Medically Reviewed by Taylor Froiland, PharmD, RPh
Written by Adam McCown, PharmD
CBD is a substance that has become very popular in recent years, and one that you’ve probably heard about. It is used by people to try and treat a wide range of their own health issues, from inflammation and pain, to sleep disorders, epilepsy, anxiety, depression, arthritis, and much more. As more and more people try it for themselves, many pet owners are also giving CBD products a try for their dogs and cats.
How CBD Affects Your Pet
CBD interacts with your dog in a very similar way to how it interacts with your own body. Just like humans, dogs have an endocannabinoid system, a bodily communication system of receptors and sensors which involves physiological processes such as appetite, pain sensation, mood, and memory.
Dogs and humans both have parts of this system throughout their bodies called cannabinoid receptors. Essentially, CBD works with these receptors to create positive health effects. A series of preliminary studies done in 2016 by Stephanie McGrath, D.V.M., a veterinarian and assistant professor of neurology at Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, found that 89 percent of dogs suffering from epilepsy who received CBD in a clinical trial had a reduction in the frequency of seizures.
Despite needing more data and larger studies, after that study and others, she remarked “I feel really comfortable at this point, given all of our clinical trials and our initial research, that it’s a safe product.”
Uses of CBD for Dogs and Cats
- CBD for Dogs with Chronic Pain and Arthritis - In both dogs and humans, studies have shown that CBD can have powerful pain-relieving and anti- inflammatory effects, making it a very viable option for treating the symptoms of arthritis, joint pain, nerve-related pain, and general inflammation.
- CBD for Dogs and Cats with Anxiety - Many older dogs tend to develop anxiety problems. Often this is the result of deteriorating eyesight and hearing, decreasing awareness, and forgetting of previous learned cues or habits. In some cases, this anxiety can also lead to restlessness and, possibly, increased aggression. For older, anxious dogs, CBD has been found to have a calming effect. Just like with inflammation, when it comes to anxiety CBD targets the endocannabinoid system, which helps both dog and human bodies balance emotions.
- CBD as an Anti-Convulsant - CBD is already being researched as a possible treatment for the symptoms of epilepsy. And the results are promising. In fact, one of the better known and accepted uses of CBD for dogs, cats, and other animals is its ability to help control seizures, tremors, tics, and spasms. Though it is not exactly clear how it works, numerous studies have proven that CBD can help manage a wide variety of effects of epilepsy, as well as help manage spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis.
- CBD for Lack of Appetite in Dogs and Cats - If you’re noticing your dog or cat is starting to eat less than normal or is refusing their food, try changing up their diet and adding CBD hemp oil to their daily regimen. CBD is known for helping stimulate your pet’s appetite and can even help decrease nausea and vomiting. Both in humans and dogs, nausea and vomiting are serious symptoms, often leading to a decreased appetite, rapid weight loss, dehydration, fatigue, and more. Instead of giving your pet acepromazine, chlorpromazine, or aminobenzamide, all of which have strong and serious side-effects, give CBD a try.
Side Effects of CBD for Cats and Dogs
Although the research is in its fairly early stages, CBD is largely considered safe for both humans and animals and does not produce any life threatening side effects. What we also know so far is that humans and pets cannot overdose on CBD.
CBD is completely non-toxic and does not produce euphoric or other psycho-active effects (in other words, CBD will not make your dog “high”). According to a report put out by the World Health Organization in 2017, CBD appears to be safe and well tolerated by both dogs and cats, and no serious negative effects have been observed.
However, your pet may experience some mild side effects of CBD. These have been reported to include the following:
- Dry mouth: Research has shown that CBD can decrease the production of saliva. For dogs, this would manifest as an increased thirst.
- Lowered blood pressure: High doses of CBD have been known to cause a small temporary drop in blood pressure.
- Drowsiness: Dog owners have used CBD to treat anxiety. The calming effect of CBD can also cause slight drowsiness, especially when using higher doses.
Conclusion: Should Cats and Dogs Use CBD
CBD is quickly picking up steam for both pets and humans. You should talk to your vet before giving it a try, but it may be the answer you’re looking for when it comes to a wide range of various health problems.
You don’t want your furry friend suffering through pain, sleeplessness, seizures, or any other of the conditions we mentioned. Instead of immediately turning towards expensive drugs with possibly dangerous or long term side-effects, it might be a good idea to give CBD a try.