While it’s still relatively new to market, we have already discovered quite a few therapeutic benefits associated with Cannabidiol (CBD). Some of its most notable properties include the ability to help reduce epileptic seizures, act as an analgesic, confer anxiolytic effects and reduce inflammation. It’s no wonder, then, that humans benefiting from CBD might want to share it with those they love, including their favorite dog or cat.
To understand how CBD can be used to potentially reduce anxious behaviors in animals we’ve interviewed several different veterinarians to hear their thoughts. Our experts today include Dr. Angie Krause (DVM, CVA, CCRT) at Boulder Holistic Vet; Dr. Joseph Wakshlag (DVM, PhD, DACVN, DACVSMR), who is the CMO at ElleVet Sciences; JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM at Honest Paws; and Sara Ochoa, DVM/a veterinary consultant for Doglab.com.
“To date, there has been little clinical veterinary research on the safety of CBD oil in dogs,” begins Pendergrass. “The veterinary research that has been done has focused mainly on the use of CBD oil to manage arthritis and epilepsy in dogs.”
Pendergrass then summarized the current clinical findings regarding CBD and pets by highlighting two studies. The first was a 2018 study from Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine which reported that CBD oil could relieve pain and increase physical activity in arthritic dogs with no reported negative side effects. The second was a study from Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine which found CBD oil was able to reduce seizure frequency in dogs—again with no reported negative side effects.
Dr. Joseph Wakshlag had recently completed the aforementioned first clinical trial with CBD at Cornell with great success. He’s also a huge proponent of using CBD for pets.
“CBD, not THC, is wonderful for pets for a number of ailments including chronic pain, behavioral problems, and more recently with immune system regulation and improvement of GI and skin issues,” says Dr. Wakshlag.
“Joint and mobility issues are one area where we have had great success, along with stress from various situations, itchiness, and general quality of life issues that senior dogs are prone to,” continues Dr. Wakshlag. “Cats respond very well to CBD and stress/anxiety is where we have seen huge improvements anecdotally.”
Ochoa has also stated she’s administered CBD to her rabbit as well.
Dr. Angie Krause is a holistic veterinarian who has been using, studying and writing about the use of CBD in dogs and cats since 2015.
“I have seen amazing results in my private practice using CBD for anxiety in my canine patients,” begins Dr. Krause. “I have found it to be incredibly effective in treating a list of symptoms and diseases, and find more uses every year.”
Dr. Krause also notes that both dogs and cats benefit from CBD as CBD and other phytocannabinoids can decrease inflammation and help reduce pain.
“Depending on the formulation and the quality of the product, CBD can be pet friendly. I use CBD for cats and dogs experiencing seizures, anxiety, pain, cancer, chronic infections and allergies.”
Dr. Krause also adds that CBD has a “low incidence of side effects compared with pharmaceutical anti-anxiety medications.”
All sources agreed that CBD is pet friendly in cats and dogs, though the mechanism through which it works is still not clearly understood. Sources also agreed there were a few common use cases in which pet owners might want to opt for CBD.
“It is very good for anxiety and can be calming,” Dr. Wakshlag adds. “The interesting thing is that CBD is not a sedative, it truly calms pets. For loud noises, vet visits, grooming, visitors, separation issues, it appears to be effective without the sedation effects observed with a lot of the prescribed drugs.”
Another common issue pet owners face is dealing with dogs that get anxious during car rides or long trips.
“If you have a dog that gets anxious from car rides, thunderstorms, or fireworks,” begins Ochoa, “CBD is great at decreasing dogs’ and cats’ anxiety and helping them cope with thunderstorms or even help them remain calm on long road trips. Some dogs have anxiety every day and can take CBD oil every day to help decrease their stress.”
Much like shopping for human CBD products, shopping for CBD pet products requires a bit of finesse and know-how. It’s especially crucial for dogs as THC can be toxic to them.
“THC is potentially toxic [in dogs] and can cause sedation and ataxia,” warns Dr. Wakshlag.
To ensure you’re getting the best CBD products for your pet, Dr. Krause recommends adhering to the following purchasing criteria:
“Many products labeled for pets are not concentrated enough to deliver therapeutic doses. Good products are costly, but will be more effective and will last longer,” adds Dr. Krause.
Ochoa also suggests looking for products that have been extracted using CO2 as those are the “purest” products available.
Pet administered CBD is typically available as a tincture/CBD oil or as CBD-rich pet treats. Since tinctures are absorbed through capillaries in the mouth they’re typically fast acting. However some canines may not enjoy the taste of hemp very much.
Dr. Krause relies primarily on CBD tinctures and treat infused forms. Ochoa, however, recommends CBD treats for dogs.
“I usually do not recommend the oils as they taste very bad and many pets do not like the taste. The treats are much easier to give.”
In terms of dosage Dr. Krause starts with 0.5 mg of CBD per kilogram of body weight (1 mg per five pounds of body weight) twice daily. She advises gradually increasing dosage to 1 mg/kg (2 mg per five pounds of body weight) twice daily as needed.
“Starting small and working up allows a pet parent to find the minimum effective dose,” says Dr. Krause.
Dr. Wakshlag recommends 1 mg of CBD per kilogram as a starting dose given in the morning and the evening.
“Some dogs are able to take less, and it can be decreased after 1-2 weeks at the higher dose, and we occasionally see some dogs that need to increase the dose. Typically most dogs and cats respond between 0.5-2 mg/kg as a range,” says Dr. Wakshlag.
Dr. Wakshlag recommends ElleVet Sciences CBD+CBDA hemp oil for pets as it, “…is the only product that has been proven to work in a cross over blinded clinical trial at Cornell and all the dosing is based on science and research.”
Ochoa recommends Innovet Pet or ElleVet as “two products I have used with success.”
Dr. Krause relies on HempRx by Rx Vitamins for Pets.