Is CBD Good for My Pet?
Sure, you’re already popping hemp extract gummies and putting a couple drops of CBD tincture in your morning coffee, but what about your four-legged companion? CBD pet products are a rapidly growing industry. Pet CBD products made up $32 million in sales in 2018 and are estimated to hit $1.6 billion in the United States by 2022.
So why are CBD pet products so popular? Many people say hemp extract helps their dog or cat with conditions ranging from anxiety to soreness to arthritis and seizures. A quick search through reviews will show dozens of people claiming a couple drops from a CBD tincture made their old dog spring up with newfound puppy energy.
Since CBD for dogs and cats is such a new market, there are very few scientific studies that back up the anecdotal evidence.
The first clinical study on the benefits of cannabidiol for dogs with osteoarthritis was conducted in 2018. In the study, dogs were given doses of CBD (or a placebo) for 4 weeks in a veterinarian and owner-blind study. The study found that 2 mg/kg twice daily could help increase activity and comfort in dogs with arthritis, with no side effects reported by the pet owners.
More recently, the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation sponsored a small study through Colorado State University focused on canine epilepsy. In the study a group of 16 dogs with idiopathic epilepsy were studied to see if CBD reduced the frequency of seizures over a short period of time. The study found 89% of dogs who were given a hemp-derived CBD tincture saw a reduced frequency of seizures.
Both of these studies are small and haven’t been replicated by other researchers, so there is more work to be done before we can say these are definitive results. However, it is a promising start that should inspire more interest in the topic.
If you’re a cat owner reading along, you’re probably noticing a bit of a canine bias—and that’s not on us, we promise! We couldn’t find any studies on feline CBD use and effects online. If you know of any, please email us—we’ll update this article and write a more in-depth summary of any new studies we come across in the future.
Your Pet’s Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system is the reason cannabinoids have any effect on people’s bodies. But we aren’t the only ones who have this intricate network of receptors making sure we are at equilibrium—all sophisticated animals have an endocannabinoid system, including your dog and cat. This is likely why hemp products have the effects reported by the aforementioned studies.
In fact, CBD: A Patient’s Guide to Medicinal Cannabis says dogs have a higher concentration of endocannabinoid receptors in their brainstem and cerebellum than any other species. The endocannabinoid receptors in the cerebellum are responsible for muscle control and coordination, while those in the brain stem regulate a wide range of functions including vomiting reflex, blood pressure, pain sensation, and muscle tone.
Why Use Hemp Extract?
Medicinal cannabis may provide relief for a number of conditions in dogs, but canines also have a heightened sensitivity to THC thanks to their increased endocannabinoid receptors and smaller size relative to humans. When dogs ingest large amounts of THC, they often lose control of their muscles and have difficulty balancing. They could also be unable to eat or drink for hours or days, depending on the amount of THC ingested and the size of the dog.
CBD, however, does not have negative effects on dogs. Since hemp plants by law have 0.3% THC content by dry weight, hemp extract products are much safer to give to pets without the risk of side effects associated with high-THC cannabis products. While hemp products are the only legal option for large parts of the country, hemp-derived CBD products are a much safer bet for dogs, even in states with legal marijuana laws on the books.
CBD Dosing Methods for Pets
The vast majority of CBD products for pets are administered orally, either in an oil or treats. Oils and treats make measuring proper doses a simple process and also allows for easy administration. Oils can be added to your pet’s food or given directly from the dropper included with most CBD products. Dosing 0.25 mg CBD for every pound your pet weighs per day is a good rule of thumb, but most products come with a dosing guide specific to its unique formula that will give you more precise guidelines.
While your pet could take the same CBD products you use, there is always a risk of ingredients like essential oils and other extracts that can be perfectly safe for humans, but cause an allergic or toxic reaction in your dog or cat. That’s why a number of brands produce specialty lines specifically formulated for cats and dogs. Lazarus Naturals makes their Calming CBD Pet Tincture from hemp grown at their own farm, using non-GMO, gluten-free, and vegan ingredients. Their pet tincture is also less potent per milligram than the standard human line of products to accommodate small dogs and cats.
If you have difficulty getting your pet to take oils, whether due to taste or difficulty administering a tincture orally, treats like those made by Queen Hemp are a good bet. Their treats are made with natural, pet-safe ingredients including oat flour, peanut butter, and honey so they are nutritious and tasty.
Topical CBD products can prove difficult to use with pets, due to their hair or fur and tendency to lick themselves. Some topicals may be beneficial when applied to your pet’s coat, but If a topical is meant to aid a pet’s deep-tissue conditions you may have to shave the area you want to apply CBD ointment directly to the skin.
It’s important to avoid blowing smoke or vapor into your pet’s face as a method of administering CBD doses. Dogs and cats have extremely sensitive respiratory systems that aren’t meant to process smoke and vapor. It’s also impossible to measure an accurate dose this way.
Buying CBD For Pets
In our last post, we went over some of these same concerns as they apply to CBD for humans. There are, unfortunately, less reputable brands that are selling fake products or misrepresenting what they’re selling on their product labels and online descriptions. This is a serious problem, but one that has an easy solution that doesn’t involve abandoning hemp-based products altogether.
If you search for CBD pet products, you’re sure to come across dozens of news stories pointing to risks associated with buying hemp extracts designed for pets. The thing is, the vast majority of critics aren’t pointing to some inherent risk with giving your dog or cat CBD oil. Instead, they’re concerned with the proliferation of fake, mislabeled, or poorly manufactured products on the market.
Just like with CBD products meant for humans, we strongly recommend doing research, checking lab results, and making sure the product you’re buying doesn’t contain pesticides or potentially toxic solvents. If a product is sold at a significantly lower price point than others in the same size/category, is from a brand you can’t find any information on, or third-party test results aren’t available, it’s best to avoid that product.
Shop for Your Pets at Apotheca
We did a lot of the heavy lifting for you already when it comes to finding safe, reliable brands and CBD products for pets. All of our manufacturers submit their products to third-party testing, and many of them use hemp that is grown on sustainable, non-GMO, or organic farms.