If you think the science behind CBD wellness benefits for humans is lacking, it’s even more tenuous for dogs and other pets. This is not because those wellness benefits do not exist, but it's just that so little research has been done to date on the topic. That’s beginning to change a bit, but for many years, there was little to no research in the field of holistic pet wellness and CBD.
Now that the CBD market for pets is exploding almost as fast as it is for humans, it’s time to take a look at the science behind the hype. Unlike CBD in humans, where many can just substitute their own personal anecdotal experiences with CBD to make up for the lack of medical research, it becomes a bit trickier for our four-legged friends.
So what does science say? Why should you consider CBD for your dogs?
DO YOU JUST MEAN DOGS, OR PETS IN GENERAL?
First of all, we here at Soul Blossom are admittedly dog people. We breed them, we raise them, show them, and participate in other dog sports with them. We also adore sharing our lives with them. We generally have between three to five dogs running around our home at any given time, so they are definitely our spirit animals. However, we also value the enrichment of other animals too. Pets, in general, add to our collective well-being and we certainly understand that.
It may seem that we are overly focused on the wellness benefits for canines, but we do not mean to be discriminatory against other species. We are pretty pet-species inclusive here.
WHAT IS CBD?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of many active chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant known as cannabinoids (also known as phytocannabinoids). Cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) that exists within many animals, including most mammals.
Almost all cannabinoids are non-psychoactive (they do not cause the high associated with marijuana). In fact, only one cannabinoid is responsible for that, delta9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC). While THC is decidedly bad (and probably very scary) for dogs, the overwhelming majority of cannabinoids, including CBD, are completely safe for dogs.
NOTE: We strongly advocate against introducing any THC-included products to any dog or pet, ever.
HOW DOES CBD WORK IN PETS?
CBD works in pets much in the same way as it works in humans. All mammals are blessed with an ECS, which is a molecule signaling system of neurotransmitters contained within cells. When the brain senses an imbalance within any number of human or animal conditions, it will produce and send endocannabinoids to the targeted area to restore balance (otherwise known as homeostasis) in the system. Endocannabinoids dock onto cells via special cell receptors known as C1 and C2.
Phytocannabinoids, such as the ones found in cannabis, essentially mimic endocannabinoids produced in living creatures and also bind to the C1 and C2 receptors of the ECS. In much the same way that endocannabinoids restore balance within a living organism, it is believed that phytocannabinoids have that same relative effect.
IS CBD SAFE FOR PETS?
By almost all accounts, CBD is perfectly safe for use in moderate doses in most mammals, including humans, dogs, and most other pets that have a spine. However, just because CBD has been mostly deemed safe for pet consumption, it does not mean that all CBD products are all safe for dogs and other pets. Some human-grade gummies for example (not ours, by the way) contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is safe for humans but toxic for dogs. In addition, some human-grade tinctures contain essential oils as flavorings that are best to be avoided for dogs and other pets.
It’s important, as a consumer and an advocate for your pets, to carefully scrutinize all ingredients in any product before giving it to your furry friends. It’s also best to stick with CBD products that are specifically formulated for pets and offered by trusted distributors. As always, it’s also a good idea to discuss introducing CBD for your pets with your veterinarian. Just keep in mind that as with any new science products out there, many vets are woefully undereducated on the potential benefits of new products, at least in our experience.
CBD FOR CANINE GENERAL WELLNESS
This is an area that is mostly governed by anecdotal evidence rather than placebo-controlled scientific studies. However, there is some value in the power of observation. It has been demonstrated that the ECS can provide homeostasis for some living things, so theoretically, things that impact the ECS could be considered balancing wellness agents. After all, a dog (or other animal) that is in a state of homeostasis is healthy and happy, in theory.
DOSING, PUPPIES, AND OTHER FINAL CONSIDERATIONS
We have a pretty detailed tutorial on Dosing for Dogs and encourage you to read it.
While we do believe in the overall wellness benefits of CBD, we do not suggest its use for young puppies. We are also responsible, preservation dog breeders, and we strongly believe that the puppy socialization process is best achieved through human and puppy interactions alone. That is why CBD should not be introduced during this process.