How Cannabis Oil Can Help Your Pets
By Patrick Eley
CBD oil has quickly become one of the most popular supplements for pets. Owners treat their pets for cancer, arthritis, seizures, anxiety, and a host of other ailments using the supplement derived from cannabis oil. Like their human counterparts, dogs, cats–even horses–are finding CBD to be an effective treatment without the undesired side-effects typical of pharmaceutical medications.1
Before I jump into the details let me be very clear, animals should consumer hemp oil and CBD oil, avoiding THC containing cannabis oils.
Animals should consumer hemp oil and CBD oil,
THC containing cannabis oils
I can’t emphasize enough how important a distinction this is when it comes to pets, as it can mean the difference between helping your dog or cat immensely, and giving them a terrible experience.
As with most topics related to cannabis, there is plenty of confusing information on the subject of giving a cannabis-derived product to pets. My goal is to straighten out any confusions by explaining the hows and why of CBD oil for animals.
What are cannabis oil and CBD (cannabidiol)?
Cannabis oil is the extracted essential oil of the cannabis sativa plant, rich in beneficial compounds known as cannabinoids. Most people are familiar with the cannabinoid THC, but it’s the other non-psychoactive compounds that have been gaining notoriety for their healing abilities. CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid with a large amount of research demonstrating antiinflammatory, mood boosting, and disease-fighting properties.
Animals seem to benefit in very much the same way humans do when it comes to using CBD rich cannabis oils.
Results of peer-reviewed scientific studies have shown positive outcomes in treating anxiety, depression, nausea, insomnia, post-surgical pain, headaches, and arthritis to name a few. I wrote an in-depth piece on how cannabinoids can help battle many types of pain if you would like to go more in-depth (LINK TO CANNABIS AND PAIN POST). Animals seem to benefit in very much the same way humans do when it comes to using CBD rich cannabis oils.
For practical purposes you really need to understand a couple of industry distinctions:
- As a rule of thumb, when the term “Cannabis Oil” is used it means that the oil contains the full spectrum of cannabinoids, of which there are over 113, including THC. Cannabis oil almost always contains a potentially psychoactive amount of THC, the cannabinoid responsible for getting you “high.”
- When the term “Hemp Oil” is used, it refers to a specific variety of cannabis sativa that, while containing the full spectrum of cannabinoids, only contains trace amounts of THC. The amount of THC in hemp oil is typically less than 0.3% and won’t get the user “high.”
- High CBD varieties of cannabis oil may still contain a significant amount of THC, whereas pure CBD oil does not contain THC.
- Animals should consumer hemp oil and CBD oil, avoiding THC containing cannabis oils.
I repeat, this is a VERY important a distinction when it comes to pets, as it can mean the difference between helping your dog or cat immensely, and giving them a terrible experience. As I will explain later, you do NOT want to give your pet THC in any significant amount.2 Unfortunately, I have seen a fair amount of misinformation floating around, incorrectly suggesting cannabis oil for pets.3 Do not follow these false recommendations.
What Are the Benefits of CBD for Dogs?
Hemp and CBD oil can be used to treat seizures, nausea, stress, anxiety, arthritis, back pain, symptoms of cancer, and gastrointestinal issues, among other health conditions in dogs.
Evidence suggests that full-spectrum oil may be more effective because of “Entourage Effect” created by the interaction of the various cannabinoids together.4 I’ve written a blog post going in depth on the “Entourage Effect” if you would like to learn more (LINK TO POST/ARTICLE).
Veterinarian Patty Khuly says, “Most of the patients I’ve medicated with CBD oil have thrived. After recommending it to hundreds of patients (I carry it in-house now), I’ve not yet observed an adverse reaction,” referring to the treatment of “osteoarthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, allergic skin disease, appetite stimulation, and nausea relief.”5
CBD oil is safe for pets, but there are potential risks of using cannabis oil for pets?
Properly administered hemp and CBD oil has virtually no side effects.6 While it might not be the cure for your animal, trying a product isn’t going to make them worse. That’s the real reason why CBD is such a big deal right now, rarely does a substance come along that can help so much with no drawbacks. Even aspirin can be dangerous, but cannabidiol is not.
Reports of cannabis intoxication and overdose in pets are not related to pets being responsibly treated using hemp or CBD oil. It is when pets ingest a THC containing cannabis product. Typically what has happened in published cases is that the animal mistakenly consumed a THC rich cannabis product meant for their human owner. Animals are EXTREMELY sensitive to THC.
2.5 milligrams is often enough of a dose of tetrahydrocannabinol to produce a high in humans. Most pets weigh far less than even the smallest adults and therefore can be affected by much lower doses. Even a single milligram of THC can have an adverse effect on pets. Published reports in peer-reviewed scientific journals detail accounts of psychosis, vomiting, inability to stand, and trembling that often last several days.2,7,8 With that said, do not try to treat your pet with cannabis oil, even if it doesn’t get you high.
Nearly all veterinary CBD preparations are derived from hemp oil, which makes a lot of sense since hemp never contains an amount of THC that could affect your pet. Safe even at high doses, cannabidiol has no known negative interactions with other medications taken simultaneously and human studies show a potential synergistic effect when taking CBD in conjunction with other prescribed medication. You may even notice your dog or cat noticeably happier shortly after receiving a dose. As I did my best to explain earlier, hemp oil is an excellent supplement for pets since it doesn’t contain appreciable THC, but does provide the full spectrum of cannabinoids leading to the “Entourage Effect.” If you want to play it safe CBD oil guarantees no THC.
How does your pet take CBD oil?
Animals should ingest CBD and hemp oil orally for optimal effects.9 CBD oil is packaged in pill, dog treat, and dropper form. Capsules can be given with or without food. Treats containing CBD are self-explanatory, and CBD oil with a dropper can allow pet owners to dose the oil directly onto their pets food.
Creams that can be applied to the pet’s skin are also available. The drawbacks here are that transdermal absorption isn’t always consistent and animals will often lick the oil off of them before they have had a chance to absorb it. Start with a low dose, many products start dosing at 1-2 milligrams per day and if the treatment is being prescribed by a veterinarian, you should absolutely follow their direction.
Where can owners get CBD oil for their pets?
With the recent DEA rescheduling of CBD to a medically valuable substance, it has become readily available both locally and online. It’s common to find CBD products in pet stores, health food stores, and veterinarian offices. Use a reputable product so there is no question of purity. I’m really happy to see the interest in CBD and I hope this helped you understand how you can aid your pet.
1Kentucky Equine Research Staff. “Hemp Oil for Horses.” Kentucky Equine Research, 23 Apr. 2018, ker.com/equinews/hemp-oil-horses/.
2Whalley, B J, et al. “Species-Specific Susceptibility to Cannabis-Induced Convulsions.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29457829.
4Valastro, C, et al. “Characterization of Endocannabinoids and Related Acylethanolamides in the Synovial Fluid of Dogs with Osteoarthritis: a Pilot Study.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 6 Nov. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29110674.
5Khuly, Patty. “What’s the Deal with CBD?” Veterinary Practice News, 4 July 2018, www.veterinarypracticenews.com/whats-the-deal-with-cbd/.
6Gamble, L J, et al. “Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 23 July 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30083539.
7Janeczek, A, et al. “Marijuana Intoxication in a Cat.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 11 July 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29996908.
8Brutlag, A, and H Hommerding. “Toxicology of Marijuana, Synthetic Cannabinoids, and Cannabidiol in Dogs and Cats.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Nov. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30342565.
9Bartner, L R, et al. “Pharmacokinetics of Cannabidiol Administered by 3 Delivery Methods at 2 Different Dosages to Healthy Dogs.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, July 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30026641.