Marijuana and its byproducts are becoming legalized across the country which means people are beginning to see a lot of new hemp products hit store shelves. Some of the products are marketed to pet owners and tout a lot of benefits, but how can you know what is safe for your pet? Unfortunately, most of the information available online may not be entirely reliable as veterinary research has been limited until recently. Most of the published studies have been conducted on humans and lab rats leaving many pet owners with a lot of questions regarding CBD for dogs. Fortunately, Canna-Pet® has dedicated ourselves to developing high-quality CBD products that are veterinarian recommended and can make a positive difference for your pet.
Here is the ultimate guide to CBD for dogs and other pets to help you wade through the vast amounts of information available on the internet. We’ll help you understand what CBD is and how to use it safely with your pet.
What is CBD?
CBD is scientifically known as cannabidiol and can be derived in a variety of ways. The first is hemp products which have been popularized as a fabric-like material but can actually be sold as capsules and oils as well. The other form of CBD products is sold as cannabis, the highly publicized recreational drug which also contains THC or tetrahydrocannabinol. THC is the chemical compound which gives users the effect of being high that is most frequently associated with cannabis products. However, CBD does not produce this effect on its own, which is why so many consumers have been compelled to try CBD products.
Though, as mentioned previously, there is a lot of misinformation about CBD products and their effectiveness currently circulating, leaving many dog owners with lingering questions. This is a result of CBD products not being regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) so there are no set standards for the products and the claims manufacturers can make about them. This is why it is important for you to have a deep understanding of CBD and those products which contain it in order to be able to make an informed decision when choosing who to purchase from. After all, you are entrusting the health of your pet to these brands.
Like many CBD products on the market, Canna-Pet® uses industrial hemp to make our products. This is a legal substance which provides all the benefits of CBD while eliminating the risk of trace amounts of THC.
A Brief History of CBD
The history of CBD began in 1940 when Roger Adams, Harvard alumni and a prominent organic chemist at the University of Illinois, successfully extracted CBD from the cannabis sativa plant. However, it wasn’t until years later that he and other scientists realized what he had done and began researching the possible benefits of CBD. Following in the footsteps of Adams, a man named Walter S. Loewe conducted some of the most well-documented experiments regarding CBD in 1946. He focused on the effects of cannabinoids THC, CBD and CBN (cannabinol) on rabbits and mice. His results revealed that THC caused catalepsy, a type of induced trance, in mice and a “central excitant action” in rabbits but that CBD did not appear to produce observable effects on behavior.
It wasn’t until 1963 that Israeli scientist Dr. Raphael Mechoulam identified CBD’s chemical structure in his laboratory at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. And in 1964 he discovered the structure of THC as well. Because of this contribution, Mechoulam is most often recognized as the godfather of modern cannabis. Without his discoveries, you would have no idea that THC is the psychoactive compound in marijuana, or that CBD is a non-intoxicating compound with hundreds of medicinal benefits. In the late 1960’s, Mechoulam began testing his newly-found cannabis compounds on primates. Fortunately, it didn’t take him long to realize that THC, not CBD, was the one that was responsible for causing the sedated, intoxicating cerebral effects of the cannabis herb.
Mechoulam continued his research on the effects of these compounds throughout the next several decades. The highlights included a cannabis tincture released for medicinal use by the British Pharmacopoeia in the mid-1970’s as a result of his research and his largely unnoticed publication on the medical uses CBD for epilepsy in the 1980’s.
When it comes to the recent history of CBD, there are a few notable milestones which have led us to the current state. By 1996, California was the first U.S. state to legalize medical marijuana. But it wasn’t until 2013 when the Charlotte Figi story surfaced that the medical benefits of cannabis, and specifically CBD, became more widely recognized. Figi made headlines across the globe when her care team found that she could manage her 300 weekly epileptic seizures by using a tincture made from CBD rich cannabis. Then the 2014 legalization of medical CBD in Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin represented a landmark moment in the history of the cannabinoid.
This moment marked the first instance that CBD was legally recognized in a state where medical marijuana was not legal. Finally, in 2016 and 2017, critical steps were taken for CBD to potentially become the first cannabis substance to obtain federal acknowledgment. As of this writing, no form of cannabis, including CBD, is recognized or approved by the FDA. Approval by the FDA would be a substantial landmark in the progression of CBD research, as it would open up a wealth of federally-backed funds to initiate further studies on its effects.
How Does CBD Work?
Before addressing the safety of CBD for pets, it is important to recognize and understand how the substance operates within the body. CBD interacts with the body through what is referred to as the endocannabinoid system. This system is a series of neurons that run throughout the body and have receptors for cannabinoids to bind to. These receptors are found throughout the body in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells. Depending on the location, the endocannabinoid system performs different tasks, but the goal is always the same: homeostasis. Homeostasis is the maintenance of a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment. It is possible for the body to have a deficiency in the natural production of the cannabinoids which usually attach to these receptors. When this system is out of balance, the person (or pet) may suffer from a wide host of emotional and physical ailments.
Is CBD Safe for Pets?
Fortunately, humans are not the only species known to have this endocannabinoid system in place. In fact, any animal with vertebrae has an endocannabinoid system. This includes dogs, cats, horses, rodents, and rabbits. As previously discussed, a few of these species, like rodents and rabbits, were even used in early research on the effects of CBD. However, you should always consult with a holistic veterinarian before introducing new supplements into your pet’s daily regime or diet to eliminate the possibility of any potential problems.
CBD Products: The Basics
There are a number of products available for pets, the majority of which are specifically formulated for cats and dogs. These products can come in a variety of forms, each with their own pros and cons. You will ultimately need to decide what the best option is for you and your pet.
CBD Oil & Tinctures Maybe the most popular form of CBD available, CBD dog oil is produced in two distinct forms. CBD Isolate is pure CBD with no additives or extra ingredients included in the formula. Some consumers prefer isolate to other options as they want to limit the possibility of additional side effects that would occur as a result of those additional ingredients. However, oils typically have to be placed directly into your pet’s mouth making them more difficult to administer. Full-spectrum CBD oil, on the other hand, includes additional ingredients which can enhance the CBD’s effect on anxiety, pain, and other problems. The result is what is known as the entourage effect. These solutions, specifically designed for oral consumption, are typically sold in a dropper bottle as a liquid which contains a small amount of hemp infusion. Their primary benefits are that they can be used as an additive to foods or drinks, making it an effective solution for pets. The dropper allows you to easily control the dosage as you simply add it to their food or water for consumption.
CBD Capsules CBD can also be obtained in a capsule form that is orally administered to your pet by either placing the capsule in a pill pocket or food your dog will consume or open the capsule and pour the powdered substance over his food. CBD dog pills are not usually any better or worse than oils/tinctures and will ultimately come down to a personal preference
CBD Treats The last option for pet consumption are chewable CBD dog treats or biscuits. However, depending on the product you purchase, these products may be less effective than other options. You may also find CBD treats limited to traditional household pets like cats or dogs. If you choose to purchase these treats, pay close attention to the ingredients and dosage listed on the packaging.
Selecting a Product
In addition to choosing the type of product you want to use with your pet, you must find a reliable and trustworthy brand or company to purchase from. When it comes to adding any supplement to your pet’s diet, quality matters. As the popularity of CBD continues to increase, there are a number of products hitting the market that may not be healthy or safe for your pet. In order to ensure you are purchasing the best possible product, look for these qualifications:
- Organic Any CBD product you purchase should be marked as organic and free from pesticides or other additives which could be harmful to your dog. At Canna-Pet® all of our products are organic, plant-based, non-GMO so you can give them to your pet with total confidence and peace of mind.
- Independent Lab Results The company should have published lab results that verify their effectiveness and/or ingredients. It is also a good sign if their products are backed by multiple veterinarian recommendations.
- Pay Attention to Price When it comes to CBD, you get what you pay for. Any cheap product might not be the safest or most effective choice. Remember lower cost usually means lower quality when it comes to these products.
- Read the FAQs A reputable company should have Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) listed on their website. Carefully read the information published there and utilize this resource to its fullest. A company with nothing to hide will have lots of answers posted available to their customers and resources to contact them with further questions.
Again, these products are not currently regulated by the FDA meaning low quality, or even falsified products, which contain ingredients that are harmful to your pet could be on the market. This is why you should always discuss any supplements with your veterinarian before giving them to your pet. When you first give your pet a CBD supplement, monitor their behavior and take note of anything unusual. Symptoms of a serious problem such as overdose or poisoning could first begin with dry mouth or increased water intake, tremors, low blood pressure, muscle weakness, dizziness or disorientation, and extreme drowsiness or fatigue. If you notice any of these signs contact your veterinarian immediately.
Can You Give a Pet Human CBD?
Technically speaking, yes, you can give your pet CBD products which are marketed for humans because, as already mentioned, the endocannabinoid system functions the same in both you and your vertebrae, mammalian pet. However, if you are truly interested in giving your pet CBD as a regular part of their diet and health scheme, it is best to use CBD pet products. These products have been specially formulated for pets and are much easier to use and dose. Human CBD products tend to be much stronger than those for pets, and getting an accurate dose for your dog could be tricky. Pet CBD products, on the other hand, are much easier to use and usually come with detailed dosing info that makes it very easy for you to give the right amount to your dog.
The Effects of CBD
As a result of the lack of pet-related research on the effects of CBD, a lot of what is known comes down to anecdotal evidence of what other pet owners have experienced. This list of suggested benefits can be quite extensive but there are six primary categories which most effects fall in.
- Painkiller CBD is well-known for its powerful painkilling properties and can help manage pain in a variety of ways. Research shows that CBD temporarily halts the absorption of anandamide, a chemical which helps weaken pain signals in the brain, leaving an abundance circulating and reducing canine pain sensations. Thankfully, because our pets have a similar endocannabinoid system in their bodies, CBD has similar painkilling effects for them as well.
- Anti-Inflammatory CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects are believed to be one of the primary reasons the compound is so effective in treating a wide variety of conditions. By activating the receptors of immune cells, CBD is able to stimulate a variety of immune responses, such as reduced canine inflammation. Conditions such as canine arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome are characterized by chronic inflammation and by lowering this inflammation, CBD helps to reduce the pain and other symptoms that are associated with such conditions.
- Anticonvulsant Recent veterinary research is showing promising results in CBD’s ability to help control or prevent tremors, tics, and spasms, and seizures in dogs including the spasms associated with multiple sclerosis as well as the tics and tremors caused by Tourette’s Syndrome and even Parkinson’s Disease. However, despite extensive research that CBD helps these symptoms, there is little understanding as to why this works as an anticonvulsant.
- Reduces Stress & Anxiety Much like humans, our pets can suffer from canine anxiety and stress which elicits physical reactions in their bodies and can have harmful effects on their health. In humans, anxiety and stress might cause us to bite our nails, pace around, or become shaky and it manifests similarly in our pets as repetitive behavior. CBD has been shown to help reduce feelings of anxiety and thereby reduce these symptoms.
- Antiemetic Nausea and vomiting are very common symptoms of a specific condition or even a secondary reaction to treatments such as chemotherapy. As a result, those facing these symptoms usually experience decreased appetite, rapid weight loss, dehydration, and fatigue which puts their overall health at risk. Although there are plenty of antiemetic medications available, these drugs can cause a variety of unpleasant side effects. Fortunately, there is strong evidence showing CBD is a successful antiemetic, controlling both nausea and vomiting while also stimulating appetite.
- Slow Tumor Growth Because there is no known cure for cancer treatment usually focuses on slowing tumor growth while reducing pain and other symptoms. Currently, the most common treatment for most cancers is chemotherapy. However, as in humans, the side effects of chemotherapy can be extremely unpleasant and even debilitating, including fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, and diarrhea. Early research indicates that not only will cannabinoids like CBD reduce these side effects of treatment, but they may also help slow the growth and spread of cancer while possibly reducing the size of tumors.
Side Effects of CBD
Some owners have noted an increased sense of drowsiness in their household pets after taking CBD supplements. However, the specific way your pet reacts to CBD products will be as unique as he is. Fortunately, drowsiness is not a dangerous side effect but you should monitor him closely if you notice these effects to ensure he does not unknowingly put himself in a dangerous situation. For most pets, CBD is a safe and natural treatment alternative to modern medicines which produces limited side effects. Regardless, you should talk to a holistic vet before providing CBD supplements to your pet.
Conditions Impacted by CBD
While CBD will not cure any condition your pet may have, it can have a notable improvement when used to treat symptoms of a condition. For example, as previously indicated, CBD can help treat the tremors associated with Parkinson’s Disease but, unfortunately, cannot treat or cure the underlying disease itself. Below is an extensive, but not comprehensive, list of conditions which can be impacted by CBD:
- Anxiety (including separation, noise, or travel-induced as well as phobias)
- Atopic Dermatitis
- Hip Dysplasia
- Post-Surgical Pain & Recovery
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Tourette’s Syndrome
- Chronic Pain/Nerve-Related Pain
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Multiple Sclerosis (MLS)
- Acute Pancreatitis
CBD products can be effective in as quickly as 30 to 45 minutes of giving to your pet. You should begin to see sustained results within a few days of beginning your pet’s regimen, though the full scale of benefits can be seen over longer periods of time. Choosing to give your pet CBD can be a complicated and confusing decision but with the guidance of a qualified holistic veterinarian and selection of high-quality products, you can implement CBD seamlessly into your dog’s daily routine and, hopefully, begin seeing results.
Canna-Pet® feels that hemp nutrition is a way of life and a vital element of your pet’s daily diet. Hopefully, you have had most of your questions answered with this in-depth guide, but we love to help our customers learn and would be more than happy to answer any additional questions you might have. Just contact us!
In addition, you should always talk to your pet’s veterinarian before providing them with any supplements. Your vet will be familiar with your pet’s unique medical history and be able to provide a more detailed assessment.