Many people have turned to CBD as an adjunct to their overall wellness regimen, so it’s no surprise that CBD pet products have become popular as well. Cannabidiol (CBD) comes in so many forms, including tinctures, edibles, creams, and skincare products, to name a few. As far as CBD pet supplies go, tinctures and treats are the most popular and are similar to products that your furry friends already enjoy.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at veterinary cannabidiol, how to use it, and what to look for when you’re shopping for CBD for pets.
What is CBD?
If you’re new to the world of CBD but are interested in its potential benefits for your pet, you’re in the right place! CBD is the abbreviated term for cannabidiol, which is a phytocannabinoid found in the hemp and marijuana plant. It works with the endocannabinoid system (more on that below) to regulate all the processes in the body.
CBD is not the same as THC, which is another phytocannabinoid found in the marijuana plant. THC does create a psychoactive effect and produces a “high” feeling, but CBD does not. It is important to note that while several studies exist that study CBD and its uses, it is not regulated by the FDA, so be wary of any sources that claim that it can treat, cure, or prevent any health condition.
The Animal Endocannabinoid System
Humans have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that oversees the body’s ability to regulate functions such as nervous responses, pain, immune function, and even dermatological issues. This system is charged with returning your system to homeostasis after injury, trauma, and illness.
When a disruption is detected, the ECS releases compounds called cannabinoids into the bloodstream to bind with CB1 and CB2 receptors. Phytocannabinoids that come from plants like hemp work in much the same way as the body’s cannabinoids.
Animals also have an endocannabinoid system. Very few studies have been conducted that evaluate how it works with phytocannabinoids. Still, a recent study published by Colorado State University found that 89% of dogs that were treated with CBD had a reduction in seizures. Another study by Cornell University reported that 80% of dogs using CBD showed signs of reduced pain from osteoarthritis.
These studies both evaluated small samples, but the results paved the way for more extensive, more intense studies to be conducted.
Can My Veterinarian Prescribe CBD for Animals?
With so many CBD pet products on the market, it’s natural to wonder why your vet isn’t talking about it. Even though the 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp and loosened some of the previous laws regarding CBD, the pet-vet relationship is clouded in some mystery. If asked about it, may veterinarians are likely to remain close-lipped on the issue and for good reason.
There is one exception, however. In 2018, a statewide bill was passed that allows California veterinarians to discuss CBD for pets, but they are prohibited from recommending it or prescribing it. Even in states where marijuana is legal, the laws aren’t too clear on whether or not your veterinarian can discuss it when asked.
Penalties for vets recommending CBD can range from disciplinary action to having their license suspended or revoked. Until the laws are more set in stone on veterinary cannabidiol, it’s up to pet owners to thoroughly research the topic on their own.
Is CBD Safe for Dogs and Cats?
When it comes to the safety aspect of CBD for dogs and cats, we recommend looking at several factors when making a purchasing decision.
Use only broad-spectrum CBD pet products. While CBD is generally considered safe for pets, THC has poisoned and even killed animals. Until further juried research can be done to test safe doses for pets, avoid THC and use a broad-spectrum product instead of a full-spectrum one.
The FDA has not established a recommended dosage for pets, nor has it established toxic levels of CBD for pets. The AKC recommends starting with very small amounts and monitoring your pet closely as/if you increase the amount over time.
The Benefits CBD Pet Tinctures
CBD pet tinctures have been found to reach higher concentrations in the bloodstream and absorb more quickly than chews and treats. They can come flavored or unflavored, giving the owner options for dosing it directly on the tongue or mixing with food. Be very careful with a glass dropper if you’re administering CBD in your pet’s mouth.
The Benefits of CBD Edibles for Pets
While the oil or tincture version may be ideal in regard to absorption, chews and edible forms stay in the system longer. Some pets may dislike oil placed straight in their mouth or added to their food. Dogs and cats also love treats, which could make it easier for both of you.
Don’t Price Shop
When it comes to finding the best CBD for pets, there are a lot of ways to compare the products, but one should not be the price. The cheaper products out there may not even be CBD, or contain harmful toxins. Here’s what to look for:
- Certificate of analysis: this certificate is a lab test that evaluates the concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes, but also tests for toxic mold, fertilizers, solvents, pesticides, heavy metals, and fungi. Many counterfeit products are on the market, or they don’t have any sort of testing to prove quality and safety. And finally, if the company itself does the lab testing, you can’t verify the accuracy or oversight—always look for third-party testing.
- Organic and natural ingredients: dogs and cats can react poorly to artificial flavoring and other ingredients, so look for organic and natural ingredients. Be wary of essential oils added to tinctures, as some of these can be toxic to pets.
- Organically grown hemp from the United States: while the end product may not be USDA certified organic, it can be made from organically grown hemp. Check out this article to learn more about what this means: https://riponnaturals.com/cbd-research-articles/usda-certified-organic-cbd-what-does-it-mean/
- Do not use human edibles: to add to the last item on this list, there are some ingredients in human foods that can kill a pet, such as erythritol, a natural sweetener. Many products meant for humans contain this and other ingredients not meant for pets, so be sure to stick to pet-only CBD products.
- Avoid hempseed oil: while hempseed oil is safe and nutritious for dogs and cats, it does not contain any cannabinoids and won’t produce the same therapeutic benefits that CBD may have. Make sure that you see CBD or hemp extract in the CoA and not hemp seeds.
- Flavor: it seems like some pets will eat just about anything, but when it comes to their treats, they can be a bit pickier. You may find that one flavor doesn’t have the same excitement for your pet as another, so experiment until you find what they like.
Possible Side Effects of CBD in Animals
CBD is largely well-tolerated in pets, but some side effects can come with the territory. Start with a small dose, and if they tolerate it well, you can increase the amount after a few weeks if needed.
Here are some of the most common side effects that may occur:
- Lack of energy or sleepiness
- Dry mouth and higher water consumption
- Eating more than usual
- Lower blood pressure and lightheadedness
- If your dog is currently taking any prescription medications, CBD could interfere with the way your body metabolizes them.
Even though CBD is considered “natural” by many, that doesn’t mean it comes without side effects or that it can’t potentially harm your pet. If your pet shows any signs of illness or distress, call your vet right away.
CBD for cats and dogs is still a relatively new field of study, but with more scientists piloting research in the world of CBD for pets, we’re excited to see what further information emerges. We could see even more products hit the market, and possibly more regulations and oversight as it pertains to dosages and conditions CBD can treat.
Ready to try CBD cat treats, dog chews, and tinctures? We’ve got the full lineup of CBD pet products, all of which are broad-spectrum, third-party lab tested, and made from organically grown hemp from Colorado. Shop our products today!