10 Questions About CBD and My Pets
For the most part yes. CBD itself is a molecule, called a phytocannabinoid, found in the cannabis plant. CBD is considered a biologically active medicinal molecule, having numerous potential health benefits. However, CBD is not specific to humans versus pets, but rather, the formulation of a CBD product is what can be different and specific to one or the other. CBD for humans is often formulated with other ingredients or compounds, that may not be safe for pets. In addition, even some companies marketing products for pets may actually contain several ingredients that are actually not ideal or safe. So, it is important to understand that CBD is just a molecule, not specific to one particular species. However, the product in which CBD is formulated can be safe or unsafe for pets depending on what else is in it. Ideally, it is best to consider CBD oil products that contain minimal additional ingredients, with the safest of those being a small collection of safe essential oils, or botanical/herb extracts.
No. Although both are derived from the hemp plant (i.e. cannabis with a total THC content of 0.3%), these products are very different. Hemp seed oil is a food additive high in several nutrients but derived from the seeds which do not contain substantial amounts of medicinal compounds. CBD oil is a nutraceutical high in medicinal compounds, derived from the parts of the plant that contain these bioactive molecules. Depending on its carrier oil or other ingredients, it can also contain nutrients such as omega fatty acids. Hemp oil can be used to describe either of these products, so it is very important to closely read product labels and active ingredients.
Although not impossible, it is extremely unlikely. CBD products legally containing low levels of THC (i.e. full-spectrum CBD products) are considered to be the most potentially beneficial to health and wellness as compared to other products where THC is artificially removed. THC has been advertised for decades to be dangerous and even lethal to pets. However, realistically there has never been a confirmed registered pet death from a CBD product in which the product was not adulterated or other potentially dangerous compounds were not simultaneously ingested by the pet. Yes, THC at higher amounts has the ability to cause transient neurologic and gastrointestinal effects, but these effects are not considered to be truly damaging to the body. And, although pets (specifically dogs) are more sensitive to THC as compared to humans, a CBD product with small amounts of THC has a very low chance of resulting in a “doggy high.” Regardless, if a pet is ever thought to be experiencing a bad reaction to a cannabis product, never hesitate to have that pet evaluated by a veterinarian right away.
A full-spectrum CBD product is one in which the natural collection of biologically active cannabis-derived molecules has been preserved as best as possible, as these products undergo the least amount of processing and extraction after harvest. Other products (often referred to as distillates, broad-spectrum, or isolates) undergo further extraction and separation processes which adulterate the plant from its natural form. In addition, these processes also often result in an additional loss of many of the medicinal compounds (i.e. terpenes) when undergoing the attempted isolation and removal of compounds such as THC. The result is a less natural product, and a reduction in the “entourage effect,” or maximal, synergistic health effect cannabis can create when applied therapeutically.
No, there are no compounds in cannabis that cause addiction, which include both CBD and THC. Whether administering it short or long-term, there should be no concern for addiction. However, in humans, there are cases where cannabis “dependence” can develop, but this is not considered a true addiction. There has never been a reported case of cannabis, hemp, or CBD dependence in pets.
For the most part, the answer is yes. However, there is one major caveat to this answer. The hemp and CBD supplement industry is currently unregulated, meaning that the FDA does not test and monitor products before being allowed to enter the consumer market. This means that products can be adulterated or mislabeled and consumers will not know this until adverse reports start to develop. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the consumer to research a company as best as possible, making sure the company is being truthful and transparent with its product testing documents. The most important of these is called the certificate of analysis (COA) and it should include both cannabinoid profiles and adulterant screening profiles. If you cannot find a COA correlated to a specific batch of products, then that should be a red flag right away with regard to that company’s truthfulness.
The answer to this question stems from the fact that CBD and numerous other cannabinoids found naturally in the cannabis plant interact with the most widespread system in the body, called the endocannabinoid system. Most people know very little about this important system since it was only discovered and proven to exist within the last 30-40 years. However, this system is incredible because helps to maintain homeostasis, or balance, throughout the entire rest of the body. Its constituents can be found in every organ system, which explains the reason why CBD and cannabis have a diverse number of possible health benefits. Therefore, a full-spectrum CBD oil truly has the potential to address anxiety, inflammation, pain, immune disorders, and more by working through endocannabinoid influence.
The truth is, veterinarians are not taught about cannabis, CBD, the endocannabinoid system, or really much of anything else when it comes to the topic as a whole. They are taught primarily about the potentially toxic effects of THC, and they are aware that the CBD industry is heavily regulated. Therefore, since most are not educated on the potential health benefits, but do understand some of the risks with regard to the industry, it is just not an area of comfort and confidence for the majority as of yet. There are some vets though, who have gone through extra training in order to educate and advise on the best ways to integrate a trustworthy CBD product into pets’ lives. In addition, there are likely many more vets who are interested in learning more but have not yet had the opportunity. Therefore, be open and honest with your vet! Try to discuss some basic info with them and see where the conversation goes. You may be surprised by how receptive they are!
The answer to this is based on several factors. First, what is/are the conditions attempting to be treated with CBD oil. If a pet has several ailments, then that pet may need a higher dose as compared to a pet who has one mild condition. In addition, some conditions may show a noticeable difference immediately, while others may require CBD to reach a “steady state” within the body in order to begin helping. Secondly, “endocannabinoid tone” is a phrase that encompasses the idea that each individual (human or not human) has a unique level of endocannabinoid system strength. This variable is based on factors like age, sex, diet, micronutrient balance, and others. So, a pet with a more robust endocannabinoid system may need a lower dose as compared to another pet with a lower endocannabinoid tone. Third, is the pet already on other pharmaceuticals? CBD oil has the potential to synergize with many medications but can also reduce the effects of others. This means that CBD oil interaction with pharmaceuticals can influence the dose an animal may need to treat a certain condition.
The short answer is no. If too much CBD oil is administered though, some mild effects may be seen. The most common of these is transient, self-resolving drowsiness. If you believe your pet is experiencing this effect, simply place them in a quiet, dark room and allow them to rest until the effects wear off. Other possible side-effects such as diarrhea or nausea are more likely to be related to the carrier oil, as too much oil could cause mild gastrointestinal upset. However, these effects should also be self-limiting. Nonetheless, if you are concerned that your pet is experiencing more severe side effects, never hesitate to have them evaluated by a veterinarian immediately.