There are only a handful of feelings worse than seeing your beloved furry companion suffering from a disease or medical condition. When that happens, you put everything else aside, and you do anything in your power to make them feel better. You take them to the vet, you give them medicine, but you also do your online research. And one of the things that catch your eye when you’re doing research is using CBD oil for pets.
CBD oil for pets should offer a wealth of benefits, and it should help your four-legged friend overcome pain, manage seizures and more. But you might be wondering if CBD oil is really effective or if it’s simply a hype that will pass in the years to come without producing much of an impact.
Well, there’s certainly some scientific evidence indicating that CBD could help treat your furball’s ailments.
What is CBD?
CBD or cannabidiol is a chemical compound found in the Cannabis sativa plant. Now, CBD is a cannabinoid. What’s interesting is that mammals produce their own cannabinoids. You surely know that the mammal organism can be divided into multiple systems, such as the respiratory system, the digestive system, the immune system, etc.
Even though school manuals treat every system like a separate entity, the truth is that all of them are interconnected in one way or another. Well, the cannabinoids in the mammal organism make up the Endocannabinoid System (ECS).
What is the Endocannabinoid System?
Scientists discovered the endocannabinoid system in 1992, so it’s safe to say that the ECS is a pretty recent discovery. As you can imagine, scientists are still trying to determine exactly what it does, and how it influences the human and animal body.
As far as they can tell, the ECS is involved in multiple processes, and it can influence the mammal response to pain, alter moods, as well as affecting certain immune functions and the metabolism.
Long story short, the ECS is made up of receptors and transmitters. Mammals make their own cannabinoids that act as transmitters and interact with two types of receptors, CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are mostly found in the brain, and they seem to influence memory and motor skills. CB2 receptors are mostly present in the immune system and in the bone marrow.
Related: The Effects of CBD on the Human Body
Imagine the receptors as doors and the transmitters as keys. When the right key enters the right door, it opens it. Now, the interesting thing is that the door (receptor) can be tricked. Instead of opening when it touches the right key (the mammal-made cannabinoid), it opens when it touches something very similar — cannabidiol.
How can CBD help your pet?
Now, we’re not going to go over how the ECS influences the physiological processes happening in the mammal body. You can read more about that here and here. Let’s see what CBD can do for your four-legged companion.
1. CBD oil reduces anxiety
You might think that anxiety is a human emotion. After all, what would a dog or a cat be anxious about, right? Well, have you ever seen a dog during fireworks or a cat react to another cat coming to visit? Animals can be anxious, as well.
One of the worst forms of anxiety you can see in pets is called separation anxiety. You know, because they miss you when you’re not around. All pets experience separation anxiety when humans take them away from their mother and siblings. That’s why puppies and kittens have a difficult time adapting to their new environments.
But the separation anxiety they experience when leaving the crib is nothing compared to what they feel when you’re away for long spans of time. In some cases, the separation anxiety a pet experiences can be so severe it leads to house soiling, extreme vocalization (excessive meowing or howling) or even destructiveness.
CBD oil can help with anxiety. A study presented in 2010 showed that CBD has anxiolytic effects in mice. In plain English, this means that cannabidiol reduced the anxiety mice experienced.
However, the study shows that long-term CBD administration is better than taking a single large dose to reduce anxiety. Another study, this one published in 2006, reaches the same conclusion. Taking a single dose of CBD might not help with anxiety, but taking it for a long time does.
2. CBD oil helps with pet epilepsy
In case you missed it, CBD is now approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a treatment for two rare and severe forms of human epilepsy — Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
But the good news is that CBD can also help pets suffering from epilepsy. A study published by the Colorado State University showed that CBD can reduce the frequency of seizures in dogs. 89 percent of the dogs who received CBD during the clinical trial suffered from fewer seizures.
In addition, the study showed that there was a positive correlation between the CBD concentration levels in the dogs’ bloodstream and how great the seizure reduction was. The higher the concentration, the less frequent the seizures.
The study concluded that CBD can be an alternative to existing anticonvulsive drugs prescribed for dogs at the moment.
3. CBD oil helps with chronic pain in pets
Everybody loves young pets. Puppies and kittens are cute, playful, and they simply make your Instagram account followers smash that “love” button. But puppies and kittens grow old, and old age comes with various health problems.
Osteoarthritis is the most common health problem diagnosed in old pets. You might notice that your cat doesn’t jump as frequently as she used to, or that your dog doesn’t enjoy long walks any longer.
The main symptom of osteoarthritis is pain. You might notice that your pet is reluctant to make certain movements, or that his or her walk is deformed at times. And osteoarthritis is a chronic disease. You can’t simply cure it with pills. The pain never goes away, the pills only manage it.
One of the downsides of administering pain pills for a long time is that they might produce unpleasant secondary effects, such as digestive problems.
According to a study published in 2018, CBD can help dogs suffering from osteoarthritic pain. The study showed that dogs treated with CBD oil showed a significant decrease in pain and an increase in physical activity.
Moreover, the owners did not report any side effects during the clinical trial, which makes CBD oil better than conventional treatment methods.
4. CBD oil reduces inflammation
CBD doesn’t only treat pain, it also reduces inflammation. Now, you might be wondering why that would be helpful.
Well, chronic inflammation can lead to autoimmune diseases or other health issues. For example, chronic intestinal inflammation (or inflammatory bowel disease) can lead to colitis and colon cancer. Administering CBD to pets suffering from inflammatory bowel disease can reduce inflammation and prevent cancer.
Chronic inflammation increases the production of inflammatory cytokines, which can lead to hypersensitivity, allergies, and autoimmune diseases. CBD can inhibit the production of inflammatory cytokines, which — as you probably already guessed — decreases the risk of developing an autoimmune disease.
5. CBD oil helps fight cancer cells
CBD oil can help your furball overcome cancer. Research shows that CBD has anti-tumor effects.
A study published in 2014 showed that the administration of CBD activated some immune cells that destroy lung cancer cells. Another study, this one published in 2016, showed that the administration of CBD complemented conventional cancer treatment options like chemotherapy in eliminating breast and prostate carcinomas.
However, these were trial studies, so the findings are far from conclusive. Since CBD does not produce significant side effects, administering it during conventional cancer treatment shouldn’t hurt, but you should discuss this option with your veterinarian first.
6. CBD oil helps with pet vomiting and nausea and improves appetite
CBD attenuates vomiting and nausea, according to a 2012 study. This might be especially helpful if your pet is going through difficult treatment protocols, such as chemotherapy.
In addition, administering CBD might help your four-legged companion eat more. CBD seems to increase appetite in pets.
7. CBD oil helps protect the brain of old pets
You might be surprised to learn that cats and dogs can suffer from neurological diseases, just like humans. As they grow older, cats and dogs lose brain cells at an accelerated rate, which sometimes leads to neurological decline.
CBD is a powerful antioxidant and it can protect your pet’s brain from cell death.
8. CBD improves cardiovascular health
CBD should improve your furry companion’s cardiovascular health. A study published in 2010 showed that CBD administration can reduce the frequency of irregular heart rates and limit the harm produced by damaged blood vessels, which might protect the heart from an infarct.
Another study, this one presented in 2012, showed that CBD reduces the effects of stress on the cardiovascular system. The same study concludes that CBD protects blood vessels from damage and dilates the arteries to improve blood flow.
Last but not least, a 2006 study concluded that CBD can reduce the heart rate and blood pressure usually associated with stress and anxiety.
How can you administer CBD to your pet?
Now that you’ve seen how helpful CBD could be for your pet, you might be wondering how to convince him or her to swallow the CBD oil. Well, here are some tips that should help you administer CBD to your pet.
- Mix it with food – You might be able to trick your pet into eating the CBD oil by mixing it with his or her favourite food. Pour the CBD oil on porous food that’s capable of absorbing it (otherwise it will slide right off) and allow it to soak for a while before feeding it to your pet.
Now, this method is easy, but it will only work if you have a small pet. Larger pets need larger doses of CBD and, as you can imagine, pouring an entire dropper of oil on a treat is nearly impossible.
- Administer it directly – Cats are renowned for being fussy eaters, so you might find it difficult to convince your feline companion to swallow the CBD oil along with his or her food. So, the second easiest way of doing it is administering it directly.
Prepare the dropper of CBD oil before you grab a hold of your pet, and have a tasty treat ready to offer after you administer it. Giving your pet a treat after the CBD oil will ensure he or she swallows all the oil, and it also helps them look forward to receiving it.
- Include it in homemade food – One of the good things about CBD oil is that you can mix it with a lot of ingredients. Mixing the ingredients of homemade pet snacks with CBD oil will help you administer it with ease.
CBD oil dosage for pets
Here’s the deal, CBD oil is a food supplement, so it doesn’t come with a regulated dose at the moment. However, most of the studies presented earlier used a dosage of 2 – 2.5 mg/kg. Some studies used up to 8 mg/kg, but you should start with a lower dosage.
CBD does not produce significant side effects, but you should start with a dosage of 2 mg/kg. If your pet’s condition doesn’t seem to improve in about two weeks, you can increase it to 2.5 mg/kg. Use that dosage for two weeks, and increase it if you don’t see any changes.
CBD oil for pets – Final thoughts
CBD oil is all the rage now, and multiple studies confirm its usefulness for pets. However, you should take all these findings with a pinch of salt. The results of all the studies presented in this article are preliminary, and they do not guarantee any results.
Even though CBD oil might seem like the perfect fit for your four-legged friend, the first thing you should do if you suspect your pet is having a health problem is consulting with a veterinarian. Discuss with your vet the possibility of administering CBD oil to complement a conventional treatment method, not to replace it entirely.