Did you know that Americans spend over $62 billion on their pets every year?
It’s a daunting figure that’s been rising every year since 1994. For many pet owners, expensive vet bills and prescription drugs are a large part of this billion dollar industry. That’s why millions of pet owners have turned to the natural healing powers of CBD for dogs and cats.
There are a variety of ways that CBD can help your pet. CBD can relieve common conditions in pets like anxiety and pain, and help to alleviate chronic diseases like arthritis and seizures.
In this guide, we’ll dive into everything you need to know about CBD for cats and dogs. We’ll start by answering the question, “What is CBD?” We’ll also explain how it affects your pet’s body, review the top CBD benefits, and cover the different types of CBD pet products that are available. We also provide CBD dosage recommendations and list a few potential side effects that may occur.
Table of Contents:
What is CBD?
How Does CBD Work?
25 Benefits of CBD for Dogs and Cats
5 Things to Look for in A Quality CBD Oil for Pets
Types of CBD Products for Pets
How to Administer CBD Oil for Pets
How Much CBD Oil Should I Give My Dog or Cat?
Potential Side Effects of CBD
CBD and Your Pet
What is CBD?
CBD is an acronym for cannabidiol, one of 66 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. It’s a natural and non-toxic compound with zero psychoactive properties. As a natural anti-inflammatory, CBD is an effective pain reliever in addition to numerous other health benefits.
CBD is extracted from the hemp plant and is typically used in an oil form. Common CBD oil uses include ingesting it, rubbing it topically on the skin, or adding it to food.
The idea of “cannabis for dogs and cats” may sound crazy at first. However, many people have turned to CBD to help with their pets’ common ailments and health conditions. CBD can relieve anxiety, help with arthritis, promote hair growth, prevent seizures and much more.
But not all CBD oils made the same way. In order to find the best CBD oil for dogs and cats, it’s important to know where it’s sourced.
Cannabis for Dogs and Cats
CBD oil can be derived from two sources: the marijuana plant or the hemp plant. So what’s the difference? Only CBD oil made with hemp plants is considered safe for pets and here’s why.
CBD Oil from Hemp vs Marijuana
It all has to do with THC levels, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the cannabinoid that produces the psychoactive effect of feeling high. Although THC is known for its euphoric effects in humans, it affects animals very differently. For example, THC can cause adverse side effects including lethargy, nausea, loss of appetite and incontinence.
Hemp-derived CBD oil contains less than 0.3 percent THC. This is the legal requirement for cannabis to be considered hemp and such low levels of THC are not enough to be psychoactive.
Another benefit of hemp-derived CBD is that it contains higher amounts of beneficial cannabinoids than marijuana-derived CBD.
How Does CBD Work?
CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) to produce its therapeutic effects. All mammals have an ECS system, which is a network of receptors that interact with endocannabinoids.
Endocannabinoids are the body’s own naturally produced cannabinoids which actually share many of the same characteristics as cannabis-derived cannabinoids. This is why the two names sound so similar. In fact, “endo” means “within.”
The ECS has receptors located in the brain, peripheral organs, immune cells and gastrointestinal tract. These receptors work with endocannabinoids to regulate a wide variety of bodily functions including:
- Motor control
CBD interacts with the ECS by inhibiting the breakdown of the body’s endocannabinoids. CBD also interacts with important receptors like serotonin, dopamine and opioid receptors. These receptors regulate behaviors like aggression and anxiety, and conditions like pain and inflammation.
25 CBD Oil Benefits for Dogs and Cats
Now that you have an idea of how CBD works, the next step is to learn how it can help your pet. Here we’ll explain the top 25 CBD oil benefits for pets, including arthritis, anxiety, seizures, glaucoma and cardiovascular disease.
- Pain Relief
- Reduce Anxiety
- Prevent Seizures and Epilepsy
- Destroy Cancer Cells
- Relieve Arthritis
- Help with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Relieve Nausea
- Increase Appetite
- Relieve Skin Allergies
- Promote Hair Growth
- Reduce Symptoms of Neurodegenerative Disease
- Increase Blood Circulation
- Improve Cardiovascular Health
One of the primary benefits of CBD for dogs and cats is its anti-inflammatory effect. It prevents inflammation by inhibiting the reabsorption of the neurotransmitter, adenosine, which helps receptors regulate inflammation.
CBD also activates the TRV-1 receptor, which has been found to significantly decrease inflammation and pain. By reducing inflammation, CBD helps to alleviate common diseases in pets such as arthritis, skin allergies, IBD and cardiovascular disease.
Many studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of CBD with pain relief. Since inflammation is a primary cause of pain, CBD promotes healing by first reducing inflammation.
CBD also interacts with opioid receptors, which regulate pain, and dopamine receptors, which regulate pleasure. Scientists have even classified CBD as a new class of analgesic and anti-inflammatory drug.
One of the most common CBD oil uses in both dogs and cats is to reduce anxiety. Animal studies have shown the antidepressant effects of CBD which have been found to boost serotonin signaling by the 5-HT1A receptor. The increased serotonin signaling by the brain helps to reduce anxiety and improve mood.
Since CBD does not directly interact with the same receptors that THC does, it doesn’t produce a psychoactive effect (which can increase anxiety).
Many dogs and cats can suffer from different types of behavioral anxiety including separation anxiety and aggression. Daily situations that can cause anxiety include being left home alone, the presence of intruders, doorbell rings, thunderstorms and sudden loud noises.
Pets can suffer from seizures and epilepsy due to: electrolyte deficiency, kidney failure, brain cancer, anemia, head injuries, stroke, genetic problems and more.
Seizures are caused by the misfiring of neurons in the brain and increased frequency can lead to permanent brain damage. Through interactions with neurons in the brain, CBD has been shown to help regulate anticonvulsant neurotransmitters.
Although there is no hard evidence that cannabinoids can cure cancer, laboratory studies show that cannabinoids do have the capability to destroy cancer cells. Furthermore, CBD can help alleviate symptoms of cancer including inflammation, pain, nausea and loss of appetite.
Arthritis is a common chronic disease that can occur in both dogs and cats. It is a degenerative disease that involves the deterioration of joints and causes swelling and pain. With chronic arthritis, your pet may become immobile or stiff, aggressive, fatigued or have difficulty getting up or walking.
There are many types of treatment for arthritis in pets including conventional drugs like the NSAIDs and opioids for pain relief. However, prolonged use of these harsh prescription drugs can cause harmful side effects in your pet. These symptoms can include liver or kidney damage, vomiting, diarrhea, ulcers, weakness and lack of appetite.
If you are concerned with these side effects, consider giving your pet CBD for arthritis. Since CBD is a natural anti-inflammatory and pain reliever, it can be an effective way to help alleviate your pet’s arthritis symptoms, making it one of the best natural hip and joint supplements for pets.
Animal studies have shown that CBD can help prevent inflammatory bowel disease. Also known as IBD, it is a serious condition in which the stomach lining becomes inflamed, which inhibits the normal absorption and passage of food.
Nausea is a symptom that is quite common in dogs and cats and can occur for a number of reasons, including as a side effect of prescription medication. Studies have shown that CBD can help reduce vomiting and symptoms of nausea.
Since CBD can reduce nausea, it can in turn help increase your pet’s appetite. Loss of appetite is usually a sign of bad health and can occur for a number of reasons including nausea.
Dogs and cats can experience common allergies from food, pests, medication or the environment, and these allergies can cause skin inflammation and itching. Animal studies have shown that the ECS plays a key role in reducing inflammation and can help alleviate the effects of severe allergies and promote healing. Since CBD helps to regulate the ECS, it can aid in reducing the symptoms associated with skin allergies.
Hair loss in pets can occur due to a variety of factors including skin allergies, dermatitis, dry skin, eczema, hot spots and more. An unfortunate yet common symptom of these skin conditions is hair loss.
CBD can help reduce hair loss due to its powerful anti-inflammatory properties that alleviate symptoms of skin allergies, allowing the skin to heal and encourage new hair growth.
Studies show that CBD plays a part in reducing cell death in the brain. This is especially relevant for senior pets who are more susceptible to developing neurological diseases due to old age. Furthermore, many studies have shown the role of CBD in helping to reduce symptoms associated with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.
CBD helps to regulate blood circulation in a number of ways. It interacts with several receptors in the brain, including adenosine receptors and vanilloid receptors. These receptors are key agents that are involved in the regulation of blood flow and cardiovascular functions. These receptors are responsible for unclogging blood vessels, regulating blood pressure and maintaining heart health.
Cardiovascular conditions can be quite common in dogs. Types of heart diseases found in pets include:
- Myocardial Disease
- Heart Murmur
- Pericardial Disease
Studies have shown the effectiveness of CBD in reducing cardiovascular damage. As an anti-inflammatory agent, it reduces inflammation in the vascular system and prevents further damage from occurring. CBD can also reduce the effects of stress on the cardiovascular system.
Glaucoma is a condition that is caused by the buildup of pressure in the eye. Symptoms can include redness, swelling, headache, pain and if prolonged, can lead to vision loss. It is a relatively common disorder that can develop in dogs and cats from genetic dispositions, injuries and infections.
Laboratory studies have shown that CBD has been able to effectively reduce intraocular pressure (IOC) caused by glaucoma.
Depression in dogs and cats can be a serious issue, especially if your pet is exhibiting signs of prolonged fatigue and lack of appetite. Since depression is caused by a variety of mental and physical factors, it may be difficult to pinpoint exactly what’s making your pet feel down.
Research suggests that depression is linked to irregular levels of serotonin and dopamine. These are neurotransmitters that are responsible for regulating sleep, mood and reward-seeking behavior. CBD can help the body regulate levels of these key neurotransmitters through its interactions in the ECS.
This lab study shows that CBD is able to enhance serotonin levels and can produce rapid antidepressant effects. Another study indicates that CBD is able to help modulate the body’s dopamine levels as well.
CBD can help pets with diabetes in two ways. First, CBD can help stimulate CB1 and CB2 receptors located on the pancreas, the organ that’s responsible for producing insulin.
Second, CBD can help alleviate the symptoms associated with diabetes including chronic inflammation and insufficient blood circulation. The lack of blood flow to the extremities can result in infarcts, which are areas of dead tissue. Furthermore, a study conducted on rats showed that CBD helped to reduce the size of infarcts by 30%.
GPR55 is a receptor that regulates bone density and is responsible for bone reabsorption in the body. When overstimulated, this receptor can cause osteoporosis. CBD acts as a blocker for GPR55 and deactivates it, preventing overstimulation of this receptor.
The ECS plays a role in helping the body maintain balance in the immune system.
When the immune system becomes unbalanced, it can result in the development of serious diseases. This includes autoimmune diseases which can occur when the immune system becomes hyperactive. On the other hand, under-active immune systems can lead to increased vulnerability to viral and bacterial infections.
By mimicking the body’s own endocannabinoids, CBD helps the ECS regulate the body’s immune system to restore its balance.
Serotonin is one of the main neurotransmitters that regulate sleep and is one of the key neurotransmitters that CBD helps to regulate within the brain. When levels of serotonin are out of balance, it can cause sleep disorders including insomnia.
Insomnia in dogs and cats can become serious. If prolonged, pets can exhibit symptoms of extreme fatigue, irritability and anxiety. As a natural calming agent, CBD for dogs and cats can help to reduce their anxiety. This can help put them more at ease, resulting in a better night’s sleep.
CBD actually has more powerful antioxidant properties than vitamins C and E. Antioxidants are vital for helping the body reduce the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals can cause a variety of serious diseases including cancer, heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s.
The best CBD oils are made with whole-plant extraction, which uses leaves, seeds and stalks.
Why is this important? There are more than 480 compounds found in hemp plants. Only whole-plant derived CBD oils contain the wide spectrum of cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes found in the hemp plant.
All of these compounds work together on a united front to enhance the effects of CBD, thus creating the “entourage effect.” This is what gives CBD its therapeutic properties and is why you should avoid CBD oils made with CBD isolate. This is because CBD by itself will not produce the same benefits as full-spectrum CBD supplements made with whole-plant extraction.
CBD has antibacterial properties and its use can have implications for treating antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. In a study conducted in 2008, scientists tested five different compounds found in the cannabis plant, including CBD and found that each demonstrated “potent activity” against multiple antibiotic-resistant strains of the bacteria, MRSA.
It’s promising to know that with more research, CBD can potentially be used to fight against bacteria that are antibiotic-resistant, which is a serious medical issue that has become prevalent today.
If your pet is on antibiotics, CBD can also help ease the side effects caused by the medication including nausea, fatigue and allergic reactions.
Dogs and cats can experience adverse changes in mood due to a variety of mental and physical factors. For example, pets that are insecure may feel extremely anxious when left alone. Pets that are suffering from chronic conditions such as arthritis may be experiencing pain and fatigue, which can cause irritability, aggression and depression.
CBD can help enhance your pet’s mood by addressing these common causes. As a calming agent, CBD works to reduce anxiety in dogs and cats and helps put them at ease. As a powerful anti-inflammatory, CBD is a natural pain reliever and can give pets with arthritis (or other forms of pain) the relief they need.
The diverse benefits of CBD are nearly endless, which leads us to our last point.
It’s amazing to see how a natural component of the hemp plant can produce such powerfully therapeutic effects. CBD for dogs and cats is a powerful way to enhance your pet’s overall holistic wellness and help them tackle disease naturally.
5 Things to Look for in a Quality CBD Oil for Dogs
Due to the recent surge in popularity of CBD oils, there are unfortunately, many companies that don’t produce the best quality products. As a pet owner, it’s your job to know exactly what you’re giving your pet and we’re here to help you out with that. Here are the five key factors that every pet owner should look for in a CBD oil.
Source of Hemp
A good quality CBD oil for pets should be made from organic hemp and should be free of pesticides and insecticides. There are two main areas where organic hemp is sourced for the production of CBD oil, and that’s the USA and Europe.
Most of the organic hemp that’s grown in the US is sourced from Colorado, one of the first states to legalize hemp farms, and Kentucky. In addition,
You’ll also find producers that source their hemp from Europe. Organic farming has been a longstanding tradition in Europe. GMOs have long since been outlawed in Europe, and so have many of the pesticides and insecticides that are still used in the US.
No matter what you do, do not buy CBD products made with Chinese hemp, which has been found to be contaminated with lead. Due to the popularity of CBD in recent years, manufacturers will use cheap Chinese hemp as a means to cut corners.
A quality CBD manufacturer should exercise good brand transparency by making it known where they source their hemp from. This information will either be located on their website, FAQ page, product page or product labels. If you can’t find this information, you can try contacting the company and asking their customer service team directly who should be able to tell you.
If you have trouble finding out where a particular brand sources their hemp from, then move on. Your pet deserves the best and the best CBD oil companies should be very transparent in their practices and should have nothing to hide.
A supercritical and subcritical CO2 extraction process is the industry standard for a quality CBD oil. This extraction method creates a hemp extract that is free of any solvents or residues and preserves the hemp plant’s cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes.
Another, less widely used, extraction method is alcohol extraction. Industry insiders have indicated that this method is more efficient at preserving the plant’s compounds and creates a resulting extract that is higher in cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes.
Similar to the other CBD quality indicators we’ve mentioned above, companies should make it apparent to customers about the type of extraction method they use and other manufacturing-related information, like the country where the product is made.
Certificate of Analysis
A Certificate of Analysis, also referred to as a “COA” for short, is a lab report generated by a third-party laboratory.
Legally, every CBD company needs to have their products tested for toxic residues, mildew, mold, metals and other harmful contaminants. In addition, COA reports also indicate the levels of cannabinoids (including CBD and THC), flavonoids and terpenes present in the product. It’s a great way to see just how potent the formula really is.
A company that makes their COA lab reports easily accessible to the public is a sign of great brand transparency. The companies that make the best CBD oils will usually display these reports on their websites or will provide one if you contact them with a request.
Full Spectrum CBD
As mentioned above, there are over 480 chemical compounds found in the hemp plant. Therefore, a quality hemp oil should contain a full-spectrum of CBD including beneficial terpenes and flavonoids.
Since different compounds exist in various parts of the hemp plant, full-spectrum CBD is made using the entire plant, using flowers, stalks and leaves.
When shopping for a CBD oil for pets, look closely at the ingredients label. Avoid CBD products made with “CBD isolate,” which is CBD that’s been chemically isolated from other compounds. As scientifically proven by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, CBD on its own has little beneficial properties. Only a full-spectrum CBD formula, including cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes, is capable of producing the “entourage effect” which is what makes CBD so powerful.
CBD for pets comes in multiple forms, including oils and treats and can contain different types of ingredients. Let’s take a closer look at what these ingredients may be:
- CBD Oils/Extracts: CBD oils are usually formulated with a carrier oil. Common carrier oils include: hemp seed oil, coconut oil, MCT coconut oil or olive oil. Specialty formulas may contain ingredients like wild Alaskan salmon oil or krill oil, which are ideal for pets with joint or inflammatory issues.
- Treats: Treats are the most tasty way to give your pet the benefits of CBD. Good quality CBD treats are grain-free. Many CBD pet treats are also made with organic ingredients including superfoods that help with common ailments. For example, turmeric is a common ingredient found in CBD dog treats that helps with inflammation.
As we mentioned earlier in this guide, THC can potentially be harmful to pets. What creates a euphoric high in humans, does not necessarily happen in pets.
Dogs and cats process THC very differently. Overexposure to THC can cause a myriad of issues including: drowsiness, vomiting, nausea, incontinence and more. Therefore, pet owners should not give their pets CBD products made for humans since these will usually contain higher amounts of THC.
CBD made for pets are specially formulated to contain very little THC. In fact, some of the best CBD brands have even developed specific strains of hemp that contain almost zero THC.
Types of CBD Products for Pets
When it comes to CBD for dogs and cats, there are many types of products available including:
- Topicals and Lotions
As with any supplement, it’s important to know the product’s potency and to read the manufacturer’s recommended dosage amount. This is because each type of product can contain different concentrations of CBD.
For example, CBD oils usually contain the highest amounts of CBD. Due to the higher potency, oils are administered in small amounts using a dropper. Tinctures, on the other hand, are a combination of hemp oil with liquid and are diluted for direct ingestion.
Potential Side Effects of CBD in Pets
Since CBD is non-toxic, overdose is highly unlikely. However, as with any supplement, there are still potential side effects that CBD can produce in pets. According to a survey conducted by the Scientific American, pet owners reported seeing the following side effects in dogs and cats:
- Slight drowsiness
- Dry mouth or excessive eating
Many of these symptoms are uncommon. As shown in the study, 40% of respondents reported no signs of symptoms and 41% reported no notable differences.
Side effects may be more likely to occur if you give your pet the incorrect dosage amount. Before starting your pet on any CBD supplements, make sure to follow the correct dosage guidelines provided by the manufacturer.
How to Administer CBD for Pets
When administering CBD for pets, it’s important to take a close look at the product’s CBD potency as well as the manufacturer’s dosage guidelines.
CBD oils are the most concentrated form and come with a convenient dropper. With the dropper, you can easily mix a few drops into your pet’s food or onto their favorite treat. If your dog enjoys the taste, you can even administer a few drops directly into their mouth.
CBD treats are usually lower in CBD potency. Depending on the condition of your dog or cat’s ailment, you may need to administer more doses over a period of time. Treats are also the easiest way to give your pet CBD since they’re usually made with tasty ingredients that pets love.
No matter what type of CBD product you’re giving your pet, it’s important to know the right dosage.
How Much CBD Oil Should I Give My Dog or Cat?
The right CBD dosage for your pet depends on the concentration of CBD in the supplement you are using. Therefore, it’s important to follow the dosage guidelines provided by the manufacturer.
Of course, pet owners should treat dosage recommendations as general guidelines since every pet is different. If you’re giving your pet CBD for the first time, consider starting with a smaller amount then what’s recommended before increasing the dosage. As always, it’s important to closely monitor your pet’s behavior and symptoms when starting your pet on a new supplement.
CBD and Your Pet
As a natural anti-inflammatory and pain reliever, there are many reasons to add CBD to your pet’s diet. CBD for pets is an all-natural, plant-based way to provide your pet the relief they deserve.
Remember, when finding a CBD oil for pets, only purchase supplements that are made with organic hemp.
Although there are many CBD oil benefits for pets, it’s important to note that CBD is classified as a nutritional supplement. It is not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases. If you have any concerns or questions about CBD for dogs and cats, please consult your veterinarian to see if it’s right for your pet.
These statements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Information contained or made available through Natural Pet Living is not intended to constitute or substitute for legal advice or veterinary advice.