CBD is gaining in popularity as a powerful wellness supplement, with many uses being proven every day as research into CBD ramps up. CBD has been shown to be generally safe for humans, but what about pets? Here’s everything you need to know about CBD for pets.
DISCLAIMER: If you decide to give CBD to your pet, it’s best to do so with advice and input form your pet’s veterinarian. While CBD is frequently being used for dogs and even cats, it’s not a replacement for traditional veterinary care, and for many other pet species, the research is still slim and the verdict out on how effective or safe it may be.
A Basic CBD Primer
Cannabidiol is commonly known as CBD, and it’s an extremely common cannabinoid. What’s a cannabinoid? They are chemical compounds that exist both in living beings like humans and their animal friends, and in certain plants.
There are two kinds of cannabinoids. Endocannabinoidsare made naturally by the body and interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) found in humans and animals. The ECS in turn interacts with receptors on the central and peripheral nervous systems.
Endocannabinoids help drive and regulate a whole host of normal bodily functions. They can help make you hungry or signal when you’re getting full, and when you need to go to sleep or wake up. They can also help your body understand if it is too warm or cold, and trigger regulators. Signals can be sent to the brain to – for example – regulate mood or dampened down to moderate pain response.
Another type of cannabinoids are phytocannabinoids. They are made naturally by plants, and are close enough to endocannabinoids that they can help boost their efficiency and interact on a lower level with the ECS. When the ECS is having a hard time due to insufficient endocannabinoids, adding phytocannabinoids can act to help restore balance.
CBD and THC
CBD is the best known and most prolific cannabinoid found in the Cannabis sativa plant. The second best known is tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly known as THC. There are also more than a hundred other cannabinoids as well as cannabinoid boosters like flavonoids and terpenes.
There’s a big difference between THC and the other cannabinoids. THC is psychoactive, which means it affects the central nervous system and can cause altered perception. Most people associate THC with “getting high”, since it can cause feelings of euphoria and/or paranoia.
In contrast, CBD and other cannabinoids don’t have any psychoactive effects. CBD is legal at the federal level, but THC isn’t. Since both are found in the same plant, how do you get legal CBD?
In the United States, Cannabis sativa plants have been separated into two categories. First, plants that have less than 0.3% THC are now classified as “industrial hemp”, and products that are manufactured from CBD sourced from such plants are legal. Second, any plants that have more than 0.3% THC are still classed as “marijuana”, and CBD sourced from such plants isn’t considered “legal CBD.”
As you can imagine, this means you need to be careful where you purchase CBD products and only do business with retailers who can prove where their CBD is sourced from and that it is under the legal THC limit.
The CBD Spectrum
Buying CBD products means learning the lingo so you understand what you’re getting. There are three main types of products that fall along the CBD spectrum. Each has a different inclusive set of chemical compounds found in industrial hemp.
First up is CBD isolate, which way down on the mild side of the spectrum. It is exactly what it sounds like: CBD isolated from all other compounds in the industrial hemp plant, and then infused into a carrier oil for a super pure product with absolutely zero other compounds or THC.
Many people like the sound of CBD isolate because of its “purity” and the fact that it’s an absolute known quantity, but there are reasons that CBD products further along the spectrum are becoming more popular.
Broad-spectrum CBD has CBD plus selected non-psychoactive cannabinoids (usually CBC, CBN, and/or CBG) and possibly some terpenes opr flavonoids as well. The reason for including more compounds from the plant is what is called the entourage effect.
CBD by itself can work with the ECS and help boost natural positive functions. CBD plus the other compounds works better than any of the compounds separately, as the infusion strengthens both the effects of the adjoining compounds and the effects in the body.
That brings us to full-spectrum CBD, which contains every beneficial compound from the industrial hemp plant, including the tiny trace amount of THC that is legal to be present. The THC is so infinitesimal that it can’t possibly make you or your pet high, but it does give a little extra boost to the efficacy of the CBD product.
At Yummy CBD, all of our CBD products:
- Are manufactured from CBD sourced from organically grown industrial hemp
- Contain full-spectrum CBD for the most powerful effects
- Have less than 0.3% THC, and are therefore legal at federal level
- Are certified and third-party batch-tested for purity and potency
Unlike hemp oil, which is expressed from the seeds of the hemp plant, CBD oil is compounded from an infusion made from the compounds found in the leaves and flowers of the hemp plant. These are then infused in a pure MCT coconut oil that enhances the effectiveness of the CBD but doesn’t linger in your body or turn into fat.
Which Pets Can Have CBD?
The kind of pet you have will dictate whether or not your vet feels confident about you giving them CBD, and how much they recommend.
Most of the studies out there on CBD for pets focus on dogs. So far, research seems to indicate that the CBD works with the dog ECS systems the same way they do with human ECS systems.
Cancer symptoms or treatment
Dogs with cancer are currently one of the biggest pet demographics being given CBD by their owners. If your dog has cancer, you and your vet may coordinate to help alleviate symptoms of the disease or the side effects of treatment. Like humans, dogs are unfortunatlye at risk for a variety of cancers, including bone cancer, blood cancer, lymphocyte cancer, mast cell cancer, skin cancer, breast /mammary cancer, and brain cancer.
CBD oil may help your dog weather treatment for cancer with fewer or lessened side effects, or provide benefits that coincide with hospice care to help keep them comfortable in their final days. In addition to being a ideal supplemental treatment for dogs with cancer, CBD also has potential to provide help for the following dog-related health or wellness issues:
Lack of appetite
Some dogs lose their appetite due to illness or medical treatments. Others are just notoriously picky. If your dog is hesitant over their food bowl, CBD may help boost their appetite.
Acute or chronic discomfort
Arthritis, osteoporosis, recent surgery, or other aches and pains can keep your dog from feeling comfortable. CBD oil can help reduce the pain signals being sent to the brain, giving your dog the chance to relax and rest.
Extreme listlessness or fatigue
If your dog doesn’t seem to be interested in doing anything, CBD oil may be able to renew their interest in life and help restore their energy. A little goes a long way, and then your pup can relax having gotten in some much needed exercise.
Dogs can suffer from extreme anxiety connected to a vareity of stressors, including thunderstorms, separation from their owners, or the presence of guests or a new pet in the home. CBD may be useful in helping them chill out and be more comfortable in the situation.
Some studies have been done about the effects of CBD on felines. So far, most research has been centered on two distinct health issues:
Cats can suffer seizures due to many different health issues. Their systems are highly sensitive, and seizures can be easily triggered. Seizures may be reduced in frequency and duration with a small daily dose of CBD.
Another area of research for CBD in cat care is osteoarthritis. Reducing the discomfort from this condition can help give the cat more mobility and less stiffness. Cats love being mobile, so this can also help elevate your cat’s mood.
Small mammals like rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, and rats or mice can also be given tiny amounts of CBD, but make sure you don’t give too much. However, before doing so, always talk with your vet about the right amount per weight of your pet. Be advised that THC can be particularly toxic to some animals like rabbits, so it’s critical to make sure you’re using a CBD product from a reputable source to ensure the correct potency, and to dose accurately.
Amphibians and reptiles
Yes, you can also choose to give your snake, lizard, or turtle CBD in line with veterinarian recommendations. Reptiles in particular are prime to stress, inflammatory conditions, and convulsions, all of which are conditions CBD is known to be suitable for.
Dosing is, as always, a critical part of giving a pet CBD, and it’s usually easiest to give the CBD at feeding time. For pets that eat live prey, the CBD oil can be injected into the meal before it is devoured, or the animal can be dosed with a squirt dropper directly after the pet eats.
Recent studies show that equines are able to metabolize CBD and take advantage of its bioavailability. This is opening the door for research into how CBD can benefit horses to help with anxiety around trailering or inflammation due to injury or overwork.
Studies focused on horses with lameness issues, given them a CBD dosed feed to see what changes there were between horses in the study and those in the control group. Studies were also conducted to see if CBD could help horses with transport stress. Results were promising across the board for both research forays.
More study is needed, and dosing with CBD should be discussed with an equine vet, as the studies used very high doses and aren’t meant to be a guide for appropriate supplementation. However, CBD may well be something that comes into more common use by horse owners for helping to keep their four-hooved pets happy and healthy.
Best Way to Give CBD for Pets
Discuss with your vet the best way to give CBD to your pet. CBD oil is often the best option as you can measure doses more precisely. For small pets, you may need to use a very fine syringe instead of the standard dropper.
Giving CBD oil under the tongue helps it get into the bloodstream the quickest. The oil soaks into the sublingual tissues and enters the capillaries (the smallest blood vessels in the body) directly. The effects can start kicking in within just 30 minutes or so.
If your pet isn’t amenable to having the oil squirted under their tongue, spits it out, or fights you, the next best way is to give the CBD dose with food. You can often squirt it over their food and mix it in. The CBD will take a little longer to work when given this way, as it has to go through the digestive process and be metabolized.
If you’re giving CBD to address an upcoming stress event – such as transport, going to the vet, a thunderstorm, fireworks, or having houseguests – make sure you give it an hour in advance so there is plenty of time for the dose to start taking effect.
If you are giving CBD daily as a maintenance dose for an existing condition such as discomfort or seizures, try to give it at the same time every day for best results. You can add it to food or put it in a treat if it helps your pet get used to it.
DISCLAIMER: None of this information is meant to be advice for any specific pet or any animal in general. All animals are different and you should only consider adding CBD to your pet’s wellness regimen after discussing it with their specialty veterinarian.