Cannabidiol (CBD) seems to be all the rage these days. But should you consider adding it to your dog’s holistic wellness program?
All mammals, including dogs and humans, are blessed with a sophisticated internal cell signaling system known as the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS is a modulating system designed to restore and maintain balance in living things. Living creatures with an ECS internally produce endocannabinoids to flood the bloodstream where they then dock onto special cell receptors (CB1 and CB2) and stimulate a cellular response. It’s akin to a traffic light in a busy intersection…. sometimes the signal tells you to stop, go, or use caution, all with one simple goal--to maintain order and prevent the chaos in the system.
Cannabinoids, which are also known as phytocannabinoids (meaning produced in plants), are found in the cannabis plant. When introduced into the bloodstream, they mimic endocannabinoids, and by interacting with the same CB1 and CB2 receptors, they generate similar cellular responses. CBD is one of the major cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, and unlike its psychoactive counterpart THC, it is completely non-psychoactive and will not produce the high associated with cannabis.
So with the same biological systems in place, it’s easy to see that some of the reasons that humans take CBD are directly transferable to our furry friends too.
Here are just six reasons to consider adding CBD to your pet’s wellness program:
1) It’s safe.
CBD is completely safe for animals. According to a 2018 World Health Organization Study, CBD does not show any substantial risk with its use. Even in moderate to higher doses, there are very few significant side effects, and there is no real threshold for an acute toxicity (overdose).
CBD is also completely non-psychoactive, and there are no mind altering effects associated with its use, either in humans or animals. That same study also showed that there is no concern for substance dependence or withdrawal effects if a CBD regiment is stopped.
2) Anxiety/stress reduction.
As with humans, dogs and other pets experience real anxiety and fear. This is no secret to anyone who owns a dog. It can be situational (from storms, fireworks, or strangers) or behavioral (such as separation anxiety or abuse). Canine anxiety manifests in many ways: some obvious (like panting, pacing, or whimpering), and others that are a bit more subtle (like lack of appetite, house trained dogs suddenly having accidents inside, and even unwarranted aggression).
While much of the research is centered on human anxiety, there is some international research that shows CBD has some anti-anxiolytic (anxiety) properties in pets. (link here)
While no substitute for medical research, there is also plenty of anecdotal and observational data out there as well. A 2016 report by The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA) put out the results of survey of 632 dog owners, and nearly 50% responded that hemp (CBD) helped moderately or a great deal for their pets’ anxiety issues.
3) Pain relief.
While the medical consensus is still a bit lacking, a small 2018 study (link here) “showed a significant decrease in pain and increase in activity” in osteoarthritic dogs, which is one of the most common sources of canine pain, particularly in older dogs. While the study itself was small, it was peer reviewed and well-researched. Clearly more research is needed, but there seems to be a preliminary association between CBD and its potential analgesic properties.
In absence of volumes of medical research data, we can also turn back to anecdotal and observational data as well. In the same AHVMA 2018 study mentioned above, a full 65% of dog and cat owners felt that CBD “helped their pets either moderately or a great deal” in the area of pain relief.
4) It’s an all-natural anti-inflammatory.
Inflammation in dogs, much like with humans, can cause a whole host of potential medical issues from acute or chronic pain to cardiovascular issues. Multiple medical studies have shown CBD to be a potent anti-inflammatory in humans and animals alike. It is believed that CBD down regulates cytokine activity. Cytokines are the signaling proteins secreted by immune cells. They are the modulating factors that initiate and resolve inflammation during immune response.
Currently, severe inflammation in dogs is treated pharmaceutically with non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as Rimadyl, Deramaxx, and Previcox. As with any drug, use of them can and often does cause harmful or detrimental side effects, particularly when used for long periods of time. As demonstrated above, CBD has been shown to be safe with little to no significant side effects.
5) Seizures and epilepsy.
Sadly, seizures (dog epilepsy) are one of the most frequent neurological disorders experienced by dogs. If you have ever had the misfortune of caring for a dog having a seizure, it can be positively terrifying. However, a 2019 Colorado State University Study indicated that 89% of dogs receiving CBD showed a reduced frequency of seizures compared to dogs in the placebo group.
This was a very small study, and more extensive research is needed, but 89% is a statistically significant number that is both promising and exciting.
6) It’s ALL NATURAL and legal.
Unlike many other treatment options available for these conditions, CBD is a natural cannabis-derived product, as opposed to a pharmaceutical-based chemical. CBD oil is extracted from hemp, which is a legal cannabis plant that contains less than 0.3% THC. THC, or delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is the intoxicating cannabinoid found in marijuana. THC should never be introduced to dogs or other pets. CBD oil however, is completely safe and has little to no significant negative side effects. Nor is it addictive or toxic to animals.
More and more pet owners out there are looking for more holistic and natural approaches to the health and wellness of their beloved companions. CBD offers that.
Some final thoughts
With all this promising information, you might be tempted to go right out and pick up some CBD for your dogs. Do us a favor: DON’T. At least not yet…. until you read the following caveats.
The field of CBD research is still in its infancy due to almost a century of cannabis prohibition. It’s only relatively recently that cannabinoids have started garnering significant medical attention. As the information shows, it looks very promising at this point, but much more definitive research is warranted and needed. It should not be considered a cure-all at this point.
As your pet’s greatest advocate, PLEASE do your research before selecting any CBD product for your pet. Feel free to discuss the pros and cons of CBD wellness with your veterinarian, or better yet, a nearby holistic veterinarian that is much more likely to be knowledgeable about CBD and pet health. Demand to see the certificate of analysis (COA) for any product you are considering. It should look something like this page: Soul Blossom Pet Treats as it’s the most reliable way to make sure the product you are getting actually contains what it says it does. Also, check the list of ingredients for these products and stick to pet-formulated products--as human products may have other harmful to pet ingredients (such as gummies that may contain Xylitol, which is toxic for dogs).
One final point, and it may be a bit controversial but we here at Soul Blossom highly recommend using a broad spectrum CBD oil (in which all traces of THC are removed) products. While almost all cannabinoids are safe for pets, THC definitely is not. Dogs, in particular, have a much higher number of CB receptors on their cells than humans, and the psychoactive effects of THC are amplified. It may not kill them, but it would almost always require a costly veterinary intervention.
There are many who would argue that the minimal amount of THC found in some hemp-based CBD (<0.3%) won’t harm dogs. They may be right, but why take that chance? There are plenty of great THC-free CBD products out there. Our entire line of pet products here at Soul Blossom is THC-free.