Did you know that your canine friend possesses the same naturally-occurring endocannabinoid system that humans do?
In this article, we are going to answer some of the common questions regarding the administration of CBD to pets, as well as take a look at some of the clinical trials that have gone a long way in showing how CBD can help in the treatment of some major illnesses.
What is CBD?
CBD or Cannabidiol is part of the cannabinoid family, a class of chemical compounds that is naturally found in the cannabis plant. CBD interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system, which helps the body maintain homeostasis. It is therefore a completely natural, plant-based medicinal extract that has absolutely no intoxicating effects and can work wonders in improving our quality of life and also in the treatment of a number of health conditions.
How can CBD help your pets?
The same Endocannabinoid system that is present in human beings exists within all animals and birds, reptiles and fish. Considering the similarity of endocannabinoid receptors in humans and animals, it makes sense that CBD could treat these conditions as effectively in dogs, cats, and other furry or feathery friends. It is a fact that a large number of illnesses in animals are associated with the Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CEDC)- a condition that is treatable with cannabidiol (CBD).
How does CBD work in pets?
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is an interconnected chain of receptors that can be found in your dog’s brain, glands, nervous system and organs.
All mammals rely on the endocannabinoid system to regulate immune response. CBD oil interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in your dog’s body and acts as a natural neuroprotective agent with multiple health benefits. The cannabinoids in the oil open up two-way communication between endocannabinoid receptors to allow the body to either increase or decrease the immune response as needed. CBD oil is the natural way of regulating the system to maintain the perfect balance. The reason CBD seems to help modulate pain is that many dog’s bodies are deficient in cannabinoids. Supplementing with CBD increases cannabinoids in the body and restores the balance to the ECS.
Is CBD safe for your pets?
The effects of CBD come from its ability to stimulate the endocannabinoid system, which is involved in the regulation of several bodily functions. This organic system is found in every mammal on earth, meaning that many animals also possess it. This system is something that we share with our pets, and the differences are so minute that the effects of CBD on a human and the effects on an animal are extremely similar.
The general fear for pet safety when being given CBD is associated with the fact that many people do not understand the key differences between CBD and THC. It is very easy to mix up the two, as they come from the same group of plants and are structurally very similar. At first glance, it would appear as though CBD could have psychoactive effects on your pet, similar to THC. However, this is not the case. The main difference between CBD and THC is that CBD does not have any intoxicating attributes. The feeling that THC gives us that we call a “high” is our body reacting to the psychoactive properties of the compound; and when ingested by pets, these effects can be dangerous or anxiety-inducing. We cannot stress enough on the fact that CBD lacks these psychoactive properties, and our pet tinctures are lab tested to ensure that less than 0.3% THC is included in the final product.
As is the rule with human consumption of CBD, all of these products are meant to be used in moderation.
How much CBD oil do I give my pets?
There is no clear-cut single number that will tell you how much CBD you should be giving your pets. You should follow similar steps like those that you would follow when consuming your own CBD oil. Individual products will provide you with recommended serving sizes and instructions on how to administer their respective juices and oils to your pets. These product specific instructions are meant to set an average serving size for your furry friends.
Determining a personal serving size with your pets will be a bit more difficult, because your pets cannot simply tell you how the recommended size is affecting them. Even physical indications from your pets may be too subtle to notice, so it is best to determine serving size based on their weight. The amount of CBD that your pet should consume will scale upward with its weight. Bigger, heavier animals will need larger portions of CBD to feel its effects as opposed to smaller, lighter animals.
A Chihuahua and a Thoroughbred should not be taking the same amount of CBD. Generally, small pets should be given a portion of CBD either equal to or less than the recommended amount, while larger pets can be given portions equal to or larger than it.
How is CBD administered to animals?
CBD pet care products come in many of the same forms you're probably used to seeing for humans, including edibles (think: chewable treats and capsules), oils that can be added to food or placed under the tongue and topical creams or balms that are rubbed directly on the skin. CBD for pets mostly comes in the form of edible treats and simple tinctures with flavors that appeal to animals.
Like the CBD products meant for humans, each of these CBD pet care product types appears to have a different effect on the body of dogs.
First, consult with your veterinarian in order to ensure that CBD doesn’t interfere with your pet’s current medications or existing health conditions.
Generally, it’s good to start small, and gradually increase the amount of CBD every week until you see the desired benefits.
What is the difference between CBD for human consumption and CBD for pets?
The major difference between your CBD and your pet’s CBD is that a product geared toward pets is going to provide a concentration of CBD more suited to their size and weight. Cannabidiol intake varies from person to person, as well as from animal to animal. One big factor in determining adequate CBD serving size is weight. Someone who weighs more is going to need more CBD in order to feel the same effects as someone who is lighter. Similarly, height can play a part in the effectiveness of CBD on humans and animals. A grandmother and a professional wrestler will be consuming different serving sizes of CBD, and comparisons like this can be made for animals as well. For these reasons, the CBD provided to your pet and the CBD provided to you are of very different concentrations.
CBD meant for human consumption and CBD meant for animal consumption have much more in common than you may think. The similarities begin at the very point of cultivation; your CBD and your pet’s CBD are extracted from hemp plants in the same fashion. Whether the CBD comes as an isolate or as a broad-spectrum extract, there is no difference at the structural level between the CBD that you and your pet would be consuming. This leads into the second major similarity between the two: the effects. Since the hemp extracts present in the products are cultivated by the same means, and since they affect the same systems in our bodies and those of our pets, the effects that we feel and those that animals feel are very similar.
Can my pets have my CBD or will it hurt them?
The answer is a bit complicated. You can consume your pets’ CBD, so long as it does not include any additives specific to animals but not humans. Your pets can consume your CBD, but you have to be very careful not to give them a concentration that’s identical to what you would personally take. Determine the concentration that is most accurate to their weight and height before attempting to give it to them. Try to avoid running into this situation if you can, and simply use a pet-focused CBD product when treating your animal.
Are there many common side-effects of CBD on pets?
If you are considering purchasing CBD products for your pets and are uncertain of whether their existing medications will mix favourably with hemp extract, it is recommended that you visit a veterinarian to gain greater clarity.
We shall now look at some of the common illnesses in dogs, and how clinical trials have proved the efficacy of CBD.
Epilepsy in Dogs
Epilepsy refers to a heterogeneous disease that is characterized by the presence of recurrent, unprovoked seizures resulting from an abnormality of the brain. It can be inherited (also known as genetic or idiopathic epilepsy), be caused by structural problems in the brain (also known as structural epilepsy), or stem from an unknown cause.
Canine Epilepsy is one of the most common causes of recurrent seizures. It is also the most common neurological disorder that is seen in dogs. It has been estimated that epilepsy affects approximately 0.75% of the canine population.
Unfortunately, the medications used to treat epilepsy, such as phenobarbital, potassium bromide, diazepam, and other anticonvulsant drugs, can cause serious side effects in some dogs. Even with medication, up to 30 percent of dogs with epilepsy continue to experience seizures.
In order to properly determine an appropriate treatment regimen for canine epilepsy, accurate diagnosis of the type and cause of seizures is needed. Only then, appropriate therapeutic options can be identified. When observing seizures, it is important for dog owners to keep a diary of detailed information that includes:
1) affected body parts.
2) when seizures occur.
3) how often seizures occur
4) how long they last
Veterinarians and pet owners should also pay close attention on how their pet dogs behave immediately after a seizure. Although it is noted that some animals will quickly return to normal during the postictal period, others may experience difficulties in standing or moving, blindness, sedation, anxiety or other changes in behaviour. These symptoms may last for varying amounts of time, and can affect treatment choice.
CBD for Epilepsy Treatment in Dogs
Clinical trials of CBD were carried out on dogs (n=16) suffering from Epilepsy. This research was carried out in order to learn about the seizure frequency in dogs (client owned) suffering from idiopathic epilepsy. The research took place from 2016 to 2017, and results are published in the June 1 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
This study was carried out by Dr. Stephanie McGrath, a neurologist at Colorado State University's James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital. She led a small study with 16 pet dogs to assess the short-term effect of CBD on seizure frequency. The study tested CBD on dogs with epilepsy in a controlled research setting.
Dogs that were enrolled in this clinical trial were randomly assigned to the (CBD) treatment or placed in a placebo group. Those in the treatment group received CBD oil for a period of 12 weeks. All of the dogs in this study were required to stay on standard anticonvulsant drugs, that includes phenobarbital and potassium bromide. The dog’s owners and CSU medical staff did not know if the animal received CBD or a placebo until the study was complete.
The CBD product used in the study was derived from a hemp plant, which has 0.3 % or a lesser amount of THC. This compound is not considered marijuana and can be used for research purposes based on the 2014 United States Department of Agriculture Farm Bill.
Findings of the Study
Based on the research carried out by Dr. McGrath, it was noted that 89 percent of dogs that received CBD during the clinical trials, had a reduction in the frequency of seizures. Nine dogs were treated with CBD, while seven in a control group were treated with a placebo.
The findings highlight the effects of CBD oil on seizure reduction. In addition, in the group of dogs that received CBD oil, Dr.McGrath found a significant association between the degree of seizure reduction and the amount of CBD concentration in the dog's blood.
Dr. McGrath says "We saw a correlation between how high the levels of CBD were in these dogs with how great the seizure reduction was," and "It's really exciting that perhaps we can start looking at CBD in the future as an alternative to existing anticonvulsive drugs".
Journal reference for the Clinical trials of CBD to treat Epilepsy in Dogs:
Stephanie McGrath, Lisa R. Bartner, Sangeeta Rao, Rebecca A. Packer, Daniel L. Gustafson. Randomized blinded controlled clinical trial to assess the effect of oral cannabidiol administration in addition to conventional antiepileptic treatment on seizure frequency in dogs with intractable idiopathic epilepsy. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 2019; 254 (11): 1301 DOI: 10.2460/javma.254.11.1301
Colorado State University. (2019, May 21). CBD clinical trial results on seizure frequency in dogs 'encouraging'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 18, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/05/190521101450.htm
(Colorado State University: Reduction in Seizures for Dogs with Epilepsy: For 24 weeks, dogs that experience at least two seizures a month received either CBD oil treatment or a placebo. Preliminary results released in July of 2018 showed that 89% of the dogs studied showed a drop in regular seizures.
CBD for Pain Management in Dogs
The clinical trials that have been mentioned below, have been concluded and show promising results. However, it is important to note that these are the early stages of research.
- Cornell University: Osteoarthritis Pain Reduction in Dogs: Researchers at Cornell University have found that CBD helped increase the comfort and the activity of dogs suffering from arthritis (According to a study published in July of 2018). This clinical trial suggests that: 2 mg/kg of CBD given twice daily can help increase comfort and activity in dogs with osteoarthritis.
- Liberty Leaf: CBD Research Study on Canine Pain Management: This research was carried out in August of 2018. This was a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. This study demonstrated that dogs diagnosed with osteoarthritis that received a daily dose of only 0.3 mg per kg of a CBD-infused oil formulation for 4 weeks showed reduced pain and an improved functional performance.
CBD for Dogs with Cancer
Depending on the type of cancer, as well as the stage of progression it is in, a veterinarian or veterinary oncologist (a vet with a specialization in cancer) may recommend a variety of treatment protocols. Surgery to remove tumours, chemotherapy to help shrink them and auxiliary medications to address the side effects of treatment are all common approaches. In some cases, vets will recommend natural supplements such as cannabidiol (CBD).
(Note: CBD oil alone is not a cure for cancer in dogs.)
Important Links to Medical Journals
Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs. This is a governmental website Link,
US Veterinarians' Knowledge, Experience, and Perception Regarding the Use of Cannabidiol for Canine Medical Conditions
Single-Dose Pharmacokinetics and Preliminary Safety Assessment with Use of CBD-Rich Hemp Nutraceutical in Healthy Dogs and Cats. This link provides information by scientists from good universities like Uni of Florida, Cornell, etc.