Cannabis Oil: Is it Safe and Effective for Pets?
It’s no secret that the growing acceptance of cannabis use nationwide is changing the way the public at large views this ubiquitous, yet often misunderstood substance. Although cannabis is still classified as a schedule 1 substance (meaning drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse) by the US Drug Enforcement Agency along with LSD, heroin and ecstasy, legalization of both medicinal and recreational use is at an all-time high in this country and worldwide. Moreover, the benefits of cannabis in treating everything from nausea to Parkinson’s Disease are increasingly well-documented and gaining credibility in the medical community.
Like many therapies, cannabis derivatives are becoming more popular to treat animal ailments as well. CBD oil is emerging as a mainstream treatment for many pet conditions including anxiety, epilepsy and even carcinogenesis, yet the stigma surrounding cannabis-based products persist.
It’s wise for any responsible pet owner to do thorough research when considering medication for pets, but let’s attempt to separate fact from fiction when it comes to this controversial topic.
What is CBD Oil for Pets?
First, a definition. Cannabis, marijuana, hemp, cannabidiol… what do they all mean? And more importantly, what do they do? Cannabis, (also known as marijuana, pot, weed, etc.) is a plant. Hemp is the same species of plant – Cannabis sativa L. but there are a few important differences between the two.
First, hemp does not contain THC, which is the component in cannabis that gives it the inebriating effect. Both cannabis and hemp contain CBD, or cannabidiol, which does not have the psychoactive effect that THC does. CBD will not get your dog “high,” but it can effectively help him with discomfort resulting from things like nerve-related pain and calm animals who suffer from separation anxiety or noise phobia.
CBD works by binding to CB receptors throughout the body, thus it can have therapeutic effects on a number of systems in both humans and animals. CBD mimics compounds in the body regulate a normally functioning system, so taking CBD as a therapy acts to return the body to homeostasis when something has gone awry.
It turns out that animals have a higher number of CB receptors in their bodies than do humans, which is why CBD can be extremely effective in treating ailments, and also why cannabis and THC can be potentially quite harmful for them. It should be emphasized that despite the dearth of scientific studies, veterinarians agree that THC or marijuana should never be given to pets under any circumstances. Dogs and cats can have serious reactions including distress, low heart rate and reduced motor control.
Is CBD Oil Safe for Pets?
The short answer to this question is – maybe.
While there is plenty of anecdotal verification that CBD has been helpful in treating a host of conditions in dogs including arthritis, pain resulting from cancer, nausea and lack of appetite, epilepsy, autoimmune disorders and stress and anxiety, clinical studies are still in early stages.
Due to the class 1 classification of cannabis, there is still a fair amount of difficulty finding funding for studies that involve byproducts of the cannabis plant, and even CBD that is derived from hemp, which is completely legal. However, some researchers have been able to develop studies that are providing a bit more information about treating animals with CBD.
Some recent studies have shown that CBD oil increases activity and comfort in dogs suffering from osteoarthritis, and moreover that the oil form of the compound is more effective for pets than other delivery methods including transdermal cream.
Veterinarians agree that while early evidence is promising, pet owners should proceed with caution when considering CBD therapy for their dogs and cats. Some important suggestions include:
- Fully research the products you are considering. Buy only high-quality CBD oil from a reputable business, preferably with a recommendation from your veterinarian.
- Be careful with dosage. Document effects for several days to determine whether the treatment is effective.
- Be on the lookout for warning signs that CBD is not agreeing with your animal. If you see evidence of dry mouth, tremors or drowsiness, those are signs that CBD may not be the right treatment for your pet.
For pet owners who just want to give their fur babies some relief from often painful and debilitating illnesses, CBD oil might be just the remedy they need and you can our CBD Oil Dogs guide here.