Is CBD Safe for Pets?
What is it and how does it work?
See how CBD can make a difference to your four legged friends in a variety of ways.
● CBD is a safe, non-intoxicating compound found in the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa).
● Although a relative newcomer to the pet supplement market, CBD is quickly gaining popularity.
● Early studies suggest that CBD can help manage a range of pet illnesses, pain, inflammation, and anxiety.
● Pet owners should be careful to select a high-quality product with non-detectable levels of THC.
Written by Zia Sherrell and reviewed by our qualified expert, Paul Holmes, Scientific & Regulatory Affairs Manager at Naturecan, BSc Medicinal and Biological Chemistry, Member of UKAS/FSA CBD Food Product Approval Expert Group
CBD, or cannabidiol to use its full name, is a non-toxic cannabinoid or bioactive compound found in cannabis. It's becoming an increasingly popular supplement for humans, but what about CBD for animal companions?
Although a relative newcomer to the pet care market, humans have used cannabis for centuries. Early written records mention cannabis use as far back as the 6th century.¹ Studies on CBD for pets are still in their infancy, although it has been heavily studied for its therapeutic effects in humans.
Evidence suggests that CBD is safe, effective and helpful in reducing inflammation and pain from arthritis and other conditions in animals. Studies suggest it may also be used as a treatment for anxiety in both cats and dogs. When addressing the question of the safety of CBD for pets, it's essential to understand the differences between cannabis, THC, and CBD.
Both THC and CBD are cannabinoids found in the Cannabis Sativa plant, which has different strains. The cannabis plant is rich in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is intoxicating and causes the “high” feeling. In contrast, hemp plants contain more CBD and have minimal THC levels, meaning it doesn't cause intoxication when consumed by humans or animals. In this guide on CBD for pets, we'll discuss how you can use CBD for dogs and cats and why it’s essential to find the proper dosage of CBD for pets.
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What is CBD oil?
The cannabis plant has over 100 active compounds. CBD is one of these naturally occurring cannabinoids. Manufacturers create CBD products by extracting oil from the hemp plant and then adding a carrier oil like sunflower, MCT, or hemp seed oil to dilute it to an appropriate strength.
CBD does not have any intoxicating effects, meaning it does cause a cerebral "high" and is not addictive. According to the World Health Organization,² CBD doesn’t have the potential for abuse or dependency, and there’s no evidence of public health-related problems from the use of pure CBD.
Research shows there may be benefits to taking CBD oil regularly for both humans and animals, including anti-inflammatory effects,³ pain,⁴ and anxiety relief.⁵
How safe is CBD for pets?
You can safely use pure CBD for cats, dogs, horses, and other pets.
CBD has become a widely recommended medication by the veterinary world because of its benefits and safety record.
In fact, the government body that regulates veterinary medicine in the UK, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD),⁶ includes CBD in the list of appropriate animal medicines. It's also effective. Research⁷ from the United States found that over 60% of people agreed that CBD could help with their pets' health needs.
In a 2018 study⁸ on dogs with osteoarthritis, researchers found that CBD significantly decreased pain and that none of the dogs experienced side effects. If you have any doubts about the safety of CBD for cats or dogs, you can check with your veterinarian to discuss any potential issues.
How does CBD oil for pets work?
Experts think that CBD likely affects dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, and other mammals similarly to humans. The reason for this is because, as far as we know, all animals,⁹ including mammals, birds, reptiles, and even invertebrates like sea urchins, leeches, and mussels, have an endocannabinoid system (ECS).
This complex system regulates homeostasis, immune function, peripheral nervous system function, and more. The ECS consists of endocannabinoids the body creates, two types of receptors, and enzymes. CB1 receptors are situated all over the body, particularly in the brain. These receptors help coordinate movement, pain, mood, thoughts and feelings, memories, and hunger.
In contrast, CB2 receptors are found mainly in the immune system, spleen and liver. Injury and inflammation activate these receptors. Endogenous compounds like CBD and THC can interact with the receptors. THC attaches to CB1 receptors, but CBD stimulates¹⁰ them. While there is little in the way of large-scale clinical studies regarding the effects of CBD on animals, scientists understand that CBD interacts with the ECS.
It’s this interaction that helps with the healthy balance of bodily processes. Optimal ECS function is critical for overall health. The human ECS is well studied. Researchers understand CBD's role in anxiety and pain relief, appetite, digestion, and more. The presence of the ECS in animals suggests that CBD will work equally as well for them. There’s a plethora of anecdotal data that indicates CBD has similar effects on other animals as it does on humans. Considering CBD oil for cats is a valid option.
WHEN TO USE CBD OIL
Results from a variety of research¹¹ studies show that CBD may help with various pet illnesses.
It could be beneficial for animals entering their senior years or who are injured. Studies indicate that CBD may help with pain¹² and inflammation and boost your pet’s quality of life.
Dogs may exhibit problems such as separation anxiety, destructive behaviours, or unrelenting barking. Veterinarians¹³ typically agree that CBD has anti-anxiety effects. Research suggests that using CBD oil for cats and dogs with anxiety may be most effective if used regularly over an extended period.
In one study,¹⁵ scientists exposed rats to cats, and those that had received multiple doses of CBD were less stressed and anxious than the rats that had a single dose. Before deciding that CBD is right for your pet, it is vital to review your options with your trusted veterinarian to guarantee that you've created an approved plan to help bring your pet comfort.
What to look for in CBD products for pets
No matter which CBD oil you choose for your companion animal, it's imperative to select a brand that guarantees less than 0.03% THC in its products, both for legal reasons and because research has not yet confirmed the repercussions of THC in pets.
Naturecan’s Pet CBD products are made with our proprietary blend of CBD + CBDA isolate to ensure zero THC, meaning they are safe for all pets. Animals are sensitive to essential oils and flavourings, so it’s vital to ensure that any CBD product you administer to your pet contains no artificial ingredients or harmful oils. CBD for cats, dogs, or other pets, must be pure.
Pet’s can also be sensitive to flavonoids and terpenes in full entourage CBD oils which is why at Naturecan we refine our Broad Spectrum CBD into Isolate to ensure a consistent result and the safety of your pet. Remember to check the label of any product you intend to use.
Studies have shown that CBD for pets may bring them relief and comfort from aches, pains, anxiety, and other health conditions.
No matter if you're considering CBD for cats, dogs, or horses, it's essential to choose a high-quality product that's low in THC and offers broad-spectrum CBD benefits to your pet.
Because all our furry friends are unique, it's a good idea to have a chat with your vet and ask them about the value CBD could provide before administering this hemp product for the first time. If you are in the UK you will need a prescription from your vet.