Probably not too surprisingly, research into medicinal use of CBD in animals is still in pre-infancy. Anecdotally, many veterinarians shy away from using it themselves, even as they know that many of their “pet parents” use CBD for their animals. If you are thinking of using CBD on your four-legged friend, talk to your veterinarian first, especially if your animal is currently on any medication or treatment plan. More on the existing research later…
In the US, the 2018 Farm Bill act legalized (1) the farming of industrial hemp. Industrial hemp is in the same plant family as marijuana. They are both in the cannabis family, in the same manner as daisies, chrysanthemums and sunflowers are all in the aster plant family. And just as those plants are different from one another, there are major differences between industrial hemp and the marijuana plant that is still illegal to grow under federal statute.
The main difference between industrial hemp and marijuana is the amount of THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, in the plant. THC is the cannabinoid that gives a “high”. By contrast, CBD does not, but instead has potentially beneficial effects. Industrial hemp legally must contain 0.3% THC or less, while marijuana plants have much higher percentages; 10-30% in some strains. Industrial hemp was hybridized to increase the hemp fiber strength and as a result (and we don’t quite know why), the THC level in hemp decreased while the CBD level increased.
In humans, CBD is used for a variety of effects, mainly to help reduce anxiety, help people sleep better and to help reduce inflammation and pain associated with inflammation.
As mentioned, the research concerning CBD use for animals is very limited. For dogs little information is available and it is even more limited for cats.
In dogs, CBD is used to give symptomatic relief of seizures, nausea, stress, anxiety, arthritis, back pain, symptoms of cancer, and for digestive issues. In cats, CBD is used to give symptomatic relief for inflammatory conditions, pain, anxiety and to enhance comfort.
A few studies have been published and many more are probably in various stages of publication. This is what we know so far:
Most mammals, including humans, dogs and cats have a system known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system is responsible for the regulation of several different body systems and functions including appetite control, the immune and digestive systems, pain response, sleep, reproduction, mood, memory, how muscles work and temperature regulation. The ECS uses two different receptors called CB1 and CB2. When thinking about receptors, the most useful analogy is the lock and key idea previously mentioned. The receptors are the locks and CBD and other cannabinoids are the keys.
The CB1 receptor is mainly found on cells within the brain and spinal cord. This is the receptor that the psychoactive THC binds to or “unlocks” and this is likely how THC produces a high, by directly affecting brain cells.
The CB2 receptor, on the other hand, is located throughout the rest of the body and on the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord. CBD binds to these receptors and “unlocks” those receptors which mediate and provide regulation of pain perception, muscle control, appetite and the digestive system. CBD also binds weakly with the CB1 receptor and appears to displace the natural “keys” – the natural endocannabinoid substances like 2AG and AEA. This is likely the mechanism underlying why CBD can affect mood, anxiety and sleep.
We definitely need more research but we do know that 2-20 mg of CBD for every kg (2.2 pounds) of dog appears to be safe. CBD oil is the form of CBD that has been best studied. The topical applications used in the CJVR resulted in lower blood levels and seems to irritate the skin of the ear in most dogs. CBD oil also has the advantage of being easier to dose. You can add it to your pet’s water (it doesn’t dissolve really well, but it can be done), your pet’s food or drop it directly into your pet’s mouth. You can even mix it with a perennial favorite, peanut butter!
Always talk to your vet first. Your vet is the best source of information concerning what your dog may benefit from and can tell you if he or she should try CBD.
So, say you have the OK from your vet and your dog weighs 10-15 pounds, you should start with the lowest dose tested; 2 mg/kg. You can do this calculation:
Now let’s say you have CBD oil that comes in 0.5 mL droppers.
Labels in CBD-world are a problem for human use and an even bigger problem for pet use. Here are a few points to keep in mind:
High-quality CBD oil for dogs usually are either:
Always start low and go slow. The 2-20mg/kg range means that there is a relatively large window for dosing. If you start at a low dose and increase slowly, always watching for any changes, you will end up giving your pet only what they need. Remember, more is not always better!
There are CBD edibles for dogs available which are often sold as “chews”.
We are here to help provide you with the most current information available on CBD; its effects, where the best CBD oil products for pets can be found and how to make your best buying decisions. When it comes to your pets, CBD is probably easier to get online but we recommend that you talk to your vet first. Your vet may be able to recommend a higher quality product and may even have some available. It depends on where you live and where your vet stands on the issue of CBD for dogs.
If your vet is unable to provide you with products, you can safely use the CBD for humans, adjusting the quantity given by using the dosing calculations given.
CBD appears to be safe to use on your pets. It is best to talk to a vet who is knowledgeable about CBD use in animals for specific advice. You can safely use CBD intended for humans and adjust the dosage according to the calculations given above for dogs. If you have a cat, talk to your vet about the proper dosage. We will keep you updated on any new information concerning how to best use CBD for your pet.