In How CBD Can Help Your Dog, we mentioned that the advantages of using CBD on dogs seem to significantly outweigh its potential disadvantages. It can solve a lot of challenging problems dog owners have to deal with. Once the correct dose is figured out, which can initially be tricky, CBD can help your dog calm down, be less anxious or aggressive, and relieve their pain1. It can also lessen seizures2 and help alleviate the suffering of cancer-stricken dogs. Obviously, dog owners and other pet owners would find these benefits to be invaluable and this can be a strong motivator for them to try CBD oil for pets especially in cases where their pets are suffering.
Is CBD safe for animals?
We also mentioned in our other article that THC is harmful to dogs. Since they have a higher number of cannabinoid receptors in the brain compared with humans, they are more sensitive to the toxic effects of cannabis.3 In fact, 2 dogs have reportedly died in a study4 after ingesting baked goods containing THC.
Buyers of CBD oil for pets need to be particularly aware of this fact since there are CBD products on the market that may contain more THC than they indicate, which ideally should be as close to 0%. Although cheaper, these products often come from questionable sources and do not undergo third-party testing. Since the CBD industry is currently unregulated, consumers can only confirm the THC content of a particular product based on its results from an independent testing company.
Sifting through unreliable information
There are a few reports online that mention pet deaths that may have been caused by CBD. In one such report, the dogs who were given CBD appeared to be extremely lethargic. The veterinarian who treated the ailing dogs asserted that the cause was CBD overdose and one of the dogs who had a heart problem got so ill that it had to be euthanized.
However, it is difficult to hypothesize if CBD is indeed lethal to pets based on cases where facts are difficult to confirm. Especially since there are actually studies that strongly suggest that CBD is actually safe to use on animals, particularly on dogs and cats5 provided that they are healthy and the correct dosage is given.
CBD pet products are here to stay
Despite the fact that there are very few studies that look into the possible harmful effects of CBD on dogs and even fewer for other pets, with the exception of rats since they are frequently used as test subjects, it’s safe to say that the CBD industry will continue to churn out CBD oil for pets in the foreseeable future.
At present, most of the information on the effect of CBD on animals will come from CBD companies and pet owners themselves. Given the absence of reliable and impartial sources, we recommend that you take the information you come across with a grain of salt. We also advise you to give CBD to your pet only if necessary.
If you do decide to give CBD to your pet, here are two things to keep in mind:
- The smaller the animal, the smaller the dose
- Always start with the smallest dose
CBD for cats
There is a big physiological difference between cats and dogs and therefore the health problems they encounter are also different. Here are some conditions unique to cats that CBD can help with:
- Vomiting – Cats are particularly susceptible to vomiting and this can be caused by a number of things like hairballs, grass, or something more serious like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Pancreatitis – This disease causes the pancreas to get inflamed.
- Respiratory problems – Cats are known to be susceptible to asthma and upper respiratory infections.
- Kidney disease – Cats also usually suffer from feline lower urinary tract disease and their kidneys are also vulnerable, especially in old age, since they don’t like drinking water.
Like dogs, they can also be afflicted by:
- Seizures – Although uncommon, some cats do get seizures due to toxins, viral infections, parasites, and even epilepsy
- Cancer – This is a condition more prevalent in older cats.
- Loss of appetite – This often accompanies IBS, pancreatitis, kidney disease, diabetes and a whole host of other ailments.
Like in humans and in dogs, CBD’s pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties can help treat the symptoms of these conditions in cats. However, it will not treat the underlying cause. For example, it can restore the appetite and relieve the pain in a cat suffering from lymphoma so it can have a better quality of life and greater chances of survival, but not the lymphoma itself.
CBD can also be used to calm down anxious or aggressive cats but like mentioned earlier, the root cause of why the cat is being aggressive should be determined.
CBD for pet fishes
This may surprise you, but fishes6 are one of the most popular pets in the US. Fish owners know that their pets are particularly susceptible to stress and this can be caused by a number of reasons including improper pH levels in their water, contaminants, other fishes, inadequate tank size and so on. While CBD is well-known for its calming and relaxing effect, it is not certain if it has the same effect on fishes.
There is at least one study7 that has observed the effects of CBD on fish. In it, the researchers concluded that CBD can make fish swim slower and shorter distances but not much more. Unfortunately, this information does not give us a good idea of whether products like Healthy Fins’ CBD Fish Supplement is beneficial or safe.
CBD for rabbits
Rabbits are very popular pets and they are also some of the most delicate. They are sensitive animals prone to stress, anxiety, depression, seizures and older rabbits are also known to get arthritis. They can also get overgrown teeth which are painful and can cause them to lose appetite. While these are all conditions that CBD can help with, there are no known studies that explore its effectivity in treating such conditions specifically in rabbits. However, there are a number of rabbit owners who claim that CBD has helped alleviate their pet’s conditions.
CBD for horses
There is a general interest in using CBD for horses since these animals are often engaged in strenuous activities like transportation, farmwork, and competitions. They are very prone to muscular pains and joint conditions like arthritis, something CBD is known to treat very well.
However, studies into the effects of CBD on horses are still in its initial stages. This study, which is being conducted at the Equine Center at Tarleton State University, is investigating how CBD affects inflammation, stress and stereotypical negative behaviors in horses. Research head Dr. Kimberley Guay expects the study to be published sometime around 2021.
Additionally, there are a number of horse owners that claim to have treated the same conditions that CBD treats in humans like anxiety, stress, depression, loss of appetite. However, getting the right dosage for horses can be trickier since they are herbivores and are hindgut fermenters. The equine digestive system is sensitive to changes in diet and this makes them more susceptible to CBD’s effects.
Horses can be given CBD oil for pets or concentrates and there are also CBD pellets specifically formulated for horses and livestock, like Kahm CBD Organic Hemp Pellets.
CBD for birds and reptiles
CBD is typically used by bird and reptile owners to lessen the stress and anxiety of their pets. Unfortunately, there’s even less reliable anecdotal information on the use of CBD for these types of pets. Fortunately, there have been no reports of deaths or harm caused by CBD to birds and reptiles and some owners even believe that it can help treat the symptoms of septicemia in reptiles.
At this point, the absence of clinical studies is not likely to stop manufacturers from producing CBD oil for pets, and consumers from buying them. Thankfully enough, it seems that unlike THC, CBD is safe to use on animals. However, we advise extra caution when experimenting on the right dose for your pet since CBD has a sedative effect and can make weakened animals extra lethargic. This being said, pet owners should make it a point to consult with their vets to see if their pets are in a suitable condition to be given CBD.
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- Stephanie McGrath DVM, MS1; Lisa R. Bartner DVM, MS1; Sangeeta Rao BVSc, PhD1; Rebecca A. Packer DVM, MS1 and Daniel L. Gustafson PhD1. Randomized blinded controlled clinical trial to assess the effect of oral cannabidiol administration in addition to conventional antiepileptic treatment on seizure frequency in dogs with intractable idiopathic epilepsy[AVMA]
- Carlton Gyles. Marijuana for pets?[PMC]
- Stacy D. Meola DVM, MS Caitlin C. Tearney DVM Sharlee A. Haas DVM, MS Timothy B. Hackett DVM, MS, DACVECC Elisa M. Mazzaferro MS, DVM, PhD, DACVECC. Evaluation of trends in marijuana toxicosis in dogs living in a state with legalized medical marijuana: 125 dogs (2005–2010)[Wiley Online Library]
- Deabold KA1, Schwark WS2, Wolf L3, Wakshlag JJ4. Single-Dose Pharmacokinetics and Preliminary Safety Assessment with Use of CBD-Rich Hemp Nutraceutical in Healthy Dogs and Cats.[PubMed]
- Tiana Attride. “10 of the most popular pets in the US that aren’t cats or dogs”[Insider]
- Hannah M. Jensen ,Rozalia Korbut,Per W. Kania,Kurt Buchmann. Cannabidiol effects on behaviour and immune gene expression in zebrafish (Danio rerio)[Plos One]