mouth: If your dog or cat seems to be drinking more water after taking CBD, they may be experiencing dry mouth.
- Drowsiness: Excessive sleepiness is a common side effect of CBD in both pets and humans.
- Diarrhea: Taking too much CBD oil may upset the digestive system. If you notice your dog or cat has watery stools after taking CBD, try scaling back their CBD dosage.
6 Benefits of CBD Oil for Pets
Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits of CBD oil for your dog or cat:
1. Relaxation and Essential Sleep
As many pets age, they may find it harder and harder to get comfortable enough to rest—which for many pets constitutes at least 12 to 14 hours of sleep per day. Because CBD binds to endocannabinoid receptors in the brain, it reduces sensations of pain and helps the body and brain relax. For many pets, this helps them achieve the comfort necessary to fall asleep and get the healthy, restorative rest they need to support a good quality of life. Much as it does for humans, an adequate amount of restful sleep helps boost your pet’s immunity, along with lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of diabetes, stroke, and infection.
According to one animal study completed in 2013, animals who ingested 10 to 40 mg per kilogram of CBD saw significantly longer sleep times than those who did not. This could be related to CBD’s ability to help with pain relief, or its ability to help soothe anxiety and help your dog or cat feel calmer and more relaxed—thus, more likely to fall asleep and stay asleep.
2. Pain Relief
Many studies show that pet CBD has positive effects when it comes to pain relief, especially pain associated with inflammation and nerve issues. For older pets who suffer from joint pain associated with arthritis, CBD also can be extremely beneficial. In fact, effectively managing aches and pains is one of the most important things you can do for an aging pet to improve and/or maintain her quality of life. And pet CBD may help improve pain associated not only with arthritis, but also that associated with injury, surgery, or many chronic, progressive diseases.
The cannabinoid present within CBD can help regulate the production of anandamide within the body. Higher levels of anandamide can reduce sensations of pain within your pet’s brain, leaving them feeling more comfortable.
In addition, CBD helps with inflammation, which often is a source of pain. While inflammation is generally treated with prescription medication, usually non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs, the danger of liver damage associated with these drugs may make CBD a more attractive alternative. When you consider that some estimates indicate that one in four dogs will be diagnosed with arthritis during their lifetime, this becomes especially relevant for pet owners.
3. Anxiety Treatment
Many pets, especially dogs, suffer from separation anxiety, which often manifests as excessive barking, aggressive or destructive behavior, or extreme restlessness. In addition, many dogs suffer from noise phobia, which leaves them exhibiting the same kinds of behaviors—or hiding in fear.
Dog CBD has been shown to help make animals feel calmer when they suffer from anxiety, similar to the effect it has on humans. In fact, pet CBD often can help dogs feel relaxed and calm, even during intense situations, such as storms or fireworks shows.
4. Nausea Relief
If your pet isn’t showing much of an appetite, or seems to show symptoms of nausea or vomiting, CBD may help ease stomach issues and increase your pet’s appetite, getting it back to a healthy level. This is especially important for older pets or those fighting chronic conditions, which also often bring with them a loss of appetite.
Getting the proper amount of nutrients into your pet’s body is always important, but perhaps even more so for pets in these situations. Adding CBD to your pet’s health regimen can help their appetite, ensuring that your pet takes in enough calories and essential nutrients for a good quality of life.
If your pet’s issues are directly digestive, there also is some evidence that CBD can help reduce the symptoms associated with stomach swelling, bloating, leaky gut, and even irritable bowel syndrome.
5. Treats Skin Conditions
Some evidence indicates that consistent use of CBD oil can support healthy skin and healthy coats in pets. Often, pets develop skin issues associated with allergies, poor nutrition, stress or other issues. Topical application of CBD oil can help treat skin conditions and encourage healthy fur growth. This type of application, typically via CBD balms and salves, can be beneficial because of the cannabinoid receptors found in the pet’s skin. Topical treatments work best when applied to an area that has either been shaved or naturally does not have any fur. It’s also best to make sure the pet doesn’t have access to the area for 30-45 minutes so that they don’t lick it off.
Unlike many other topical medications, CBD can help calm the nerves that arise from excessive itchiness. This also may help break the vicious cycle of your pet constantly licking or scratching those itchy spots, which usually leads to more irritated skin or hot spots, that then lead to more scratching and more painful skin reactions.
6. Could Be Helpful for Seizures
CBD has been used for some time to treat epilepsy and other causes of seizures in humans, but veterinarians are beginning to see its benefits for helping animals who deal with seizures as well. In this way, CBD offers an attractive alternative to other anti-seizure medications, many of which are difficult for a pet’s liver to process. While seizure treatment probably is the most-studied application of CBD in people, limited (but optimistic) research exists for pets.
In fact, existing evidence of CBD’s effectiveness against seizures in pets is largely anecdotal, but the American Kennel Club’s Canine Health Foundation currently is sponsoring a study through Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences to evaluate the use of CBD in treatment-resistant epileptic dogs. This study may yield additional medical insight into how CBD can address epilepsy and other seizure-related illnesses in pets.
7. Possible Cancer Treatment
CBD has been studied for possible use in human cancer patients, both to directly treat cancerous tumors, as well as to treat secondary symptoms of cancer and its associated chemotherapy. However, very little research has been completed on the use of CBD for pets who are battling cancer. So, a pet parent may opt to use CBD as a supplemental therapy for pets undergoing treatment for cancer. While CBD isn’t a magical cure, it can, in some cases, help your pet deal with the pain, inflammation, nausea, and loss of appetite often associated with both the disease and its conventional treatment. In addition, some forms of cancer may cause seizures, so CBD may be a helpful therapeutic treatment to help with those seizures as well.
How Often Should I Give my Pet CBD Oil?
If you’re dealing with a CBD product you can trust, a good place to start is with the product guidelines, which should make recommendations on how much each dosage should be, depending on your pet’s age and weight. It should also tell you how often you should administer CBD for maximum safety and therapeutic effect. There’s some evidence that cats may have lower absorption and possibly faster elimination of CBD when compared to dogs. What does this mean for you? If your furry friend is of the feline variety, they may need to be dosed more often to maintain an appropriate level of CBD for therapeutic effect.
How Much CBD Oil Should I Give My Pet?
The amount of CBD extract you give your pet largely depends on what format you’re giving it. You can find CBD for pets in treat form or in the form of CBD oil tincture drops that can be added to your pet’s food. CBD oil is basically the CBD compound suspended within a carrier oil (usually coconut oil).
A good rule of thumb is to check with your veterinarian before starting any type of CBD treatment with your dog or cat. Then start with the smallest dose possible and work your way up, depending on your pet’s reaction. CBD is most commonly given to pets through either a CBD oil or some kind of CBD dog treat—like dog soft chews.
Studies exploring the use of CBD in dogs with arthritis or seizures generally use a dose somewhere between two and eight mg/kg, with most studies erring on the lower side of that estimate (approximately one to two milligrams per pound of body weight). Keep in mind that this CBD dosage has been found safe and somewhat effective when studied for treatment of arthritis and seizures only. Further research is needed to pinpoint ideal dosages that are safe and effective for other issues your pet may face, so it’s always important to confer with your veterinarian on the right dosage for your pet.
Farmer & Chemist’s Ruff Dayz CBD Soft Chews for pets has two milligrams of CBD per serving, making it easy for a dog owner to start low and adjust the CBD dosage as needed, depending on the pet’s age and size.
CBD Can Help Pets with a Wide Range of Ailments
It’s hard, as a pet owner, to watch your beloved pet struggle with health issues and feel helpless to do anything to help them. It’s also difficult sometimes to give your pet high levels of pharmaceutical products, especially if those pharmaceuticals provide little to no relief for your pet. CBD may be a beneficial alternative.
Though research is in early stages, there is some early evidence to show that CBD could be a more natural option when it comes to helping your pet live a more relaxed and pain-free life. In fact, using a CBD supplement to support your pet’s overall well-being is something a lot of pet owners are committed to doing. As always, before you make a major decision regarding your pet’s health, you should talk with your veterinarian.
We hope the information we’ve presented here can help inform your discussion, and the team at Farmer and Chemist is always happy to help. We can discuss your pet’s specific needs and help you find the right cannabis products to help your furry friend feel calm, relaxed, and pain-free.