If you’re reading this, you’ve probably heard about CBD, the mightily praised extract derived from cannabis. For humans, CBD is already a more than a recommended supplement known to remediate a number of health conditions including epilepsy, anxiety, and cancer.
But how about for your dog? Does CBD potentiate the same effects (or more) when you administer it to your dog? To understand what CBD brings to the nutrition table for your pets let’s take a more in-depth look at CBD oil.
But first, what’s CBD?
Short for cannabidiol, CBD is a chemical extract of the Cannabis plant, or marijuana if you like. CBD is not the only beneficial compound found in marijuana, as a matter of fact, the plant contains at least 80 chemical compounds with known health benefits.
CBD is, however, unique in that unlike most other beneficial derivatives of cannabis (including THC, the other main constituent) it is non-psychotic. Meaning you (or your pet) won’t get a high from consuming it.
When CBD and a slew of other active compounds are delivered in an oil-based carrier like hemp seed or coconut oil, it is called CBD oil. This mix is thought to be more potent too, since the oils, usually derived from the cannabis plant contain other cannabis derivatives.
It’s a known fact that CBD (and other endocannabinoids) work best in the company of each other. In the words of Dr. Tim Shu, founder of VETCBD a for-profit pet cannabis enterprise based in California, ‘when you use cannabinoids together, it’s more effective than separately.’
CBD works by modulating the Endocannabinoid system – a complexly intricate biological system implicated in the maintenance of the body’s overall health. Dogs, like humans, have this system too, which is why CBD qualifies as a viable health supplement for dogs.
How will CBD oil benefit your dog?
While there’s a shortage of clinical trials emphasizing cannabidiol’s efficacy as a drug or supplement for pets, there’s no lack of researches and lab experiments dedicated to proving its health benefits.
Per those researches, cannabidiol will genuinely provide relief for pet health conditions ranging from anxiety, tumors, nausea, seizures, gastrointestinal problems, to arthritis and a host of other diseases.
CBD oil potentiates these effects by interacting with the body’s native endocannabinoid system. This system is essentially a network of receptors and associated neurons and tissue.
CBD oil, which is an endocannabinoid, binds to these receptors altering the way your dog’s body handles and reacts to specific physiological processes. In the case of arthritis, for instance, it has been shown that CBD actively curbs the inflammation that is complicit to the progression of the disease.
In the absence of CBD, inflammation, an otherwise natural and sometimes beneficial physiological process proceeds without check. CBD corrects the positive feedback mechanism that sustains this mechanism, in the process hindering your dog’s body from literally bringing harm to itself.
CBD’s marked prowess at retarding the inflammatory mechanism also makes it a potentially effective treatment for other pet health conditions like asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, and pancreatitis. And there’s a vast tranche of anecdotal evidence to corroborate that fact.
A supplement/drug therapy with minimal risks and virtually no side effects
CBD is not like the typical prescription drug from your vet. It practically has no side effects and on proper dosage portends only the most minimal risks of contraindications.
Although some research suggests that CBD oil might trigger anxiety, diarrhea, vomiting, and dizziness, in most cases they were secondary to overdosing test subjects. So when you administer CBD oil, you’re doing with the confidence that your dog has everything to gain and practically nothing to lose.
That’s not to say side effects don’t occur. They do, but only in very rare instances. As Dr. John Faught, the chief medical officer of the Firehouse Medical center rightly notes, in these instances where they occur the effects are usually very mild. ‘Ataxia and drowsiness are the only real issues we have seen,’ he says.
Administering CBD oil the right way and in the correct dosage
CBD oil is typically administered orally. Although some claim the easier approach of applying it topically on the skin produces the same effects, the hair on most of our furry little friends makes this particularly impractical. So, unless you have a hairless pet, you’re better off passing it as their new favorite smoothie.
Again, contraindications are a rarity with CBD oil. Which means you’re free to pair CBD oil with most treats, drugs or traditional medication. In fact, per a number of new research, derivatives of cannabis work better when they are paired synergistically with traditional medications.
When it comes to dosage, there are no conventionally clear medical guidelines specifying what the best applicable dosage regime is. And that’s because the CBD-for- pets industry is still at its infancy. With time and as more research emerges to back up the many proven benefits of CBD, expect this murky area to clear up.
Dr. Cornelia Wagner CEO of the Portland’s Hawthorne veterinary Clinic, however, recommends keeping the upper limit of dosage for your dog pegged at 1mg/kg/day if you’re administering orally.
If you have a 40kg dog, for example, the recommended dosage per day shouldn’t exceed 40mg. Smaller doses work just fine too. In fact, Dr. Wagner recommends starting with something smaller, say 0.5mg/kg/day before proceeding to work your way up to the upper limit slowly.
Watch out for any adverse effects when you commence dosage, if they’re none (which is usually the case) it means your dog has adapted well to its new CBD inclusive diet. In the unlikely case of an adverse effect, stop administering the CBD oil immediately.
Once the symptoms have regressed you can start again but this time with a much lower dosage. If you do plan on increasing dosage, Dr. Wagner recommends limiting the increases to no more than 0.05ml/mg every week. This allows your pet more room to adjust appropriately to the dosage changes.
Procuring CBD oil for your dog
The availability of CBD oil and ease with which you can buy it are generally hinged on the legal status of cannabis in your state. If your state has cannabis legalized, you shouldn’t have any problems procuring it online from the many CBD e-commerce outlets or your nearest pet shop.
Some states like California, however, require a medical cannabis card for access to cannabis-related products. While this license is primarily intended for personal use, there’s no legislation saying you cannot use it to procure CBD oil for your pets.
You just have to exercise all measures of due diligence when following the dosage requirements outlined above.
What if my state outlaws cannabis? Well, you still have an option. Hemp products which are by far legal also contain significant amounts of CBD. And unlike cannabis which must undergo processing to remove its psychoactive component, hemp comes by default with meager amounts of THC.
Finally, as a dog owner, if you do decide to tow the path of CBD oil, it’s always a good idea to run the idea by your vet first, especially if you’re going to use hemp. Your vet probably has a deeper understanding of your dog’s health condition, if there are any vulnerabilities or susceptibilities, he/she would be the first to spot it and advise you accordingly.