The popularity of using CBD for pets has recently boomed. Consumers claim that using CBD oil for dogs (and cats) has drastically improved the quality of life for their furry loved ones. According to reports, consumers have witnessed clear and compelling benefits when using CBD for pets with anxiety, cancer, pain, and even allergies.
The administration of CBD oil for pets has also been made quite simple more recently, with products such as CBD pet treats, CBD oil tinctures, and even CBD food supplements being manufactured with the convenience of the right dosage for pets in mind. Although we may love all of our pets equally, the usage of CBD for dogs is by far the most popular.
Cannabinoids in Pet Health
Physicians and veterinarians alike have had difficulty studying the health properties of CBD for pets because of the federal ban on marijuana. Since company-sponsored studies present the opportunity for bias, many researchers look to federal funding to make sure their studies do not come under scrutiny for conflict of interest. The federal marijuana ban makes it extraordinarily challenging to fund cannabis research and acquire cannabis to use in a study.
Physicians and veterinarians are unable to go on record to discuss or advise on cannabis. This lack of research is a direct result of not having federal approval to test THC or CBD for pets with anxiety, cancer, or other common ailments. If physicians did give such advice, they could lose their license or worse, get arrested.
Due to the rise in popularity of CBD pet products and demand for information, a document has been released by the American Veterinary Medical Association regarding treating pets exposed to marijuana. The research performed on cannabis in pets mainly revolves around incidents of accidental exposure to THC based products.
Veterinarians and Legalization
Thanks to state-level marijuana legalization, veterinarians are beginning to learn more about the use of CBD for pets. Pet parents interested in achieving health goals through the use of CBD may look to Hawthorne Veterinary Clinic in Oregon. This practice has begun to provide some guidelines for using CBD for pets.
Here is some advice from the Hawthorne Clinic’s website:
- CBD oil for pets avoid the side effects of THC
- THC side effects in pets include drooling, swaying, and accidental urination
- CBD pet products can benefit arthritis, behavior, skin, seizures, inflammation, and cancer
CBD Dosage for Pets
Cannabinoids have shown promise in treating glaucoma, osteoarthritis, pain and inflammation, allergic skin conditions, and as an appetite stimulant for dogs with cancer. These preliminary observations have pet parents wondering, “How much CBD oil should I give my dog?”
Holistic veterinarian, Dr. Robert Silver, suggest titrating CBD pet dosage in the same fashion suggested for humans. To do this, start with the lowest amount of CBD possible and gradually increase the dose every five days until you meet your goal for using CBD for pets.
Dr. Silver advises that a dose of 0.5mg per kilogram of body weight, per day, is a great starting place in CBD for dogs. He cautions that 1mg/kg/day is the upper dose limit of CBD pet products that may be taken orally by dogs.
If a cannabis pet product is not from hemp, then it most likely contains psychoactive levels of THC. Dr. Sliver suggests starting at a smaller oral dose in your pet ranging from 0.1 to 0.25mg/kg once or twice a day. Dogs have much stronger reactions to THC than humans, so it is best to be very light-handed in dosing THC containing pet products.
CBD Side Effects in Pets
If you observe CBD side effects like excessive sedation, disorientation, excitement, and vomiting, take it as a sign, the dose of CBD or THC is too high. Pet owners should stop giving the cannabis product to the pet and let the effects wear off before starting again with a lower dosage. It can take up to 96 hours for side effects to subside, but more often pets feel better within a day or two.
A 2018 study of CBD oil for dogs with osteoarthritis suggested a different upper oral dose limit of 2mg/kg/day. When considering a dose above 1mg/kg/day, take extra caution, and acknowledge that humans with severe symptoms can tolerate higher doses of cannabis products. These high doses would not be beneficial to people with less severe or moderate symptoms. Likewise, a severe case of osteoarthritis or palliative care for pets could potentially warrant higher dosing.
As an example of this, consider a person using cannabis to address pain from cancer and chemotherapy. They might take a potent daily dose of cannabis to achieve their use goal.
More is not always better with cannabis, though. People with severe epilepsy can often see significant seizure reduction with surprisingly low doses. Cannabis is personalized medicine, and the effects are not always dose-dependent. This fact is why titrating a dose of CBD for pets starting at the smallest amount of cannabinoids is so essential!
How to Calculate CBD Dosage for Pets
Some math is necessary to make sure your pet gets the right dosage of CBD oil.
The first step is to convert the animal’s weight in pounds to kilograms by dividing by 2.2.
- Dog weight is 55lb ÷ 2.2 = 25kg
Next figure out how many milligrams of CBD to start with by multiplying body weight by the low dose suggestion of 0.05mg/kg.
- 25kg x 0.05mg = 1.25mg CBD per day
Finally, determine the amount of CBD in the retail product by dividing milligrams of CBD in the bottle by the bottle’s volume.
- For a 30ml bottle of 200mg CBD oil: 200mg ÷ 30ml = 6.7mg CBD per 1ml oil
Since the amount of CBD in the 1ml dropper will be much more than the 1.25mg desired, some additional calculations will determine how many drops from the dropper are needed.
- 1.25mg ÷ 6.7mg per dropper = about 0.2 ml of CBD oil needed
A 1ml dropper contains about 20 drops, so multiply the amount needed by the total number of drops in the 1ml dropper:
- 0.2 x 20 = 4 drops
Quite a bit of math is required to find the starting dose of 4 drops to be given for the first five days, but it’s essential to ensure the best CBD dose for pets is used.
CBD Pet Treat Dosing
For dosing CBD pet treats the package will typically say the total amount of CBD for all of the treats inside. The full amount of CBD can be divided by the total number of treats in the package to determine how much cannabidiol is in each CBD dog treat. Dog treats can be broken up into halves or quarters if smaller doses are needed. It is as vital to calculate the dosing of CBD pet treats in the same way it is when using CBD oil for pets!
How Long Does It Take for Pets to Feel CBD?
On average, one to three hours is how long it takes for CBD to work on pets like dogs and cats. However, it may take pets as little as five minutes or as much as 96 hours.
Neurologist Dr. Stephanie McGrath at the Colorado State University of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Science has been studying cannabis for the treatment of osteoarthritis and epilepsy in dogs. Her research had demonstrated that dogs could feel the onset of oral doses of cannabis pet products in one to three hours.
Safety of CBD Oil for Pets
Accidental exposure to marijuana/tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-containing food products by cats and dogs is one of the most common safety issues reported to the Pet Poison Helpline. You should never give pets edible cannabis products designed for humans.
Not only can the dosing be inappropriate, but the food ingredients like nuts, chocolate, and xylitol can be toxic to pets. Always keep human cannabis products away from pets and children. Be sure not to leave them on the counter or coffee table where sneaky counter-surfing pups could steal a bite!
Can Pets Have Too Much CBD?
If accidentally exposed to an excessive amount of CBD there is a good chance at recovery when treated quickly. Reports have shown that a CBD isolate is not toxic to pets when taken alone.
Can Pets Have Too Much THC?
Animals that ingest too much THC will present signs of intoxication that can subside naturally. If this occurs, the pet should be closely monitored and taken for medical attention if symptoms of poisoning like tremors, aggression, vomiting, and seizures occur.
CBD For Pets & FDA Role
Consumers must remember that the FDA does not yet evaluate CBD for pets and products that contain CBD. Always consult a veterinarian before giving a pet any new type of supplement. Veterinarians may not talk about the effectiveness of CBD for pets. They will speak up if there is a risk of harming your pet with CBD.
Cannabis products have some contraindications and can interfere with certain drugs. If a pet is already on prescription medications, make sure there won’t be adverse CBD drug interactions.
Difference Between CBD for Pets vs. in Humans
A few studies have gained insights regarding CBD for pets. While the endocannabinoid system is structurally similar in humans and dogs, the responses can be a bit different, especially when comparing CBD vs. THC in pets. This difference is called a divergent response.
You can see the divergent responses to cannabis in dogs vs. humans by looking at the side effects of THC. In humans, THC can slightly increase heart rate and blood pressure. In animals, THC can do the opposite, causing a slower heart rate and lower blood pressure.
CBD takes a different biological pathway in using CBD for dogs than in humans. Surprisingly, canines can respond better to some of the molecular variations of CBD that are not as efficient in humans. When it comes to the benefits of CBD for dogs, the research suggests there are more similarities than differences. Slightly different formulations can optimize effects.
In both dogs and humans, the oral bioavailability of CBD is low, with the highest report being about 20%. Low bioavailability means that when the dog ingests CBD, the body receives less of it to the bloodstream. A large percentage of ingested CBD gets lost in the stomach due to biological processes. Despite that, 93% of pet owners prefer giving dogs and cats CBD pet treats. They believe it performs well in supporting the health of their companion.
CBD in Veterinary Medicine
Much of the research on CBD oil comes from animal studies. Animals have endocannabinoid systems like the one found in humans. Because of this, a lot of research is carried out in mouse and monkey models before conducting human studies. These lab animal studies provide us a lot of information without the risk of causing people harm. But what about CBD for pets themselves?
In a way, CBD in veterinary medicine is paying back this gift of knowledge by applying the benefits of CBD to our pets. CBD for pets has not been well studied. Therefore, surprisingly, veterinarians turn to human CBD use to gain insight into the applications of CBD for pets.
The Endocannabinoid System in Animals
Cannabis has many prospects in veterinary medicine. Just like humans, pets can have endocannabinoid deficiencies. These can influence symptoms of anxiety, arthritis, inflammation, skin allergies, eye problems, pain, and cancer. This endocannabinoid system is what makes CBD for pets a promising new option.
The natural production of cannabinoids like CBD and THC can occur in the body (endocannabinoids). They may also be produced uniquely in the cannabis sativa plant (phytocannabinoids). It is also possible to create synthetic cannabinoids in a la. An endeavor that drug companies and research scientists have looked to in hopes of “standardizing nature.”
Cannabinoids As Molecules
Cannabinoids are molecules that activate cannabinoid receptors like CB1, CB2, and 5-HT3. When a cannabinoid molecule unlocks receptors, they send a cascade of signals through the body. This biological chain of events leads to effects. Such as reduced inflammation, increased serotonin production, and antioxidant action that neutralizes harmful oxygen molecules to protect cells.
The most popular CBD for pets is by far and wide Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). These cannabinoids have gained the most popularity, but they also aren’t the only beneficial compound in cannabis. Cannabis contains over 100 phytocannabinoids, and a multitude of terpenes, terpenoids, flavonoids, and fatty acids, all with properties that support health in humans and animals.
Use of Cannabis in Preclinical Animal Testing
Researchers have observed great benefits in testing cannabinoids on laboratory rodents. Researchers have found the benefits of CBD for pets be wide-reaching. Some include disorders of the cardiovascular system, cancer treatment, pain treatment, disorders of the respiratory system, and metabolic disorders.
Preclinical trials for anxiety, addiction, and neurodegeneration have also demonstrated cannabinoid benefits in rodent models. Preclinical testing has not been widely performed in animals like rabbits, ferrets, cats, horses, or even dogs.
Final Thoughts: CBD for Pets
Giving your pet CBD has shown to be a safe way to harness the many potential benefits of CBD. Research suggests that giving cannabidiol to dogs, cats, and even horses is safe. However, giving pets THC products is not safe and could cause unwanted side effects. Should you choose to give Fido this new health alternative, just remember to start off dosage very low and monitor symptoms from there.
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- Greb, A., & Puschner, B. (2018). Cannabinoid treats as adjunctive therapy for pets: gaps in our knowledge. Toxicology Communications, 2(1), 10-14. Retrieved from: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/24734306.2018.1434470
- Landa, L., Sulcova, A., & Gbelec, P. (2016). The use of cannabinoids in animals and therapeutic implications for veterinary medicine: a review. Veterinarni Medicina, 61(3). Retrieved from: http://vri.cz/docs/vetmed/61-3-111.pdf
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