Is CBD Good For Pets?
Since the legalisation of CBD as a food supplement for people, many pet owners have been wondering if CBD can also alleviate their pets’ health problems. But how safe is CBD for dogs and cats? And is there any difference between CBD for humans and pets?
What’s the difference between CBD for humans and dogs?
CBD oil is a promising hemp extract. The alleged benefits from its use include relieving inflammation, pain management, calming anxiety and depression, diminishing epileptic crises and seizures, increasing appetite, helping with sleep problems, and regulating emotions among other things.
All these ailments also affect pets, to a large extent.
Both cats and dogs can suffer from arthritis, low appetite, or epilepsy. They can also get anxious, for example during fireworks displays. They often exhibit separation anxiety as well.
Sometimes, treatment with conventional medicine is not successful or has severe side effects, hence the pet owners’ interest in CBD.
There is no difference between the actual CBD oil used in products for pets and humans. However, the compounds supplementing the CBD oil are different.
For example, grapeseed oil and xylitol are often found in human CBD oil but are dangerous for dogs. Also, some human CBD products have flavourings which can be harmful to animals.
If you choose to give CBD to your pet, choose a CBD product that is specifically produced for animals.
How does CBD work on pets?
Both dogs and cats have an endocannabinoid system, just like humans do.
The endocannabinoid system controls, fine-tunes, and alerts us on such diverse issues as appetite, sleep, mood, memory, motor movement, fertility, and inflammation.
The animal endocannabinoid system seems to work similarly to the human one. However, research indicates that the canine endocannabinoid system contains more cannabinoid receptors in the brain than the human one. This makes dogs potentially more receptive to CBD and even more so to THC.
Is CBD for pets legal?
As with CBD for humans, the law is quite confusing about CBD for pets.
The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) is the authority responsible for regulating the manufacture, sale, and use of veterinary medicine in the UK. They have issued a statement articulating that veterinary products containing CBD are considered veterinary medicine and should be regulated as such.
To get CBD for your pet, you need a prescription from your vet. There is no legal way of obtaining CBD medicine without a vet’s prescription.
The positive aspect of this decision is that more research is expected on CBD for pets. More approved and regulated CBD medicines are bound to hit the market, aimed specifically at pets. This statement puts the safety and health of pets in the foreground.
CBD as a food supplement
While CBD medicine needs a vet’s prescription, the law leaves a loophole by ignoring the sale of CBD as a food supplement.
Therefore, many manufacturers are marketing their products as food supplements. This is the reason why people see so many CBD for pets products on shelves and online.
However, these products are not regulated nor are they tested by any UK authority for their content, accuracy of labelling or purity. So, you should only buy CBD from a trusted source.
The same is true, of course, for CBD products for humans. These are sold on the high street under the classification of ‘food supplement’, the same as for pets.
As part of this complicated situation, there are no official legal instructions as to the appropriate dosage or any other useful and necessary information regarding CBD as a food supplement.
Clinical studies on CBD for pets
Researchers and the medical community are still trying to understand how CBD works on humans. They have even less knowledge about how CBD affects pets.
There are a few clinical trials done on pets with CBD and the results are promising but not conclusive, nor definitive. The lack of scientific data showing positive and sustained results from the use of CBD means that vets do not usually suggest CBD as a treatment for pets’ illnesses and diseases.
A 2016 small study showed that CBD had positive effects on dogs with osteoarthritis or epilepsy. The researcher who undertook this study was given a $350,000 grant from the American Kennel Club to start a study specifically examining the effectiveness of CBD for epilepsy in treatment-resistant dogs.
A 2018 study also showed that osteoarthritic dogs benefited from CBD. Specifically, they displayed a significant decrease in canine brief pain inventory and an increase in Hudson activity scores without side effects. The study concluded that taking CBD could increase comfort and ability in osteoarthritic dogs.
A 2019 study on the effects of CBD on epileptic dogs stated that dogs had a reduction in the number of seizures when taking CBD and their anti-epileptic medicine. But dogs in the placebo group also showed a decrease in symptoms, therefore the study concluded that more research is necessary.
There is also anecdotal evidence from veterinarians who have given CBD oil to pets and who have reported positive results and improved health. However, these testimonies are not scientific and cannot be taken into account when assessing the effectiveness and safety of CBD for pets.
The consensus from the available data is that CBD seems to be safe for pets but any concrete knowledge regarding its effectiveness in treating illnesses and conditions is still undetermined.
Should I give my dog or cat CBD?
Many pet owners, seeing their animals suffer, have chosen to give them CBD as a food supplement.
If you wish to do the same, the first thing to do is discuss it with your vet.
For instance, CBD is metabolized through the liver. Animals with known liver problems should not take CBD as it might aggravate their pre-existing problems.
Furthermore, CBD interacts with other medications, usually increasing their potency. So, discuss with your vet the possible interaction of CBD as a food supplement with any other medications your animal may be taking.
“How much CBD oil should I give my dog for anxiety?”
This is the kind of question people ask online all the time. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer.
As there is neither regulation nor any official guidelines for food supplements with CBD, the usual advice is to start low-go slow. Start with a low dose and increase the dosage slowly.
The exact dosage depends on many things, including the age of the animal, its exercise routine, and its weight among other things.
Your vet will be able to help you determine the best dose. They will also probably ask you to be on alert for any side-effects such as vomiting, nausea, lethargy, panting, or drowsiness after taking CBD.
When it comes to dosage, remember that some studies suggest that CBD may be biphasic: a low dose may have the opposite effect from a high one.
Tips for giving CBD to pets
- Make sure the CBD you are buying has no THC. Because dogs, in particular, have a more complex endocannabinoid system with more brain receptors, they are more prone to THC poisoning and toxicity. This means that the effects of marijuana (which contains THC, the hallucinogenic component of cannabis) on dogs is more profound and toxic than in humans. Make sure the CBD product you are buying has no THC.
- Hemp is a bio-accumulator. This means it is used to clean the soils from pesticides and heavy metals. You really don’t want to give your pet a CBD product that contains these nasty ingredients, so be sure to choose a reputable brand.
- Ask the manufacturer what tests they run. Ask for a Certificate of Analysis, if they have one. There is very little oversight on human CBD food supplement products, let alone animal ones. You need to be sure about what you are giving to your pets.
- Check the online reviews and comments for more information on a brand and its products.
All in all, there is still very little literature or scientific evidence about the effectiveness of CBD on animals. This is hardly surprising as CBD has only been made freely available since late 2018.
Just like in the case of CBD’s effect on humans, a lot of clinical research is required to prove or disprove the expectations from CBD.
The United Kingdom has allowed for the use of CBD medicine for animals only with a veterinarian’s prescription. CBD manufacturers and producers have circumvented this decision by marketing their CBD products as food supplements.
However, the food supplement market lacks any mandatory testing of products. Therefore, pet owners should choose carefully their desired product and consult with their vets before giving their four-legged friends any CBD for their ailments.