All About CBD
Revision Date: August, 2022
What Is CBD?
CBD stands for cannabidiol, and it’s the second most common active ingredient found in the cannabis plant. CBD is not psychoactive.
Do not give dogs or cats straight marijuana or any product containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive component of marijuana. Research may indicate that these are dangerous to pets’ health.
While CBD is present in all cannabis plants, it’s primarily derived from the Hemp plant—which a recent study defines as, “Cannabis sativa with a total THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) less than 0.3% dry weight in leaves and buds.” Unlike hemp oil and hemp seed oil, CBD is extracted from the stalks, leaves and buds—not just one part of the plant.
It is also important to note, that legally, a hemp plant cannot contain more than 0.3% THC or else it is considered a Schedule I controlled substance (illegal narcotic.)
Is CBD Oil Safe for Cats?
While there are no scientific studies that investigating the impact of cannabis on pets, Dr. Gary Richter, a holistic veterinarian and owner and medical director of Montclair Veterinary Hospital and Holistic Veterinary Care in Oakland, California, says that CBD oil is generally safe for cats.
Adverse effects may include gastrointestinal upset and some sedation; both can be relieved by discontinuing the use of the oil.
“I think the bigger issue, from a medical perspective, is making sure that animals are dosed appropriately. This means that the CBD oil is having the affect you want it to have, and that you’re not accidentally overdosing,” says Dr. Richter.
Dr. Liza Guess, a clinical assistant professor at the Ohio State University Department of Veterinary Medicine in Columbus, Ohio, says that the lack of official, documented research into the affects of cannabis products for cats would make her hesitant to recommend them.
“I have heard that, in humans, marijuana products can be used for neuropathic pain, intractable seizures, anxiety, and appetite stimulation. I have plenty of medications in each of those categories [that are not cannabis] that have been safely used in cats for years that I am very comfortable using and understand well,” she says.
“Pet owners looking to give their animals CBD oil should do their due diligence before purchasing anything online,” Richter says. “The marketplace is very much a ‘buyer beware’ environment, and people should be sure that the product they’re buying has been laboratory tested for both content, as well as contaminants like bacteria, fungus, and heavy metals.”
Also, it’s worth nothing that while CBD oil is typically quite safe for cats and dogs, cannabis plants are not. Cats should never be allowed to nibble on the plants.
Why Use CBD for Dogs?
CBD-based products may help improve your dog’s quality of life when used in conjunction with other therapies.
Because CBD shares metabolic pathways with anti-inflammatory drugs, it makes sense that it would help with certain inflammatory conditions (anything that ends with -itis is an inflammatory condition), helping to relieve pain.
Recent studies indicate that CBD can help relieve pain and promote activity in dogs with osteoarthritis and other types of inflammatory pain, such as back pain from intervertebral disc disease (IVDD). It can reduce seizure frequency in cases of severe epilepsy.
The fact that CBD has been shown to help dogs with epilepsy correlates nicely with the 2018 US Food and Drug Administration approval of the human CBD medication Epidiolex for the treatment of certain types of childhood epilepsy.
Other common uses of CBD for which there is at least some supportive scientific evidence (in people or non-feline animals) include inflammatory conditions—like inflammatory bowel disease—as well as asthma, anxiety, pain and nausea.
Anti-nausea effects of CBD: dogs receiving chemotherapy may benefit from CBD treatment, similar to Humans.
Anxiety: Perhaps the biggest misconception is that CBD is useful in managing a dog’s anxiety. Because CBD is not psychoactive, it is unlikely that CBD has the ability to directly treat canine anxiety in the way that Prozac and other medications do. While life experience may indicate otherwise, the use of CBD for anxiety in dogs, as with most conditions, will benefit from more research.
Potential Risks of CBD for Dogs
Overall, CBD itself seems to be incredibly safe in dogs and cats. However, some research has found that when given at the recommended doses, CBD causes an elevation in an important liver value on bloodwork called alkaline phosphatase (ALP).
What is this: It could signify that CBD causes irritation or damage to the liver. Alternatively, it could be an artificial finding in which the drug interferes with the way the lab measures the liver value.
Anecdotal reports do exist of dogs becoming somewhat sleepy or sedate if they receive extremely large doses of CBD, but those effects appear to resolve on their own with time.
CBD doesn’t appear to have any drug interactions when it’s given to a dog that’s on an anti-inflammatory drug like Rimadyl. Because there is a theoretical risk of drug interaction, as with any medication, you should consult your veterinarian first before treating your dog with CBD.
Find Safe CBD for Cats n Dogs
If you choose to try CBD for your pet, here are a few ways that you can protect them from poor-quality CBD:
- Find products that carry the Certified Seal of the U.S. Hemp Authority™ or the National Animal Supplements Council (NASC) Quality Seal, as these meet industry-imposed standards and have passed a third-party audit.
- Use only products that are designed for cats or that contain just CBD oil—and maybe a benign carrier like hemp oil, coconut oil or MCT oil.
- Talk to an experienced veterinarian. The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association provides a “Find a Vet” tool on its website if your veterinarian is unable to help.
Cats n Dogs store owner, Nancy Okun, has researched CBD supplements in great detail. She started when the trend first presented itself in 2018 and continues to research her sources and others.
Call or talk to Nancy for product use suggestions and advice. Also talk to your Vet about using a CBD product before you administer it to your pet.
Is the Amount of CBD in a Product Regulated?
The FDA has tested the chemical content of cannabinoid compounds in some of the products, and many were found to not contain the levels of CBD they claimed to contain. (See these lists. Our brands are not listed!)