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Is CBD Right for My Pet? A CBD Guide for Pets.

CBD is an increasingly popular option for pet owners looking to improve their dog or cat’s quality of life. A Google search of “cbd for pets” returns thousands of results and hundreds of companies that advertise oils, topicals, and treats for your pet. So what can CBD actually do for them? The short answer is that there is potentially a lot that CBD may be beneficial for. The long answer is that there isn’t a lot of research and scientific studies on how CBD affects pets in both the short and long-terms and that more research is needed before definite conclusions can be drawn about CBD and its effects on pets.

So What Exactly Does Science Say?

This article is a literature review of CBD treats for pets, meaning that it takes a look at all of the available research and identifies gaps in knowledge and areas of further study. Firstly, the authors, Greb and Puschner, note that in a study that assessed the public perception of CBD for pets, pet owners believed 93% of the time that CBD was just as good or better than standard care therapies. While this is encouraging, it’s worth noting that these claims are 100% based on owner observation and need to be backed up by clinical evidence of the same. As the authors dug through the available research, some critical gaps began to appear. One of them is that we don’t know the role that CB1 and CB2 receptors play in diseases in pets. We know that dogs have both CB1 and CB2 receptors, like humans, but current research shows that cats only have CB1 receptors. It is possible that cats also have CB2 receptors, but it is unknown at this time, and it is unclear what impact this would have on the way a cat processes CBD. Knowing the role these receptors play in disease in pets would enable us to know which diseases are more likely to be improved by a CBD treatment and which ones CBD would not be effective for.

Greb and Puschner also note that while CBD is typically not outright toxic to pets unless in extremely large doses (the study they cite lists the LD50 for beagles at more than 3000mg per kilogram of weight as no deaths occurred from toxicity even at the highest doses), there is a chance of long-term toxicity as CBD is very lipophilic (it is attracted to and is stored in fat). There needs to be more research into the long-term storage of CBD in pets and its effects. Running along these same lines, more information is needed on the way pets process and breakdown CBD and how that CBD interacts with their bodies in general. There is also potential for medication interactions if the pets are on other treatment courses for their disease. We know that CBD affects the CYP450 enzymes in humans, and we know that cats and dogs both have a version of these enzymes but there is very little, if any, information on how CBD impacts these enzymes in our pets. 

The authors ultimately advise there need to be veterinary clinical studies assessing how dogs and cats process, breakdown, and store CBD in both the short and long-term; and what role cannabinoid receptors play in animal diseases. They note that researchers should pay attention to how CBD impacts cancer, pain, arthritis, glaucoma, and immune diseases in pets.

Okay so you’ve decided you want to try CBD for your pets, now what?

How do you decide what specific product your pet should try? Well there are a few starting points that will help you narrow down your options in partnership with your vet. First, make sure your pet isn’t on any medications that may interact with CBD, for example, steroids. Your vet is your friend here! They can help adjust your pet’s medication schedule so that you can try incorporating CBD with as little risk as possible. Second, decide what type of CBD you want to try. Topicals, treats, and oils are the most popular forms of CBD for pets. Keep in mind that topicals may be difficult to apply effectively if your pet has a double coat or a thick coat in general, as you need to get the CBD massaged into their skin directly. For many pet owners, treats or an oil are the way to go and they work similarly. The deciding factor for most pet owners is how picky of an eater their dog or cat is and whether or not they will allow you to squeeze oil into their mouth directly. 

Now that you’ve determined what type of CBD you want to try, you need to decide on a brand. There are a lot of them, with varying quality and testing standards. The most important thing that you are looking for as a pet owner are the lab tests. Reputable CBD manufacturers will have lab reports that are easy to find on their websites and should test both for the CBD and THC content, as well as test for toxic compounds like pesticides and heavy metals. Most, if not all, companies also have customer service email addresses where customers can reach out with additional clarifying questions. The lab tests are important because there are many sellers out there with little to no CBD in their products so you need to protect yourself and your pets by verifying that their lab reports match their claims. You can also visit your local CBD store and ask what they recommend based on the brands they carry in store and the knowledge they have.

Once you’ve verified the brand via their lab testing, you can then decide on what concentration to get. Just like with humans, start low and go slow! Most dosing recommendations start at 1mg per 10lbs of weight and you can alter their dose as needed based on what you observe. Keep in mind that giving your dog too much CBD at once may result in drowsiness, dry mouth, or lowered blood pressure (as explained by the AKC here) and that it may take a few days of daily doses before the effects become noticeable. 


CBD & Pets In A Nutshell...

We’ll keep you updated as more research becomes available on CBD for pets! For now though, keep these three points in mind: 1. Ask your vet about current medications and CBD 2. Lab reports for CBD pet products are key and 3. Start low and go slow.  Feel free to share your experience with CBD for your pet down below!