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CBD for Pets: What You Need to Know

By Dan Putnam June 02, 2020 0 comments

The human application of the cannabis compound cannabidiol (CBD) had been at the forefront of CBD research. However, research has indicated that CBD can be a natural alternative form of therapeutic treatment for animals. In human, CBD had been shown to be useful in the treatment of inflammation, pain, muscle spasm, tumors, appetite stimulation, anxiety, among other emerging benefits. Interestingly enough, CBD has been shown to be beneficial in treating certain animal-related conditions, including pain, epilepsy, skin condition and anxiousness. Veterinarians are still slow to get on board the CBD pet benefit train because there still needs to be more definitive studies. Let us look at what you need to know about CBD for pets.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid naturally occurring in industrial hemp and marijuana. Unlike THC, it does not produce a "high" in users. It is the second most abundant cannabinoid compound, of roughly 85 found in cannabis behind THC. In many instances of human application, CBD is used as a natural remedy or alternative where pharmaceutical drugs have failed to alleviate a condition. Whether you come across the name CBD oil, CBD-rich hemp oil, hemp-derived CBD oil, or CBD-rich cannabis oil, they refer back to the source, CBD. A CBD product for your four-legged friend may be oil that can be administered orally, or other products like biscuits and capsules.

How CBD Work in Dogs

In the same way that humans have specific cannabinoid receptor sites in the brain, immune and central nervous systems that can be activated by CBD to exert a number of benefits, these same receptors are also present in your pet. Two vital endogenous cannabinoids found in a dog’s brain are anandamide and 2- arachidonylglycerol, that has an affinity for CB1 and CB2 receptors and enables the activation of a response to CBD. While there are limited studies that shed light on CBD and pet benefits, from the research available, it has been shown that cannabinoids are metabolized differently in human than in animals, however, but does not diminish its effectiveness in animals.

In one study that compared the urinary metabolites of cannabidiol in dog, rat and man, it was found that dogs primarily oxidize cannabidiol via the 6 β-hydroxylation pathway, while humans produce 7-oic acid group metabolites of CBD. In terms of the bioavailability of CBD in dogs, it has been shown to have a low oral bioavailability, while intravenous CBD administration has superior bioavailability in comparison. Based on an early study, following the administration of two iv doses (45 and 90 mg) and one oral dose (180 mg) of CBD to dogs, CBD was observed to be rapidly distributed, but was barely absorbed, ranging from 13 to 19%, which may be a result of “first pass effect.”

CBD & Skin Conditions in Dogs

There are many skin conditions that can affect your pet, from ringworm to folliculitis. While some can simply be superficial, others can significantly affect the health of your pet.

One of the most common skin conditions that affect dogs that has been looked at in studies is atopic dermatitis and how CBD could potentially aid in its treatment. In a 2012 study examining the distribution of cannabinoid receptors- type CB1 and CB2 in the skin of dogs with atopic dermatitis (AD), and it was concluded that CB1 and CB2 immunoreactivity was stronger in the dogs with dermatitis than normal dogs. This result indicates that the endocannabinoid system could play a significant role as a target for the treatment of immune-mediated and inflammatory disorders such as atopic dermatitis.

CBD Trial & Dogs with Seizures

There is very little evidence supporting the effectiveness of CBD in treating epilepsy in animals, but researchers are making strides in reaching determining the benefits that CBD holds as a seizure management treatment option for dogs, in particular. Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital has paved the way with its clinical trials, with an objective of examining the efficacy of cannabidiol (CBD) canine epilepsy. In the trial, dogs are randomly assigned to one of two groups, where they are administered the CBD oil or a placebo for a duration of 12 weeks, and each dog owner completes a daily seizure log and a weekly behavioral questionnaire. The trial is free of cost, including all tests and CBD oil. This trial is a promising step towards gaining more knowledge about how CBD can help to improve your pet’s health.

When it comes to your pets and CBD, there are still a lot of questions that needs to be answered. Scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of CBD in being beneficial for your four-legged friend is still in the early stages. That limitation makes it difficult to make any hard conclusions on the issue. So far, it is clear that dogs have CB1 and CB2 receptors like humans that can react to CBD. Studies have indicated that CBD has the ability to treat skin conditions, and seizures in dogs. Though CBD is nonpsychoactive, there is no certainty that it would be safe for your pet. It is clear that more research is warranted on the issue of CBD and pets, but current research and clinical trials is the right direction in getting the important questions answered.


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