They are best friends, playmates, family members, entertainers, comforters, sports partners and much more. We are talking about pets. Dog, cat, mouse and Co. have been an enrichment in many households since time immemorial. Their well-being is close to our hearts, so it's no surprise that CBD is gaining more and more attention not only in human medicine, but also in veterinary medicine. What to consider for the animal welfare?
Just like humans, the majority of mammals also have an endocannabinoid system. As part of the nervous system, it performs tasks in the areas of:
- Pain sensation
- Immune system
- Memory and cognition
The endocannabinoid system sends signals through the body with the help of the body's own cannabinoids and can thus influence well-being. If this system is out of balance, the cannabinoids of the cannabis plant can be used to restore balance.
Animal miracle drug CBD?
CBD is one of these cannabinoids, but unlike its famous cousin THC, it does not induce intoxication. The popularity of CBD products has increased enormously in recent years, also thanks to a legal liberalization. At the latest when visiting a website for pet supplies, one notices that straight oils have also arrived in the animal market. CBD oils are a popular addition to common treatment methods, but one should be aware that CBD is not a medicine. Science has neglected cannabis for years and previous statements on the effects and uses of CBD are largely based on empirical medicine.
At this point, there is only one study on CBD in veterinary medicine. In 2018, researchers at Cornell University in New York studied the effectiveness of CBD on arthritis in dogs. Although the results are promising, there is still quite a bit of study to be done to make any firm conclusions about CBD. The hyped all-purpose CBD is certainly not (yet), but, as a herbal supplement already worth a thought.
Areas of application
As mentioned, today's knowledge about the effect of CBD is mainly based on experiences of pet owners. Thus, pet owners report relaxed fireworks evenings, relieved hip pain and calm horse transports. The most common areas of use are:
- Chronic pain in the musculoskeletal system
- Anxiety and stress
- Support for the gastrointestinal tract
- Skin and coat problems
- Support for the immune system
The WHO classifies CBD as harmless, but there are known side effects and animal organisms react differently than humans. Basically, it is always advisable to talk to your trusted vet first if you are interested.
Canidae aka dogs
Dogs have a higher percentage of receptors in the endocannabinoid system than other types of pets and can react strongly to the administration of CBD. A CBD product for dogs should never exceed a THC level of 0.2%. Uncontrolled delivery of THC can cause severe side effects. These include loss of bladder control and locomotor disturbances.
Felidae aka cats
Cats can also benefit from CBD, but here the choice of product plays a big role. Cats cannot metabolize terpenes because they lack a necessary liver enzyme. Terpenes are a part of the cannabis plant and are responsible for an increased effect of CBD. Because of this, there are many products in which terpenes are intentionally preserved. In the case of cats, consuming such products can lead to organ damage or death. A CBD oil for cats should therefore be labeled "terpene-free" or be a CBD isolate. The THC limit, which applies to dogs, should also not be exceeded in cats. The furry noses react similar to humans to THC, i.e. somewhere in the spectrum between agitation and feeding addiction.
Equus aka horses
Horses are flight animals and their evolutionary reaction to stress is an increased breathing rate and increased blood flow to the muscles. Tournaments, stable changes, transports or rank fights in the herd are known stressful situations. Permanent stress can lead to chronic diseases and a weakened immune system in horses. CBD as a natural tranquilizer is becoming increasingly popular with horse owners. However, those who want their four-legged friend to gallop in competitions should avoid CBD a few weeks before the start of the race, as it is on the animal doping list.
In a nutshell or résumé
Our fur noses deserve only the best. CBD can support in times of animal distress, but should only be administered in consultation with a veterinarian. Anyone who wants to administer CBD to their pet should do so with patience and caution. That way, contented bundles of joy will continue to enrich our human existence!
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Gamble, Lauri-Jo et al. Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs. 2018. cornell university, new york.