As the benefits of CBD and other cannabinoids are becoming more and more well-known all over the world, it is not just human beings who are able to enjoy the properties of CBD. There is a growing market of CBD products which have been especially designed for our furry friends, bringing about similar effects to those which humans experience.
The way that CBD works for animals is in the same way as it works for people. It can help to give the endocannabinoid system a boost, improving general health and well-being as well as some more specific issues.
The Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system was only discovered relatively recently by scientists in the early 90’s. It is present in all animals with backbones, meaning that cats, dogs and other pets are included.
The endocannabinoid system is the system which regulates a number of aspects in human and animals’ bodies. It is responsible for maintaining a sense of inner balance in the body, affecting aspects including:
Pain relief and inflammation
The immune system
The endocannabinoid system is based on the interaction between cannabinoid receptors (known as CB1 and CB2 receptors) and endocannabinoids which are made naturally in the body.
CBD or cannabidiol is found naturally in the cannabis plant and when it is taken, it can also interact with the cannabinoid receptors in a similar way. It is thought that a lot of health issues occur when there is a deficiency in endocannabinoids, so by ‘topping them up’ with the cannabinoids which are found in the plant, you can stimulate your pet’s endocannabinoid system, helping them to stay fit and healthy.
Most CBD products which are designed for pets are made for cats and dogs and use industrial hemp to provide the CBD. Hemp is a particular strain of cannabis which has been cultivated over hundreds of years and which now only has negligible levels of the compound which makes you high – known as THC.
How can CBD help your pet?
The benefits of CBD can be directly applied to your pets by giving their endocannabinoid system a leg up, and being able to help with a number of health issues, including:
Lack of appetite
Anxiety due to separation, being around people they don’t know, new places, travel, thunderstorms, fireworks
Excessive crying or barking
Lack of energy
Aggression towards people or other animals
Giving your pet CBD
Although there are numerous benefits to giving your pet CBD, there are some things which should be taken into consideration.
In addition to CBD, THC is another compound which is found in the cannabis plant, and it is THC which makes people feel ‘high’. Although it can also be beneficial to some people and animals, THC can also have a very strong effect on some animals (such as dogs, for example). This is because they have a high number of cannabinoid receptors in the brain. It is therefore very important that you look at THC levels in the products that you are giving your pet. It is not a good thing for your pet to get high as it can be a scary experience for them, and they won’t be aware of what is happening to them.
CBD products can be bought in one of three forms – full spectrum, broad spectrum or CBD isolate. CBD can be purchased online or in stores locally. Full spectrum CBD oil includes not only CBD, but also the other compounds which are found in the cannabis plant and is generally the most effective type of CBD oil. Broad spectrum includes most of the compounds but typically doesn’t have THC in it and CBD isolate contains only CBD, and although useful to some, often is not as effective as the other two types.
In the same way as with humans, getting the right dose for your pet is very important. There are guidelines available which can give you a rough idea based on the size of your pet, but it is always best to start off with the lowest dose and gradually increase it until you have reached the right amount.
CBD is what’s known as biphasic. This means that it can have very different results according to whether you give a low or high dose. For example, for many pets, a small dose can be energy inducing, whereas a higher dose can be more relaxing. Every animal is different, so this is why it is important to gradually change the animal’s dose until you find the right one for them.
When you are getting CBD products for your pet check that it has been tested in a lab to be able to give you accurate information about what is in it. Try to get organic CBD, with the least amount of chemicals added to give your pet the most natural product possible.
Just as you would when you are thinking about taking CBD yourself or giving it to another member of your family, take great care in doing your research and checking the product that you re going to be giving your pet. Make sure that you monitor them closely and check for any behavioural changes as – it goes without saying – they can’t tell you how they are feeling unlike a human being.
Just as in humans, CBD can interact with other medications. It is therefore essential that if your pet is already taking medication for something, you speak to your vet first. CBD can affect the way that the body metabolises some medications, meaning that it can delay its effect, or change how effective it is.
If you have any doubt, speak to your vet. Although many of them won’t have been specifically trained in CBD, there are increasing numbers of vets who are seeing the benefits of CBD for animals.
There are two main ways to give your pet CBD – using CBD oil and CBD edibles for pets.
CBD oil can be easily added to your pet’s food, dropped directly into their mouth, or dropped onto the paws for them to lick off. Every owner understands their animal better than anyone else and so you can try the method which you think will be the most effective for them.
One of the difficulties with giving your pet their CBD in a bowl of food, is that they may not eat all of it. This can mean that they don’t get their full dose, or it can be difficult to calculate exactly how much they have taken.
CBD edibles can include capsules and pet treats. Capsules are a good option because the dosages are easy to measure. However, although some pets have no problem taking capsules or tablets, a lot of them don’t get on well with this. And that’s why there are also pet treats. These can be given to your pet as often as you need a dose.
Pet treats can be effective because you will be able to tell exactly how much CBD you have given to your pet, and that they have eaten it all.
It is worth remembering, however, that animals love tasty treats, so make sure that you keep them hidden away or you might find that they have been invaded when your back is turned!
Just as CBD and other cannabinoids from the cannabis plant are becoming increasingly popular in humans for good health, it would be wrong for animals not to be given the chance to have similar benefits. It is important, however, to remember that your pets can’t tell you how they are feeling, so you should be spending time with them and monitoring their behaviour if you start to give them CBD.
Allowing your pet to take advantage of the goodness that CBD can give is a logical step in the world of cannabinoids. So, if you think that your four-legged friend could benefit from it, why not give it a go?