CBD for Pets: Everything You Need to Know

Written by Small Door's medical experts

The use of cannabidiol, or CBD, is well researched in human medicine. The benefits and effectiveness for animals is not as widely known, but there are a variety of ways that CBD could potentially help your pet.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the second most prevalent of the active ingredients in cannabis, or marijuana. It is a non-psychoactive component. Most CBD products for pets are derived from hemp, not from cannabis, and they contain very low amounts of THC (the main psychoactive compound in marijuana that makes people feel “high”).

Cannabinoids react with receptors found throughout the body in both animals and humans, interacting with various bodily functions, including pain sensation, mood, appetite, the immune system, and more.

CBD has a high safety profile, as side effects are uncommon. Tiredness, soft stool, and some changes in appetite have been observed occasionally.

How can CBD help my pet?

CBD has been proposed as a treatment for a number of conditions, including anxiety, stress, seizure disorders and chronic pain. However, while the health impacts of cannabidiol are widely studied in human medicine, we do not currently have a lot of research-based evidence on its effectiveness in pets. There is nonetheless plenty of anecdotal evidence suggesting benefits for pets, and many studies are currently in progress.

One condition that CBD has been proven to help is osteoarthritis in dogs. A study from Cornell University showed that nearly all dogs with osteoarthritis had improved pain scores and evaluations when taking CBD twice daily, compared to the dogs who received a placebo treatment.

Further studies are pending on a wide variety of additional possible therapeutic uses, such as for anxiety, pain relief, epilepsy and more. While we do not yet have the science to back recommendations for use in these situations, for many pets, quality-controlled CBD is unlikely to be of harm. However, always talk to your veterinarian before giving your pet any CBD products.

What are the risks for pets using CBD?

The risks of CBD in pets is not well researched. The Food and Drug Administration has not approved these products, so we don’t have official guidelines about dosing and cannot legally prescribe CBD for any specific ailment. However, most of the side effects observed have been minimal.

It’s important to note that, as there is no regulation in this market, commercially available CBD products contain varying levels of cannabinoids, terpenes and even contaminants that could possibly endanger a patient. When using CBD products on pets, pet owners must be aware of these potential risks. In addition, if your pet has any underlying disease process or is on medication, the body’s ability to metabolize CBD products may be different and CBD could decrease or increase the potency of long term medications.

Products containing THC (i.e. human medical or non-medical marajuana, and some hemp products) can cause toxicity, resulting in a pet requiring ER treatment. Human edible products are also dangerous to pets due to the addition of the artificial sweetener, xylitol, which is toxic to pets.

As mentioned above, we are still waiting for long term, well controlled scientific studies on the possible applications of CBD in pets, dosing guidelines, side effects and contraindications, so any use of CBD in pets is not without risk.

CBD has been proposed as a treatment for a number of conditions, including anxiety, stress, seizure disorders and chronic pain. However, we do not currently have a lot of research-based evidence on its effectiveness in pets.

Which CBD products should my pet use?

As with humans, there is a vast range of CBD products for pets on the market, with little to no regulation or quality control.

At Small Door, we trust ElleVet CBD products, as they are heavily involved with leading veterinary research institutions looking at the possible applications of CBD in pets and provide a certificate of analysis indicating the potency, per-dosing unit and ingredients of their products. ElleVet products were used in the study of osteoarthritic dogs at Cornell University, and they have other ongoing clinical trials, which helps to assure quality control.They also use all organic ingredients, and they carry a wide variety of products including CBD oils and treats.

Speak to your vet if you have questions about CBD

If you are considering giving CBD products to your pet, make sure you speak to your vet about the suitability of CBD for them, any risk factors, and get advice on appropriate dosages.

As always, Small Door members can reach out to us via the app for advice anytime.

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