Until recently, the best-known compound in cannabis was delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound that gives marijuana its psychoactive properties. THC creates a mind-altering "high" when smoked or used in cooking because it breaks down when heat is applied.
CBD is different. Hemp, the least processed form of the cannabis plant, is the source of most CBD that people use medicinally. Hemp and marijuana come from the same plant, but they are very different. CBD is one of a multitude of cannabinoid extracts found in the hemp plant. A natural, plant-based, non-toxic compound, CBD appears to produce significant changes in the body. Research suggests that it has medical benefits for both humans and pets, offering the benefits of CBD without the THC. Your pet won’t get “high” from CBD oil.
Often used to increase comfort and improve quality of life in pets, but not necessarily to cure ailments, CBD oil has many therapeutic benefits for pets. It helps them feel more relaxed which helps with aggression issues, cognitive problems, excessive barking or meowing, and urination/marking problems. CBD oil also provides therapeutic benefits in older pets who are challenged by declining mobility. Some pet owners report using CBD oil helps with epileptic seizures. Pet owners use CBD oil to treat seizures, stress, nausea, anxiety, arthritis, cancer symptoms, back pain, gastrointestinal issues, and more. CBD oil won’t get your pet high, but it will allow them to enjoy the benefits associated with the CBD cannabinoid. And though CBD oil is typically quite safe for cats and dogs, cannabis plants are not.
In order to help regulate issues like pain or anxiety, CBD actually mimics the brain’s natural systems by interacting directly with the brain’s natural receptors. For example, CBD combats inflammation by activating the receptors that control inflammation production through the brain’s natural endocannabinoid system. And unlike many prescriptions, there are no dangerous side effects associated with using CBD oil. It won’t damage your pet’s liver, kidneys, or GI tract. It won’t sedate them or get them high. CBD can be used in conjunction with traditional medications and other treatments -- there are no dangerous drug interactions with CBD. For pets, CBD is typically given orally, but there are a few topical treatments that can be applied to treat inflammation or arthritis, as well as sores.
A 2016 survey conducted by Colorado State University and published in the Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association found that of 650 people surveyed, 72% reported having used a hemp-based cannabis product for their canine friend (14% used it for their cat as well!). In total, 64% of those surveyed felt that it helped. One common use of CBD oil with pets is reducing anxiety. Does your dog suffer from separation anxiety or noise phobias? CBD oil might help. CBD has been studied at length for its effect on stress and anxiety. In humans, it’s been found to reduce anxiety in healthy people as well as those with anxiety disorders. It has been effective at helping with panic disorders and post-traumatic stress disorders.
In dogs, symptoms of anxiety may include pacing, panting, whimpering, trembling, aggression, urinating or defecating on the floor despite being house trained, nervous licking, loss of appetite. Luckily, CBD oil can work on all of these symptoms and offer your dog some much needed relief. Cats, likewise, give multiple signs to indicate they are experiencing anxiety -- excessive grooming, scratching, and meowing, as well as isolating themselves more, sleeping more than usual, eating less, and becoming more aggressive. If your cat is exhibiting any of these behaviors, it is important to find effective treatments so that s/he will not worsen and suffer long-term consequences from chronic stress. Fortunately, there is increasing evidence that CBD for cats can go a long way with treating anxiety, even eliminating the problem completely.
Research shows CBD oil works by interacting with the body’s naturally occurring endocannabinoid system to soothe and calm anxiety naturally. The endocannabinoid system is a newly discovered, complex biological system of cannabinoid receptors in the central nervous system, the organs, and the brain. These receptors are known as the endocannabinoid system. When the body naturally releases endocannabinoid chemicals -- or they are ingested -- they connect with the receptors, stimulating the body’s natural ability to create serotonin, a natural mood stabilizer. CBD oil enhances this natural ability.
In addition to treating anxiety in pets, CBD can help in the fight against cancer. Receiving a diagnosis of cancer in your beloved Best Friend can be a very scary, confusing, heart-wrenching time for loving pet parents. Cancer is the leading cause of death in dogs over the age of 10, but half of all cancers are curable if caught early. Invariably, the sooner cancer is found and diagnosed, the better the chance at prolonging your dog’s life. Dogs are susceptible to some of the same types of cancers as humans, but they metastasize at a much faster rate. The most common types of cancer seen in dogs are malignant lymphomas (cancer of the lymph nodes), mast cell tumors (a form of skin cancer), soft tissue sarcomas, and bone cancer. According to research at the University of Milan and several other studies, CBD has long been proven to have anti-cancer and tumor-reducing effects.
When it comes to cancer treatment, the cannabis plant may have an amazing impact when used in tandem with traditional therapies. Beyond simply helping with the nausea of chemotherapy, strong scientific evidence indicates there is a deep benefit to using cannabis with conventional therapies. Cannabinoids (both THC and CBD) may represent a new class of anti-cancer drugs that inhibit cancer growth, delay angiogenesis (the formation of new blood cells that feed a tumor), and stall the metastatic spreading of cancer cells.
Validating the positive effects of cannabinoids with regard to treatment outcomes in canine cancers, research shows that not only is CBD a powerful antitumoral compound in its own right, but that it acts synergistically with various anti-cancer pharmaceuticals, enhancing their impact while cutting the toxic dosage necessary for maximum effect. While conventional chemotherapy drugs are highly toxic and indiscriminately damage cells in the body and brain, cannabinoids slow tumor growth in certain cancers by significantly reducing the ability of cancer to spread and selectively destroying tumor cells while leaving healthy cells unscathed.
And finally, CBD is an effective therapy for dogs living with Epilepsy, a devastating condition both for pets and their owners. Seeing your furry friend break into a seizure can be very distressing. Seizures are a common symptom of conditions affecting the brain, spinal cord, and nervous system. Conditions such as epilepsy affect the proper functioning of neurons. In doing so, they often cause recurring seizures of various degrees. Some seizures can be subtle, causing symptoms such as staring, hyperventilation, and rapid eye movements or blinking. However, other seizures can be far more severe, causing uncontrollable physical fits, shaking, tremors, and sometimes even a complete loss of consciousness. Seizures are caused by abnormal firing of neurons in the brain. Conditions like epilepsy affect the proper functioning of these neurons, causing them to fire rapidly and abnormally, which ultimately results in a seizure. Seizures are temporary, but they can last for long periods of time.
It is estimated that up to 5% of dogs suffer from seizures. Most dogs with seizures are put on drugs such as phenobarbital and potassium bromide. While they may help control the seizures, they can be extremely harmful to your dog’s liver and other organs. And the drugs don’t work in all cases.
On the other hand, Epilepsy is one of the most common long-term neurological disorders affecting dogs. It is usually a lifelong condition, producing recurring epileptic seizures. The causes of epilepsy in dogs vary. It can often be caused by both environmental and genetic factors. Some breeds, for example, are more prone to develop epilepsy, including Beagles, Cocker Spaniels, German Shepherds, Siberian Huskies, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and more. However, head trauma, tumors, inflammation, or degenerative brain diseases can also end up causing epilepsy. Finally, metabolic issues such as low blood sugar or kidney/liver failure can also cause epilepsy in some dogs.
There is a very strong body of evidence showing that CBD can help control seizures caused by both epilepsy and other conditions. Just like humans, dogs have an endocannabinoid system, meaning they respond to cannabinoids in a similar way to us. In fact, CBD is highly regarded as a well-tolerated supplement for dogs. Most CBD pet supplements are made using hemp that has been bred specifically to have high concentrations of CBD and only trace amounts of THC. The only difference between how humans and dogs react to CBD is that dogs are more sensitive to the effects of cannabinoids, meaning they require smaller doses than humans.
If you decide to give CBD a try for your pet, follow these guidelines for safety and health:
1. Start low and slow. CBD from hemp has many benefits on its own, but dosages can vary depending on the product. Always follow dosage directions on the product label. The organic pet CBD company Treatibles.com recommends 1 milligrams of CBD for every 10 pounds of animal weight. Some pets may require more or less depending on their condition and constitution. The general rule of thumb is to be conservative and observe your dog over a few days to a week. You can always up the dose if you need to.
2. Use oil. CBD oil can be mixed in food or given straight and is the medium of choice for most pet parents. The oil allows the cannabis to be absorbed into the body through the liver, producing longer-lasting and less intense effects. Never give your dog cannabis in smoke form!
3. Monitor Your Dog. This is especially important after giving your dog cannabis for the first time. It is also a good idea to keep a record of when and how much you administer in case you need to adjust over time.
4. Go 100% Organic. It is of utmost importance that you avoid exposing your dog or cat to pesticides. Make sure you choose only organically sourced and safely produced cannabis products for your pet.
5. Consult with a holistic veterinarian. Many vets are getting on board when it comes to cannabis for dogs and cats. If you live in a cannabis-friendly state, don’t assume that your pet’s vet will not talk to you about CBD or other kinds of cannabis. Some veterinarians have received special training in cannabinoids.