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CBD for Dogs, Cats, and Other Pets

Are you wondering how CBD can help your pets? You’re not alone. The veterinary field is becoming more and more open to the use of CBD for dogs, cats, horses, and other pets.  

In 2017, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) voted to facilitate research opportunities for veterinary uses of cannabis. The AVMA notes the growing body of anecdotal evidence supporting the use of CBD for dogs and other pets. In fact, this cannabinoid may be helpful for conditions as varied as anxiety, seizures and arthritis. In dogs, cats, and even horses, owners have seen their pets’ quality of life improve when using cannabis.

Pets and The Endocannabinoid System

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a naturally occurring chemical compound known as a cannabinoid. This group of dozens of compounds is named after cannabis, the plant that produces them. In humans, CBD interacts with receptors that are found in tissues including the brain, organs, connective tissues and immune cells, by behaving like chemicals that are naturally produced in the body. This system of receptors and chemicals is called the endocannabinoid system – and it’s not unique to humans. Every vertebrate on Earth has an endocannabinoid system. In humans, we know that this system performs a huge variety of functions, like:

  •        Minimizing pain, damage and inflammation when we are injured
  •        Impacting our moods and emotions
  •        Helping our healthy cells to renew themselves

The similarities between the cannabinoid systems in humans and our pets gives us good reason to think CBD will provide similar benefits to other animals.

Scientific research in this area has been limited. But a team from Colorado State University in Fort Collins recently presented a study on using CBD to reduce seizures in epileptic dogs. While the researchers note that larger studies are needed, they found that in their group of 16 dogs, 90 percent experienced fewer seizures when taking CBD.

And while we await confirmation from more research, more and more pet owners are describing other ways that CBD benefits their pets.

How CBD Can Help Your Pets

According to the AVMA, pet owners and vets are choosing cannabis as a natural remedy for a wide variety of conditions. According to their report, people are giving their pets cannabis for:

  •        Separation anxiety
  •        Phobias
  •        Irritable bowel syndrome
  •        Feline immunodeficiency virus
  •        Pain management
  •        Nausea
  •        Seizures
  •        Loss of appetite

Is Cannabis Harmful to Pets?

You will sometimes find Cannabis sativa on lists of plants that are toxic for pets. This is because THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, can be harmful to pets in large doses. For dogs in particular, there have been a few fatalities due to THC toxicity after eating baked goods containing marijuana. Some vets caution against using medical marijuana for pets for this reason. CBD, on the other hand, does not seem to be toxic for pets, or to have any negative side effects. If you’re concerned about THC, a product made from CBD isolate could be a good choice. CBD isolate doesn’t contain THC, so there is no risk of THC toxicity – and you can rest assured that CBD will not get your pet high.

How to Give Your Pet CBD

Humans have a wide variety of options for consuming CBD, including vaping, topical applications and oral drops taken under the tongue. But because pets can’t use vaporizers or hold drops under their tongues, pet owners are usually limited to using edible products for their pets. While edibles might be the right choice for some situations, they tend to have lower bioavailability than some other forms of CBD products, and can take a while to reach the bloodstream. Furthermore, there can be ingredients in edible CBD products that make them unsuitable for pets.

Fortunately, CBD producers are offering a growing range of products made especially for pets. From capsules to ear drops, there are a variety of ways to help your pets get the relief they need.

Editor’s Note: This article was updated on July 18, 2018 to include results of the CSU study on epileptic dogs.
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The Author

Meg Kramer

Meg Kramer

Meg Kramer is the Managing Editor of CBD Hacker. She's a writer and editor who has covered topics in science, health, and education.

When she's not writing about CBD, you can find her playing with her dogs or perfecting her bagel recipe.