Cannabidiol, or CBD, is becoming a hot topic in the pet universe, and though there is still a lot to learn and be aware of, it has the potential to boost the quality of life for many pets. CBD is a naturally occurring compound, generally derived from hemp, which is the sister parent of marijuana. However, CBD does not contain THC, the substance known to produce a “high” or psychoactive effect.
Few people realize that the human body produces its own cannabinoids, but researchers believe that CBD encourages the body to produce more cannabinoids, and studies are starting to support the belief that CBD can benefit patients struggling with ailments such as arthritis, seizures, anxiety, and more. Anecdotally, many pet parents are reporting positive results for pets using CBD.
Meanwhile, as human medical research on CBD is looking promising, states have yet to have a unified law towards CBD. It is legal in some states, now being sold in some major pharmacy retailers, but other states still have restrictions on it being sold, or even recommended by veterinarians.
Studies are just now being done in the veterinary world to evaluate CBD’s effect on certain types of seizures in dogs. Hopefully, more studies can be performed to determine the safety and efficacy of CBD for other pet ailments. Because so little is known about CBD and how it affects a pet’s organs, the US Food and Drug Administration has yet to issue approval or dosing charts for any CBD products.
Side Effects of CBD in Pets
Universally speaking, there are some side effects you should know:
Dry mouth. You may notice your pet needs extra drinking water to make up for the decreased saliva production
Drowsiness. Especially when CBD is used in higher doses, your pet may appear drowsy.
Decreased blood pressure. Your pet may experience dizziness or lightheadedness as a result, so make sure they’re in a safe environment.
If you feel like giving CBD a chance to help your pet with severe anxiety, arthritis, or other disorders, start by talking to your vet. If they feel comfortable discussing dosing or making recommendations, you can go from there. You’ll likely want to start on a low dose, perhaps just as needed for triggering situations, (before fireworks, car rides, or other anxiety-inducing activity) and monitor your pet to see if adjustments are needed.
How to Pick a CBD Product for Pets
When shopping for CBD, don’t decide by price alone. In this era of influencers and fake reviews, it can be hard to weed through ratings and reviews to figure out which CBD is the highest quality. It's a booming but new industry and can be difficult to sort between brands that haven’t developed a reputation yet. Cannabis market research firm Brightfield Group reports that in 2019, CBD-infused products for pets are an already estimated $199 million business, expected to grow to $1.16 billion by 2022, so hopefully some stand out as quality and reliable products.
It’s important to look for organic CBD, free of pesticides, fungicides, heavy metals, THC, and solvents that may harm your pet. While more natural pet retailers are selling CBD treats, it’s usually safer to go with a liquid form so that you can adjust the dosing by the drop. Your product should let you know the purity and concentration of the CBD. Make sure any CBD products, especially treats, are kept locked away from your pet, as ingesting large amounts could be harmful.
With the increasing number of states legalizing recreational and medical marijuana, more and more research and anecdotal evidence will continue to develop, and we can only hope that CBD is the medical breakthrough many are looking for for their pets.