Right now the whole world is talking about CBD (medical marijuana) oil and its benefits in providing relief from ailments like seizures, anxiety, pain and even cancer. On several Facebook groups, I saw people recommending CBD for dogs suffering from anxiety.
|Is CBD oil a good option for dogs?|
However, the question stands:
Is CBD for dogs a good option too?
What is CBD?
CBD is an acronym for cannabidiol. Cannabidiol is a chemical compound derived from the Cannabis sativa plant (marijuana). It belongs to the group of cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are chemical substances which act on specific cannabinoid receptors present in the nervous system.
CBD is a natural compound which is a part of products like oils and edible items. It mainly imparts a feeling of calmness and relaxation. CBD is a minor component of the Marijuana plant while its cousin delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the major component. THC has been observed to impart psychoactive (euphoric) effects. The CBD products currently available in the markets are mostly derived from Hemp and not Marijuana
How does CBD work?
Dogs and humans have receptors on the surface of cells which bind to molecules and signal the instruction imparted by that particular molecule inside the cell, making the cell respond in a specific manner. A receptor system known as endocannabinoid receptor system (CB1 and CB2) is distributed throughout the central and peripheral nervous system and the synovium (soft tissue lining the joints and tendons). This receptor system is known to bind to cannabinoids (like CBD, THC), modulating pain and inflammation.
CB1 receptors are mainly found in the region of the brain and spinal cord responsible for pain modulation while CB2 receptors are mainly found on immune cells (B cells and natural killer cells). The psychotropic (euphoric) actions which I have mentioned above happen primarily due to binding to CB1 receptors.
The action of CBD on animals:
The exact mechanism of action of CBD has not yet been understood. Furthermore, there is currently no formal study which has shed light on the action of CBD on dogs. However, as per what is known, it seems that CBD acts on the endocannabinoid receptors located in the central (brain and spinal cord) and peripheral (nerves and ganglia outside of the spinal cord and brain) nervous system.
Should you use CBD for your dog?
CBD has been observed to be a very useful therapy in managing a lot of health issues in dogs. Let’s have a brief look at what CBD can do for your dog:
CBD has shown to share a similar metabolic pathway as anti-inflammatory drugs. Thus, it is a good pain management option. A recent study done in 2018 has shown that regular administration of CBD significantly reduced the pain and increased the activity levels in osteoarthritic dogs. The owners reported no side effects of long term use. Thus the study concluded that 2mg/kg of CBD administered twice daily can help reduce pain and increase comfort levels in osteoarthritis dogs.
Check out this blog post on dog arthritis and the available home remedies.
As a general pain reliever:
Dogs can be in pain from a general sprain, health issues or even due to intervertebral disc disease (IVDD). There have been certain preliminary studies focusing on the effects of CBD and THC. It has been observed that these two compounds are more effective when administered as a combination rather than individually. However, it is not advisable to give THC to dogs.
Thus, I would not suggest using CBD as a general pain reliever until further studies are done to prove its effectiveness.
Most of the seizures observed in dogs are idiopathic (of unknown origin or cause). Seizures in dogs can be caused due to any number of underlying conditions.
A randomized blind control clinical trial was done in 2019 has shown that CBD was effective in reducing the seizure frequency in epileptic dogs. However, since the results were observed to be equal from the placebo group (dogs in this group were administered fake drugs) as well as the treatment group, the results warrant a need for further investigation.
CBD has been observed to cause a reduction in the secondary symptoms of both cancers as well as chemotherapy. Research is going on to see if CBD can directly be used as a treatment option to shrink the tumour itself. However, there has been no research done on dogs yet. The anti-nauseous effect of CBD has been observed in the case of ferrets and rats providing hope that dogs undergoing chemotherapy might benefit from it as well.
CBD can reduce the anxiety which occurs in dogs as a result of pain by causing a reduction in the pain itself. However, since CBD is not psychoactive, it cannot be as beneficial in treating a dog’s anxiety as Prozac or other anxiety specific medications. Use of CBD for dogs suffering from anxiety needs further research.
A recent study on the effect of increasing CBD dosage
A very recent study (Frontiers in Veterinary Science, Feb 2020) has shown that the dose of CBD oil can be escalated [in the study, they used 18.3-640.5mg (~2-62 mg/kg of body weight) CBD per dose] with minimal side effects in dogs. Higher doses of CBD were observed to be better tolerated by dogs compared to the higher doses of its cousin, THC.
Side effects of CBD:
High levels of Alkaline phosphatase:
CBD leads to a high level of alkaline phosphatase in the bloodstream. However, whether this elevated ALP level can have a deleterious effect on dogs is not known as of now.
There are some guardian reports that their dogs became sedated or sleepy on the administration of extremely large doses of CBD. However, those effects resolved on their own with time.
Reduced blood pressure:
High CBD doses have been observed to cause a temporary reduction in the blood pressure levels. Even though this drop is small, it can create lightheadedness in dogs.
CBD tends to reduce saliva production. Thus it leads to increased thirstiness in dogs.
Should you administer CBD to your dog?
First and foremost, talk to your Veterinarian. Do not decide to give CBD to your dog on your own. Canine physiology is very different from human physiology. It is better not to take the risk of prescribing any drug or supplement to your dog without a vet consultation first.
What should you look for when buying CBD for your dog?
In case, your vet gives you the green light to administer CBD to your dog, there are a few things you need to check before buying any brand of CBD from the marker:
- Always buy organic CBD:
If you cannot find a completely organic CBD oil, make sure that the one you are buying does not contain and solvents, fungicides or pesticides.
- Don’t shop as per the price:
The cost would naturally go up depending on the quality and purity. Do not go for CBD containing herbicides, heavy metals or pesticides. Such CBD will do more harm than good. Ensure that the CBD oil you purchase for your pup is additive free.
- Check the analysis report:
Make sure to check the certificate provided by the manufacturer regarding the amount of CBD present in the product. Further, confirm that the product you purchase has no or miniscule amount of THC (0.3%) in it.
- Buy CBD in the liquid form:
The market has two CBD options to offer: Liquid and as treats. Treats are a good option but liquid is much more preferable as you can adjust the dose depending on the needs of your pup.
So overall, CBD can help reduce your dog’s
- Pain due to osteoarthritis
- Generalized pain
Thus, CBD can be a very useful compound of choice during stressful situations like long drives, fireworks, thunderstorms etc.
The side effects of CBD observed are:
- Dry mouth
- Sight reduction in blood pressure.
- However, none of these side effects is long term and occurs when CBD is administered in very high doses.
Always consult your veterinarian before giving CBD to your dog and always buy organic liquid CBD free of pesticides, herbicides and toxic metal.
Finally, can CBD be used for CATS?
Since a lot of dog guardians also have cats, I just wanted to put this information in that CBD can be used for cats to treat
- Inter-cat aggression
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Upper respiratory infections
- CBD can be used to improve the quality of life and increase comfort levels.
- No side effects have been observed when moderate doses of CBD were administered.
However, the evidence for these are strictly anecdotal. Thus, I urge you to consult your vet before taking any decisions. If you do decide to take the CND road, buy the pure CBD with no THC in it.
I would love to hear your thoughts on using CBD for your puppy or cat. Please put it in the comment section. If you have any queries feel free to reach out to me.
PS: If you found this article informative, please share it with your friends. Even if you do not have a dog, you might know someone who does. Let’s help dog guardians become better versions of themselves all over the world.