As more and more pet owners turn to natural remedies for their fur babies, using CBD (cannabidiol) products has become increasingly popular. With the potential benefits ranging from reducing inflammation to helping with anxiety, it’s no wonder why CBD and pets are becoming inseparable. But before you start giving your pet CBD, there are a few things to know about the potential risks and scientific research that can help you make an informed decision.
What is CBD?
First things first, let’s get to know CBD.
Where Does CBD Come From?
CBD can come from the marijuana plant or the hemp plant. While you might be unable to tell them apart by looking at them, there’s a significant distinction regarding Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content.
What’s the Difference Between Hemp & Marijuana?
Hemp is a legal term used in The 2018 Farm Bill to classify what cannabis plants are federally legal to cultivate and what plants are still banned. According to the bill, Hemp is defined as cannabis with less than 0.3% THC, the psychoactive component in cannabis products.
Marijuana is any cannabis plant with over 0.3% THC.
What’s the Difference Between Hemp CBD and Marijuana CBD?
There are a few things to consider here. The first is that THC is toxic to pets. For this reason, some prefer hemp-derived CBD for treating pets because it’s naturally low in THC content. But there’s a problem with this line of reasoning.
Hemp-derived CBD products are a supplement and avoid Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations. Unfortunately, many brands have poor quality control and do not test for purity, pesticides, or other contaminants. But the high-quality CBD oil from marijuana sold at a licensed dispensary is required by law to be tested for purity, pesticides, and contaminants, so you know exactly what’s in it.
If your state has legalized medical or recreational cannabis, buy marijuana-derived CBD so that you know it’s safe. If that’s not available, try to find a hemp-derived CBD brand that uses an independent lab to test its products for purity, contaminants, and pesticides.
How Does CBD Work?
In humans, CBD works by affecting the human “endocannabinoid system” (ECS). The endocannabinoid system uses naturally produced endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors in a complex cell signaling network found in just about every major body system. The purpose of the endocannabinoid system is to maintain biological harmony (homeostasis).
The human body experiences constant stimuli and must adjust to maintain homeostasis. So, when something brings us out of natural harmony, the body produces endocannabinoids which bind to cannabinoid receptors and trigger a response to get our operating system back to homeostasis.
Cannabis affects humans because the cannabinoids in cannabis are so similar to the naturally produced endocannabinoids that they can mimic them and affect the endocannabinoid receptors. CBD is one of the cannabinoids that functions in this way.
While some describe CBD as non-psychoactive, that’s not correct. CBD is a mood-altering substance. When people use the term “non-psychoactive,” they mean “not intoxicating.” CBD does not get you high.
It’s also worth noting that CBD does not attach to receptors in our endocannabinoid system the way other cannabinoids do, but it does affect other receptors:
- CBD interacts with a serotonin receptor. This may explain why it seems to reduce anxiety.
- CBD interacts with a vanilloid receptor. This may be the reason CBD affects how we perceive pain.
- CBD blocks the enzyme that breaks down the “feel-good” cannabinoid anandamide, which may affect our perception of wellness.
In case you’re wondering why we’ve spent so much time on the human endocannabinoid system in an article about CBD and pets, there’s one excellent reason. There is very little research on CBD and pets. Unfortunately, there’s also not that much research on CBD and humans. The bottom line is that we need more of both.
That said, animals also have an endocannabinoid system, and our research suggests that CBD affects animals in the same way it affects people.
Scientific Research on CBD and Pets
There have been several studies in veterinary medicine that indicate CBD may be safe and effective for pets.
- CBD is well tolerated by dogs: A publication from Colorado State University found that CBD was well tolerated by dogs and that orally administered CBD was absorbed better than CBD applied transdermally.
- CBD may relieve pain in dogs: In 2018, clinical trials that studied the effect of CBD on osteoarthritis in dogs showed a reduction in pain scores with no negative side effects. CBD’s efficacy in pain relief is likely due to its anti-inflammatory properties and modulation of opioid receptors. This result implies that CBD may be useful for controlling other types of pain.
- CBD may relieve seizures in dogs: The first data for veterinary use of CBD for seizures were evaluated and published in 2019. The study showed an 89% reduction in seizure frequency in dogs receiving CBD.
- The Entourage Effect: It should be noted the formulas used in these studies contained entourage compounds (non-CBD cannabinoids, terpenes, etc.). We do not know if the same results would have been found if a pure CBD isolate were used (more on this later.)
Benefits & Risks of Administering CBD to Pets
While the research is new and emerging, when considered along with anecdotal reports and human studies, there’s reason to be encouraged that pet CBD may be an effective treatment dog owners can give to help their fuzzy buddies live their best life.
- CBD for Mobility: No one likes to see their best friend in pain. Especially when it impedes their mobility and enjoyment of day-to-day activities. CBD may help return your pet to full mobility by relieving pain and inflammation.
- CBD for Stress: Your dog can get stressed out like people. And just like people, CBD may help relieve their stress and anxiety.
- CBD for Wellness: CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for maintaining body homeostasis. This way, CBD may be an effective supplement for the immune system and cardiovascular and neurological functions.
As we said, the evidence suggests that pets tolerate CBD well. As with any new treatment, starting slow and monitoring your pet’s behavior is a good idea. Be patient, and over time you will find the right dose. That said, there are a few things to look out for. These are the most common side effects, but they are far from universal. You may find that your fur baby experiences none of them.
- Diarrhea: Some pets have sensitive bellies. Even a simple change in diet can cause some stomach upset and diarrhea. So go slow with CBD to give your best friend time to acclimate. It’s also a good idea to introduce CBD at mealtime instead of on an empty stomach.
- Dry mouth: if you use cannabis, you know what we’re talking about. Sometimes it can feel like you’re spitting dust. CBD can have the same effect, so ensure the water bowl is full.
- Lethargy: CBD may make your four-legged friend drowsy. They may adapt over time, but if that doesn’t happen, you may want to adjust your dosage.
- Lowered blood pressure: You probably don’t have a pet blood pressure cuff next to the dog treats, so how will you know if this happens? Low BP can cause a temporary feeling of lightheadedness, so just keep an eye on your pet and stay within the recommended dosage range.
Choosing the Right CBD Formulation for Your Pet
The research that we do have on pets and CBD involves broad-spectrum CBD and its potential entourage effect, so it’s important to get a handle on what the “entourage effect” is and what the different preparations of CBD are.
What is the Entourage Effect?
Cannabis is a complex plant with over 100 cannabinoids and 400 terpenes. Some evidence suggests that these compounds may be more effective when they work together. This is important in understanding how CBD works because different formulations of CBD have different cannabinoid and terpene profiles.
What is Full-Spectrum CBD?
Full Spectrum CBD includes the plant’s cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. This type of preparation is preferred by many due to the entourage effect, where all the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids work together to increase their efficacy. However, full spectrum CBD does contain THC in varying concentrations. For this reason, it is not recommended for pets.
What is Broad Spectrum CBD?
Broad Spectrum CBD contains the full cannabinoid and terpene profile, except for THC. This is the ideal formulation for giving CBD to your pet.
What is CBD Distillate?
CBD Distillate is highly refined and potent, but most terpenes and cannabinoids are absent from the oil. Typically, this product contains more than 80% CBD with minimal traces of THC.
What is CBD Isolate?
CBD Isolate is cannabidiol with no other cannabinoids, terpenes, or flavonoids. Therefore, many consider CBD Isolate the least effective due to the absence of other cannabinoids and terpenes.
How to Find Safe CBD Products
Now that you know what formulation to look for, let’s talk about quality.
Only Buy CBD That Has a Certificate of Analysis
If you want to know what you’re giving your furry friend, only buy CBD products with third-party testing that provides the COA from the independent lab. Remember, CBD is not regulated by the FDA, and many companies don’t test for purity, contaminants, or pesticides. This is why broad-spectrum CBD from a licensed dispensary that’s .3% THC or less is always a safe bet.
The COA will show exactly how much CBD a product contains, will provide a comprehensive breakdown of all the different cannabinoids and terpenes that are present in your CBD, and will show test results for pesticides and contaminants. A reputable company will provide a Certificate of Analysis. If there is no COA, pass on that product.
Only Buy Natural CBD Products
Cannabis is just like the food we put in our bodies. How it’s grown really matters for health benefits. Organic or “green clean” (a cannabis classification specific to cannabis) means that the plant has not been treated with pesticides or other harmful chemicals. CBD pet products should also be non-GMO and free of soy, dairy, corn, and gluten.
Do Your Own Research
If you’ve found a product or company that you like, go that extra step and do some research. Look for CBD from a company compliant with The National Animal Supplement Council (NASC). The NASC ensures that retailers practice ethical behavior and produce the highest quality products with rigorous quality audits.
One simple search that’s very effective goes a long way to check out where the company stands with the FDA. For example, if you search online for “FDA and dog CBD,” you will find a list of companies that have falsely claimed their pet CBD products.
Finally, reading reviews and checking a company’s rating on Better Business Bureau may provide additional insight.
How to Choose the Right CBD Product
Aside from quality concerns, different CBD delivery systems will factor into your decision-making.
- CBD Tincture: Tincture is full spectrum CBD added to carrier oil. They typically come in a bottle with an eye dropper marked for dosage. Tinctures work well with rapid onset and precise dosing, but it can be a little challenging to get that oil under your doggy’s tongue without making a mess.
- CBD Chews: Have you ever had a pet that didn’t love a treat? CBD chews come in precise doses and flavors your fur baby loves, like peanut butter (or mailman. JK).
CBD Topicals: This can treat things like eczema, cracked paws, or hotspots.
Bring Balance to Your Pet’s Life
We love our fuzzy buddies, who rely on us to make the best decisions for their health and welfare. CBD may be just the thing to improve your pet’s quality of life, but be careful, choose wisely, and take it slow. At Airfield, we carry CBD for pets and, for you, their hooman. So fly by Airfield anytime, and let’s talk all things CBD, or just order online for pickup or delivery.