CBD, the ultra-popular cannabis compound that provides health benefits minus the high of THC, is turning up in everything from skin care to coffee. Dogs, cats and other furry children are the latest target market for CBD products, ranging from oils and tinctures, to foods and treats.
How Does CBD Benefit Pets?
CBD's potential health benefits for pets are similar to those noted for humans, including relief from joint pain, arthritis, appetite stimulation, seizures, nausea, stress, anxiety, back pain, symptoms of cancer, and gastrointestinal problems. But, as is the case with humans, many of the claimed benefits are anecdotal as scientific research is limited.
A small clinical trial at Colorado State University found CBD oil reduced seizure frequency in 89% of epileptic dogs that received it. Another study found CBD oil helped increase comfort and activity in dogs with osteoarthritis.
Currently, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) doesn’t endorse the administration of cannabis - neither CBD nor THC - to pets.
Dr. Enid Stiles, the vice president of the CVMA, tells Global News this is due to the limited scope of research. However, more studies are underway now that marijuana is legal in Canada.
Says Stiles: “We’ve been working judiciously in the past couple of years - ever since we knew legalization was coming - to determine what ways we might be able to help veterinarians.”
If you would like to try treating your pet with CBD, how much should you give your dog or cat?
The American Kennel Club’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Jerry Klein, says that because CBD is not yet approved for pets, there is no official dosage recommendation. “Therefore, we do not know what size dosage would be toxic...It is always advisable, when giving your dog something new, to start out with small amounts and then closely monitor the effects. And always check with your veterinarian first.”
Dosage recommendations are generally based on the size of your pet, how the CBD is administered (oil, food, etc.) and the condition you are trying to help relieve or treat. For example, in the osteoarthritis study mentioned above, positive effects were found when the dogs were given 2 mg of CBD twice a day. No negative side effects were reported by the owners.
Here is an online dosing calculator for dogs, cats and horses. It uses three steps:
- Select the species.
- Select your pet’s weight in lbs.
- Select what level of dosage you wish to give your pet (Minimum - Maximum)
Can I Share My CBD With My Dog or Cat?
While there is no shortage of CBD products marketed for pets, if you are using CBD oil, you can share it with your pet holistic veterinarian Judy Morgan tells Weedmaps.
The problem may be providing the correct dosage, says Morgan. “Many human oils are pretty concentrated, so dosing becomes an issue for small pets.”
What about pet CBD for people? Morgan says that, if the CBD oil manufacturer is a good one, it will make oils that are human-grade – meaning this will be good enough for both you and your pet. “Humans could take pet CBD oil if it is human grade and not adulterated in any way.”
Pet CBD Buying Tips
High quality CBD is as important for pets as it is for people. Here is some purchasing advice from the American Kennel Club:
Look for organic. If the CBD oil is not organic, it at least should not contain pesticides, fungicides, or solvents.
Don’t only shop based on price. Higher quality and purity are usually associated with a higher cost. A cheaper option could contain toxic substances such as pesticides, herbicides, or heavy metals. Make sure your CBD oil is free of additives.
Get the analysis. The manufacturer should provide a certificate that certifies the amount of CBD that is in the product. Many CBD products contain only small amounts of CBD. You’ll also want to make sure there is little or no THC in the product.
- Buy CBD as a liquid. You can buy pet treats containing CBD, but the best form to administer is an oil or tincture. This way, you can adjust your pet's dose drop by drop.
Possible Side Effects of CBD on Pets
Proper dosage is key to minimizing potential side effects. Based on how CBD affects humans, the American Kennel Club says side effects can include:
Dry mouth: Research has shown that CBD can decrease the production of saliva. For dogs and cats, this would manifest as an increased thirst.
Lowered blood pressure: High doses of CBD have been known to cause a temporary drop in blood pressure. Even though the drop is small, it might create a brief feeling of light-headedness.
Drowsiness: Pet owners have used CBD to treat anxiety. The calming effect of CBD can also cause slight drowsiness, especially when using higher doses.