Pet parents are learning more about what it takes to raise a healthy and happy four-legged friend, but in a world where diets claim instant weight loss results and “miracle” supplements sell out with no backup to their claims, it’s hard to know what to believe. There’s the ridiculous, the disappointing, the so-so, and then there’s CBD oil; it’s an all-natural compound making a positive difference in pet health. CBD oil benefits dogs and cats by reducing anxiety, preventing arthritis pain, and stopping seizures. There’s even research happening about CBD oil shrinking tumors. It’s safe and effective, and pets of all ages, breeds, and varying health concerns are reaping its benefits. Here’s what you need to know.
What is CBD Oil?
CBD oil, also called cannabidiol, is one of over 100 chemical compounds found in cannabis. These compounds are called cannabinoids, and the one you’re probably most familiar with is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC.) Like THC, CBD is found in marijuana. But unlike THC, CBD has no psychoactive properties. It can’t get you or your dog high, and it’s completely safe for both humans and animals.
The key to understanding CBD oil is knowing that CBD and THC are not the same. While THC is found only in the marijuana type of cannabis, CBD is different. It’s found in marijuana, and it’s also found in the other kind of cannabis—industrial hemp. When derived from hemp, CBD oil is a potent—and legal—power player in the world of pet care. It interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system in a way that promotes health, healing, and overall well-being.
What is the Endocannabinoid System?
Like the respiratory, circulatory, and all the other biological systems you learn about in grade school science class, the endocannabinoid system is responsible for specific tasks that keep the body up and running. All mammals, humans and dogs included, have endocannabinoid systems that function in the same way. The system is made up of a series of receptors located in various parts of the body like the brain, certain glands, the nervous system, and major organs.
The receptors work together to serve as the body’s command center for healing and balance. They react to what’s happening in the body by adjusting the immune response. Cannabinoids (CBD oil included) bond to and stimulate the receptors so they can better do their jobs. CBD oil opens up a form of two-way communication that allows the endocannabinoid system to better respond to the body’s needs. Overall, it’s a natural way of regulating health.
How Your Dog Could Benefit From CBD Oil
With endocannabinoid receptors located all throughout the body, scientific studies show CBD oil has an effect on a long list of health issues. The endocannabinoid system identifies the specific problems, and CBD oil helps direct the system’s response to target exact concerns. Here are a few of the ways dog owners are using CBD oil to help their pets.
CBD Oil for Anxiety
You might think a dog’s life is all about belly rubs and tail wags, but our canine friends experience the same kind of stress and anxiety as we do. They’re not worried about paying bills or deadlines at work, but there are specific stressors with the potential to put them on edge. Being left home alone, being at the vet, going on car rides, thunder—there’s a long list of situations that can cause anxiety in pets. When your dog is anxious, you can tell by their behavior. They might whine, cry, chew on things, try to escape, soil your favorite rug, or accidentally hurt themselves by panicking. In mild cases, an anxious dog might seem generally restless and uncomfortable. Either way, anxiety in pets is nothing to take lightly.
CBD oil works to relieve anxiety by promoting better communication between endocannabinoid receptors. The receptors pick up on the body’s distress and signal chemical transmissions to bring everything back into balance. It triggers a response that reduces the production of adrenaline and cortisol (two hormones associated with stress), and the result is a feeling of calm and comfort.
CBD oil is especially beneficial when you know something is going to cause your pet anxiety. A vet visit on the calendar or a disagreeable weather forecast is examples. Administering CBD oil to your dog ahead of time will help their body better handle their anxiety when the person with the white coat approaches or the thunder starts to rumble.
CBD Oil for Pain
As naturally stoic creatures, dogs have a frustratingly impressive ability to hide their pain. It takes keen observation skills to pick up on their subtle signs of discomfort, but once you know, it’s your responsibility to do something about it. It’ll depend on the specific situation, but more and more dog owners are turning to CBD oil as an effective pain reliever.
For dogs with arthritis, every movement is potentially painful. Arthritis is caused by a gradual deterioration of cartilage that leaves the bones in the joints to rub against each other. The resulting inflammation restricts movement and causes severe pain. CBD oil is by no means a cure for arthritis, but studies have shown it plays a role in decreasing inflammation in the joints. With no inflammation, there’s no pain, and your dog can run and play without experiencing the symptoms of their condition.
Besides arthritis pain, CBD oil is often recommended for dogs going through other kinds of painful conditions. Pancreatitis, nerve-related pain, and even stomach pain caused by intestinal inflammation are all viable reasons to administer CBD oil to a dog. There’s also evidence that shows it reduces pain caused by broken bones and strained muscles.
Watching your dog have a seizure—no matter the kind—is a gut-wrenching experience. The treatment for canine epilepsy is traditionally limited to a cocktail of anticonvulsant drugs. When you don’t know the exact cause of the seizure—which is true for most dogs—stopping the episodes from happening is especially difficult. For many dogs, prescription medication doesn’t do anything to stop their seizures. And even if it does, the risk of side effects like long-term liver damage, confusion, and weight gain are risks not worth taking. Dogs need a better solution, and their families have turned to something that is already valued as an effective holistic treatment for epilepsy in humans. You guessed it, it’s CBD oil.
According to Consumer Reports, anticonvulsant medications fail to have positive effects in about one-third of people with epilepsy. There’s still a lot to learn, but evidence shows CBD oil successfully prevents seizures, and as a bonus, there are no dangerous side effects. A survey of parents raising children with epilepsy conducted by the Department of Neurology at Stanford University found CBD oil reduced seizures 84% of the time.
For further proof, a viral video shows the powerful potential of CBD oil to not only prevent seizures but to stop them in their tracks. Kevin Spitler of the Toledo Hemp Center posted a video of his dog having what appears to be a seizure. While the dog is convulsing, Spitler presents a bottle of CBD oil to the camera. He administers it to the dog, and in less than a minute, the seizure subsides.
Scientists don’t know everything about using CBD oil to treat seizures, but an increased demand for a better treatment option and the rising popularity of CBD oil is leading to more studies. A research team in Colorado is currently conducting a study using CBD oil to treat dogs with epilepsy, and the world is anxiously awaiting the results.
Spitler’s dog isn’t the only pup that has found relief thanks to CBD oil. An increasing number of studies are showing encouraging results that CBD oil is safe and effective. It’s available as a tincture, and it’s also made into tasty treats dogs love. The key is finding a reliable retailer with a product you can trust. The past few years have seen CBD oil earn its promising reputation related to a long list of health benefits, and it’s more than just another new health fad. Talk to a holistic vet to learn more about the possibilities involving CBD oil for dogs.
CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital
National Center for Biotechnology Information