CBD Oil for dogs & cats: What pet health problems can CBD treat?
What is CBD oil for pets and why is it becoming so popular?
Since the legalization of cannabis in Canada in 2018 there has been an explosion of cannabis products and their derivatives. CBD is an acronym for cannabidiol, and it is a natural substance found in both cannabis and hemp. CBD oil for dogs & cats is an extraction from typically the hemp plant. Anecdotally, CBD oils is said to help with pet’s anxiety, anti-inflammatory conditions such as pet pain management, seizures, cancer, arthritis & joint pain as well as digestive issues.
For most pet owners, the first question they seem to have is won’t my dog or cat get high from taking CBD oil? Typically, the answer is NO depending on which plant the CBD is derived from. What gets dogs or cats high and is dangerous for pets is THC. THC also known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol is what is found in cannabis that has psychoactive properties and can result in pets in emergency clinic. Both THC and CBD can be extracted from cannabis. However, when we say CBD oil for dogs & cats, we are referring to extraction from hemp only. Note that to be classified as hemp, it has to have “no more than 0.3 percent (by dry weight) of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).”1
How is CBD oil extracted from hemp?
There are two ways of extracting CBD oil for pets from the hemp flower.
Solvents – using either petroleum or chemical forms of extraction such as hexane and butane. In the case of using chemical extraction, there will be residue left from these solvents. Alternatively, there are natural solvents like Olive oil, which can be used to extract CBD oil safely. Please make sure to ask the manufacturer, which solvent is used to extract your CBD oil for dogs & cats.
CO2 extraction –this uses carbon dioxide under high pressure and with low temperatures to isolate only CBD and strip away chlorophyll. According to information from a producer of pet CBD oil, this can result in a 99.9% purity in the CBD isolate.
Is it better to have CBD isolate or full spectrum CBD oil for dogs or cats?
We believe in full spectrum or accompanying effects of whole foods and in the case of pet CBD oil, that will also be the case. A study conducted on this found “plant constituents improve the dose-response are supported by some recent reports showing that CBD in a standardized Cannabis sativa extract is more potent or efficacious than pure CBD. “The higher efficiency of plant extract might be explained by additive or synergistic interactions between CBD and minor phytocannabinoids or non-canna- binoids presented in the extracts”2
In Canada, some of these may be labelled as hemp terpenes. Apawthecary Hemp terpenes provides one such product for dogs & cats which anecdotally has been given great reviews by customers. They have Apawthecary Pets flavoured options in bacon or seafood. However, if all you can find is a CBD isolate, that is a great option.
Is pet CBD oil legal? Why can’t vets prescribe CBD oil for dogs & cats
Depends on where you are located.
In the USA, CBD derived from hemp is legal based on the 2018 Farm Bill. Cannabis is still illegal in the USA. However, despite CBD oil being legal, there are limited studies on the impact on companion animals as CBD was illegal. This is because hemp and cannabis had been illegal in the US and that stifled research into pet CBD oils.
In Canada, the Cannabis Act made it legal to process CBD from hemp. However, the Cannabis Act does not include Canadian vets as practitioners and as such, your vet cannot prescribe CBD oil for your cat or dog. In addition, there are limited studies on the impact of CBD on pets.
However, before you utilize CBD oil for your cat or dog, we’d recommend you have a discussion with your vet about your intentions and the sources of your CBD oil. Despite, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) not favouring CBD oil for pets, most vets will have a candid conversation with you as they have your pet’s interest at heart.
How does CBD affect dogs and cats?
Without going into too much on the endocannabinoid system, think of the system as a signalling system in the brain and throughout the body. This system controls appetite, pain, nausea, memory, mood and inflammation.
You can look here https://www.apawthecarypets.com/howitworks for how it all works.
Basically, CBD acts indirectly on receptors in the brain and throughout the body of the dog or cat. More research is being conducted to find out how.
What health problems can you help using CBD oil for dogs & cats
Anecdotally, CBD oil for dogs and cats has been reported by pet owners as helping the following conditions:
- Anxiety, noise phobia
- Pain / Inflammation & joint pain
- Nausea/ Loss of appetite / Digestive issues
- Epilepsy & seizures
A 2019 study entitled “Canadian dog owners’ use and perceptions of cannabis products” collected data on what pet owners are using cannabinoid treatments for.
They found that 79.8% of respondents had purchase cannabis products for their dogs. “The most common use of canine cannabis products was for pain relief (72.3%). This was followed by reduction of inflammation (47.0%) and relief from anxiety (39.8%).”3
For more info see “Perceived efficacy of hemp or marijuana products for pet health conditions, as compared to conventional medications.” Is there any scientific evidence of the efficacy of CBD oil for these conditions?
CBD oil for dog cancer/ cat cancer
As pets become a more integral family member, we are seeing or hearing of what seems to be an increasing amount of pet cancer. It would be factually inaccurate to say that cancer rates in dogs and cats are going up. This is partly because cancer is not very well reported in pets. When our pet passed away, the vets did not take information on the type of breed, what kind of cancer he passed away from etc. That tells me that this is likely the case for most pets who pass away from cancer in North America. As a result, there may not be an appropriate benchmark to use to estimate whether rates are going up or not. However, it seems to be more common to hear of someone you know having a pet pass away from cancer.
Anecdotally, at Moonlight Dog Cafe Pet Store we’d guestimate that of our older dog customers who pass away about 3 out of 5 have cancer. “Veterinarians know less about the specifics of cancer in animals because much less research has been done on malignancies in animals.”4 As such, cancer research and treatment for our pets is becoming increasingly important.
CBD oil for pets has been touted to be an effective treatment for pain management and nausea reduction with dogs or cats with cancer.
A study that looked at neuroblastoma (NBL), which is a common solid cancer in children found that both THC “and cbd in particular—reduced the viability of NBL cells.”5
In addition, the study concluded that CBD impeded the growth of tumours and could be used to reduce the chemotherapy dose and minimize toxicity. Basically, the study found that CBD can slow the growth of tumours.
CBD oil for pet arthritis and joint pain
We all get old and our pets are no different. When dog / cat arthritis or joint pain hits, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) tend to be the primary option that vets prescribe. A common NSAID would be Meloxicam. There are quite a few risks to using NSAIDs. For example, “more than one dose of meloxicam in cats can cause kidney failure or death.”6 Note that NSAIDs side effects range from vomiting, diarrhea, to stomach and intestinal ulcers, “kidney failure, liver failure and death.” 6
A study on osteoarthritic dogs found that CBD was perceived to make the dogs more comfortable and active. In addition, they found that “no significant difference was noted in BUN, creatinine, or phosphorus between dogs treated with the CBD oil vs. the placebo oil, while NSAID treatment resulted in a higher creatinine concentration.”7
However, one other portion of the study that needs to be noted was that the liver enzymes (especially ALP) seemed to rise for dogs on CBD. Note that besides the side effects of NSAIDs this doesn’t seem to be much but is a good thing to check for. “Another study demonstrated the mechanism by which CBD inhibits inflammatory and neuropathic pain, two of the most difficult types of chronic pain to treat.”
CBD oil for dogs with seizures
For dogs with seizures, Gabapentin is used as a form of treatment. NSAIDs or opioids are sometimes prescribed with Gabapentin, which help with pain management as well. Note that Gabapentin is not FDA approved for dogs but has been used by vets in treatment of dog seizures and chronic pain.
There are quite a few side effects related to Gabapentin, as the drug is eliminated through the kidneys. There is also a recent FDA warning about severe breathing difficulty in humans due to Gabapentin.
CBD has been studied as an option for reducing dog seizures. “Dogs in the CBD group had a significant (median change, 33%) reduction in seizure frequency, compared with the placebo group.”8 Basically, the study found that dog seizures were reduced with CBD oil. Note that the Colorado State University study combined CBD oil with antiepileptic treatment and they stated that more research is required.
What about CBD oil for nausea, anxiety, noise phobia and digestive issues in dogs and cats?
A study in 2014 found that CBD oil could decrease cat or dog anxiety. There is still more research that needs to be done for CBD oil in pets. For information on pet owners’ perception on the impact of CBD on these conditions, see here.
Moving ahead with giving CBD oil to your cat or dog?
Here are a few tips to consider when you are buying CBD oil for dogs and cats.
- Make sure it is derived from Hemp not Cannabis
- Opt for full spectrum CBD oil where available
- Obtain certificates of analysis from the CBD oil manufacturer
- Purchase CBD oil for pets derived from organic products as hemp can be full of pesticides or toxins from the soil. Purchase organic cbd oil for dogs or cats.
- Utilize the liquid version of CBD oil as you can adjust the dosage
- Check for side effects such as dry mouth / excessive drinking, vomiting, impaired mental function, dizziness, overactive appetite. And if you use long-term, check the liver enzymes by getting blood work done.
CBD oil dosage for your dog or cat?
Dosages are typically based on weight and what issue you are dealing with. Read the dosage directions carefully from the manufacturer. If the CBD oil is not showing any signs of working, manufacturers usually provide information on how to increase the dosage safely.
Is CBD oil safe for dogs and cats
A lot has been said about CBD being natural and as such there is an assumption that it cannot hurt. That is not the case.
Although, CBD is a derivative that is extracted, it is not in its natural form of hemp. You could overdo pet CBD Oil and as we said above, check for side effects.
Side effects of CBD oil for pets include dry mouth / excessive drinking, vomiting, impaired mental function, dizziness, overactive appetite. And if you use long-term, check the liver enzymes by getting blood work done.
Alternatives or enhancements to CBD oil for pets
Potential treatments to Dog / Cat Anxiety along with or without CBD:
- For dogs, you could focus on training with a positive enhancement dog trainer or try a new sport such as “nose work”.
- Also, ensure that you are giving your dog the appropriate amount of exercise based on its breed and temperament.
- For both dogs and cats, you can try calming pheromone sprays or supplements such as Adaptil or Feliway. Examples of potential alternatives to CBD oil can include Naturpet Home Alone, which is a herbal formulation for pet anxiety or stress.
Potential aid to Dog Arthritis or joint pain along with or without CBD:
- Work to help mobility issues by placing no slip surfaces on floors lacking traction, or else try dog socks for arthritic dogs
- Help your pet stretch to prevent stiffness in joints. This can be done as preventive medicine. You could stretch the hip flexors and shoulder flexors gently and slowly. For the benefits and how to stretch your dog to prevent stiffness, see here.
- Naturpet also makes a herbal formulation called NaturPet Joint Care, which is helpful for easing joint inflammation. For long-term management, you might want to consider Fluid Recoverex-Plus aimed at arthritic dogs and with green lipped mussel.
CBD oil for dogs and cats will surely become even more popular as more studies get underway and Health Canada approves certain formulations. What is known now based on the research studies above looks promising. Always remember to do your research or consult a veterinarian when in doubt.
- Overcoming the Bell-Shaped Dose-Response of Cannabidiol by Using Cannabis Extract Enriched in Cannabidiol PP> Vol.6 No.2, February 2015 Ruth Gallily, Zhannah Yekhtin, Lumír Ondřej Hanuš https://www.scirp.org/html/5-2500582_53912.htm
- Canadian dog owners’ use and perceptions of cannabis products. The Canadian Veterinary Journal = La Revue Veterinaire Canadienne, 30 Jun 2019, 60(7):749-Kogan LR, Hellyer PW, Silcox S, Schoenfeld-Tacher R 755https://europepmc.org/article/med/31281193#id576926
- Causes of Cancer https://www.merckvetmanual.com/special-pet-topics/cancer-and-tumors/causes-of-cancer.
- In vitro and in vivo efficacy of non-psychoactive cannabidiol in neuroblastoma>Pediatric Oncology Vol 23 (2016) > https://current-oncology.com/index.php/oncology/article/view/2893/2085
- Get the Facts about Pain Relievers for Pets https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/animal-health-literacy/get-facts-about-pain-relievers-pets#Effects.
- Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs Lauri-Jo Gamble, Jordyn M. Boesch, Christopher W. Frye, Wayne S. Schwark, Sabine Mann, Lisa Wolfe, Holly Brown, Erin S. Berthelsen and Joseph J. Wakshlag https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2018.00165/full
- Randomized blinded controlled clinical trial to assess the effect of oral cannabidiol administration in addition to conventional antiepileptic treatment on seizure frequency in dogs with intractable idiopathic epilepsy by Stephanie McGrath, Lisa R. Bartner, Sangeeta Rao, Rebecca A. Packer, and Daniel L. Gustafson. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, June 1, 2019, Vol. 254, No. 11, Pages 1301-1308 https://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/full/10.2460/javma.254.11.1301
- Antidepressant-like and anxiolytic-like effects of cannabidiol: a chemical compound of Cannabis sativa. http://www.eurekaselect.com/122699/article