Humans aren’t the only earthbound creatures who suffer from anxiety, chronic pain, seizures, arthritis and other ailments that impact daily quality of life. Our furry friends do, too, especially as they age—and just like humans, pets have endocannabinoid systems that respond to the plant’s compounds in therapeutic ways.
Several pet-specific cannabis-therapy products are already coming to the market. But experimenting with cannabis for pets is a little trickier than it is for ourselves.
First, and most important, rule: Never give your pet anything containing more than trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive compound that makes us feel “high.” Animals are more likely to have an unpleasant experience or symptomatic reaction to even a small amount of THC; in extremely high quantities, it could threaten their life. If your pet accidentally has too much THC and is struggling to remain conscious, seek professional care.
CBD, however, is a different matter.
The non-psychoactive compound has been studied as therapy for a spectrum of serious conditions, from epileptic seizures and chronic inflammation to neuropathic pain, in mankind. Is it also safe and effective for man’s best friend?
You wouldn’t be the first to wonder: Chrissy Teigen recently pinged the Twitterspehere about whether she could treat her aging bulldog with CBD.
does anyone give their dog CBD oil? I know about the endless benefits for humans but not much about it for dogs. My old man bulldog puddy has cancer and heart issues 🙁 just want him to be happy and comfortable!
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) March 3, 2018
The responses Teigen received online were mixed. Reactions from veterinarians are also varied—but that’s largely due to a lack of clinical research, making vets skittish about weighing in. One California-based vet we spoke with even asked to remain anonymous for fear she could lose her license for prescribing, or even suggesting, that CBD oil can work for pets.
“Until there’s some sort of actual clinical research, no vet is going to sign off on it,” she told Eaze. “I had one dog with cancer and its owner was using it as an appetite stimulant. I’m not sure if it worked, but they felt that it did. So if it provides some sort of comfort, great. But when you have an animal that’s completely innocent, owners have 100 percent responsibility to protect them.”
We’re off to a promising start.
A recently completed trial out of Cornell suggests that administering 2 mg for every kg of the animal’s weight twice daily can help increase comfort and activity in dogs with osteoarthritis. The study is pending peer review, but the dogs’ standardized activity scores showed a “significant decrease” in pain.
The biggest roadblock keeping licensed vets from prescribing CBD for pets lies in the fact that it’s nearly impossible to accurately quantify its strength. We as humans have the ability to self-research through trial and error, and adjust timing, dosage and frequency accordingly. Your four-legged friend can not, making a correct dosage and effectiveness tough to pin down.
If you’re trying CBD oil for you pet for the first time, start out with the smallest recommended dose—or smaller—and dial it up incrementally with subsequent sessions. Observe your pet’s behavior, including mood, appetite, energy level and activity. If your normally creaky old pal shows signs of being his or her old self on a consistent basis after treatment, but isn’t too goony or wobbly, you’ve probably found the sweet spot.
Not even Dr. James Gaynor, a veterinarian who specializes in anesthesiology and pain management at Peak Performance Veterinary Group in Frisco, Co. and created his own CBD product in 2017, will go so far as to guarantee that it works.
“It has the potential to do a lot of things,” he told Quad Cities Online. “It’s just going to take time to figure all of that out.”
“In the nutraceutical world, there’s a problem because there’s not much oversight,” Gaynor said. “What they say is on the label may not truly be what’s in it.”
The key is to buy your CBD from a trusted supplier, like Elite California, which makes Forever Pet CBD oil and is available on the Eaze platform. Made only from hemp, which contains trace amounts or no THC, the chicken-flavored oil can be mixed into your pet’s food or administered directly under the tongue for a faster-acting effect.
To calculate dosage, Dr. Robert J. Silver, a private practice holistic vet from Boulder, Colorado, recommends even less than the Cornell trial: for a 10-12 pound dog, he suggests fewer than 3 mg twice daily. Tincture brands vary in milligrams per drop, so read the labels carefully before doing the math.
From there, it’s up to you to see how your pet responds. You’ll know.
Day one of puddy smokin that good good and he is FOR SURE a more comfortable bulldog. I can’t believe I waited so long! U get it, puddy!!!!
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) March 4, 2018
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