CBD and How it Affects HumansFirst off, it’s useful to know a bit about CBD and how it impacts us. Cannabidiol, an extract of the Cannabis sativa plant, is used to help us maintain our general health and wellbeing. Some research has indicated that it may be beneficial in the treatment of certain symptoms, ranging from pain to anxiety. It is for this reason that people have become interested in whether it could help their pets, too. The impact that CBD has on us takes place due to a biological system we have called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is thought to be found in all mammals, and it is what controls the regulation of our bodies. It helps to maintain homeostasis through the regulation of a vast number of functions such as mood, appetite, sleep, and more. The cannabinoid receptors found in the ECS can be located throughout the body, with different types of receptors concentrated in different areas. The CB1 receptor, for example, is found predominantly in the brain and central nervous system, while the CB2 receptor is more abundant in the immune system. Usually, these receptors are triggered by endocannabinoids, molecules which our bodies create in order to pass messages along throughout the body. However, the cannabinoid receptors can also be stimulated by the phytocannabinoids found in plants, such as CBD. By consuming cannabidiol, we can encourage the production of more endocannabinoids, thus allowing the ECS to function even better and ensure we remain in peak condition. CBD is an all-natural compound that comes straight from nature. It could be beneficial for us, and unlike other substances that we have easy access to, it has few side effects. According to the World Health Organization, CBD is generally safe and well-tolerated in humans. But does this mean your pets can take it?
The Benefits of CBD for Your PetsLike us, your (mammalian) pets have an endocannabinoid system. Dogs, cats and horses may all be able to benefit from what CBD has to offer thanks to this system, meaning that in theory you could give CBD to your four-legged friend. We’ll get onto the risks a little later, but for now let’s talk about the potential benefits of cannabidiol for animals.
1. CBD is a good painkiller – for animals too!It has often been suggested that CBD can be used for pain, as it has been shown to have an impact on the inflammatory response. A famed study by Ethan Russo found that CBD can reverse the inflammation response and thereby reduce symptoms of pain, including chronic pain. Dogs and cats have bodies that work in an often surprisingly similar way to our own, and luckily this is one case where that holds true. CBD may also be able to reduce the pain experienced by our furry friends.
2. CBD can reduce anxiety and stressJust like us, our pets can sometimes experience feelings of anxiety and stress. You may notice when your pet is suffering from feelings of anxiety, but unfortunately, they can’t communicate these feelings to us. Some vets diagnose animals with such conditions, in which case you can know for certain what is wrong with your pet.
3. CBD may be able to reduce other symptoms like nausea and seizuresIf your pet suffers from a specific illness and experiences symptoms such as these, CBD may be of use. Animals often experience similar ailments to our own, and since we all have endocannabinoid systems, CBD could be of use for your pet as well as yourself. Investigating CBD for human use should give you a good insight into what conditions CBD may be able to help.At the end of the day, it’s important to note that animals can never tell us when something is wrong. Whereas we can go to a doctor when we feel unwell and describe our symptoms, our dogs and cats rely on us to pick up on when something is off and then help them to rectify it. Vets can be of assistance here, but we as pet owners want to prevent diseases and illnesses as much as possible before they even occur. Since CBD is able to improve general health, it may be able to help combat ailments before they occur. It could help your pet to stay healthy, and its lack of severe side effects means that you could be giving cannabidiol supplements to your pet without too many risks. This is not to say that there are no risks whatsoever.
The Risks of Giving CBD to Your PetWith the illegality of cannabis becoming a problem here, the American Veterinary Medical Association cannot legally state that vets can even discuss cannabis as a potential option for treating pets. However, they have published a document advising vets about how to treat marijuana. Animals do have an ECS, just like us, but they may have more cannabinoid receptors than we do. This makes them more sensitive to the effects of cannabis. If you gave your pet anything containing THC, it would be much more harmful than giving them CBD. That being said, you still need to be aware of any potential risks.The side effects that are experienced from CBD are minor and not generally severe, as long as you are careful about how much you give to your dog or cat. Generally, the side effects are similar to what occurs in humans, and include the likes of:
- Dry mouth: CBD can decrease the production of saliva; your dog may get very thirsty and need more to drink, so keep a bowl of fresh water nearby and easily accessible.
- Lowered blood pressure: Blood pressure of the patient has been known to drop temporarily after taking it. This may lead to your pet feeling dizzy and light-headed, so make sure they are in a safe environment. If your pet already suffers from low blood pressure, do not give them CBD.
- Drowsiness: The calming effects of CBD can lead to drowsiness and lethargy, so look out for this side effect and ensure that you maintain a healthy dosage that doesn’t affect them too negatively.
It is quite unfortunate that we can’t provide any conclusive evidence about the risks of using CBD for your pet, the American Kennel Club and other associations do have advice pages about the issue. It seems that the general opinion is that it could be beneficial for your dogs, but you need to be aware of the potential dangers and keep a very close eye on your pet.