Why Should I Give CBD to My Pet?
“Is CBD good for my pet?” That’s a common question pet owners ask their veterinarians.
The world of CBD is expanding into the area of pet treatment, including pets such as dogs, cats, and horses. Research suggests that CBD may help your pet with anxieties and flexibility. As a result, CBD manufacturers have created whole ranges of CBD products aimed at pets: CBD treats and kibble as well as CBD oil are now mainstream items you can find for your pet.
Research suggests that CBD may have anti-inflammatory , antioxidant , and anti-anxiety  properties. Trials suggest that CBD acts similarly on dogs, cats, and horses. Pet owners looking to help their four-legged friends’ agility and wellbeing are turning to CBD.
But can CBD actually help your pet?
How does CBD work?
CBD seems to work by interacting with the endocannabinoid system.
All animals, including vertebrates (mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish) and invertebrates (sea urchins, leeches, mussels, nematodes, and others) have endocannabinoid systems (ECS). This system is responsible for keeping our body in harmony and maintaining the balance of many bodily functions such as appetite, mood, temperature perception, learning, inflammation, and pain perception, among others.
When one of these bodily functions is out of sync, the ECS releases endocannabinoids—cannabinoids that are produced by the body. These bind to their respective receptors, pretty much like a key and a lock, to alert cells to fix the problem. Once the cells have mended the imbalance, the body returns to its harmonious self.
Cannabinoid receptors are spread throughout the body. They are found in the brain, spine, immune system, and gut, as well as the skin. This means that the ECS may have an impact anywhere where there is a cannabinoid receptor.
How does CBD work with the ECS?
CBD has a close affinity to one of the human cannabinoids and manages to affect the ECS thanks to this connection. Research suggests that CBD may help the ECS work more effectively . In a sense, CBD gently nudges the ECS to become more productive. When the ECS works better, balance is more easily restored.
How can CBD help?
Many countries, including Britain, Canada, the United States, and most of the European Union, have legalised the consumption, production, and sale of CBD as long as it is produced from industrial hemp and contains only traces of THC. The legal THC limit in the UK is less than 0.2% of dry weight.
With the legalisation of CBD, more research focused on CBD and its potential to help several conditions and health issues such as arthritis, anxiety, depression, sleep disruption, and pain management.
Clinical trials and research have shown that CBD may help with inflammation by reducing the production of cytokines, proteins that are responsible for the body’s inflammatory responses . These findings may in the future be particularly helpful for people suffering from inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, osteoarthritis, Crohn’s, and even asthma. Ongoing trials and research in the area are supporting this view .
CBD has also been examined for its potential in supporting mental health. Research and preliminary trials are showing that CBD may possess anti-anxiety properties  and may help with panic attacks, social anxiety, and generalised anxiety. People with PTSD, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), panic disorders, and social anxiety may in the future benefit from CBD and lead more relaxed and less stressed lives.
How about CBD and dogs?
Dogs, just like all mammals, have an endocannabinoid system. Indeed, dogs have more cannabinoid receptors in the brain than humans. Since they have cannabinoids circulating around their body, fixing problems when an imbalance occurs, CBD may help dogs who suffer from an endocannabinoid imbalance.
More research is required, as the findings are still limited, but the results so far are promising:
- Clinical trials suggest that CBD may be effective in alleviating arthritis symptoms in dogs . The trial witnessed a decrease in pain and improved activity levels in dogs.
- A small trial on epileptic dogs found that CBD helped decrease the frequency of epileptic seizures .
- Finally, research on shelter dogs showed that CBD had a beneficial impact on aggressive dogs, helping calm them down .
What common pet conditions could CBD help with?
Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disease in dogs (and humans, for that matter). In the UK dog population, osteoarthritis is estimated to affect 20% of the total dog population . Dogs aged 8 years and over and more affected than younger ones. Osteoarthritis usually affects hips and elbows.
Osteoarthritis is caused by inflammation of the joints, which become stiff and painful as a result. A dog suffering from osteoarthritis experiences difficulty running or walking and loses part of its mobility and everyday activity. Since CBD has anti-inflammatory properties, it may in the future help with pain and mobility.
Some pets suffer from separation anxiety when their owners leave them. This causes them distress and can often lead to unwanted behaviour.
Anxiety and stress manifest in several ways. For dogs, it can be howling and barking for hours, destroying furniture and other items, digging in the garden, or attempting to run away. Cats display their anxiety by hiding, being aggressive, losing their appetite, and diminishing their activity levels.
Also, some dogs can be hyperactive even at an old age. Puppies and young dogs are expected to be bouncy and full of activity. However, some dogs display increased levels of energy that cannot be tempered even with long walks and outdoors activities. Hyperactivity is linked to anxiety.
All these behaviours can be stressful for pets and owners alike.
Since CBD has been shown to have anti-anxiety qualities, it may in the future assist with pet anxiety disorders, helping them regain a more relaxed demeanour.
How much CBD should I give my pet?
It should be stressed that CBD is not sold as treatment for specific conditions or diseases. It may help with occasional problems, including pain management and anxiety, but its role is to support a fit pet’s health. This is because there is still much we don’t know about it, including how it may interact with medication or what counter-indications there may be.
Dosage is another area where more research is needed. There is no official recommended daily allowance for CBD for humans or pets. It is suggested that pet owners start with a low dosage and evaluate how their animal is responding to it.
A general guideline is to start with 2 to 4 mg of CBD per 10 pounds of animal weight: the 2 mg are at the lower end while the 4 mg are at the higher end. Once you have seen how your animal responds to CBD, you can increase the dosage until you feel your animal has reached the expected health target.
Dosage, however, depends on many things. For instance, if your dog is in pain, it may require a higher dosage compared to an animal who is taking CBD just to maintain its good health and agility. Also, heavier animals will require a higher dosage compared to leaner ones.
What sorts of CBD products will I find for my pet?
CBD products for pets are developed with animals in mind. While the CBD is the same in both animal products and products for humans, the rest of the ingredients can differ. This is because some of the compounds that are fine for human consumption may be toxic to certain animals. Therefore, it is strongly advised that you only use CBD products developed specifically for pets rather than generic ones.
Thankfully, you will find plenty of CBD tinctures, oils, and capsules for your pet on the market. There are also CBD treats and biscuits, which you can give your pet as a treat or a reward for excellent behaviour.
You can pour the CBD oil on their kibble or rub it on their gums. CBD capsules should be taken as such. If your animal doesn’t mind pills and capsules, this is the best way to give CBD to your pet while keeping a tab of how much CBD your pet has taken.
What do veterinarians think of CBD for pets?
The world is changing and people’s attitudes and knowledge around CBD are also moving forward. Veterinarians are keeping up with new scientific and medical knowledge regarding CBD for pets.
A recent study on vets’ opinions of CBD in the United States revealed some very interesting statistics :
- 45% of veterinarians felt comfortable discussing CBD with their clients. CBD was discussed as a potential therapy for pain, anxiety, and seizures.
- More than 60% discussed CBD with their fellow vet colleagues.
- 22% of veterinarians knew very little or nothing at all regarding the difference between marijuana (which contains THC) and CBD (which is non-intoxicating). 77% of them knew a little or a lot about CBD.
- Most veterinarians wished more research was done on CBD for pets.
- In their vast majority, veterinarians thought that CBD could be beneficial for animals.
- Amazingly enough, 66% of veterinarians have never recommended CBD to their clients. The most common reason for this was that they considered CBD to be illegal or that the field of CBD required more research. 55% of veterinarians felt they did not have enough knowledge around CBD to be able to recommend it to their clients. 18% of veterinarians were concerned about the potential toxicity of CBD to dogs.
This research shows that veterinarians are willing to learn more about CBD, based on strong scientific data. They perceive the potential of CBD but feel reluctant to recommend it yet.
Should I give CBD to my pet?
There is increasing interest in CBD’s potential for dogs, cats, and other domestic animals. Pet owners seem more willing to experiment with CBD than veterinarians, who would rather wait for more research to be conducted before they feel comfortable enough to suggest it to their clients.
Most pet owners feel their animals could benefit from CBD’s anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety potential, particularly in cases of joint pain and inflammation, anxiety, stress, and seizures.
According to the World Health Organization, CBD is non-intoxicating and appears to be well-tolerated . Anecdotal evidence suggests that many pet owners have experienced benefits in the overall health levels of their animals.
Pet owners are constantly looking for novel ways to ensure the optimal well-being of their four-legged families. CBD could be one of these, provided that further research confirms the initial promising findings.