CBD for Pets: What You Need To Know

Considerations When Giving Your Pets CBD

With Cannabidiol (CBD) becoming more and more recognized for its many possible healing properties, the extract is available more and more, and in more and more varied forms.

People are using CBD for help with anxiety, chronic pain, sleep management, inflammation, bowel and digestive issues, seizure disorders; the list is nearly endless. Also seemingly endless are the many ways CBD is being used. The extract is available in tinctures, in topical oils, in edible confections, even in shampoos, chewing gum, and more.

With so many people deriving benefits from this fascinating plant, it was only a matter of time before we started to wonder if our four-legged friends might not benefit from it as well. After all, we all know a dog that seems to suffer from separation anxiety; who barks and howls all day while his master is away at work. 

Many of us have an old cat in our lives, who seems to be in pain most of the time because of joint inflammation. If CBD can have such a transformative effect on people suffering from these and similar issues, might it not help our beloved pets as well?

Before we get too far into this, it's important to establish one thing up front. While we don't have very many conclusive studies about the efficacy of CBD in dogs and cats, we do know that THC can be very, very dangerous for these animals.

If you've ever used THC, you'll probably remember a time when you took a bit too much, and the experience was just the opposite of what you intended. Instead of a pleasant, mellow “high”, you may have become agitated, paranoid, even panicked.

This is what happens to a dog when they ingest THC. On top of that, many dogs and cats can develop serious complications from THC, up to and including organ failure, coma and death.

In fact, veterinarians often stress that pet owners whom even suspect that their animal has ingested their cannabis should seek urgent care, not worrying about legal ramifications. Most vets say that they would not “turn in” a marijuana user who was trying to help their animal.

That having been said, isolate CBD, extracted from a low-THC source such as industrial-grade hemp, can apparently be very useful for many animals. Although studies are very few and far-between at this point, there does seem to be a similar benefit seen in animals who are given CBD, just as in their humans.

We have written before about the many, many benefits of CBD in the human body. Dogs and cats have an endocannabinoid system just like humans do, and CBD seems to work with theirs in a way very similar to the way it works with ours. By binding to the right receptors, the compound has the same anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anti-anxiety effects.

At the moment, you likely won't be able to get a prescription for CBD from your veterinarian. We simply aren't yet at that point in this country. In fact, in many areas, it may be illegal for a vet to even have the discussion with a pet owner as to whether or not CBD might be helpful for their animal. More studies are needed to pin down the exact doses and best practices for prescribing cannabidiol to dogs and cats. And of course, we're still not as far down the road to the normalization of cannabis laws as we'd probably like to be in this country.

That said, there are a variety of CBD preparations available today that are made specifically for pets. These are offered for anxiety, for joint pain, for stomach upset in dogs (CBD may actually aggravate gastritis in cats), and of course for all the myriad uses humans have for these products. Because the market is completely unregulated, it is very much a buyer-beware situation, and it is VITAL that you know as much as you can about a product before giving it you your beloved animal companions.

A pet owner must do due diligence to be sure that the product they are getting is safe, sourced correctly (so as not to have high amounts of pet-harmful THC), and dosed accurately. As noted above, it is vital that the product be an isolate CBD rather than a full-spectrum preparation, in order to avoid THC intoxication in your animals.

In general, it is vital that we understand what we are getting into before we take a substance into our own bodies, or give that substance to a loved one. Be sure to do your homework, and good luck. You will find what you are looking for and will help your beloved pet. It will just take a bit of work.

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