CBD And Pets: What You Need To Know
Perform a quick Google search on “CBD and pets” and you’ll come across numerous websites by CBD companies that feature their latest and greatest CBD products for dogs and cats.
The sheer variety of products even rival some of the offerings for humans. You can find hemp supplement capsules with CBD, CBD liquids and oils, CBD topical ointments, and even CBD infused biscuits and treats available in a variety of flavors. One company offers pet owners their choice of biscuit flavors including blueberry cranberry, coconut carob (a substitute for chocolate which is toxic for cats and dogs), kale and carrot, or even peanut butter banana.
For some pet owners, these products have been a godsend.
CBD (cannabidiol) is a compound found in the cannabis sativa plant that is non-addictive and doesn’t get you high like THC. Over the last few years, it has gained immense popularity as a miracle drug that can be useful for treating a variety of different ailments. People today use CBD to treat different neurological disorders and seizures, symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis like spasticity and muscle spasms, chronic pain, inflammation, anxiety, arthritis, and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease – just to name a few. Indeed, CBD has been shown to be effective in numerous preclinical studies involving rats and mice and also in clinical studies involving human subjects.
So with all of this research pointing to its safety and efficacy, doesn’t that mean that CBD medications would be equally as effective for pets? Shouldn’t the use of cannabinoids in veterinary medicine be ok?
The answers to these questions is maybe.
First off, it’s important to understand that the endocannabinoid system (ECS) – which consists of the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, the endocannabinoid ligands anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), and their metabolic enzymes – is present in nearly all animals including cats and dogs. In fact, most of the knowledge we have today about the ECS today originated from the experimental level through pre-clinical testing of individual substances in mice, rats and guinea pigs (i.e. laboratory rodents).
Second, according to a 2016 review article published in Veterinarni Medicina by a team of researchers from the Czech Republic, “Compared to reports from laboratory rodents, there are a much smaller number of published papers dealing with pre-clinical testing of cannabinoids in other species (rabbits, ferrets, cats, dogs), and an even smaller number of reliable sources are available to date concerning the clinical use of cannabinoids in veterinary medicine for both companion and large animals. Indeed, the majority of articles concerns actually marijuana poisoning and its treatment rather than therapeutic applications.”
So far, there has been research into the role of anandamide, CB1 and CB2 receptor agonist WIN 55212-2, and THC in animals (rabbits and monkeys) with glaucoma. The role of endogenous fatty acid amide analogue of the endocannabinoid anandamide – termed palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) was investigated for tissue protection. PEA and PLR 120 (an analogue of PEA) was also investigated in cats with skin lesions and dermatological disorders involving mast cell hyperactivity. In dogs, PEA was tested on dogs with allergic inflammatory reactions (skin allergies) induced by different immunological and non-immunological stimuli. WIN-55,212-2 was tested for treating canine cancer, cannabinoids were used to stimulate appetite for animals in palliative care, and the antiemetic (relief of nausea and vomiting) effects of nabilone (synthetic CB1 and CB2 agonist) and THC were tested on cats and ferrets.
Finally, we are not aware of any studies conducted on the safety and efficacy of CBD for dogs and cats to date. There are no guidelines for dosage, no guidelines on what strains of CBD are safe to use, and there is not information about any possible side effects or interactions with other medications. However, for dogs and cats, the veterinarian-recommended, ready-made hemp based supplement Canna-Pet is presently available which does contain CBD.
But before you begin stocking up on cases of peanut banana flavored CBD treats for Fido, there may be a few other things you should consider beforehand.
Inaccurate cannabinoid content
Due to a lack of transparency and regulation, the quality and consistency of CBD products on the market can vary considerably. But for dogs and cats, this would be a serious issue to consider – especially if the cannabinoid content in the product doesn’t match the cannabinoid product on the label.
Marijuana toxicity is a major issue for pets. THC – the main psychoactive ingredient in the cannabis sativa plant – can cause mild symptoms like lethargy, altered response to visual or verbal stimuli, injected (blood engorged) conjunctiva and behavior changes, but it can also cause severe symptoms as well. Dogs and cats that ingest marijuana can display ataxia, hypothermia, hypotension, bradycardia, ptyalism, emesis, anorexia, urinary incontinence, diarrhea and dysphoria (vocalization). Coma and death are also possible in severe cases. This is why it’s important to know exactly what cannabinoids are in your product and in what concentrations.
Unfortunately, when the FDA tested some CBD products for pets, they found that some included noticeable amounts of THC along with other cannabinoids not shown on the labels. Their lab results also found that some products contained very little CBD content, or less CBD content than claimed on the label, or had no CBD at all!
Be sure the content in your CBD pet products have been tested by a reputable third party testing lab to ensure you’re getting exactly what you paid for.
Unverified medical claims
In 2015, the FDA issued warning letters to several CBD companies that marketed products for pets. In the letters, the The FDA took issue with the way these products were being marketed.
For example, one company claimed that its CBD pet products for dogs and cats could:
– “Reduce cancer-associated symptoms”
– “Aid in decreasing severity of dementia”
– “Reduce bronchial spasms in asthmatics”
– “Inhibits cancer cell growth”
– “Reduces blood sugar levels”
– “Reduces inflammation”
– “Reduces risk of artery blockage”
– “Slows bacterial growth”
– “Treats psoriasis”
Its CBD pet products were also described to be:
In marketing their most expensive CBD capsule product, they claimed they were meant “for pets with extreme issues, who require larger doses of CBD. Most commonly these are pets suffering from seizures, although we often see pets with cancers and aggressive tumors, severe chronic pain, and in end-of-life care using our products.”
To be clear, CBD for pets may one day in the future prove to be useful for treating some of these conditions and display some of these therapeutic effects. Unfortunately, the science today doesn’t back these claims up. Again, we are not aware of any controlled studies that have been published that deal with the use of CBD products for dogs or cats as of this writing.
Other things to consider
Like human CBD products, you should also be aware of several other things when buying CBD products for your pet.
Extraction methods can vary by product, so look for companies or products that use the leading method of safe extraction today: the supercritical CO2 method. This results in a safe, clean, pure, top quality extraction with a clean taste.
Labeling is also important. The label should clearly show the manufacturer/distributor, manufacturing date and batch number, serving size information, hemp oil content, CBD content, and other constituents including other cannabinoid content if any.
Finally, consider where the CBD is sourced from. Although U.S. produced CBD is generally regarded as high quality, it is not widely available across the country. CBD produced from Canadian and European hemp is generally trustworthy as well. Look for certified organic, non-GMO cannabis that is produced by reputable growers in reliable jurisdictions if possible and avoid products produced from hemp grown in Russia or China.
Although we firmly believe that cannabinoid-based products will eventually revolutionize human as well as veterinary medicine, the science needs to catch up first. Be cautious, do your research, and always consult your veterinarian before beginning your pets on any experimental treatment involving cannabinoids.
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