Because CBD is a non-psychoactive substance, some people who have been using CBD products are wondering whether they could be used to treat their pets too, for chronic pain, arthritis, anxiety and other issues. But is it safe to administer CBD intended for humans to dogs, or any type of CBD for that matter? Thankfully, a veterinarian with cannabis knowledge, Dr Gary Richter, has answered a few queries.
A naturally-occurring compound in the cannabis sativa plant, CBD is both non-psychoactive and non-intoxicating. CBD products sold nationwide are produced from special industrial hemp plants, containing less than 0.3% THC – a restricted psychoactive chemical that causes the famous cannabis high. Cannabis has more than 100 cannabinoids in all, but in a medical context, CBD is by far the most prominent nowadays. It’s stacked with medicinal properties and has very few side effects.
Can dogs take CBD?
A holistic veterinarian, Dr Richter operates out of newly-legalized state California, and authored “The Ultimate Pet Health Guide.” He explained that CBD works similarly in animals as it does in humans. CBD’s crucial reactions occur in the endocannabinoid system, a network of neurotransmitters which modulate numerous variables, including appetite and pain perception.
All mammals have endocannabinoid systems and neurotransmitters, known as cannabinoid receptors. The body’s naturally-produced “endocannabinoids”, such as anandamide and 2-AG, interact with this system primarily, but cannabinoids like CBD (phytocannabinoids) also have influence.
How can dogs benefit from CBD?
Dogs can be medicated with CBD in much the same way that humans can. Chronic pain and inflammation, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, sleep deficiency, arthritis and anxiety are just a few conditions that can be managed in dogs with CBD. According to Dr Richter, pain, anxiety and stress are the three most common ailments that pet owners are medicating via CBD.
Healthy Hemp Oil CEO Brandon Nolte is agreement with Richter, adding that CBD can be used to “improve the mood” of dogs experiencing stress. Nolte says that the binding of CBD to receptors, gives dogs a “sense of calm and security”. This can help make a dog friendlier and more relaxed and reduce hyperactivity.
Older dogs tend to suffer with pain and arthritis, two ailments that can be successfully treated with CBD. According to Nolte, muscle soreness and joint pain is relieved by the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD. Consistent CBD use can help an older dog recapture its youth, through improved mobility and increased energy levels.
Is it safe to treat a dog with CBD?
It’s well-known that you shouldn’t get your dog “high” on THC, because dogs are not equipped to withstand the psychoactive traits. However, since CBD is non-intoxicating, providing that you are administering sensible doses, it’s perfectly safe to treat your dog with CBD, as far as Dr Richter is concerned.
Richter says that the “worst-case scenario” of CBD-only medication is that it may “make the dog a little sleepy.” Gastro-intestinal complaints are possible, but are rare and a potential side effect of any medication, not just CBD.
CBD treatment won’t necessarily deliver instant results, in neither dogs nor humans, and that it may take a week for the effects to begin to show.
Dogs that have become lethargic will begin to feel more energetic once CBD gets into the bloodstream. Dogs suffering from anxiety and hyperactivity will become calmer, and stop bad habits – such as chewing furniture. It’s interesting that CBD can have both a calming effect and an energizing effect depending on the situation, but Nolte confirms that the cannabis compound does indeed do just that.
How to medicate your dog with CBD
With so much variety when it comes to choosing CBD products, picking the right one can be a tricky task, even for those with medical cannabis experience. When selecting for your dog, you may feel even more pressure to make the right call. Hemp-derived CBD oils, tinctures and edibles are the most popular types of CBD products for dogs, but all three have advantages and disadvantages.
CBD doggy treats are perhaps the easiest way of administering CBD, however as in humans, edibles are slower to take effect. The upside, however, is that the relief from symptoms lasts much longer.
CBD oils and tinctures can be mixed into dog food. Another effortless medicating method, Dr Richter adds that CBD oil intended for human use can also be given to dogs without concern.
While a rough guideline of 5mg CBD per 50lbs of bodyweight should stand you in good stead, the appropriate dosage varies from dog to dog and ailment to ailment. Indeed, Nolte, who made these recommendations, clarifies that he isn’t a doctor and that speaking to a CBD-friendly vet is advisable. As with humans, beginning with small CBD doses and incrementally increasing, while keeping note of the effects, is the best way to determine a suitable medicating plan for your dog.
When buying a CBD product, whether it’s for you or your pet, it’s also important to check for lab test results, ideally from a third party, for quality and safety purposes.
What is CBD’s legal status?
There are two types of CBD – CBD that’s derived from industrial hemp, and CBD that’s derived from cannabis. Products made from the former are legal in all 50 states, whilst the legality of products made from the latter is dependent on cannabis laws in the state you reside.
Some states have legalized products containing both CBD and THC, others have enacted ‘CBD-only’ laws, while in others, cannabis-derived CBD continues to be prohibited. In an interview with Herb, Dr Richter explained that veterinarians are unable to legally recommend CBD treatment, since at federal level, CBD is still a “Schedule I” substance under the Controlled Substances Act.
Dr Richter commented on the difficult situation that pet owners in legalized states like California are in, with pet-intended cannabis products available at dispensaries, and no official advice on how to safely administer them.
However, there may be cause for optimism. Dr Richter reckons that California may bring in legislation to address this issue in the near future.