Cannabidiol is becoming increasingly common as a wellness and health supplement for people. This change has become possible due to the technological advancements of isolating CBD from the rest of the cannabis plant and allowing users to enjoy the ultimate health value of this compound without getting high. Besides, the non-intoxicating nature of CBD has paved its way to the mass market, and a variety of CBD products are currently available as over-the-counter items available for purchase in any store.
However, together with the spreading human use of CBD came a new trend of applying CBD in pet health management. Though the body of available research on CBD application in pets is scarce and fragmented, pet owners spread word of mouth about the benefits their furry companions enjoy from CBD treats. Thus, it is important to consider the changes CBD has introduced in how people care for their pets today. If you're also considering CBD for your pet's health and wellness, start choosing the optimal product at https://askgrowers.com/cbd/cbd-products-for-pets and read on to see how CBD can benefit animals.
How Does CBD Work in Animals?
Cannabidiol is one of the primary components in the hemp plant, a compound belonging to the cannabinoid family. It can be derived from hemp flowers and other parts of the plant by decarboxylating the cannabidiolic acid via UV exposure, heating, the plant parts, or prolonged storage. This cannabinoid is non-psychoactive, unlike THC, for which marijuana is well-known, so its use is not connected with the feeling of high or cerebral intoxication.
As the study of Greb and Pushner (2018) showed, people process CBD differently from canines. While humans enjoy pretty high CBD bioavailability through oral administration (13% to 19%), canines don't exhibit the same high levels of CBD absorption. For canines, intravenous CBD absorption produces the highest effects, which is unsuitable for home pet wellness routines. Besides, the fact that dogs have a larger number of endocannabinoid receptors in their brains compared to humans suggests that it's too short-sighted and non-academic to transfer the findings of human CBD research to animals and expect the same treatment outcomes for cats and dogs.
How Do Pet Owners Perceive CBD Treatment?
Even though science is far from decisive on CBD use in pets, pet owners are growing unreasonably optimistic about CBD potential. The reasons for this rising acceptance of CBD remedies for animals differ, from susceptibility to aggressive marketing to positive personal experiences with CBD that people transfer to their pets. Whatever the case, people are increasingly giving their canine and feline friends CBD treats and expect a wellness boost, pain relief, and stress management outcomes from these natural remedies.
A 2023 survey by Alvarenga conducted with 1,238 respondents across the USA showed the following statistics in CBD use for pets:
- Dogs were the most prevalent pet category for CBD use (75.8%), compared to 22.2% reported CBD uses in cats.
- 44.6% of the respondents reported using CBD treats and chews to administer CBD to pets. CBD-infused oil was the second-most often used CBD form – 42.9% of respondents reported using it.
- Stress and anxiety were addressed with CBD in 67.4% of cases; 23% more respondents reported treating pain and inflammation in their pets with the help of CBD products.
- Most respondents noted a significant improvement in their pets’ conditions after using CBD.
What Do Veterinarians Say?
Vets are largely cautious about recommending CBD to patients, as there are no consistent nationwide guidelines on dosing CBD or prescribing it for specific health issues in pets. However, with people’s growing interest in the potential of CBD use, vets also need to respond to client interest and educate their clients about CBD consumption.
Here is a brief snapshot from the 2019 study held by Kogan et al. in the USA. The researchers conducted a large-scale survey with 2,000+ American veterinarians about their knowledge, experience, and perceptions regarding the applicability of CBD use in animals.
- 61.5% of the sample found it comfortable to discuss CBD use with colleagues, but only 45.5% reported feeling comfortable talking about CBD with clients.
- Recent graduates were less comfortable discussing CBD use with clients, probably because of a lack of expertise and professional self-confidence.
- Vets in states where cannabis is legalized felt more comfortable talking about CBD use in pets and prescribing CBD.
- The most frequent pet conditions for which CBD was discussed included chronic and acute pain, anxiety relief, and seizure management.
- The most common side effect CBD users for their pets reported was excessive sedation.
Thus, as you can see, acceptance of CBD in pet care is growing even among vets, so pet owners can expect the rising openness of their vets in recommending CBD options for their cats’ wellness management.
Challenges of CBD Use for Pets
The most important point to note about CBD use in pets is the risk of THC intoxication, which is disproportionately higher for animals than for people. While a human consumer may feel dizzy or sick for some time, and their liver will process the intoxicating substance without severe health repercussions, things work completely differently with pets. Consuming even a bit of THC is deadly for some dogs and cats. Thus, vets strongly caution pet owners to avoid administering their CBD products to pets and use only pet-specific CBD items.
CBD Treats for Pets Are at Your Discretion
As our review shows, science is still silent about CBD use in pets, as research is dramatically lacking even for humans, let alone pets. Thus, as researchers note, the present-day rise in the CBD industry and expanding range of CBD treats formulated specifically for animals signifies a large-scale disconnect between clinical evidence and public opinion.
Most cases of CBD use in pets are pet owners' voluntary, informed solution, as vets rarely recommend CBD treatment for animals today. Yet, the absence of toxicity risks and a general wellness mechanism of CBD's action in human and animal organisms can become the starting point for broader use and more clinical studies to formulate a sound body of evidence and formulate clear CBD dosing recommendations for canines and felines.
The author of this article is Tia Moskalenko, a great fan of dogs and a passionate pet owner. Tia is a cannabis industry advocate, researcher, and writer at AskGrowers, with a dream of bringing the benefits of CBD closer to people and animals. She publishes informative pieces to familiarize CBD users and pet owners with safe consumption practices and dosing tips.