Medical marijuana is a hot-button topic these days, and millions of people are finding that the cannabis plant holds impressive potential for their health. Are pets excluded? Treating pets with CBD oil is becoming increasingly common, and many owners are blown away by the results.
Should you consider treating your pet with CBD oil? Is it even legal where you live? Let’s dive into the details.
What is CBD Oil?
The cannabis plant, also known as hemp, contains well over 85 cannabinoids, which are natural substances that impact your immune system. Cannabinoids work by linking either to your brain or your muscles to affect how you feel both physically and mentally. Some are produced naturally by your body (endocannabinoids) while others are taken in through food, topical solutions, or by smoking (phytocannabinoids).
Hemp Versus Marijuana: What’s the Difference?
Any confusion you have about the differences between hemp, marijuana, and cannabis is completely understandable and easily explained.
While the terms are often used interchangeably, hemp and marijuana are not equivalent. Both plants share the common ancestor cannabis sativa, centuries of selective breeding split them into separate species that contain differing amounts of cannabinoids.
Hemp, a tall, fibrous plant, is typically used for producing industrial products like paper, rope, textiles, cosmetics, paints, and lubricants. The plant needs to contain less than 0.3 percent TCH (more on this in a minute) to legally qualify as hemp, and it is the preferred source for CBD products in the United States.
Marijuana is a shorter, bushier plant that is cultivated to contain as high cannabinoid levels as possible. The plant’s flowers are rich in THC, and it often comprises between 20-30 percent. While it’s possible to extract CBD from marijuana plants, it varies in legality across the United States, so most manufacturers use hemp instead.
THC, CBD, and Your Pet’s Health
Within the cannabis plant are two primary cannabinoids: cannabinol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). These two substances make up close to 40 percent of marijuana’s cannabinoids, and the fundamental difference between them is where they attach within your body.
Put simply, THC links to CB1 receptors in the brain and controls your mental state, while CBD connects to the muscles and affects pain and inflammation. It’s also known to push the immune system into action to address health problems, rather than masking the symptoms like many conventional medications. CBD moderates the immune system’s responses to prevent them from being overpowering. This helps prevent you from developing allergies, auto-immune problems, and even slows the growth of cancer cells.
In other words, THC produces the mental “high” of marijuana, while CBD oil relieves pain and alters the immune system without affecting you mentally.
These benefits aren’t limited to humans. All vertebrate species have the same endocannabinoid system, and dogs and cats share close to 70 percent of their biology with humans. This means that treating your pet with CBD oil can be a smart solution for their health.
Will CBD Oil Get My Pet High?
That’s a common question, and it has a simple answer: no. Pet-grade CBD oil has virtually zero chance of making your pet high because its THC levels fall far below those found in marijuana.
9 Ways CBD Oil Can Help Your Pets
Now that the details have been covered, it’s time to dive into whether CBD oil makes sense for your pet. Below are some of the most significant health benefits it promises to deliver for your pet.
1. Helps Treat Seizures
Pets who suffer from seizures constitute a significant struggle for their owner, and CBD oil can make a positive difference. Close to five percent of dogs experience seizures over their lifetime, and most are treated with prescription medications like phenobarbital and potassium bromide, which can have harmful consequences for the liver and other organs, and they can trigger unpleasant side effects like dizziness, lethargy, and mental confusion. Making matters worse, many pets become resistant to these drugs over time.
CBD oil, in contrast, is considered a practical treatment option for managing seizures for both pets and people. According to one study, patients who regularly used CBD oil experienced profound improvements in the frequency and intensity of their seizures within five months of treatment. There is further anecdotal evidence that CBD oil can treat seizures that are resistant to traditional approaches.
2. Prevents & Fights Cancer
A cancer diagnosis is hard for pet owners to deal with, but you can provide your pooch with comfort by using CBD oil as a treatment aid. The compound can lead to pain relief from cancer itself and the chemotherapy treatments your pet undergoes. By keeping side effects of treatment under control, the oil also improves the effectiveness of chemo for curing your pet. Even if CBD oil doesn’t heal your pet, you can rest assured that they will feel more comfortable than they would otherwise.
Perhaps even more impressively, CBD oil can slow down the growth of cancer cells and prevent the formation of tumors. Giving your pet a small daily dose might work wonders to reduce their cancer risk in the long run.
3. Relieves Chronic Joint Pain
The aging process isn’t easy on active dogs, but treatment with CBD oil can reduce some of the aches and pains. Cannabinoids are a proven way to counteract inflammation that triggers degenerative illnesses like arthritis. CBD oil acts as a natural pain reliever, and it can also reduce the irritation that leads to arthritic flare-ups in the first place. If your pup has stiff knees or debilitating hip pain, a CBD treatment might improve mobility and lead to relief.
4. Restores the Appetite
Pets can lose their appetites for many reasons, but a common cause is nausea or stomach pain. Dogs and cats respond well to a small dose of CBD oil in their food, and the National Cancer Institute states that CBD oil can naturally increase appetite, which helps stubborn pets become willing to try their food again. You can make the medication process easy on your pet by buying dog biscuits with CBD oil infused within them or add a dropperful to their kibble.
5. Calms Down Aggression and Nerves
Some pets are naturally skittish, but CBD oil can calm down this natural tendency. If your dog or cat hides under the bed at a hint of loud noise or regularly lunges on a leash when out on walks, a CBD oil treatment might reduce their anxiety so that they can develop new patterns of behavior. The compound is also considered beneficial for dogs with depression, and it can overcome the impulse for destructive behaviors when you leave the house, like chewing on furniture, pacing, and urinating.
For instance, CBD World lists an example of a pet with such severe storm anxiety that weather changes triggered vomiting. Regular doses of a CBD oil tincture for several weeks lessened the dog’s fear so that he stopped throwing up.
6. Helps with Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Thanks to its natural benefits for the digestive system, CBD oil is a smart treatment option for irritable bowel disease. The oil has natural antibacterial properties that prevent potentially toxic bacteria from establishing themselves and wrecking havoc internally for your pet.
7. Protects the Nervous System
Spinal and neural problems often develop in aging pets, and treating them with CBD oil can help your pet find relief and function better. Research is still in the early stages, but it shows that CBD oil can protect the brain from free radicals that trigger cell death, which is a primary cause of neurodegenerative disorders like ALS, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease.
8. Promotes Cardiovascular Health
Evidence shows that CBD oil might be beneficial for your pet’s heart. Research shows that cannabinoids can even out irregular heartbeats, reduce blood pressure, and prevent and also treat damage to blood vessels. According to Dogs Naturally Magazine, some owners have found that CBD oil addresses their pet’s heart murmurs better than conventional options.
9. Reduces the Severity of Autoimmune Diseases
CBD oil is an ideal way to manage the immune system, and the compound can decrease your pet’s production of inflammatory cytokines. These compounds often trigger autoimmune disorders and allergies, so treating cats and dogs with CBD oil reduces their risk of developing them. And, because the oil is a potent antioxidant that’s stronger than vitamin C and E, it reduces overall inflammation for your pet.
What Do Vets Think of CBD Oil?
Considering how controversial all things cannabis are these days, it’s fitting that you might be worried whether your vet will approve of treating your pet with CBD oil.
While popular opinions about the oil’s efficacy are changing fast, not all vets have studied its benefits or approve of its use. Likewise, there’s still some confusion in the general public about the differences between CBD and THC, and the amount of each compound that legal CBD oils contain.
As things stand now, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is still debating whether medical marijuana should be used on pets, though there is less issue with hemp-derived CBD products. Many vets won’t hesitate to recommend these products to treat your pet, so the advice you get is as dependent on your vet’s personal research and experience as the product’s effectiveness.
One primary concern that vets have is that pet owners will accidentally give their pets THC-laced marijuana products, which can trigger THC toxicity. Large doses of this psychoactive compound can lead to severe health problems, including heart attacks and seizures that often prove fatal.
For this reason, it’s crucial that you’re extremely cautious about the kind of CBD oil you give your pets and ensure you buy it only from reputable sources.
Best Ways to Give Your Dog CBD
Today’s market is exploding with hemp products, so how can you determine which ones are safe for your dog and administer it effectively? Anyone who’s struggled to get puppies to swallow pills or watched their cat lick off their topical flea treatment within seconds of application knows how difficult it can be to medicate pets.
To administer CBD oil to your pet effectively, you’ll need to be creative. The natural oil has a taste your pet won’t get excited about, so disguising it is critical. You can add a few drops of the oil to your pet’s dinner or the water dish, though this method might lead to wasted oil if your pet’s a messy drinker. It’s also possible to buy CBD-infused pet treats or to get the compound formulated into creams, capsules, and potent tinctures.
CBD oil might seem like an unconventional option for pet care, but the research shows that it can deliver impressive results. It might take some experimentation to determine what type of product works best for your pet, so don’t give up if you don’t see promising results right away.