As dog owners, we all wish for a pain-free existence for our beloved companions. In reality that’s unlikely to happen and depending on the type of dog we have, the conditions that they may suffer from can vary hugely. For many owners using CBD Oil (CannabidIol) has proved extremely beneficial to alleviating particular conditions in their pet. Here we’ll discuss what CBD Oil is, what it can treat, possible side effects, and the available products.
What is CBD OIl?
Mention the word ‘cannabis’ and most dog owners would recoil at the thought of using a derivative of it to treat their dog. There is much confusion around this topic with some owners even thinking that they are feeding their dog marijuana, partly due to the interchangeable usage of these words.
The Cannabis plant has many species, two of them are Marijuana and Hemp. Both have a constituent of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the compound found in marijuana that brings about the psychoactive effect, which most people refer to as getting high. In marijuana, the level of THC is around 15%, however, Hemp contains extremely low levels of THC concentration (less than 0.3% and too low to have any psychoactive effect), and it is partly for the reason that the 2018 Farm Bill made growing the hemp plant in the US legal.
How Does It Work On Dogs?
CBD Oil works by interacting with the endocannabinoid receptors located in the brain. Dogs have more of these receptors than humans do, which makes them very receptive to the effects and benefits of cannabinoids, such as CBD. Ingestion of CBD initiates a response of the CB1 and CB2 receptors, which are located in prominent parts of the central nervous system and the immune system. The potential of CBD in therapeutic treatment is that it has been seen to have effects on signaling pathways, particularly in modulating these pathways. The positive effects of CBD in treating neurophysiological and neurodegenerative disorders in dogs have often been overshadowed by the toxic effect that can be brought about by an overdose of THC – the psychoactive component of marijuana. Marijuana Toxicosis is the state brought about usually when a dog inadvertently consumes a supply of marijuana. The primary symptoms can include: listlessness/drowsiness, rigidity/inability to move, incontinence, and dilated pupils among others. The effects can take up to 90 minutes to become apparent and can last for days as THC is stored in the fat cells. If the poisoning is caught early enough, usually within 30 minutes, a severe reaction can be avoided by inducing vomiting. The risk of dogs consuming marijuana is further exacerbated by the practice of including the drug in edible products such as cakes and cookies. Left lying around within a dog’s reach is a sure-fire way to intoxication. In the event of ingestion, emergency medical help should be sought immediately. It is understandable therefore that there’s a reluctance to treat dogs with CBD when there’s confusion over its effects and that of THC.
What Conditions Can Be Treated With CBD?
Remember, CBD works with the brain’s receptors by influencing pathways affecting the central nervous system and the immune system. Subsequently, CBD can have a positive effect on dogs with the following conditions
- Anxiety. Dogs can suffer from many forms of anxiety, namely: Separation, Noise, Travel, and Large groups of people. CBD can have a sedative and relaxing effect on dogs allowing them to cope better with what are usually harrowing situations. Some people target certain types of situations where they know their dog may become stressed like when they are going out in a large crowd, or New Year’s Eve when they know there will be a lot of loud bangs from fireworks.
- Seizures and Epilepsy. Epilepsy can be an extremely debilitating illness for both dogs and their owners. Seizures can result in out of character behavior, injuries, and death. Some owners have to resort to treating their dogs with multiple pills throughout the day just to exert some control over the seizures. CBD is believed to help alleviate symptoms caused by epilepsy and is thought it could eventually replace anti-convulsive drugs.
- Pain Relief. Studies suggest CBD can be a great source for pain management in dogs. Conditions such as arthritis, general and intestinal inflammation, and nerve-related pain. One group of dogs considered to have benefited greatly from CBD are those with disabilities. Managing hip dysplasia, arthritis and general mobility are some of the conditions treated in these animals along with aging dogs who similarly suffer from these conditions.
- Appetite Stimulation. Loss of appetite can be caused by several things: illness, nausea, low mood/anxiety, injury, or aging to name a few. Whilst it’s a good idea to wait and see if your dog’s appetite returns naturally, the use of CBD oil to stimulate appetite is a viable option. CBD can help your dog resume his appetite by reducing anxiety, relieving pain, or settling your dog’s stomach & preventing nausea. That said, if your pet’s appetite has gone for more than 48 hours then professional medical advice should be sought to rule out any serious illness.
Other conditions that CBD is thought to have a positive effect on include:
- Promotes cardiovascular health
- Reduces the risk of autoimmune diseases
- Help fight cancer
- Help prevent inflammatory bowel disease
What Are The Risks And Side Effects
While knowledge about the risks and side effects of using CBD is not conclusive, the main thing to remember is the CBD is non-toxic therefore there is no risk of an overdose. CBD oil derived from Hemp is a natural product and has no life-threatening risk, even in large doses. That said it is important that you give your pet an appropriate dosage. It is always prudent to start with a lower dose then increase if your pet appears to tolerate CBD well.
There has been a range of side effects seen in animals when given a larger than advised dose, again these are not life-threatening and range from:
- Dry mouth and increase in thirst due to a drop in saliva production
- Drowsiness due to the calming effect of CBD
- Reduced heart rate due to the calming effect
- Lower blood pressure, although this is temporary and usually a very small drop
Like any medication or supplement, there is always a risk of side effects. However, the advice is always to start small, monitor closely (it’s a good idea to keep a journal of any effects or changes in behavior that you observe), and seek specialist advice if any adverse effects persist.
What CBD Products Are Available
Although the known risks and side effects associated with administering CBD products to your pets are minimal, it is still vitally important to do your research on available products to know what you are getting.
- CBD usually comes in the form of tinctures or treats containing the product. You should always favor tinctures as this puts you more in control of the amount you’re giving your pet.
- Not all products are the same. Don’t just go for products spouting claims to be organic. Even these products may have been processed to some extent and may contain products that are harmful to dogs. Moreover, there are different ways to extract CBD from its source, which can leave residues that may impede healing. You should at least go for products that do not contain fungicides or pesticides and are suitable for animals (read the labeling fully).
- Don’t undercut your pet’s health. Like most things, cheap CBD is cheap for a reason. Higher purity equals greater cost. So look out for cheap products containing additives.
- Research the actual amount of CBD that’s in the product you are looking at. If the producer can’t give a full breakdown of the constituents within the product then steer clear.
Although it may seem a minefield, as long as you do careful research and administer your chosen product diligently, there’s no reason why your pet shouldn’t benefit from CBD.
What Are The Alternatives
Like everything that requires careful consideration, it’s always worth looking at what alternative products are available, CBD oil is no exception. This is completely understandable if you’re worried about possible side effects of CBD
- Training is always a good place to start and should probably be your first port of call. If your dog suffers from anxiety in specific scenarios then seeking advice about environmental specific training may be a better option. You should always try to boost your dog’s confidence by improving your relationship with him and trying different activities to bring about a feeling of consistency and security.
- If your dog appears to have a loss of appetite, always rule out illness first by seeking advice from a qualified vet. Having satisfied that line of inquiry, try changing your dog’s diet slightly, make it simpler by switching to plain chicken and rice. Are they building an appetite with adequate exercise? A good walk may encourage them to begin feeding again.
- If your dog suffers from pain such as arthritis, making their environment more comfortable should be your first choice before using CBD. Ensure that they have a supportive bed, they are not excessively overweight, they have appropriate access (ramps, etc) and massage or acupuncture are all worth considering as viable pain relief alternatives for arthritic dogs.
- Ensure you are well versed on what CBD oil is and where it comes from
- Research what ailments and conditions it can treat in your pets
- Pay attention to the products you are researching. What their constituents are and if they are suitable for animals.
- Finally, look at the viable alternatives that are out there.