If you’re a pet owner, you know that sinking feeling when your furry friend just isn’t acting alright. Maybe they’re not eating with abandon like usual. Or maybe they can’t bring themselves to leave their bed for morning walkies. You know they may be ill, or maybe they’re stressed or anxious, but unfortunately you can’t ask them what’s wrong, and they can’t tell you where it hurts. It’s probably the most stressful part of being a fur mom or dad.
A trip to the vet is sometimes in order, but as with us humans, many of the pharmaceuticals prescribed to animals come with a laundry list of side effects. Luckily, there’s a natural medicine that pet owners can turn to for some acute situations, as well as for preventative treatment.
That medicine is cannabis.
“Wait a minute,” you may be thinking. “I’m not going to get my dog or cat stoned.” Of course, that’s not what we’re suggesting. There’s a way you can harness the benefits of the cannabis plant for your furry family member without any psychoactivity—and that’s with the use of hemp.
What Is Hemp?
Hemp is a variety of the cannabis plant, Cannabis sativa. Psychoactive recreational and medical marijuana products come from a version of the Cannabis sativa plant that contains cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—along with a battery of other cannabinoids and terpenes.
But hemp plants have almost exclusively CBD, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid. In fact, by law, hemp plants must only contain less than 0.3% THC, a negligible amount that doesn’t cause a head high.
CBD & Its Benefits
So, CBD products made from hemp won’t give the consumer a psychoactive experience, but they will be able to reap CBD’s benefits. The cannabinoid has been shown to help with:
- Nausea and vomiting
- High blood sugar
Is CBD OK for Animals?
The reason that so many humans find relief from a variety of health conditions with CBD is because the cannabinoid acts on the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a network of receptors that’s pretty much found in every part of the body. The ECS influences so many processes including:
The body makes endocannabinoids naturally that bind with the ECS receptors to affect these mechanisms. But sometimes the body doesn’t make enough of its own endocannabinoids.
Researchers now think that an unbalanced ECS has a lot to do with many health problems. And a way to top up natural endocannabinoid levels and help balance the ECS is to supplement with cannabinoids from cannabis.
So, how does this relate to our pets’ health? Well, animals also have an ECS. This means that a sick animal could benefit from a balanced ECS, and can balance theirs using cannabis, too.
Why Should I Give My Pet Hemp-Derived CBD?
If you’re interested in treating your pet with cannabis, CBD is your best bet. As we’ve said, it’s non-psychoactive and can address a range of problems from anxiety to arthritis. And the easiest form of CBD to obtain, and the form you can be sure won’t give your pet a head high, is hemp-derived CBD.
CBD made from hemp is available no matter what state you live in—even if there aren’t any medical marijuana laws on the books. Hemp CBD products formulated for humans will work fine for dogs or cats, but now some companies are making CBD products especially for pets.
One such company developing CBD products for animals is Holistic Hound. The company makes CBD dog treats in two different sizes, so you can choose the dose that’s right for your pup. The brand also produces a CBD-rich hemp oil. If your pet isn’t into crunchy treats, this oil can simply be drizzled onto their food or mixed with anything else they eat for easy medication.
Holistic Hound says it gets feedback from pet owners that its products have helped:
- Calm anxious dogs
- Stop nighttime anxiety
- Settle dogs down around strangers
- Ease digestive distress due to Crohn’s disease
- Relieve sore hips
Questions to Ask When Choosing Hemp CBD for Your Pet
- Where did the CBD come from? Because hemp is largely unregulated, it’s very easy to purchase hemp-derived CBD that’s inferior in quality and has been extracted through dangerous means.
Substandard CBD won’t actually have too much of the cannabinoid in it and will therefore lack the benefits of CBD. Plus, the hemp plant is what’s known as a bioacculumator. This means that it absorbs chemicals from the soil and those chemicals are stored in the plant’s tissues. So, if the plant is farmed using any pesticides, they may show up in the final product.
Some questionable extraction methods could leave traces of harmful chemicals in the CBD, again something you don’t want your beloved pet ingesting.
When doing your research on hemp-derived CBD products for your pet, make sure the company sources its hemp from the United States or Europe. Steer clear of hemp grown in China and Indonesia, which is known for being less than healthy.
** Was the CBD lab tested?** A quality company will have all of its products lab tested by a third party for purity. Most reputable companies will say on their product labels and website that their products are lab tested. They may even provide the lab results, too.
** What’s the label say?** Just as if you were shopping for yourself, scrutinize the hemp CBD labels to make sure there’s nothing added that will harm your pet. Ingredients you have trouble pronouncing or that you’ve never heard of before can be an easy way to spot products that may not be the best choice.
Right here in the HelloMD office, many of us have turned to CBD treats to help our pets live their best lives. In fact, co-founder Pamela Hadfield credits CBD for helping her dog, Desmond, ease his shoulder pain at 14 in his last year and a half of life. Others have turned to CBD to help their dogs get their appetite back, move better and calm down when it’s time to go in the car or when they have to stay home on their own.
And really, you don’t have to wait until your pet is visibly sick to treat them with CBD. Many in the cannabis industry believe that humans should think of the cannabinoid as a vitamin or supplement, something you can take daily to boost your health and help prevent problems in the future. And the same can go for your cat or dog—CBD can be your pet’s ticket to maintaining good health for years to come.
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