It's early in the morning, just after breakfast, and six-year-old Cayley is wide awake, eagerly awaiting her daily dose of cannabis. The black Labrador, tail wagging, licks the liquid tincture her owner, Brett Hartmann, sprays in her mouth, a remedy he uses morning and night to help ease Cayley's anxiety. As the multibillion-dollar medical and recreational marijuana industry for humans grows in the United States, so does a new customer base: animals.
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is gaining popularity as an alternative treatment for ailments such as anxiety, pain and epilepsy. But did you know that CBD can also be used to relieve pain in dogs? We spoke with a veterinarian and CBD expert to give you the lowdown on CBD for dogs.
What is CBD?
CBD is a naturally occurring compound found in marijuana or hemp plants. CBD derived from industrial hemp plants, with 0.3% THC or less, is legal, both to buy and sell, throughout the United States. Cannabibiol is one of more than 80 cannabinoids found in marijuana plants, but unlike its more famous cousin, THC, it is not psychoactive. This means it does not cause grogginess and does not get humans or dogs "high." It does, however, have numerous potential medical benefits.
How does CBD work for dogs?
"CBD has virtually the same effect on humans and animals," says Dr. Gary Richter, a holistic veterinarian in Oakland, California, author of The Ultimate Pet Health Guide. "CBD acts on the endocannabinoid system, which is a neurotransmitter system in the body that helps balance and maintain normal bodily functions."
In fact, all mammals, both dogs and humans, have cannabinoid systems and endocannabinoid receptors throughout the body. Our bodies also produce naturally occurring cannabinoids, such as anandamide, also known as the "joy molecule" for its role in mental health, pain relief and hunger.
What type of CBD can we use for treating our dogs?
CBD can help with a number of ailments and pain in both dogs and people, including:
- Pain and inflammation
- Epilepsy and seizures
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Autoimmune diseases
- Dr. Gary Richter states that the most common reason dog owners use CBD is to help their dogs with pain, stress and anxiety.
Brandon Nolte, author of 'The Ultimate Guide to CBD Health Oil' and founder and CEO of Healthy Hemp Oil, reiterated Dr. Richter's claim that CBD for dogs can help with stress, pain and even sleep.
"Dogs suffering from stress could benefit from CBD to improve their mood," said Nolte. "CBD binds to your dog's CBD receptors and creates a sense of calm and security. Your pet may feel more relaxed and even friendlier because they are in a better mood. Hyperactive dogs seem to calm down a bit."
CBD for dogs can help with pain and inflammation, especially in older or injured animals.
"CBD acts as an anti-inflammatory, so it can usually help animals with joint pain or sore joints," Nolte says. "Taken over time, inflammation can be reduced, increasing your pet's mobility and improving their energy levels. Overall, dogs look younger than they did before taking CBD."
Is CBD safe for our puppets? Does it have side effects?
Since CBD is derived from the hemp plant, it is not intoxicating, so your dog will not be stunned. Dr. Richter says CBD for dogs is safe as long as owners use an appropriate dosage.
"The worst-case scenario from the standpoint of CBD alone is that it can make the dog a little sleepy," Dr. Richter says. "But that's the worst thing that could happen. Every once in a while, there's a dog that suffers a gastrointestinal problem, but it's actually pretty rare. But, as I often tell people, any medication or supplement could cause stomach problems."
Brandon Nolte adds that CBD for dogs or humans can take a week for the body to get used to it, so don't expect an overnight cure.
"When CBD starts getting into the animals' bloodstream, you start to see dogs come back more toward their normal state. Lethargic and tired dogs, who may be suffering, start to feel more loose and agile and begin to regain lost energy. On the other hand, hyperactive and anxious dogs may stop their destructive behavior, such as biting [and] scratching furniture, and may appear calmer. It may sound strange, but CBD really helps on both sides of the spectrum."
How to give CBD to our dogs
Today, there are so many CBD products out there that it can be a bit daunting. How do you know which CBD is best for dogs? There are CBD kibble, as well as hemp CBD oils and tinctures, each with their own pros and cons.
CBD oils and tinctures can be put directly into the dog's food. Dr. Richter states that dogs can also take CBD oils made for humans.
CBD dog treats will take longer to absorb than oils, but will provide relief for longer, so deciding between the two will depend on your pet. Some trusted brands we recommend include Green Roads World, Treatibles and Nolte's company, Healthy Hemp Oil.
As for dosages, Nolte recommends giving pets about 5mg of CBD per 22 kilograms of weight and then adjusting accordingly. However, Nolte also points out that he is not a doctor, and that it is best to consult a veterinarian first about CBD for dogs. A good rule of thumb for CBD for both dogs and humans is to "start small."
Another thing people should be careful about when purchasing any CBD product is to make sure it has been tested by an outside lab to ensure its safety and quality.
MamaMary produces its pet hemp oil with the utmost care and attention, following all the processes that have allowed the oil to be certified safe for our little friends.
Is CBD legal?
CBD derived from industrial hemp plants is legal in all U.S. states. Where adult use of cannabis exists, pet owners can also purchase products with CBD and THC derived from the marijuana plant for their pets. There is one clarification for California, however: Dr. Richter says veterinarians cannot legally recommend cannabis products for animals because the federal government has classified the plant as "Schedule I."
"People go to buy cannabis products for their pets. They buy them at pet stores and dispensaries, and the only people in the entire state [of California] who are prohibited from advising pet owners on how to safely administer them are veterinarians," Dr. Richter says.
It may sound crazy, but that's the way things currently stand. Dr. Richter added that California is likely to introduce legislation soon.