We all want the best for our furry babies and want them to stay healthy so we can maximize our time together. We keep them active by providing adequate playtime, give them the best food, and add supplements to their diet so they can get the nutrition that they need. Among those supplements, CBD is gaining a lot of popularity these days and for good reasons. It is considered to provide a ton of benefits to our dogs, including anxiety relief and pain relief. In this blog, we’ll review if CBD is good for dogs, the benefits it provides and if it is safe for them, but first, let’s understand what CBD actually is.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second most abundant component of the cannabis sativa plant after THC and makes up for around 40% of the plant’s extract. Contrary to popular belief, CBD is psychoactive in the sense that it alters the normal brain function (but in a good way), but it is non-psychoactive when we talk about intoxication. Unlike THC, CBD does not impart that high feeling or cause intoxication. Instead, it gives a feeling of calm and relaxation to the user. The best thing about CBD is that it is not toxic and can’t possibly cause death, so yeah, CBD is safe for dogs.
Benefits of CBD for dogs
Although the evidence is pretty slim when we talk about the benefits of CBD for dogs, the data we currently have suggests that CBD has the following benefits.
CBD may relieve pain
According to a study published by the European Journal of Pharmacology in 1997, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a central role in pain management and as we all know, CBD interacts with the ECS and helps it work more efficiently. This interaction is the main reason CBD is becoming an increasingly popular alternative treatment among those seeking pain relief. Unlike chemical–based pain medication, CBD isn’t addictive and doesn’t cause side effects when used appropriately. According to a study, CBD temporarily prevents the absorption of a chemical known as anandamide that helps suppress pain signals in the brain. The suppression allows anandamide to build up and as a result, helps reduce pain. Furthermore, CBD is considered to have anti-inflammatory properties (more on that later), which also helps reduce pain caused due to various conditions, including arthritis, which is common in large dog breeds and senior dogs.
CBD is considered to be an effective anticonvulsant
CBD is well known for its ability to control and reduce the frequency of seizures, spasms, tics, and tremors; that’s because it is a natural anticonvulsant. CBD’s popularity as a natural anticonvulsant gained popularity in 2013 when a girl named Charlotte Figi was able to effectively manage her 300 weekly epileptic seizures with a CBD tincture. After that, researchers started looking for evidence to see if CBD works as an anticonvulsant or not, and unsurprisingly, they found some. According to a study, CBD is effective for managing epileptic seizures. One study suggests that CBD can help manage muscle spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis (MS). Another study suggests that CBD can help manage tremors and tics caused by Tourette’s syndrome. Scientists currently don’t know how CBD works as an anticonvulsant, but we do know that seizures are caused due to uncontrolled and rapid firing of neurons. Preliminary research suggests that CBD helps restore balance to the chaotic firing of neurons and enables them to fire normally, which helps prevents seizures.
CBD has anti-inflammatory effects
Now let’s talk about the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD that we mentioned earlier. These anti-inflammatory properties are the main reason CBD is considered to be effective for treating several conditions. These anti-inflammatory properties of CBD are considered to be a result of its interaction with our immune cells receptors. There is a receptor located inside immune cells called CB2 and CBD is believed to interact with these receptors and activate them; as a result, CBD invokes different types of immune responses, including those that fight inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a common symptom of several health conditions that affect dogs, including irritable bowel disease, arthritis, and MS. Inflammation can occur as a result of a malfunctioning immune system that makes it attack healthy cells and by reducing inflammation, CBD can help reduce pain and other symptoms caused by the conditions mentioned earlier.
CBD may provide relief from stress and anxiety
CBD isn’t just effective for reducing symptoms that manifest physically; it also helps deal with mental symptoms. There are several studies that look at the role of CBD to manage conditions that affect the mental health of our dogs, including anxiety and stress. Separation anxiety is fairly common in pets, especially dogs and not only that, but they can also experience stress and develop various phobias. The source behind all these conditions differs in dogs, but just like humans, they can cause specific physical reactions. Other than separation anxiety, dogs also experience travel and noise anxiety and all these forms of anxiety, leads to repetitive and destructive behavior, including:
- Unnecessary persistent barking
- Disregarding house training and going potty inside the house
CBD reduces the feeling of anxiety and helps reduce the symptoms of the disruptive behavior mentioned above. It is unclear, however, how CBD helps reduce anxiety. Standard chemical–based anti-anxiety medications target 5-HT1A, a type of serotonin receptor and help boost the serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is also called the happy neurotransmitter and an increase in its levels leads to improved mood and temporary reduction in the feeling of fear and anxiety. According to research, CBD also works the same way and temporarily increases the serotonin levels in the brain and as a result, it is considered to have stress–relieving, anti-depressant, and anti-anxiety effects.
CBD may work as an antiemetic
If you’ve been a dog owner for a while now, then you must be familiar with the fact that vomiting and nausea are both very common in dogs. Both can be caused due to a specific condition or as a side effect of a medication you may be giving to your dog; most of the time, it is because they ate something they shouldn’t have. Whatever may be the reason behind nausea and vomiting, if left untreated, both can cause serious complications, including appetite loss, dehydration, weight loss, fatigue, etc. There are several chemical–based antiemetic medications in the market; however, they may cause serious side effects in dogs, including:
- Excessive drooling
- Lack of appetite
- Lowered seizure threshold in epileptic dogs
There is a lot of data that support the use of CBD as an antiemetic and suggest that apart from controlling vomiting and nausea, it can stimulate appetite as well. CBD works as an antiemetic the same way it works as an anti-anxiety treatment, by stimulating the 5-HT1A receptor. The activation of the receptor leads to a reduction in the feeling of nausea and the suppression of the feeling of nausea. A cannabinoid receptor called CB1 also helps reduce nausea and vomiting, and CBD interacts with it too. These interactions with the receptors are the main reason for CBD’s antiemetic properties and the best part is that it doesn’t cause the side effects associated with the traditional antiemetic medication.
CBD enables homeostasis
In simple terms, homeostasis is the equilibrium of the body maintained by all the systems working properly. Sometimes, when the balance gets out of whack, our dogs and we become exposed to illnesses and diseases. According to a study, the endocannabinoid system plays a critical role in maintaining the proper balance as it is deeply involved in several body functions. So, by stimulating the ECS, CBD and other cannabinoids can help promote homeostasis. This is the main reason many pet owners give CBD as a supplement to their dogs instead of giving it as a medicine to treat a particular health condition.
How to give CBD to your dogs
Every dog is different and has their own preferences, so there is no one right way of giving CBD to your dog. Many pet owners prefer CBD oil because it is made by adding CBD extract to a carrier oil like coconut and we pet owners know how much our dogs love coconut oil. You can apply CBD oil directly on their gums, put the oil in a spoon and let them lick it, add it to their food, or make dog treats using CBD oil. If you don’t want to try any of the methods mentioned above, then you can buy pre–made dog treats containing CBD. Regardless of the method, you choose to give CBD to your dog, make sure that you are buying a certified CBD product that has been declared free of harmful elements by an independent lab. Furthermore, be sure to do proper research about the legality of CBD in the state you’re living in; hemp-derived CBD containing 0.3% or less THC is legal in most of the 50 states, but other types of CBD are only legal in a few states.
CBD is generally safe for dogs and provides several health benefits without causing any harmful side effects, but before you add CBD to your dog’s diet, consult with a veterinarian to see if it is right for your dog. Furthermore, only buy quality CBD products and avoid cheap, substandard ones as they may contain harmful elements that may deteriorate your dog’s health.