In recent years, the presence of CBD products for humans and dogs alike has been on the rise. If you have noticed any of these items on store shelves or advertised online, you may have found yourself wondering what exactly CBD is, if it is safe to give your dog, and what benefits it can have. You are not alone! A lot of dog owners are unclear about what CBD can do for their dogs and how it should be handled due to the bureaucracy that can surround available information.
Fortunately, Canna-Pet® has a lot of experience with CBD products and are here to break it all down for you in a comprehensive guide. When you are done you should have a deep understanding of what CBD is, the benefits of CBD and like products for your dog, and how to use them.
What is CBD?
CBD, more formally known as cannabidiol, can be derived from either hemp (i.e. a well known fabric-like material) or cannabis, commonly recognized as a recreational drug. It can come in numerous forms from pills and oils to specialty treats making it quite easy to purchase. Most importantly, however, is the distinction between CBD and THC, also known as tetrahydrocannabinol. THC is the chemical compound which gives users the high effect most often associated with cannabis. CBD, on the other hand, does not produce this effect which is good as dogs are extremely sensitive to THC.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation available on the internet about the effectiveness and uses of CBD products for your dog. Though marijuana is a schedule 1 drug under federal law, CBD supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, leaving a lot of consumers questioning exactly what is in the product, how it was made, and whether it actually does what it claims. This is why it is incredibly important to understand the products and research the company you choose to purchase from.
Like many CBD products on the market, Canna-Pet® use 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.
Is CBD Safe for Dogs?
The short answer is yes, CBD is safe for dogs in moderation. While THC can be toxic to canines, dogs tend to have a similar reaction to CBD as to what humans experience. This is because CBD interacts with the body through what is referred to as the endocannabinoid system, a series of neurons that run throughout the body, and have receptors for cannabinoids that the enter the body to bind to. However, humans are not the only species known to have this endocannabinoid system in place. Many species have been shown in research to have these receptors with one of the more popular researched species being dogs.
As mentioned previously, accurate research and information on this topic is limited on the internet. Unfortunately, CBD’s vague legal standing makes it difficult to conduct clinical studies, according to The Cannabist, though many veterinarians have been lobbying for access to marijuana and hemp in order to conduct research that would better understand the effects of pet CBD. Few have only recently received some funding to do so.
Fortunately, in states where cannabis has been legalized for recreational use, such as Colorado, clinical studies and research are beginning to pop up. Colorado State University’s Dr. Stephanie McGrath has taken on studying CBD’s effect on dogs, specifically as it relates to dogs with seizures. According to McGrath, early data from the study has been “promising.” Furthermore, Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine conducted a survey in 2016 of Canna-Pet® hemp products and their perceived effectiveness by owners. The results show that the majority of owners saw improvement in their dog’s various conditions or symptoms.
The Benefits of CBD for Dogs
Although the supposed benefits of CBD have not all been proven with concrete research, for reasons previously discussed, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence available on the topic. Because a lot of the effects of CBD can be watered down with hearsay, the list of benefits is quite extensive but below is a list of seven benefits which will apply to the majority of possible conditions that can be treated with CBD (more on that later).
In 1997, a study published in the European Journal of Pharmacology surfaced evidence that the endocannabinoid system was involved in the management of pain throughout the human body. This research, and other similar studies, contributed to the rise of medical marijuana and CBD in human medicine. As a result, CBD is well-known for its painkilling properties today and can help manage pain in a variety of way. Studies have also shown that CBD can temporarily halt the absorption of anandamide, a chemical which helps weaken pain signals in the brain and reduce pain sensations. Thankfully, because dogs have a similar endocannabinoid system in their bodies, CBD has similar painkilling effects for them as well.
Closely associated with CBD’s painkilling abilities are the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD which are believed to be one of the main reasons the compound is so effective in treating a wide variety of conditions. These effects are believed to be linked to CBD’s ability to interact with receptors in immune cells, known as CB2 receptors. By activating these receptors, CBD is able to evoke a variety of immune responses, like reduced inflammation. Conditions such as arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome are characterized by chronic inflammation which in some cases is the result of a malfunctioning immune system attacking healthy cells. By lowering inflammation, CBD helps to reduce the pain and other symptoms of such conditions.
As mentioned previously, recent research is showing promising results in CBD’s ability to help control or prevent seizures, tremors, tics, and spasms in dogs. Veterinary research is likely a response to the knowledge that CBD is a natural anticonvulsant as proven by the numerous studies on the human body that followed the 2013 medical case of Charlotte Figi. 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. Further studies have found that both CBD and THC can help manage 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. Seizures and the like are generally understood to be the result of the rapid and uncontrolled firing of neurons in the brain. Preliminary research suggests the CBD might be effective in calming these neurons to restore order and allow them to fire normally, preventing the onset of a seizure.
4. Reduces Stress & Anxiety
Many dog owners fail to realize how detrimental stress and anxiety can be to their pet’s health. Much like humans, our canine friends can suffer from these emotions which elicit physical reactions in their bodies. In humans, anxiety and stress might cause us to bite our nails, pace around, or become a little shaky. While in dogs anxiety can cause similar repetitive behavior it manifests in different ways, such as:
- Persistent or excessive barking
- Obsessive chewing of furniture, shoes, rubbish, etc
- Urinating and defecating, usually inside the house or crate
- Increased aggression
Some common forms of anxiety affecting dogs include separation anxiety, noise anxiety, travel anxiety, and even specific phobias. CBD has been shown to help reduce feelings of anxiety and thereby reduce these symptoms. How it does so, however, isn’t completely clear.
It is theorized that CBD functions in a similar way to typical anxiety medications which target a specific type of serotonin receptor in the body known as 5-HT1A. By targeting these receptors, anti-anxiety medications help temporarily increase serotonin levels in the brain. This boost leads to improvements in mood and helps reduce feelings of anxiety or fear.
Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms which can be the result of a specific condition or a secondary reaction to treatments or medications such as chemotherapy. Both in humans and dogs, these symptoms often lead to a decreased appetite, rapid weight loss, dehydration, and fatigue which puts overall health at risk. While there are plenty of antiemetic medications on the market for dogs, such as acepromazine, chlorpromazine, and aminopentamide, these drugs, can cause a wide variety of side effects, including:
- Strong sedation
- Lowered seizure thresholds for animals with epilepsy
- Excessive drooling
- Lack of appetite
Fortunately, there is a strong body of evidence indicating that CBD is a successful antiemetic, controlling both nausea and vomiting while also stimulating appetite. Research suggests that CBD may stimulate 5-HT1A receptors, the same which help to reduce anxiety, as well as CB1 cannabinoid receptors in the brain the compounded effects of which help to reduce feelings of nausea and suppress the subsequent vomiting reflex. Some studies even suggest that CBD may be a more effective antiemetic than some modern medications without any of the traditional side effects.
6. Slow Tumor Growth
Unfortunately, cancer and malicious tumors are becoming all too common in dogs and, in many cases, prove to be fatal. There is no known cure for cancer so treatment usually focuses on slowing the growth of tumors while reducing pain and other symptoms. Currently, the most common treatment for canine cancer and tumors is chemotherapy. However, as in humans, the side effects of chemotherapy can be extremely unpleasant and even debilitating, including:
- Tiredness, fatigue, and lethargy
- Loss of appetite