Over the past decade and a half, an increasing amount of research has been performed on cannabidiol or CBD, one of the most abundant chemicals present in cannabis. These studies have shown CBD to have a number of medical applications for those looking to treat a wide range of aliments from anxiety and depression to chronic pain and even abnormal growths. (2010, 2018, 2016). This has lead to a spike in the manufacture and use of CBD products as both a treatment for chronic conditions and as a daily supplement, a trend that is set to continue. However, what most don’t know is that CBD may have benefits for our pets!
Perhaps this general ignorance of CBD’s viability as a supplement or treatment for dogs, cats and horses is down to the fact that many pet owners are not told about the possible benefits of cannabidiol for their animals. An article in The Guardian reminds us of the unfortunate truth “Few veterinarians know much about it; it’s not taught in US veterinary schools.” This means for most animal lovers who are curious about cannabidiol and their pet are left in the dark. This article will try to shed some light on the subject, presenting as unbiased an explanation as possible and laying out concise guide for the use of CBD for pets.
How CBD Can Help Your Pet?
In humans, CBD has a number of effects that derive from the chemical’s interactions with a number of receptors. Conveniently, the receptors are also present in dogs, cats and horses meaning that these animals can enjoy similar effects to their owners. This however, does not mean that you should begin simply feeding your animal cannabis. In fact, THC, the more commonly known chemical to be present in cannabis, due to its moderate toxicity and psychoactivity, can be deadly to cats and dogs. CBD on the other hand, is non-toxic, induces no psychoactive affects and has no serious negative side-effects. (2018)
Because, for the most part, CBD interacts with the systems of dogs, cats and horses in the same ways as it does with humans, it can be used to treat conditions that are shared across species. It surprisingly could also be said that we may know more about CBD’s interactions with animals than its interactions with humans as most of the conclusions drawn from academic studies are based on results from animal testing.
For the Treatment of Chronic Pain and Inflammation
One of the most heart wrenching experiences, as any pet owner will tell you, is seeing your furry-friend in pain. Unfortunately, as pets age and experience health problems they can suffer from chronic pain, inflammation of the joints and rheumatoid arthritis. In circumstances such as these, pet owners may understandably be hesitant about treating their companions with powerful and synthetic pharmaceuticals. Here CBD can offer an all-natural solution.
Cannabidiol’s ability to reduce pain is widely attributed to its relationship with the transient receptor potential caution channel subfamily V member 1, or TRPV1 for short. TRPV1 is a protein present in dogs, cats, horses and humans and is essential for normal function as it detects and regulates body temperature. However, it is also responsible for the sensation of pain, specifically burning. When tissue is damaged it becomes inflamed and chemicals are released that stimulate the TPRV1 making it more sensitive to painful and non-painful sensations. Obviously, this is an important mechanism as it alerts the human or animal to the damage that they have sustained. However, for those animals recovering from surgery, suffering chronic pain or inflammation, this bodily response can be agonizing and unnecessary.
A 2004 study showed that CBD has the ability to desensitize the TRPV1 and thus help mediate pain. The same study also found that CBD also has the ability to reduce the acute inflammation that may be responsible for said pain. This anti-inflammatory property of CBD has also been shown as being effective in the treatment of arthritis, a painful condition that is common in older animals. (2000)
For the Treatment of Depression and Anxiety
It is easy to imagine the lives of our pets as being simple and peaceful. They seem to enjoy blissful ignorance that shelters them from the troubles of the greater world. However, sadly this is not the case. Many pets are susceptible to the psychological strain of anxiety and depression which can manifest itself in the form of aggressive or anti-social behavior and lack of appetite and motivation.
The anti-depressant and anti-anxiety properties of CBD can primarily be attributed to two interactions. The first involves the serotonin receptor 5-HT which is present in humans, cat, dogs and horses. Serotonin is one of the most important neuro transmitters for both humans and animals. It is responsible for countless biological and psychological functions including mood, sleep, nausea and appetite. A number of studies have shown that CBD activates 5-HT receptors and as a result has been shown to be effective in the treatment of anxiety, depression, and eating disorders, conditions that are present in animals and humans. (2006, 2010, 2014) Perhaps the most animal relevant result of CBD’s interaction with the serotonin system is that, as found in a 1995, the activation of the 5-HT receptors decreased aggressive behavior in dogs, meaning that CBD could be an effective treatment for some behavioral disorders in pets.
The second interaction that gives cannabidiol to relieve anxiety and depression its ability to inhibit the re-uptake of anandamide. CBD is incredibly mobile within the body having the ability to even enter the interior of cells. This ease of motion is a result of CBD’s close connection and ability to travel with fatty acid binding proteins (FABPs). This means that CBD is often in competition with other fatty acids for access to cells. Normally, as soon as these fatty acids reach the interior of cells they are absorbed however, if CBD is restricting their access, they can remain in the body for longer.
One of the most important fatty acids in the treatment of nervous and depressed behavior is anandamide, a so-called bliss neurotransmitter that is part of the endocannabinoid system. In addition to helping regulate, appetite and the cardiovascular system, anandamide is responsible for pleasure responses and mood. By delaying the absorption of anandamide, CBD can extend its life in the body of your pet resulting in effects that increase enthusiasm for food and help reduce depressed behavior. (2008)
For the treatment of Epilepsy
One trait of CBD that attracts a great amount of media attention is its ability to treat epilepsy. This is because it has been shown to be affective method for treating drug-resistant epilepsy in children and young adults. (2014) Epilepsy can too be a life changing condition for our pets too, and in fact it is estimated that 5% of dogs suffer epileptic attacks. While most of the time this can be treated with drugs, some forms of epilepsy cannot. Furthermore, some pet owners may be unsure about these forms of treatments, preferring a natural alternative.
A study all the way back in 1981 found that with long term, daily use of CBD, can be very beneficial to people with epilepsy. This conclusion was reached after the study revealed decisive results as seven out of eight test subjects treated with CBD enjoyed “improvement of their disease state”. These positive results were mirrored by a 2014 study on severe treatment-resistant epilepsy in children that found 16 of the 19 patients treated with CBD reported an improvement in their conditions. There is growing evidence that CBD would be equally beneficial for the treatment of epileptic animals, much of this though is anecdotal. However, this is an ongoing study being conducted by the American Kennel Club on the effects of cannabidiol on dogs suffering epilepsy which should soon reveal more about how CBD could help pets with the condition.
Dosage and Methods of CBD Treatments for Your Pet
For CBD to be an effective form of treatment, dosage is essential. However, just as in humans, a little experimentation may be necessary to find the perfect dose for your pet! While this should still be done with care, you should not let this process be cause for anxiety as reasonable doses will in no way harm your pets.
That being said, All the Best Pet Care, has put together a simple dosage guide for dogs and cats. It suggests that as a basic dosing rule 1-5mg (depending on the severity of the condition that requires treatment) should be administered for every 10lb of body weight. For the treatment of horses, obviously larger doses are needed with some trainers administering up to 2,000mg of CBD to enhance pre-race performance. Smaller doses are more commonly used for horses with the equestrian CBD manufacturer Equidiol suggesting 80mg a day for anxiety and 100mg to 200mg a day for chronic pain. However, these dosages for dogs, cats and horses are only guidelines and it is important to remember that every animal is different and may require different doses.
As anybody who has lived with a pet who needs to be medicated regularly knows, getting our animal friends to take their medicine is no mean feat. Thankfully with CBD, pet owners can avoid forcing pills down throats or hiding them in food. Just apply the desired amount of tincture onto a treat or even directly into your pet’s mouth. It’s that easy! Alternatively, some edible forms of cannabidiol may be suitable like CBD honey but it is important to always make sure that they do not contain any ingredients that might hurt your pet, such as chocolate for dogs or garlic for cats.
The possible benefits of CBD for dogs, cats and horses have been known for a number of years and as cannabis-based medicines begin to feature more prominently in medical study, our understanding of these benefits is quickly expanding. While in the past much of the evidence surrounding the medical application of CBD for pets was based on purely anecdotal instances, we now have more and more empirical evidence that shows the safety of CBD and its effectiveness in treating a wide variety of conditions and illnesses.
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