A 2016 survey conducted by Colorado State University and published in the Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association found that of 650 people surveyed, 72% reported having used a hemp-based cannabis product for their canine friend (14% used it on their cat as well). In total, 64% of those surveyed felt that it helped them.
CBD oil is often used to help increase comfort and improve quality of life in pets, not necessarily to cure ailments. Research shows that for many pets, CBD oil has therapeutic benefits. Pet owners use CBD oil to treat:
- cancer symptoms
- back pain
- gastrointestinal issues
- and more.
It helps pets feel more relaxed which in turn can help with aggression issues, cognitive problems, excessive barking or meowing, and urination/marking problems. CBD oil also offers therapeutic benefits for older pets who are challenged by declining mobility. Some pet owners have reported using CBD oil to help with epileptic seizures. CBD oil won’t get your pet high, but it may help them enjoy the benefits associated with the CBD cannabinoid.
One common use of CBD oil with pets is reducing anxiety. Does your dog suffer from separation anxiety or noise phobias? CBD oil might help. CBD has been studied at length for its effect on stress and anxiety. In humans, it’s been found to reduce anxiety in healthy people as well as those with anxiety disorders. It has been effective at helping with panic disorders and post-traumatic stress disorders.
In dogs, symptoms of anxiety may include pacing, panting, whimpering, trembling, aggression, urinating or defecating on the floor despite being house trained, nervous licking, loss of appetite. Luckily, CBD oil can work on all of these symptoms and offer your dog some much needed relief. Cats give multiple indicators that they are experiencing anxiety—excessive grooming, scratching, and meowing, as well as isolating themselves, sleeping more than usual, eating less, and becoming more aggressive. If your cat is exhibiting any of these signs, it is important to find effective treatments so that s/he will not suffer from long-term consequences of chronic stress. Fortunately, there is increasing evidence that CBD for cats can go a long way in treating anxiety, even eliminating the problem completely. CBD oil works by interacting with the body’s naturally occurring endocannabinoid system to soothe and calm anxiety naturally.
Another common CBD use for pets is treating seizures and/or epilepsy, a devastating condition for both pets and their owners. After all, watching your furry friend break into a seizure can be very distressing. Seizures are a common symptom of conditions affecting the brain, spinal cord, and nervous system that affect the proper functioning of neurons. In doing so, they often cause recurring seizures of various degrees. Some seizures can be subtle, causing symptoms such as staring, hyperventilation, and rapid eye movements or blinking. However, other seizures can be far more severe, causing uncontrollable physical fits, shaking, tremors, and sometimes even a complete loss of consciousness.
Seizures are caused by abnormal firing of neurons in the brain. Conditions like epilepsy affect the proper functioning of these neurons, causing them to fire rapidly and abnormally, which ultimately results in a seizure. Seizures are temporary, but they can last for long periods of time. On the other hand, Epilepsy is one of the most common long-term neurological disorders affecting dogs. It is usually a lifelong condition, producing recurring epileptic seizures. The causes of epilepsy in dogs vary. It can often be caused by both environmental and genetic factors. Some breeds, for example, are more prone to develop epilepsy, including Beagles, Cocker Spaniels, German Shepherds, Siberian Huskies, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and others. However, head trauma, tumors, inflammation, or degenerative brain diseases can also end up causing epilepsy. Finally, metabolic issues such as low blood sugar or kidney/liver failure can also cause epilepsy in some dogs.
There is a very strong body of evidence showing that CBD can help control seizures in pets caused by both epilepsy and other conditions. Just like humans, pets have an endocannabinoid system. Actually, CBD is highly regarded as a well-tolerated supplement for dogs. Most CBD pet supplements are made using hemp that was bred specifically to have high concentrations of CBD and only trace amounts of THC. The only difference between how humans and dogs react to CBD is that dogs are more sensitive to the effects of cannabinoids, meaning they require smaller doses than humans.
According to veterinarians, approximately 5% of dogs suffer from seizures. Most of them are prescribed drugs such as phenobarbital or potassium bromide. While these medications may help control the seizures, they can be extremely harmful to your dog’s liver and other organs. And the drugs don’t work in all cases. Unlike many prescriptions, there are no dangerous side effects associated with using CBD oil. It won’t damage your pet’s liver, kidneys, or GI tract. It won’t sedate them or get them high. CBD can be used in conjunction with traditional medications and other treatments. There are no dangerous drug interactions with CBD.
In order to help regulate issues like seizures or anxiety, CBD actually mimics the brain’s natural systems by interacting directly with its natural receptors. For example, it combats inflammation by activating the receptors that control inflammation production through the brain’s natural endocannabinoid system, a newly discovered, complex biological system. The body has cannabinoid receptors throughout the central nervous system, the organs, and the brain. These receptors are known as the endocannabinoid system. When the body naturally releases endocannabinoid chemicals—or they are ingested—they connect with the receptors, stimulating the body’s natural ability to create serotonin, a natural mood stabilizer. CBD oil enhances this natural ability.
In addition to treating anxiety and seizures in pets, CBD can help in the fight against cancer. Receiving a diagnosis of cancer in your beloved Best Friend can be a very scary, confusing, heart-wrenching time for loving pet parents. Cancer is the leading cause of death in dogs over the age of 10, but half of all cancers are curable if caught early. Invariably, the sooner you find and diagnose cancer, the better chance you have at prolonging your dog’s life. Mounting evidence indicates that cannabinoids (both THC and CBD) may represent a new class of anti-cancer drugs that inhibit cancer growth, delay angiogenesis (the formation of new blood cells that feed a tumor), and stall the metastatic spreading of cancer cells.
CBD has long been proven to have anti-cancer and tumor-reducing effects, according to research at the University of Milan and several other studies. Dogs are susceptible to some of the same types of cancers as humans, but they metastasize at a much faster rate. The most common types of cancer seen in dogs are malignant lymphomas (cancer of the lymph nodes), mast cell tumors (a form of skin cancer), soft tissue sarcomas, and bone cancer. Research shows that not only is CBD a powerful anti-tumoral compound in its own right, but that it acts synergistically with various anti-cancer pharmaceuticals, enhancing their impact while cutting the toxic dosage necessary for maximum effect. While conventional chemotherapy drugs are highly toxic and indiscriminately damage cells in the body and brain, cannabinoids slow tumor growth in certain cancers by significantly reducing the ability of cancer to spread and selectively destroying tumor cells while leaving healthy cells unscathed. When it comes to cancer treatment, the cannabis plant appears to have an amazing impact when used in tandem with traditional therapies. Beyond simply helping with the nausea of chemotherapy, there is strong scientific evidence of a deeper benefit when using cannabis with conventional therapies. CBD for pets is typically given orally, but there are a few topical treatments that can be applied.
If you decide to try CBD for your pet, follow these guidelines for safety and health:
- Know the Quality of Your Product, Go 100% Organic.
It is of utmost importance that you avoid exposing your dog or cat to pesticides. Make sure you choose only organically sourced and safely produced cannabis products for your pet.
- Start low and slow
CBD from hemp has many benefits on its own, but dosages can vary depending on the product. Always follow dosage directions on the product label. Industry standards recommend 1 milligrams of CBD for every 10 pounds of animal weight. Some pets may require more or less depending on their condition and constitution. The general rule of thumb is to be conservative and observe your dog over a few days to a week. You can always up the dose if you need to.
- Use oil
CBD oil can be mixed in food or given straight and is the medium of choice for most pet parents. The oil allows the cannabis to be absorbed into the body through the liver, producing longer-lasting and less intense effect.
- Monitor your dog
This is especially important after you give your dog CBD for the first time. It is also a good idea to keep a log of when and how much you administer in case you need to adjust over time.
- Consult with a holistic veterinarian
Many vets are getting on board when it comes to CBD for dogs and cats. If you live in a cannabis-friendly state, don’t assume that your pet’s vet will not talk to you about CBD or other kinds of cannabis. These days, some vets have even received special training in cannabinoids.
Catherine Cattarello is a pet parent, sharing her home and life with three cats and a dog as well as a writer, editor, and small business owner.