If you have strolled the aisles of a pet store or shopped online for your pets recently, you’ve probably seen pet products that include cannabidiol (CBD). Cannabidiol is an all-natural and increasingly popular treatment frequently used by people for various ailments, including chemotherapy side effects, insomnia, chronic pain, anxiety, and epilepsy. But can CBD oil work the same miracles on our pets? Research shows some positive results in pets who take CBD oil, but there are plenty of drawbacks, too. Here’s what you need to know about CBD for pets and if it is all hype or truly helpful.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) comes from the cannabis plant; however, CBD does not contain delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the component responsible for the high associated with marijuana. CBD works with the endocannabinoid system that both humans and pets have and which keeps our bodies operating at a healthy level. This system helps to regulate pain in the body, particularly in the muscles, brain, spleen, and liver. It’s important to remember that you only want to give your pet CBD oil from hemp, not cannabis. Cannabis is a toxin that can cause serious health problems or death in your pets.
The popularity of a simple, seemingly safe product that can do everything from calm anxiety to lessen joint pain to preventing and fighting cancers seems too good to be true --- and to an extent, it may be. However, recent research shows that CBD oil provides health benefits to pets as well as people.
How can CBD oil help pets?
How exactly does CBD oil help our pets? Some of the evidence is anecdotal and based upon pet parents’ careful attention to their pets’ progress; however, Cornell University’s 2019-2020 CBD oil research shows that CBD oil’s effects on a pet’s endocannabinoid system are mainly positive. This double-blind research focused on dogs suffering from osteoarthritis and other multi-joint pains. The dogs given the CBD oil rather than the placebo showed decreased pain and increased mobility with no side effects.
Relieving and managing chronic pain is one of the primary ways that CBD oil can help pets. Here are some other conditions CBD oil may positively impact in your dog or cat:
- Anxiety and stress
- Pain and inflammation
- Gastrointestinal and digestive issues
- Epilepsy and seizures
- Chemotherapy side effects from cancer and tumors (nausea, dizziness, etc.)
- Loud noise (thunder, fireworks, etc.) and separation anxiety issues
The key to the benefits of CBD oil is the type and amount of the product. The Cornell University study found that 2 mg per kilogram of CBD oil twice daily made movement easier and lessened the chronic pain in dogs.
What are the potential dangers of CBD oil?
As research begins to establish CBD oil benefits in pets, it’s also important to examine the side effects and potential dangers associated with this treatment. The CBD oil isn’t so much the issue as is the way the oils are processed and the additional ingredients many pet companies include in their CBD oil products.
Many products in pet stores and online claim to have CBD oil baked in or added to flavorful treats. Unfortunately, that means that there is often too little CBD oil to make a difference and too many fillers instead. For CBD oil baked treats, the baking process reduces its medicinal value. At 200℉, the CBD oil begins to break down; it loses its value entirely at 350℉. That means pets cannot absorb the CBD oil because of its baked form, making baked treats with CBD oil worthless.
Another issue is the additives that are included in many so-called CBD oil treats. Be wary about any treats that contain these kinds of fillers and artificial preservatives:
- Brewers yeast
- Flavorings (synthetic)
- Artificial colors that are known to cause cancer (i.e., Red 40) or are carcinogenic (Yellow 5 and Yellow 6)
- Peanut butter, due to the dangers of xylitol, aflatoxin, glyphosate, and hydrogenated trans fats
These additives either serve no nutritional purpose for pets or can cause severe medical conditions or death.
If you want your dog or cat to reap the benefits of CBD, you should buy it in its pure oil form. Always be sure that the oil you give to your pet comes from hemp, not cannabis. Most CBD oils come with a dropper to give directly to your pet or place on his food. The pure CBD oil from hemp is the best value for your money.
What do veterinarians think about CBD oil?
Many veterinarians, encouraged by the Cornell University research findings, are eager to learn more about CBD oil products for pets. Unfortunately, CBD oils are still subject to individual state’s Controlled Substance Acts, which do not recognize industrial hemp and therefore consider CBD to be a controlled substance. In these states, veterinarians are either highly restricted in what CBD they can prescribe or banned from prescribing it at all. You can still ask your veterinarian for CBD oil suggestions and verify the proper dosage based on your pet’s weight and health conditions.
CBD Oil is worth it as long as you buy the organic hemp version.
The market for pet CBD oil and treats has exploded, and it’s expected to grow another 40.3% by 2027. That can be good for pets everywhere, provided the correct type of CBD oil is marketed. Early research shows that there are definite benefits to CBD oil for pets. If you’re considering this option, talk with your veterinarian before giving your pet CBD oil. Get the right product with organic hemp and no fillers and provide it at the correct dosage for your pet. Your cat or dog may be feeling better sooner than you think.
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- Hartney, E. (2020). What is THC? Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-thc-in-marijuana-4080556
- Varadharaj, S., Griffiths, J. (2020). Understanding the endocannabinoid system in cats and dogs. Retrieved from https://ivcjournal.com/endocannabinoid-system-cats-dogs/
- Gyles, C. (2016). Marijuana for pets? Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5109620/
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- Hernandez, J. (2019). Cornell University Research Turns Up Great News for Arthritic Dogs. https://www.innovetpet.com/blogs/joints-mobility/cornell-university-research-for-arthritic-dogs
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- Grand View Research. (2020). CBD Pet Market Size, Growth, Industry Report, 2020-2027. Retrieved from https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/cannabidiol-pet-market