Folks across the nation are realizing that cannabidiol (CBD) can help relieve many of the common symptoms that can put a damper on our everyday lives—like stress, pain and anxiety. But why should humans be the only ones to reap the benefits? Dogs can have CBD, too. And so can your cat, bird, bunny, horse and whatever else you may have in your menagerie.
This is because all vertebrates (animals with a backbone) have what’s called an endocannabinoid system. This network of receptors is located throughout the body. And it’s what CBD works on to bring about its myriad benefits.
So what’s CBD good for when it comes to your pet? Just as in humans, CBD can be used to:
- Quell inflammation
- Ease pain
- Reduce stress
While there’s little research to back up CBD’s effects on our animal companions, the anecdotal evidence is promising. Heidi Hill, the owner of Holistic Hound, a pet store in Berkeley, CA, which focuses on dog and cat nutrition, says the addition of CBD to her supplement line has been eye opening.
“[CBD] is a game changer as far as anything that I’ve ever seen in 15 years of doing this,” she says. “It’s replaced a lot of our supplements. … We specialize in having herbal remedies, homeopathic remedies or other types of food supplements, and nothing has ever come close to the kinds of testimonials that we get for CBD.”
Most of Heidi’s customers use CBD for anxiety and pain, though she’s received feedback that her products help with a wide array of symptoms. In fact, CBD had such an impact on the lives of her clientele that she created her own line of hemp-derived CBD treats and tinctures.
If you’re still on the fence about giving your pet CBD, we’ve listed a few reasons below detailing how this versatile compound could benefit your pet.
1. CBD Can Ease Anxiety in Animals
It’s not just humans that suffer from anxiety, your pet can feel it, too. You may have noticed anxious behavior when you leave the house, have guests over or take your pet to an unfamiliar location. Lots of things can trigger anxiety in pets, and it can be hard to treat both the symptoms and root causes.
Much like in humans, treatment for pet anxiety usually involves antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and behavioral therapy. But similar to humans, sometimes these methods aren’t enough—or the side effects make treatment difficult.
This is where CBD can help.
Preclinical evidence suggests that CBD can ease anxiety in humans, and it may be able to do the same thing for your pet.
“I’m very happy with the CBD treats,” writes Mary, a customer using Heidi’s products for her dog, whose anxiety causes her to cry at night. “Both my dog and I are getting more sleep,” she adds.
So, if you’ve got a pet who suffers from separation anxiety, or one that simply dislikes travel or visits to the vet, it’s possible that CBD can help make both of your lives easier.
2. CBD’s Anti-Inflammatory Properties Can Soothe Your Pet’s Itchy Skin
There are lots of reasons your pet can feel itchy—whether it’s allergies to flea bites, contact dermatitis or even inflammatory skin disease. CBD may be able to help with any of these issues because of its powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Humans usually like to use topical CBD for skin issues, but this may be harder to do on your furry friend. The good news is that your pet can reap the benefits of CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties by simply ingesting it.
One of Heidi’s customers started out using her CBD tinctures for anxiety, but soon found that CBD provided her pup with numerous benefits in addition to a calm demeanor.
“She is all around more comfortable and confident and has less itching,” writes Suzanne, the customer, in a testimonial.
3. CBD Could Help a Pet With Gastrointestinal Issues
Whether your pet has a longstanding gastrointestinal issue or just ate something they weren’t supposed to, there’s a good chance that CBD can help them feel better.
Researchers are currently studying how CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects can help with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), and the results are promising. There’s already plenty of anecdotal evidence that suggests CBD, as well as its psychoactive counterpart tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), can help humans with IBD.
And even if your pet has a normally healthy gut, it won’t stop them from eating things they shouldn’t—and getting sick as a result. It’s possible that a bit of CBD can help ease your pet’s nausea and thus boost their appetite when their stomach’s upset.
4. CBD Can Ease Your Pet’s Pain
Most of us are probably already familiar with CBD’s pain-fighting properties, which stem from its ability to quell inflammation and change the way our brains perceive pain. But these effects aren’t limited to humans.
Whether its swelling from a recent surgery or aching from arthritis, CBD can help ease your pet’s pain—and it may help them relax and prevent them from getting a bit of cabin fever due to their immobility. And as is the case with humans, it could reduce the amount of prescription medications your pet needs to take, too.
A Few Tips for Folks Who Want to Give Their Pet CBD
If you’re thinking of giving your pet CBD, keep the following things in mind :
Just like in humans, each animal’s endocannabinoid system is unique. And to make things even more challenging, veterinarians aren’t allowed to recommend CBD to their patients. This means you’ll have to decide if CBD is right for your pet and monitor their dosage. Start at a low dose and gradually increase until you see a desired effect.
If you want to use CBD to help your anxious pet, try giving CBD to them in advance of stressful events. If your pet suffers from separation anxiety, give them a dose of CBD 30 minutes to an hour before you leave. The same rules applies to airplane or car travel as well as visits to the vet.
You may not see effects from CBD right away. CBD tends to build up in the body, so more apparent effects could take a while to show up. This is something to keep in mind if you’re looking to use CBD to help your pet with long-standing issues like discomfort from allergies and digestive issues.
Whenever you buy CBD oil, be on the lookout for:
- CBD oil that’s been lab tested to ensure that it’s free of pesticides and residual solvents. All reputable companies have their products third-party tested, and most will say so on their labels and website.
- Products that source their hemp from the U.S. or Europe. Avoid ones that use hemp from China and Indonesia. Hemp from China and Indonesia is often of lower quality because its grown in soils that contain heavy metals and other chemicals. And since hemp tends to suck these compunds out of the soil, the end product may contain these potentially harmful ingredietns as well.
- Tinctures that contain just CBD oil and simple carrier oil like coconut oil, olive oil or medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil. You’ll definitely want to avoid tinctures that contain alcohol, as most pets—especially cats—hate the taste. There are lots of great CBD products that cater to pets, like Holistic Hound’s treats and tinctures. But you may be able to give your pet some CBD from your own stash—just make sure your CBD oil doesn’t contain any essential oils or other ingredients that may not sit well with them.
Photo credit: Rebekah Howell
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