Humans and pets share many special connections — so much that we consider them part of our families. As it turns out, dogs, cats, horses, and other animals like reptiles and birds also have receptors that respond to compounds like CBD.
CBD treats and CBD oil tinctures have grown in interest as alternative methods to manage anxiety or pain in animals. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise: part of the reason we know that CBD and other phytocannabinoids are generally safe in acute doses is because of studies done in animals (this includes THC).
Major CBD brands have products on the market for pets, and some serve cats, dogs, or horses exclusively. You should check in with your pet’s veterinarian if your animal is unhealthy or currently on medication and you intend to use a pet-specific CBD product. They will have the best recommendations for what will work well for your animal’s breed and situation.
What does the research say about CBD in pets?
Frontiers in Veterinary Science published a study in 2018 designed to test if CBD oil could effectively and safely treat pain in dogs with osteoarthritis. This study looked at 14 different dogs of a variety of breeds over 4 weeks, and each was administered 2 mg of CBD per kg twice per day. (For a 30 pound dog, that’s about 28 mg of cannabidiol twice a day.)
After both veterinarians and dog owners were surveyed throughout the 4 weeks, all reported decreased pain and increased overall activity in the dogs tested with no negative side-effects.
The Colorado State University College (CSU) of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Science has performed several clinical studies to test CBD’s effectiveness in treatment-resistant epileptic dogs. CSU was looking to enroll at least 60 dogs in a seven-month double-blinded crossover clinical trial announced in March 2019.
In 2018, CSU’s Dr. Stephanie McGrath and researchers presented the results of a 16-dog CBD clinical trial that showed 89% of dogs that took the compound had a reduction in seizure frequency.
What are veterinarians saying about CBD for pets?
In most cases veterinarians have said little to nothing about CBD for dogs, cats, or other pets because not enough is known about it. Although marijuana has been made legal in several states for medicinal and recreational use, the laws are not the same for animals.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA):
“ … although cannabinoids such as CBD appear to hold therapeutic promise in areas such as the treatment of epilepsy and the management of pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, the available scientific evidence pertaining to their use in animals is currently limited.”
Veterinarians are careful about recommendations they make because state-by state regulations are actively changing regarding CBD.
California has taken the lead in changing these rules. The state extended legal protections to veterinarians who discuss cannabis products with their clients in 2018. A bill introduced in March 2019 would extend those protections further, allowing vets to recommend CBD or other cannabis products.
What are the risks of giving your pet a CBD product?
CBD for Dogs
Clinical trials have shown that CBD is well-tolerated in dogs with few side-effects. It has also been known for many decades that single oral doses of THC between 3,000 and 9,000/mg per kg of body mass are not lethal to dogs. These dosage ranges are thousands of times higher than any residual THC a canine might consume from a legal CBD product.
Fatal accidents with dogs and cannabis tend to happen when they ingest medical-grade THC designed for human consumption and become so sedated that they suffocate. Always look to see what is in the products you are purchasing before administering them to a pet.
CBD for Cats
Not much research has been done on how cannabinoids impact cats, but the same rules should apply as for dogs. The results of a single documented use case suggest that the levels of THC found in legal CBD products should not have a detrimental impact on cats. If you are concerned about THC, there are options on the market that do not contain it.
Can CBD help your pet?
Promising clinical trials have demonstrated that CBD can be an effective treatment for some pets. If you are considering a CBD product for yours, remember:
- Talk to your veterinarian. Different states have different rules for veterinarians and the discussion of CBD. But even a veterinarian who can’t discuss or recommend pet CBD themselves may be able to point you toward resources that will help you make a better-informed, safer decision.
- Know what you’re getting. Take the time to look at certificates of analysis and product reviews before administering anything to your pet. Good CBD products for pets will contain no mycotoxins, heavy metals, solvents, or other contaminants.