With CBD’s growing popularity among humans for easing conditions like anxiety and pain, many pet parents are hopping on the CBD bandwagon for their furry family members.
CBD: Perhaps you’ve noticed those three little letters everywhere lately. From skin care to breakfast cereal, it seems CBD is the ingredient du jour and is being added to almost everything. But there’s good reason why. CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the active components of cannabis, yet because it is not psychoactive, it doesn’t result in the euphoric effects often associated with ingesting marijuana. However, CBD has been found to alleviate a variety of health ailments.
Because CBD is a component found in the cannabis plant, it is often confused with the mind-altering substance THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, which is what causes the “high” from marijuana. While CBD and THC both exist in the marijuana plant, CBD on its own isn’t mind- altering. In addition to marijuana, CBD can also be extracted from marijuana’s close cousin, the hemp plant. The main difference is that hemp contains almost no THC and is harvested, in part, for its health benefits.
With CBD’s growing popularity among humans for easing conditions like anxiety and pain, many pet parents are hopping on the CBD bandwagon for their furry family members. If it’s OK for humans, does that mean it’s OK for pets?
Once relegated to holistic health-care providers, CBD is skyrocketing in popularity, even in veterinary circles. Dr. Stacy Mozisek, a veterinarian and the medical director at Firehouse Animal Health Center, says there’s a growing curiosity about CBD for pets.
“Although I can’t prescribe CBD to my patients, I’m glad they’re discussing it with me,” Mozisek says. “However, it’s not a treatment in and of itself.”
Mozisek explains cats and dogs have the same endocannabinoid system as humans. Their bodies have receptors that respond to CBD the same way the human body responds, which is why CBD reacts similarly in both humans and animals. Researchers are studying CBD’s effectiveness for treating such issues like chronic pain, seizures and anxiety in animals.
“An arthritis study showed promising results on increased comfort and mobility with the use of CBD,” Mozisek says. “Another study pertaining to seizures in dogs was less profound. However, both studies prompted more research. We expect CBD to become part of our medication toolbox as we gather more data and once there’s more regulation as it pertains to animals.”
There’s currently no regulation on CBD for animals, leaving veterinarians with a looming problem.
“Many products are marketed for animal health, and almost none of them have CBD as advertised. That’s not to say reliable products don’t exist, but if people choose to give CBD to their pets, they need to purchase from someplace trustworthy and read labels,” Mozisek cautions.
Shayda Torabi, co-founder of Austin- based Restart CBD, shares a similar sentiment.
“One of the biggest reasons that Restart exists is because there wasn’t anyone available to translate all the information about CBD,” she says. “People need to trust where they’re getting their CBD from, and that’s why in addition to our online presence, we have a brick-and-mortar store.”
Restart’s CBD products are extracted from hemp, which means there’s zero to only trace amounts of THC in the company’s products. Torabi explains when purchasing CBD from an unknown source, it’s essential to look at how many milligrams are in the product. If you don’t see the dosage, you’re likely buying a product with a lot of filler.
Should you decide to try CBD for your pet, it’s important to know how to administer it and how much to give.
“Our human customers usually get their dosage through a dropper under the tongue,” Torabi says. “Since most people would rather not stick their hands in their pet’s mouth, that method doesn’t always translate well for animals. We recommend mixing the CBD oil in their pet’s food, water, or they can offer CBD-infused treats.”
The animal’s weight determines the starting dosage.
“The thing to understand about CBD is while there’s a minimum starting dosage, the upper limit for what ultimately provides relief doesn’t exist,” Torabi says. “Offer the smallest dosage first and work your way up, with 1 milligram per 10 pounds as a starting baseline.”
Unless your pet is extraordinarily talented and can share that he or she is getting relief with CBD, observation will likely be the best indicator of how it’s working.
If you’re interested in using CBD to ease pains for a fluffy family member, Mozisek and Torabi note to check with the vet first, read labels and buy from a reliable source.