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Should I give CBD to my Dog?

September 10, 2018

What you need to know quickly

Pets are a member of the family. It’s not surprising that owners will do just about anything to keep their dogs health and happy, especially as they age. Elderly dogs can be plagued with numerous conditions that can shorten their life and bring them chronic pain. Joint pain,seizures, bone degeneration, dementia, gloacoma, depression and cancer. Even in younger dogs conditions such as anxiety, seizures,skin rashes and loss of appetite can lead to frequent vet visits and a list of medications, some with unwanted side effects. In an attempt to find therapies for their dogs that are more natural with less side effects owners are turning to CBD

What is CBD and how does it work

Before you can decide if CBD is an option for your pet there are few things to understand. First and most importantly when we talk about CBD we are really talking about cannabis and more specifically hemp. Marijuana is actually a slang term that was used around the turn of century and literally means "Mexican weed". Cannabis contains approximately 100 different chemical compounds known as cannabinoids. The most well known of these cannabinoids is THC and CBD. THC is the psycho-active compound that is the focus of the recreational user, CBD is the non psycho-active compound that we're interested in for our pets.

The hemp plant has been breed over the years to reduce the amount of THC and increase the amount of CBD it contains. The CBD is extracted from the hemp plants in various ways and distilled into a concentrated form called CBD oil. This oil contains all of the therapeutic compounds from the hemp plant without the mind altering levels of THC. Users are able to get the benefits without worrying about impaired mental ability. CBD works with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in mammals to help regulate biological processes. This system that all mammals have is known as the endocannabinoid system and it acts as a self regulating, bio-feedback loop that researchers are just beginning to understand.

When a mammal ingests CBD oil it interacts with their endocannabinoid system and kicks off this self regulating feedback loop. If the body needs to increase production or activity of certain protein the CB1 and CB2 receptors become more active (analgesicanalgesic, pain relief and healing) conversely when there is to much activity the receptors pull back activity (reduce inflammation). In this way the endocannabinoid system makes adjustments and stimulates or reduces processes within mammals to bring the entire body back into a state of equilibrium. This contrasts the way traditional medicine interacts with your pet. A synthetic medication or drug has a specific target of action and depending on the dosage it acts on that target to a greater or lesser degree. The only way to regulate the reaction is to change the dosage, however it's difficult to gauge your pets internal reaction to a medication and even if you're paying close attention to their reaction it could still be a guessing game. Additionally there could be changes in your pets tolerance of the medication or even latent side effects that aren't obvious. The medication is synthetic and your pet doesn't have an internal mechanism to regulate it's effect. This is where the use of CBD oil shows the most promise as a possible alternative.

In one of thefirst studies of the effectiveness of CBD oil in pets there were therapeutic benefits found in the majority of test subjects. The Colorado state university veterinary school conducted a study of pets and reported "positive impact was highest for relief from pain (64.3%), followed by helping with sleep(reported by 50.5%), and relief from anxiety (49.3%)". In a separate study 30 beagles were given large doses of CBD oil and none of the test subjects had any material adverse effects. The combination of these two studies made it very clear that CBD oil showed great promise for therapeutic benefits, was non-toxic at high doses and deserved additional funded studies. Colorado state university is currently conducting  a more robust study with results expected early next year.

How can CBD oil help your dog

Fortunately CBD oil is derived from hemp so it doesn't have the same legal issues as recreational cannabis and you don't need to worry about it negatively impacting your dogs mental state or general personality. The majority of owners using CBD oil for their pets fall into two major categories occasional (acute) use or regular (chronic) use.

Occasional (acute) uses;

  • Sprains & strains
  • Muscle strains or torn ligaments
  • Post operative care
  • Reduce swelling, pain or stiffness
  • Separation anxiety
  • Phobias (thunderstorms, travel, vet visits, fireworks)

Regular (chronic) uses;

  • Chronic pain
  • Seizures
  • Joint pain & mobility issues
  • Glaucoma
  • Intestinal inflammation
  • Allergies
  • Chronic anxiety & depression
  • Dementia & mental degeneration
  • Loss of appetite
  • Cancer therapies
  • General quality of life in older dogs

Another major benefit to consider is the chance to get your pet off, or at least reduce the total amount of medications your pet is taking. These medications can have significant short term and long term side effects. CBD oil in comparison is non toxic and works with your animals existing endocannabinoid system to help regulate it, instead of forcing your pets body to react. Especially in older or sick animals, a harsh or forceful treatment can be traumatizing and lead to rejection of the therapy or even a worsening of their condition.

How do you try CBD oil for your pet

CBD oil is available in many different forms, giving you options for both how and how much you give to your dog. There are numerous treats available on the market however edible forms of CBD takes longer to metabolism and less of the CBD is available in the bloodstream. CBD oils are probably the easiest way to give CBD to your pets. The oils, known astinctures usually have a built in dropper in the cap and you’ll either place small amount of oil in the pets mouth or put it on a cracker, piece of bread or crouton. We don’t normally recommend placing the oil in their food because you won’t be certain if they eat it all, some of the oil could stick to the bowl.

A common starting point for dosages is 5mg per 10lbs of body weight. A 50 lbs bulldog could start at 25mg of CBD and you can adjust from there. There are two primary reactions for CBD owners report. First is a mellow or sleepy dog and the second is an energized pet. One of the main side effects of large amounts of CBD is tired or sleepiness, if your pet is more tired or sleepy then you planned, give them less CBD next time. Second is an energized pet. This is most common with older animals and is usually the result of the dog feeling better and having more energy with less pain.

Also consider your dogs metabolism. A 2 year old Boxer has a much higher metbolism than a 10 year old lab, so you may need to increase the dose for the younger dog if they are burning through it too quickly.

CBD topicals such as salves are also very helpful for localized pain or for hurting pads on pets. In the winter or summer months when their pads might be sensitive, salves can provide more direct and fast acting relief.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent medical or legal advice in anyway. Before taking any supplements you should consult with your doctor.

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