To all the pet owners out there looking to find the best possible care for your furry friend, you have come to the right place. We understand how much it matters to a pup-parent that their baby stays comfortable and safe, and we want the same thing. That’s why we’re here to discuss a little thing called cannabidiol, or as you may know it…CBD.
CBD has become a household name ever since the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, which essentially legalized the cultivation and manufacturing of the hemp plant. Since then, humans have enjoyed all the perks of the hemp-derived CBD compound, and now, our beloved pets can also! More and more businesses have started releasing CBD products for pets, and dogs in particular have received a great deal of that focus. Preliminary research and personal pet-owner accounts are all suggesting that CBD may have great benefits for our most loyal four-legged friends. But before we get into the thick of it, let’s get some background on what exactly CBD is.
Cannabidiol is an organic chemical compound derived from plants of cannabis genus. In particular, it is found in particularly high levels in the hemp plant. What makes it unique in contrast to other cannabis derived chemical compounds is its ability to communicate with our brain. These “communications skills,” so-to-speak, allow CBD to be defined not as just any old chemical compound, but as a cannabinoid. Another famous (or infamous) cannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is often associated with the marijuana plant. Conversely to the hemp plant, the marijuana plant has naturally high levels of THC. The major difference between these two cannabinoids is the type of communication taking place. Basically, our brains have something called an endocannabinoid system. Within this complex system are cannabinoid receptor cells, meaning cells that can communicate with and receive signals from cannabinoids, like THC and CBD.
Tetrahydrocannabinol is psychoactive, meaning it causes an inebriation, commonly referred to as a high. Cannabidiol, on the other hand, is non–psychoactive; it does not cause any such inebriation. Rather, CBD has been shown to promote feelings of calm and a lift in mood after ingestion. Despite this difference in effect and lack of intoxication, CBD still offers a range of potential benefits. What is even more wonderful is that our pets, too, have endocannabinoid systems! This means that they can also safely reap the rewards of CBD—no “high” necessary.
Canine CBD Guide
Now to get to the fun stuff—how can CBD help your favorite furry friend? There are a variety of potential benefits that CBD can offer dogs. Certain benefits in particular have received a large interest on behalf of all pet owners, given that they are common (and important) issues. Among these are anxiety, pain, and seizures. For the sake of efficiency and organization, we will go ahead and break these down.
Just like humans, our pets deal with complex feelings. While you will most likely see them looking happy as a kid in a candy shop, their snouts stretched into a smile and tail wagging, our dogs can also exhibit other behaviors that signal quite the opposite. Anxious feelings in dog present in a variety of ways, that can vary from dog to dog. Among these behaviors are franticness, increased or decreased activity, aggression and decreased appetite. Anxiety can be triggered by an equally variable number of factors. For one dog it could be vet visits and traveling, while another it might be thunderstorms or simply a perpetually anxious demeanor (especially with adopted dogs who may have experienced past trauma). A 2015 study found that CBD worked as a potential treatment for a range of anxiety disorders. Given that we share an ECS just like our dogs, it is possible to assume similar effects may present in dogs. Many pet owners report that CBD effectively reduces and eliminates certain behaviors associated with anxiety, including the aforementioned symptoms like aggression, franticness and appetite decrease.
Studies have repeatedly shown that CBD may have seriously impressive anti-inflammatory properties. In another study on rats that also took place in 2015, researchers found that CBD reduces the pain related behaviors in rats with arthritis, and even reduces joint swelling. While more research needs to be done on CBD for dogs, the budding research certainly looks promising. What makes this option especially appealing to many owners is that it doesn’t come with the risks of pharmaceutical treatment options. Many owners prefer to take a more natural, gentle and safer approach when possible.
A comparatively good deal of research has been done on CBD’s ability to reduce the frequency and severity of seizures in both humans and rats. In fact, a Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved CBD based drug exists for the treatment of rare, treatment resistant types of epilepsy. There is even some research on CBD’s ability to treat seizures in dogs, which demonstrated positive results. According to researchers, 89% of the dogs who were given CBD demonstrated a reduction in the frequency of their seizures.
Based on what we know, CBD does not demonstrate any life-threatening or harmful side effects for animals (nor for humans, for that matter). So long as pet owners follow the proper dosage, the risk for dogs using CBD is minimal. One potential side effect is dry mouth and decreased saliva production, and thus, increase in thirst. A couple others are lowered blood pressure and drowsiness. This makes sense, especially given that CBD is often used in attempts to relieve feelings of anxiety in dogs. Naturally, if CBD has a calming, relaxing effect, this may also cause or present as decreased energy levels or drowsiness. This all being said, the long-term effects of CBD are not yet known, and research is still only just starting off. It is important to always speak with a veterinarian before implementing CBD into your dog’s wellness regiment, to make sure that it is a safe and appropriate choice for them.