Maryland Pet

What the Science Says About CBD for Pets

Just like with humans, research-backed evidence suggests your furry friends can benefit from CBD, too.

Research has proven that cannabidiol (CBD) can potentially be beneficial to humans. It can relieve the symptoms of such serious medical conditions as depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and arthritis. Now, a small yet growing body of research indicates that CBD oil for pets can offer similar benefits — to cats and dogs especially — relieving pain and improving their health.

What Do We Know So Far?

While research so far is limited, several animal and human studies to date have indeed shown strong potential for CBD in relieving an array of medical conditions, including osteoarthritis (OA) and epilepsy. It’s no wonder, since CBD possesses powerful antioxidant, antibacterial, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties — which helps protect the immune and nervous systems in animals and humans alike. 

A recent study published in the Journal of Immunology showed that CBD decreased pain and improved mobility in dogs with canine OA, a common arthritic condition that causes pain, inflammation, stiffness, and loss of mobility. Another study, from Colorado State and Cornell universities, also showed that giving dogs with OA 2 mg of CBD twice daily helped increase their comfort and activity. The results of yet another study, conducted by the researchers at the Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, were published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. The clinical trial, conducted to assess efficacy on seizure frequency in dogs with epilepsy, found an 89% reduction of seizures in dogs that received CBD.  Also, as of January 2020, vets in the state of California can discuss with pet owners using CBD and cannabis for medicinal purposes, per issued guidelines by the Veterinary Medical Board of California, a decision that potentially helps pet owners and keeps pets safe. 

Why Give Your Pet CBD?

Turns out, both dogs and cats have endocannabinoid systems (ECS) similar to humans. The two main types of receptors — CB1 and CB2 – are present in the cells of the central nervous system and immune system. CB1 is found in cats, and both types are found in dogs. CBD has been proven to bind to — and activate — at least several types of receptors in the ECS, such as serotonin, adenosine, and vanilloid, as well as boost dopamine levels. These receptors involve both the brain and the immune system, and regulate a wide range of functions of many physiological processes, including temperature, inflammation, mood, pain, and so on. 

Because of its well-known anti-inflammatory properties, CBD encourages the production of natural cannabinoids in the ECS. This makes CBD oil an ally for pets in fighting ailments linked to inflammation, such as arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, depression and more.  And, because CBD can boost dopamine levels, this makes it a good candidate for reducing anxiety, which is a common problem in both dogs and cats. In particular, CBD could be beneficial to dogs that get stressed out by loud noises (like fireworks and thunderstorms), or suffer from separation anxiety.

A Note on Safety and Dosage 

CBD can potentially calm your pet and help reduce pain from physical, mental, or behavioral problems without side effects or intoxication. Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive. It’s also non-addictive and non-toxic.  CBD oil provides a safer alternative to narcotic substances, like opiates. Your pet won’t overdose on CBD, though, of course, you should always consult with your veterinarian before giving your pet CBD. 

While there’s limited scientific data on the side effects of CBD for pets, just like with humans, potential side effects are few and mild (if any). Those could include lightheadedness from lowered blood pressure, and drowsiness with higher doses. And like with any medication, it’s advisable to consult with your veterinarian, start out with a small dose, and closely monitor the effects and results. 

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