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CBD and Pets - A Basic Course

16.April 2021 | Manuela

A dog waits for a drop from an dropper in a human's hand

They are best friends, playmates, family members, entertainers, comforters, sports partners and much more. We are talking about pets. Dog, cat, mouse and co. have been an enrichment in many households since time immemorial. Their well-being is close to our hearts and so it is not surprising that CBD is gaining more and more attention not only in human medicine, but also in veterinary medicine. What is important to consider for CBD and the animal well-being?

Similarities between Humans and Animals

Just like humans, the majority of mammals have an endocannabinoid system (ECS). As part of the nervous system, it performs tasks in the areas of:

  • Pain sensation

  • Immune system

  • Inflammation

  • Appetite

  • Sleep

  • Memory and cognition

  • Emotions

The ECS sends signals through the body with the help of endogenous cannabinoids and can thus influence well-being. If this system gets out of balance, the cannabinoids of the cannabis plant can be used to restore balance.

CBD as a Complementary Treatment for Pets

CBD is one of these cannabinoids, but unlike its famous cousin THC, it does not induce intoxication. The popularity of CBD products has increased enormously in recent years, thanks in part to legal liberalization. At the latest when visiting a website for pet supplies, one realizes that at least CBD oils have arrived in the animal market. CBD oils are a popular addition to common treatment methods, but one should be aware that CBD is not a drug.

On the Current State of Research: CBD and Pets

Science has neglected cannabis for years and previous statements on the effects and various uses of CBD are largely based on empirical medicine. At this point, there is only one study on CBD in veterinary medicine. In 2018, researchers at Cornell University in New York investigated the efficacy of CBD on arthritis in dogs. Although the results are promising, more studies need to be conducted to make any firm conclusions about CBD. CBD is certainly not the hyped all-purpose drug (yet), but, as a herbal supplement, it is already worth considering.

Areas of Application of CBD in Pets

As mentioned, the current knowledge about the effect of CBD is mainly based on the experiences of animal owners. Thus, animal owners report relaxed fireworks evenings, relieved hip pain and calm horse transports. The most common areas of application are:

  • Chronic pain in the musculoskeletal system

  • Anxiety and stress

  • Support for the gastrointestinal tract

  • Skin and coat problems

  • Support for the immune system

The WHO classifies CBD as harmless, nevertheless there are known side effects and especially animal organisms react differently than the human organism. Basically, it is always advisable to first talk to your trusted veterinarian if you are interested.

CBD Dosing Tips for Pets

  • Work with low concentrations.

  • A dose of 0.5 mg/kg body weight should not be exceeded in a single dose. If you want to know how to calculate this 0.5 mg on the drop, you should follow the calculation exercise in our blog on dosing in humans.

  • Start low and take small increments of increase every week: GO LOW AND SLOW!

Canidae aka Dogs

Dogs have a higher percentage of receptors in the endocannabinoid system than other pet species and may respond strongly to the administration of CBD. A CBD product for dogs should never exceed a THC level of 0.2%. Uncontrolled delivery of THC can cause severe side effects. These include loss of bladder control and locomotor disorders.

Felidae aka Cats

Cats can also benefit from CBD. However, the choice of product plays a big role here. Cats cannot metabolize terpenes because they lack a necessary liver enzyme. Terpenes are a part of the cannabis plant and are responsible for an increased effect of CBD. Therefore, there are many products in which terpenes are intentionally preserved. In the case of cats, consumption of such products can lead to organ damage or death. Therefore, a CBD oil for cats should be labeled "terpene-free" or it should be a CBD isolate. The THC limit, which applies to dogs, should also not be exceeded in cats. The furry noses react similar to humans to THC, i.e. somewhere in the spectrum between agitation and feeding addiction.

Equus aka Horses

Horses are flight animals and their evolutionary response to stress is increased breathing rate and increased blood flow to muscles. Tournaments, stable changes, transports or rank fights in the herd are known stressful situations. Permanent stress can lead to chronic diseases and a weakened immune system in horses. CBD as a natural tranquilizer is becoming increasingly popular among horse owners. However, those who want their four-legged friends to gallop in competitions should avoid CBD a few weeks before the start of the race, as it is on the animal doping list.

In a Nutshell

Our four-legged friends deserve only the best. CBD can provide support in times of animal distress, but should only be administered in consultation with a veterinarian. Those who wish to administer CBD to their pets should do so with patience and caution. That way, contented furry noses will continue to enrich our human existence!

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