Cannabidiol, known as CBD, has been much in the news lately, with inspiring reports of relief from everything from epilepsy to arthritis. The family of chemicals known as phyto-cannabinoids that are found in hemp and marijuana bind naturally to the human body receptors, so it’s not much of a surprise to find that the same process occurs with animals, at least dogs and cats.

No one has tried it on bears. Yet. CBD activates the 5-HT1dA receptor in humans and similar receptors in dogs and cats, and it is these protein receptors that affect a wide range of neurological processes including anxiety, appetite, nausea, sleep, and pain perception. Cannabinoid receptors exist both in the brain and in the immune system.

No, Fido and Mr. Pickles Won’t Get High

When extracted from hemp, CBD has no psychoactive properties, so there is no danger of your pet getting freaked out or of you finding them lying by the TV eating cookies. Okay, well, you never know about cats, but they just like messing with their owners. In any case, there has not been even a single case of CBD overdose, so you can’t even accidentally harm your furry baby.

That said, be sure that the CBD you order for your pet is derived from hemp, not from marijuana, as marijuana CBD will contain various amounts of THC, the stuff that produces the high. While it may not be a very big percentage, remember that the household pet animals are (usually!) much smaller than we are, and a small amount of THC could affect them adversely. Stick to hemp-based CBD.

CBD for Dogs

Cancer centers have been using both CBD and THC for decades in the treatment of nausea, and theory applies to our dog buddies as well. Furthermore, anecdotal and scientific evidence suggests there are many more canine applications.

Different breeds have different issues, but one of the most common problems in larger dogs is arthritis. It is widely believed that CBD’s well-documented anti-inflammatory properties might extend to the entire mammalian immune system spectrum, but it certainly does have a positive effect on pain perception in both dogs and humans. Although it is not a cure for arthritis, CBD could reduce the inflammation in your dog’s joints and thus relieve pain.

Hemp oil CBD is being used to treat canine skin conditions, allergies and digestive problems. Dogs who are in pain may also have trouble sleeping or resting, and CBD might help there, too. As an added benefit, you’ll get to sleep through the night as well. 

CBD Benefits for Cats

Cats are known to be a bit moodier than their canine housemates. They are finicky eaters, too. CBD has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and to increase appetite. Oh, and in case kitty has been upchucking cat food on your favorite nap blanket, CBD has long been used to reduce nausea in human chemotherapy patients, and it also does the trick for felines.

If you are a staff member (because we all know that cats don’t have owners) working for the likes of Grumpy Cat, the famous meme, you might want to try a little CBD to improve his mood.

Cats don’t always land on their feet, and if your cat leapt and missed the mark and injured herself in a fall, CBD oil can go a long way in safely relieving pain. Cats are usually pretty vocal about what hurts, so you should be able to easily tell if the CBD is working. It’s fairly easy to find feline-specific CBD products for cats, including for seizures.

Ways to Administer Hemp CBD

Oil Extract: Most dogs are pretty amenable to taking a sublingual (under the tongue) dose of CBD oil, which allows for quicker reaction than CBD dog treats. It’s also a good way to ensure you are giving the right dosage.

Tincture: Tinctures are not as strong as extracts, but they are really easy to administer with an eyedropper that comes with the bottle. Tinctures are usually CBD compounds mixed with glycerine, alcohol, or a variety of oils. Humans can choose from a variety of flavors such salmon for kitties and bacon for dogs. The dosage and strength varies and should be labeled in such a manner that you can administer a steady level to alleviate symptoms of aches, pains, anxiety and other problems, especially for senior dogs and cats.

Treats: Well, let’s face it, the easiest way to get any pet to cooperate is with yummy treats. Just as the recreational and medicinal marijuana business has worked hard to create cookies, gummies, mints, and even soft drinks for humans, the industry has now turned an eye toward making delicious treats for pets: dog biscuits with flavors like beef and chicken for all size pups, and little salmon bits for the fussier felines. These treats are quite expensive but, well, you know how you are with best friends. Please note that edibles take a lot longer to kick in, so don’t be tempted to give another treat if you don’t see results right away.

Cautions: Always check the ingredients to make certain you are getting a product made with CBD, not THC, the active psychotropic element in marijuana. Even if it is labeled CBD, if it is not hemp-derived, it could contain THC, which can be toxic to pets. Always consult your vet before trying CBD or any other pet medicine.

Research continues on hemp-derived CBD–for both humans and pets–and evidence suggests there can be great benefits from this legal source of cannabis. Further research and the changing of perceptions about cannabis offers hope that more products will emerge that will help dogs and cats with physical and psychological pain and problems.

World Health Organization

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