Thanks to almost a century of cannabis prohibition, research focused on how cannabidiol (CBD) affects pets is only just beginning, making clinical studies difficult to find.
You can, however, find plenty of anecdotal evidence from pet owners on every social media platform there is, many touting CBD as a wonder drug.
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Does CBD help your pets?
We know every animal on the planet – humans included — has an endocannabinoid system. So, in theory, since CBD helps humans balance their endocannabinoid systems it should help pets do the same thing. Right?
One scientist and veterinarian, Dr. Joe Wakshlag, an associate professor and nutrition section chief for Cornell University’s Department of Veterinary Medicine, is researching the effects of CBD on pets.
In 2017, Wakshlag conducted a pharmacokinetic and clinical study that found that 2 mg/kg of CBD oil twice daily can help increase comfort and activity in dogs with osteoarthritis.
The results seem to support anecdotal reports of CBD oil’s benefits. Veterinary assessment showed that CBD oil reduced pain (p < 0.03), and the Canine Brief Pain Inventory and Hudson activity scores showed clinically significant reduction in pain and an increase in activity with CBD treatment (p < 0.001), the abstract reports.
According to Dr. Wakshlag, in addition to this study, his team is completing a pharmacokinetic and safety study in cats, and there are plans for additional studies on the efficacy of CBD oil in acute pain management, behavior management, feline pain and concurrent usage with chemotherapy in oncology patients—so stay tuned.
CBD is thought to support the body’s cells by promoting healthy growth, which boosts and improves the immune system. This allows the healthy cells to fight free radicals that cause cancer, tumors and other health issues.
How much CBD should you give your pet?
A daily dose of CBD allows the body to build up a supply of cannabidiol to use when needed. The type of product used to deliver CBD to your pet depends on their health issues or the overall goal.
According to Dr. Wakslag’s study:
The team pharmacokinetically tested two different doses of CBD oil—2 mg/kg and 8 mg/kg—which was provided by ElleVet, the abstract states. They determined the elimination half-life to be 4.2 hours at both doses. No negative side effects were noted at either dosage …
Image credit: Chelsea Cook, Mitty’s CBD Cafe
The best forms of CBD for pets seem to be tinctures (oils), infused treats, rubs and topicals. Tinctures are the best way to adjust the dosage for maximum benefit and cost control.
You don’t have to choose one or another if unsure. In fact, you can use multiple products to reach the desired daily dosage for your pet.
Giving CBD daily and then treating any extra pain with a CBD rub or topical is fine; humans do that, too.
Choosing the best CBD products
When ingesting CBD products as medicine it is wise to choose organic otherwise your product may contain pesticides, fungicides or solvents.
As with most things, the higher the quality and purity of the product, the higher the price. It’s important to keep in mind that you get what you pay for with CBD, as with other things.
Visit the websites for the products you’re considering. Look for lab analysis of the company’s products that should verify their claims about quality and purity. If the information isn’t available on the company’s website, call and ask for their lab results.
If a company is unwilling to share lab analysis for their CBD products that is considered by many in the cannabis industry to be a red flag warning.
More information on CBD and pets:
- What to know if you want to give your dog CBD – Preventative Vet
- Cannabis Oil for Dogs, Everything You Need to Know – PetMD
- Medical Cannabis for Pets – Hawthorne Vet
- CBD Oil for Dogs – Dogs Naturally Magazine
Cara Wilson is a cannabis advocate and freelance writer based in Hickory, N.C.