The Lowdown on CBD
As CBD has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, it has become a staple on pharmacy shelves across the country. Lately, it’s begun to make more frequent appearances in pet stores too, as animal owners seek to capitalize on some of its well-known benefits.
For the uninitiated, CBD is one of over 80 different chemical compounds called cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis plant. Unlike delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD’s well-loved sister, CBD is not psychoactive or high inducing.
In recent years, CBD has gained traction nationally as a useful therapy for a variety of conditions, including pain management, arthritis, anxiety, seizures, and even cancer. Although its use hasn’t been extensively researched (due to regulatory hurdles), it continues to grow in popularity and has shown up in everything from gummy bears to infused water. Notably, CBD shares important metabolic pathways with a class of drugs called NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen. These pathways control critical biological responses from inflammation control to blood clotting.
As CBD became the decade’s hottest wellness trend, many turned to it to treat their pets for things like pain management, arthritis, seizures, and other health problems.
The American Kennel Club’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Jerry Klein, says that CBD can additionally be used for its anti-inflammatory properties, cardiac benefits, anti-nausea effects, appetite stimulation, anti-anxiety impact, and possible anti-cancer benefits.
Because of the growing interest and promise in CBD as a treatment, more studies are coming. The AKC itself is sponsoring a study through the Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences that plans to assess the use of CBD in epileptic dogs. They hope that this will be the first study of its kind to gain scientific data on the use of CBD in dogs with this condition.
A Note on Dosing
Most pet-friendly CBD comes in an oil form, although there are some topical treatments too. For either to be effective, correct dosing is key.
According to PetMD, studies on using CBD for dogs with arthritis or seizures generally use a dose between 2-8 mg/kg, with most papers erring on the lower side of that estimate (roughly 1-2 milligrams per pound of body weight), twice daily.
They suggest that this dosage has proven both safe and effective for conditions such as arthritis and seizures.
However, if you are considering using CBD to treat your pet, it’s important to be confident about sourcing. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found that many CBD products actually contain little, if any, CBD. Getting medicines from a trusted source is as important as ever.
Overall, research shows that CBD itself seems to be very safe in dogs and cats.
However, unlike CBD, THC ingestion can be toxic and cause serious problems for pets. As legalization spreads and cannabis products are mainstays in many homes, pets are getting into them as well. Over the past 6 years, Pet Poison Helpline experienced a 448% increase in marijuana cases.
“Accidental ingestion can lead to THC toxicity, meaning, essentially, they are high.” Dr. Gary Richter, owner and medical director of Montclair Veterinary Hospital in Oakland, California told PetMD. “Depending on how significantly a pet has been overdosed, the effects of that can be quite long-lasting, even days.”
Symptoms of marijuana toxicity in pets include lethargy, dilated pupils, glassy eyes, a dazed expression, difficulty walking, inability to eat, and vomiting. Other symptoms can include a low or high heart rate, whining or crying, and agitation. In serious cases, pets can have trouble regulating temperature, tremors, seizures, and potentially coma. Signs of toxicity can be seen anywhere from a few minutes to 12 hours after consumption.
If you think THC toxicity is possible, take your pet to the vet as soon as possible. The more serious effects of THC toxicity should be watched closely by a professional to prevent complications.
On the whole, cannabis consumption isn’t life-threatening and risks are pretty rare. In fact, there is no documented lethal dose for THC in dogs. In fact, a dose of THC 1,000 times greater than the dose needed for a dog to feel “high” is still not lethal, according to Dr. Richter.
Although this probably doesn’t need to be said, exercise caution by keeping your edibles out of a pet’s reach. If you’re smoking, consider giving your pet a bit of space.
If your pet is having a medical emergency, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680. They are available to help 24/7/365.