by Tom Williams
Car sickness, arthritis, anxiety, seizures, chronic illnesses: these are afflictions that not only humans face. Our furry family members, too, are prone to these same health problems. Cannabidiol, or CBD oil, is touted as a miracle cure by many for a host of human illnesses, so it stands to reason that our pets could benefit as well.
Although many pharmaceuticals do not translate across species, CBD is different. Why? Because all vertebrates have an endogenous cannabinoid system (or ECS). In fact, one of the most primitive animals on earth with an ECS – the sea-squirt – evolved over 600 million years ago. However, before you head to the nearest dispensary, there are several things you should know about CBD and pets.
CBD, not THC
Maybe you’re tempted to cut corners by dosing your pet with one of your own pot gummies or even blowing smoke in his face (it’s happened; take my word for it). But don’t. Seriously. THC can be toxic to animals, and episodes of accidental ingestion and toxicity are high in states where recreational marijuana has been legalized. If ingested, THC can cause ataxia (loss of motor control), disorientation, tremors, and urinary incontinence. It can also cause death. Though all vertebrates have an ECS system, it doesn’t follow that all cannabinoids that work within that system are the same. Know what’s safe.
Research is scarce, but it’s growing
Because hemp has only recently been available for researchers to use in clinical trials, which mostly focus on the human species, most evidence for its efficacy in pets is anecdotal. However, studies do exist that back up the therapeutic properties of CBD oil for pets. Dr. Stephanie McGrath, a neurologist at Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, is one of the first physicians to begin clinical trials on CBD and pets, and the initial results look promising. In one clinical trial, she found that 89 percent of dogs had a reduction in the frequency of seizures when treated with CBD oil. Another study from Cornell found that dogs with osteoarthritis “showed a significant decrease in pain and an increase in activity with CBD oil.”
Your pet might be picky
Pets can be picky about what they ingest. A dog’s sense of smell is up to 100,000 times stronger than a human’s, and any dog who has been medicated a few times knows when the pill bottle is being opened again. Besides, if you’re using CBD as a calming agent for a nervous dog, it’s not going to be fun forcing the dog’s jaws open, further stressing the poor thing, in order to administer the CBD she hates.
Luckily, you have better options. If you’re unsure what to try first, perhaps the best form to administer CBD oil for pets is a tincture made with a flavorless oil that you can add to your dog’s favorite food. You can also use the dropper to adjust the dosage. A drop of CBD on a particularly tasty treat may be all you need for pup to come around. Guud Mfg has tinctures in multiple strengths, for different sizes of pets, so you can find exactly what you need.
Where do you start the dosage?
Our furry friends come in hundreds of shapes and sizes, so dosage really depends on the size of your pet as much as anything. A small dog or cat will not require the same mg/ml that a large dog would. Some retailers provide an appropriate assortment of doses for different size pets. Guud Mfg sells concentrations of 150-300 mg/ml for small pets, and 500-1000 mg/ml for large pets. If you have the appropriate concentration, you can start with 2-4 drops daily. Observe your dog’s behavior for a week or so and then you could up the dose as necessary.
Referencing the Cornell study for dogs with osteoarthritis, we know that 2 mg/kg twice a day is effective at treating that particular malady, with no side effects whatsoever reported. There are a lot of online resources to calculate the exact dosage. But generally, starting with a few drops is a safe bet. Alternatively, you can ask your distributor for more information.
Compared to most traditional prescription medications that your dog might need, CBD is practically free of side effects. However, it’s still worth it to monitor your pet to make sure that she’s tolerating it well. Possible side effects might include drowsiness, dry mouth, or lowered blood pressure. Remember that pets instinctively hide their pain, so don’t wait until the symptoms are over the top. This is another reason to start your dog off with a low dose. If your dog starts exhibiting any of these symptoms at all, you know to cut back to a lower dose.
The Good Stuff
Just like you would for yourself, look for high-quality CBD. Ensure that the supplier can show you a Certificate of Analysis (COA) that shows the results of their CBD being tested by an unaffiliated 3rdparty laboratory. In doing your research, you will find a wide variety of pricing. Very few companies offer super high-quality CBD at reasonable prices- unless they are able to grow, process, wholesale and retail their product independently. Guud Mfg does just that, and therefore is uniquely able to pass on the savings to the customer.
Call the Vet
Before you make any choices for your pet, talk to your veterinarian. Even five years ago, your vet might have been blindsided by questions about CBD; laws were such then that vets could face heavy penalties for even talking about a Schedule 1 drug with their clients. But since the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp and its CBD products are perfectly legal at a federal level and by now, most vets will have fielded questions already. As FDA regulations undergo change, veterinarians are adjusting to the new rules- for now, the client needs to bring up CBD, and then the veterinarian can discuss the treatment. Bills are currently being introduced at the state level that allows veterinarians to recommend and prescribe CBD for pets. California is leading the way by working on introducing legislation that would allow veterinarians to discuss cannabis with their clients, but as with all bureaucracy, change is a slow process.
Tom Williams works for Güüd Mfg., a CBD manufacturer based in Oregon