CBD for Dogs & Cats – Does it Really Help? | CBDnerds.com

Gleb Oleinik
Authored: Jan 19, 2021
Updated: Apr 6, 2021
CBD for Pets | Does it work?

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B

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CBD may have many health benefits for dogs and cats. However, most of the current evidence comes from veterinarian surveys and a small number of studies on dogs. Although, research in cats and dogs is growing.

Placebo-controlled studies have found that CBD can help dogs with both arthritis and seizures. No similar studies have yet been completed for cats.

Both scientific studies and veterinarian surveys have found that CBD may significantly improve certain conditions in cats and dogs such as osteoarthritis, seizures, and anxiety.

 

CBD for Pets (April 2021)

Many dog and cat owners use CBD products to improve the lives of their pets. Although more research is needed, studies suggest that CBD can have many health benefits in cats and dogs.

 

CBD is used by millions of people worldwide to support their health. But did you know that it can help pets too?

 

Dogs, cats, and most other animals have an endocannabinoid system just like us, which means they can react to and benefit from CBD. They can also suffer from many similar health issues such as arthritis, anxiety, chronic pain, and inflammation - all of which hemp CBD has some potential relief in humans. 

 

Although research looking at the effects of CBD in dogs and cats is still in its infancy, evidence from rodent studies and veterinarian surveys suggest that CBD has a myriad of potential health benefits for our four-legged friends.

 

Here’s an evidence-based look at the use of CBD for dogs and cats.

 

Pet Health Overview

Our furry companions can suffer from many of the same conditions that we do.

 

For dogs, common health problems include arthritis, cataracts, ear infections, anxiety, diarrhea, osteoporosis, seizures, and cancer.

 

Cats are similar, with kidney disease, anxiety, osteoporosis, gum disease, and cancer is the most common health issues.

 

CBD is already used to help with these and many other conditions in humans and there’s growing evidence that it can provide the same benefit for pets.

 

Can CBD Help Your Pets?

Studies in mice and rats suggest that CBD can have many potential benefits. Since dogs and cats are also mammals, that means CBD can likely help them as well.

 

Evidence from rodent studies suggests that CBD may:

 

  • Have antidepressant and anxiolytic (anxiety-relieving) effects1

  • Reduce arthritis pain and inflammation2

  • Have anticancer effects3

  • Reduce nausea4

  • Lower inflammation in asthma5

  • Relieve epileptic seizures6

  • Support healthy bones by promoting healing and regeneration7

  • Help with inflammatory skin conditions8

  • Help with sleep9

  • Protect against neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease10

 

CBD works in multiple ways including through both endocannabinoid and non-endocannabinoid systems.

 

CBD and the Endocannabinoid System

Most of CBD’s effects come from its interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a network of naturally produced cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids, and the special enzymes that build and break them down.

 

This system regulates brain and immune functions, pain, stress, metabolism, reproduction, digestion, and other essential processes to maintain homeostasis: a healthy state of internal balance.11

 

The ECS is found in nearly all animals, including humans, dogs, cats, and other mammals. They can also be found in non-mammals such as birds, fish, reptiles, and even simple organisms such as sea urchins.

 

Research suggests that this system developed some 500 million years ago, highlighting its pivotal role in the overall health of many animals.12

 

Although we know much less about the ECS in dogs and cats compared to humans, researchers believe it functions in essentially the same way in all animals.

 

For example, studies have shown that dogs have CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids just like humans and other mammals.13

 

CBD has one major effect on the ECS: it reduces the breakdown of anandamide, one of the two main endocannabinoids found in dogs, cats, and humans.14

 

By preventing anandamide breakdown, these endocannabinoids can linger in the body for longer and improve ECS stimulation.

 

Other CBD Mechanisms

Aside from the ECS, CBD can interact with many other receptors and molecules. CBD has been shown to:

 

  • Activate serotonin receptors, which play a role in depression, anxiety, and other conditions15 16

  • Interact with PPAR receptors, involved in a wide variety of functions17

  • Activate glycine receptors involved in inflammation and pain18

  • Suppress (NF)-κB, a major pro-inflammatory pathway19

  • Interact with TRP channels, which regulate pain and inflammation20

 

What Does the Research Say?

Although most of the animal research on CBD has focused on rodents — mice and rats — there is a growing number of studies in CBD for dogs and cats.

 

One placebo-controlled 2020 study looked at the effects of CBD in 20 dogs with osteoarthritis. They were given one of four treatments daily for 4 weeks: 20 mg or 50 mg dose of pure CBD, 20 mg of a special liposomal CBD formulation with increased absorption, or a placebo.

 

Whereas the 20 mg CBD dose and placebo had no effect, the 50 mg pure CBD and 20 mg liposomal CBD treatments showed improvements in pain and mobility. This was observed by the pet owners and further confirmed through a veterinarian examination.21

 

A similar 2018 study looked at the effects of CBD in dogs with osteoarthritis. They were given CBD oil (2 mg/kg) or a placebo twice daily for 4 weeks.  Researchers found that CBD decreased pain and improved activity without any side effects.22

 

Another 2020 study found that full-spectrum CBD oil given to 37 dogs with osteoarthritis significantly improved their pain and decreased or eliminated the need for prescription painkillers after 90 days.23

 

Aside from osteoarthritis, studies have also investigated the use of CBD to treat epilepsy and seizures in dogs.

 

A 2019 study compared the effects of CBD or a placebo treatment alongside standard medication in 26 dogs with treatment-resistant epilepsy. They were given CBD oil (2.5 mg/kg) or a placebo twice daily for 12 weeks.24

 

Dogs in the CBD group experienced a 33% reduction in seizure frequency, although two animals were withdrawn from the study after experiencing ataxia, a side effect that causes lack of muscle control and coordination. No other adverse behavioral effects were reported by the other dog owners.

 

In a 2019 survey of 2130 veterinarians, researchers found that the three most common conditions where vets considered using CBD were pain, anxiety, and seizures.25

 

Based on first-hand experiences and pet owner reports, vets also noted that CBD was most effective for chronic pain (rated very helpful by 34% and somewhat helpful by 56% of vets) and acute pain (rated very helpful by 23%, somewhat helpful by 60%).

 

Additionally, over 75% of vets said that CBD was helpful for anxiety and seizures.

 

A similar 2016 study surveying 632 cat and dog owners found that: 26

 

  • Most pet owners used CBD for seizures, cancer, anxiety, and arthritis.
     

  • Dog owners reported that CBD had notable benefits for many conditions. In particular, 63.4% of owners noted that CBD moderately or significantly improved their dog’s pain, 50.5% said the same for sleep issues and 49.3% for anxiety.
     

  • Similarly, 66% of cat owners found that CBD moderately or significantly improved pain, 56.3% noted the same for inflammation and 44% for sleep.
     

  • 88.8% of pet owners rated CBD products as very safe.
     

  • 62.5% of pet owners felt that CBD worked better than standard medication and therapy.

 

In summary, although more studies are needed — especially in cats — the available evidence suggests that CBD has many potential health benefits in dogs and cats.

 

Tips on Using CBD for Dogs and Cats

You can maximize the beneficial effects of CBD for dogs and cats by following several recommendations.

 

First and foremost, it’s best to choose products made with full or broad-spectrum CBD extract rather than pure CBD.

 

These types of extracts are made from the whole hemp plant, which means they contain multiple phytocannabinoids, terpenes, and other active ingredients that work in synergy with CBD.27

 

As a result, whole-plant CBD products make the most of the science behind the cannabis entourage effect to provide greater benefits.

 

We also recommend applying CBD oil directly to your pet’s gums instead of putting it in their food or giving them CBD-infused treats. Just like in people, this method helps overcome the low oral absorption of CBD and greatly increases its effectiveness.28

 

While CBD treats are still helpful, they work better in addition to, rather than as a replacement for, CBD oil.

 

How Much CBD Should I Give to My Dog or Cat?

There’s no established dosage of CBD for dogs and cats due to a current lack of research. Furthermore, CBD oils are not recommended as veterinary medicine - we highly suggest reaching out to your vet prior to dosing your dog or cat with a tincture.

 

Besides, CBD affects every person and pet differently because of differences in body weight, genetics, the specific health issue and its severity, and other factors.

 

We recommend following the same advice people get from health experts: “start low and go slow.”29

 

You can begin with a dose of 0.5 mg of CBD per 1 kg of body weight. So if your pet weighs 6 kg, you’d start them with a 3 mg dose and observe the effects over the next 1-2 hours.

 

If it’s not enough, you can give your pet slightly more next time, and continue raising the dosage until you find the amount that works best for your four-legged companion.

 

Are There Any Side Effects?

Research has shown that CBD is generally safe and well-tolerated in both dogs and cats.

 

In one study, researchers gave 6 dogs and 8 cats a 2 mg per kg dose of CBD twice daily for 12 weeks in the form of dog treats and CBD-infused fish oil. 

 

The researchers found no negative effects from the use of CBD.

 

One cat did develop elevated liver enzyme levels, but the veterinarians found no clinical or behavior changes otherwise. The researchers also were not able to confirm that the increased liver enzymes were caused by the CBD. Instead, it may have been caused by some other underlying illness.

 

Researchers, however, did note that dogs seemed to absorb CBD better than cats.

 

Overall, the team concluded that “hemp-based CBD appears to be relatively safe in healthy populations of dogs and cats.”30

 

Still, CBD can cause minor side effects that are similar to those reported from human research.

 

According to two veterinarian and pet owner surveys, sedation/lack of energy and increased appetite are the two most common side effects of CBD use in dogs and cats.24,35

 

Other reported side effects include dry mouth, nausea, and vomiting, but these are rare.

 

Another thing to be aware of is that dogs and cats may be more sensitive to THC, the main psychotropic component of cannabis, than humans. Dogs, in particular, are at a higher risk of intoxication because they have more cannabinoid receptors in the brain than we do.31 

 

Since full-spectrum hemp extracts contain a small amount (<0.3%) of THC, you should start dogs and cats with a very small dose of full-spectrum CBD products and observe the effects closely.

 

Conclusion

CBD for dogs and cats may be just as beneficial as it is for humans.

 

Although research in dogs and cats is still fairly limited, early studies and veterinarian surveys have shown that CBD can help dogs and cats with many common problems, including osteoarthritis, chronic pain, separation anxiety, and seizures.

 

For best results, use a full-spectrum CBD oil rather than treats and apply it directly to your pet’s gums. Make sure to start your dog or cat with a small dose of CBD and raise it as needed until you achieve the desired results.

 

References

1.  R de Mello Schier, Alexandre, et al. "Antidepressant-like and anxiolytic-like effects of cannabidiol: a chemical compound of Cannabis sativa." CNS & Neurological Disorders-Drug Targets (Formerly Current Drug Targets-CNS & Neurological Disorders) 13.6 (2014): 953-960.

 

2.  Hammell, D. C., et al. "Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain?related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis." European Journal of Pain 20.6 (2016): 936-948.

 

3.  Aviello, Gabriella, et al. "Chemopreventive effect of the non-psychotropic phytocannabinoid cannabidiol on experimental colon cancer." Journal of molecular medicine 90.8 (2012): 925-934.

 

4.  Parker, Linda A., Raphael Mechoulam, and Coralynne Schlievert. "Cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive component of cannabis and its synthetic dimethylheptyl homolog suppress nausea in an experimental model with rats." Neuroreport 13.5 (2002): 567-570.

 

5.  Vuolo, Francieli, et al. "Cannabidiol reduces airway inflammation and fibrosis in experimental allergic asthma." European Journal of Pharmacology 843 (2019): 251-259.

 

6.  Klein, Brian D., et al. "Evaluation of cannabidiol in animal seizure models by the Epilepsy Therapy Screening Program (ETSP)." Neurochemical Research 42.7 (2017): 1939-1948.

 

7.  Kogan, Natalya M., et al. "Cannabidiol, a major non?psychotropic cannabis constituent enhances fracture healing and stimulates lysyl hydroxylase activity in osteoblasts." Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 30.10 (2015): 1905-1913.

 

8.  Miltner, Noémi, et al. "Assessment of the anti-inflammatory effects of cannabidiol and its fluorinated derivative in in vitro and in vivo models of atopic dermatitis." (2018): S173.

 

9.  Chagas, Marcos Hortes N., et al. "Effects of acute systemic administration of cannabidiol on sleep-wake cycle in rats." Journal of Psychopharmacology 27.3 (2013): 312-316.

 

10.  Watt, Georgia, and Tim Karl. "In vivo evidence for therapeutic properties of cannabidiol (CBD) for Alzheimer's disease." Frontiers in pharmacology 8 (2017): 20.

 

11.  Silver, Robert J. "The endocannabinoid system of animals." Animals 9.9 (2019): 686.

 

12.  Meccariello, Rosaria, et al. "Endocannabinoids and reproduction." (2014).

 

13.  Freundt-Revilla, Jessica, et al. "The endocannabinoid system in canine steroid-responsive meningitis-arteritis and intraspinal spirocercosis." PloS one 13.2 (2018): e0187197.

 

14.  Leweke, F. M., et al. "Cannabidiol enhances anandamide signaling and alleviates psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia." Translational psychiatry 2.3 (2012): e94-e94.

 

15.  Sartim, A. G., F. S. Guimarães, and S. R. L. Joca. "Antidepressant-like effect of cannabidiol injection into the ventral medial prefrontal cortex—Possible involvement of 5-HT1A and CB1 receptors." Behavioural brain research 303 (2016): 218-227.

 

16.  Campos, Alline Cristina, and Francisco Silveira Guimarães. "Involvement of 5HT1A receptors in the anxiolytic-like effects of cannabidiol injected into the dorsolateral periaqueductal gray of rats." Psychopharmacology 199.2 (2008): 223.

 

17.  O'Sullivan, Saoirse E., et al. "Time-dependent vascular actions of cannabidiol in the rat aorta." European journal of pharmacology 612.1-3 (2009): 61-68.

 

18.  Xiong, Wei, et al. "Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors." Journal of Experimental Medicine 209.6 (2012): 1121-1134.

 

19.  Kozela, Ewa, et al. "Cannabinoids Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol differentially inhibit the lipopolysaccharide-activated NF-κB and interferon-β/STAT proinflammatory pathways in BV-2 microglial cells." Journal of biological chemistry 285.3 (2010): 1616-1626.

 

20.  Muller, Chanté, Paula Morales, and Patricia H. Reggio. "Cannabinoid ligands targeting TRP channels." Frontiers in molecular neuroscience 11 (2019): 487.

 

21.  Verrico, Chris D., et al. "A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of daily cannabidiol for the treatment of canine osteoarthritis pain." Pain 161.9 (2020): 2191-2202.

 

22.  Gamble, Lauri-Jo, et al. "Pharmacokinetics, safety, and clinical efficacy of cannabidiol treatment in osteoarthritic dogs." Frontiers in veterinary science 5 (2018): 165.

 

23.  Kogan, L. R., Peter Hellyer, and R. Downing. "The use of Cannabidiol-rich hemp oil extract to treat canine osteoarthritis-related pain: a pilot study." AHVMA J 58 (2020): 1-10.

 

24.  McGrath, Stephanie, et al. "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." Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 254.11 (2019): 1301-1308.

 

25.  Kogan, Lori, et al. "US veterinarians' knowledge, experience, and perception regarding the use of cannabidiol for canine medical conditions." Frontiers in Veterinary Science 5 (2019): 338.

 

26.  Kogan, Lori R., Peter W. Hellyer, and Narda G. Robinson. "Consumers’ perceptions of hemp products for animals." J Am Holist Vet Med Assoc 42 (2016): 40-8.

 

27.  Russo, Ethan B. "The case for the entourage effect and conventional breeding of clinical cannabis: no “strain,” no gain." Frontiers in plant science 9 (2019): 1969.

 

28.  Millar, Sophie A., et al. "A systematic review on the pharmacokinetics of cannabidiol in humans." Frontiers in pharmacology 9 (2018): 1365.

 

29.  Lucas, Catherine J., Peter Galettis, and Jennifer Schneider. "The pharmacokinetics and the pharmacodynamics of cannabinoids." British journal of clinical pharmacology 84.11 (2018): 2477-2482.

 

30.  Deabold, Kelly A., et al. "Single-dose pharmacokinetics and preliminary safety assessment with use of CBD-rich hemp nutraceutical in healthy dogs and cats." Animals 9.10 (2019): 832.

 

31.  Gyles, Carlton. "Marijuana for pets?." The Canadian Veterinary Journal 57.12 (2016): 1215.

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