People with anxiety, pain, trouble sleeping, and other health problems are turning to cannabidiol (CBD) for relief. So it makes sense that they would look to CBD to treat their pets’ health conditions, too.
Kelsey Cole of Toronto says it worked for her dogs. “I introduced it for both my dogs in March. My Pomeranian turned 10 and was showing signs of arthritis and major anxiety. Any sort of movement he wasn’t expecting would set him off. My little guy, a shih-tzu pom, is quite anxious as well.”
She found a CBD oil they could all try—she wanted to see if it would help her with joint pain and trouble sleeping. “They are like completely different dogs,” she says. Her Pomeranian is running up the stairs and around the yard. “CBD has been life-changing. I look at him and can’t believe he’s 10.”
Both dogs are so much calmer. “I have never seen something work so well,” she says. It made a dramatic difference in her joint pain and ability to sleep, too.
Does it work?
People swear that CBD works for them and their pets, and it’s cropping up in all kinds of products, like massage lotions, infused coffee, breakfast cereal, and Oreo-maker food giant Mondelez has even expressed interest in experimenting with it in products.
But what does the science say?
Studies testing the effectiveness of CBD in pets are ongoing, and most research isn’t published yet. One study shows promise. A Canine Health Foundation study examining CBD’s effects on dogs with epilepsy launched in 2017.
Jennifer Coates, DVM, who serves on the advisory board for Pet Life Today, says that preliminary results found almost 90% of epileptic dogs who were given CBD had fewer seizures.
“Some scientific evidence also supports the use of CBD for treating people with anxiety and some types of pain, so it’s not too big of a jump to think that it could be used in similar ways for pets as well,” Coates says.
Gary Richter, DVM, the owner and medical director of Montclair Veterinary Hospital in Oakland, California, authored the Veterinary CBD chapter in CBD: A Patient’s Guide to Healing with Medicinal Cannabis.
He says, “CBD has much the same effect in animals as it does in people. CBD affects the endocannabinoid system, which is a system of neurotransmitters in the body that helps balance and maintain normal body function. This includes helping with pain, inflammation, anxiety, and arthritis.”
Sara Ochoa, DVM, is a small animal and exotic pet veterinarian in east Texas who recommends CBD oil to clients and uses it with her own pets. She says it can help with:
- Arthritis pain
- Separation anxiety
- Fireworks anxiety
- Skin diseases
- Certain cancers
“I use CBD oil in my pet rabbit,” she says. “She has a neurological condition where she would hop in circles and could not walk straight. After giving her CBD oil she can now hop in straight lines and has a much better quality of life.”
Is it safe?
“CBD appears to be quite safe for dogs and cats. There have been some reports of pets getting an upset stomach or becoming sleepy when they receive large doses, but that’s about it,” Coates says.
Richter also believes that CBD is safe for pets. “It could potentially make the animal a little sleepy. But that’s about as bad as it would be expected to get. Every once in a blue moon, there’s a pet that experiences some gastrointestinal issues, but it’s actually pretty uncommon. And as I often tell people, any medication or supplement can potentially cause an upset tummy,” Richter says.
It’s still a good idea to talk to your vet about using CBD with your pets, since it could interact with medications.
Because state laws regarding CBD generally don’t cover pets, you may have to bring up the topic with your veterinarian, according to Consumer Reports. (Vets in California can legally discuss CBD with clients.)
It can be difficult to know exactly what you’re getting with CBD products, since they’re not covered by many regulations.
Consumer Reports recommends seeking products that follow Good Manufacturing Practices or have the National Animal Supplement Council’s quality seal, which makes it more likely that what you’re buying is free of contaminants and contains the ingredients listed on the label, with accurate dosages. Coates adds the Certified Seal of the U.S. Hemp Authority to the list.
If you decide to try CBD oil for your pet, you can either add drops to your pet’s food or treats or buy treats infused with CBD.
Either way, make sure you’re monitoring the dose of CBD you’re giving to your pet. “Starting off slow and working up to the full dosage is best,” Ochoa says.