In a time when people might be overwhelmed by the mention of “CBD,” we at Earth Buddy want to take a minute to pause and break down what cannabidiol actually is and discuss benefits and dosing of CBD for pets for various health reasons.
This article is the first of 3 which make up a mini-series introduction to CBD for pets. To expand your knowledge on the topic, continue reading the next article in the series, and stay tuned for our July 2022 blog which will contain the final sequel of the series.
CBD on the Rise for use in Pets
Hearing the term CBD (short for cannabidiol) almost everywhere? You are not alone. This natural product is on the rise for health and wellness in humans and pets, with sales projected to increase by 58.9% each year until 2028.1
Currently a $3.7 billion industry worldwide2, cannabidiol is being recommended by doctors and veterinarians alike to treat an array of human and pet ailments.
Of all of those consumers, are you one who wants to stop to understand what CBD is, how we can use CBD to support pet health, and how to quantify the best dose of CBD for pets?
What is CBD?
Cannabis (also known as “marijuana” or “hemp”) is a flowering plant which can grow from about 1.5 to 35 feet in height. Within its structure are 113 natural compounds known as cannabinoids–two of which you may already know:
- CBD, short for cannabidiol
- THC, short for tetrahydrocannabinol
While you have likely heard about the psychoactive THC which has been ingested by humankind for centuries due to its intoxicating effects, our article’s focus is on non-intoxicating, non-addictive CBD, which actually makes up about 40% of the cannabis plant’s extract.
Since 2018, CBD has been approved by the U.S. government3 to be extracted from the plant and sold as an over-the-counter supplement. Various forms have been created for pets based on the use or palatability:
- Edible chews
- Oral tinctures
- Topical creams and salves
In just four years, studies4 are beginning to reach conclusions on the efficacy of CBD for pets as veterinarians and pet owners are observing an array of benefits first-hand.
The Body’s Endocannabinoid System
A mammal’s body contains many different types of receptors, each signaling different systems in the body to stay in communication, perform various functions, etc.
Similar to how there are receptors in the endocrine system which tell hormones what to do, there are endocannabinoid receptors which help regulate certain functions of the body.
In fact, the endocannabinoid receptors are part of a system all of its own in the body, called the endocannabinoid system (ECS) which has a primary function of bringing the body to a state of homeostasis.
In doing so, the ECS has been known to help influence the body’s stress response, digestion, discomfort and more. In the case of stress, for example, the body’s natural ECS would kick in and aim to bring the nervous system back to balance.
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Calming Effects of CBD for Pets
In some instances, the body’s endocannabinoid system efforts are not effective enough to bring the body out of a stress response.
This is when supplementing with cannabinoids such as CBD can be very helpful.
In these cases, CBD may boost natural levels of endocannabinoids (including the feel-good “anandamide”) as it decreases the body’s enzymes which break down the endocannabinoids.
Additionally, CBD has been reported to affect how the brain’s receptors respond to serotonin already in the system, helping promote a balanced mood and state of calm.
Other Benefits of CBD for Pets
Other health conditions CBD is helpful with are:
- Joint Discomfort
- Healthy inflammatory response
- Nervous system support (by interacting with neurotransmitters)
- Immune enhancing effects
- Promotes relaxation
- Promotes homeostasis
How to Use CBD for Pets and CBD for Pets dosage basics
As a pet CBD supplier, one of the biggest efforts Earth Buddy wants to undertake is spreading knowledge not only on the benefits of CBD for pet wellness, but also on proper use and dosing.
So our Earth Buddy co-founder, Sean Zyer, met up with esteemed veterinarian, Dr. Casara Andre to have a conversation about the best ways to use CBD for pets.
We’ve placed some of the key takeaways from that conversation into 3 steps to help you get started with using CBD for your pet:
#1. Start low, go slow and keep a journal
While starting low and going slow is a smart way to begin any new supplement, Dr. Andre explains that keeping a journal is another of the most beneficial things a pet owner can do when beginning their pet on CBD.
Keeping a quick journal on a paper on your refrigerator, tracking on your family’s calendar, or a simple digital note in your phone allows you to track and moderate the CBD dose and your pet’s benefit level.
“Even in a low dose treat form and capsule form, we still see animals respond amazingly well. So, we should still be journaling those” states Dr. Andre.
For exact mg dosing recommendations based on your pet’s weight, please view our Pet CBD Dosing Guide.
#2. Bring your vet into the conversation
While some may begin supplementing CBD to their pets on their own, it is recommended that you find a veterinarian who is willing to be a part of your treatment plan.
Dr. Andre works with pet parents supplementing with CBD and takes a good look at their tracked journals. “For me to be able to see trends over time,” she states, “means that I can look at that and say oh we sort of peaked at benefit here. Now, we’re not seeing any better. Let’s change something, let’s make a difference.”
#3. Begin with the right questions
What is going on with the pet?
One of the critical pieces of information to have sorted out prior to looking at a CBD product and/or meeting with a veterinarian is a focused account of what you are observing in your pet:
Is your pet diagnosed with something specific, and are there any other behaviors or ailments you are noticing?
Dr Andre explains, “We really start with a diagnosis. So, what body systems are we trying to affect with the molecules we’re putting in the animal? What concurrent conditions are going on?”
Taking a good look at these things helps us understand the dosing and type of CBD our pet would best benefit from.
What should we focus on more, CBD dosing or CBD’s molecular makeup?
The short answer is: it depends.
In fact, this is a super important question to ask because it depends. Meaning, if you don’t see a benefit from giving CBD to your pet (or if the benefit wears off over time), simply upping the dosage may be the wrong thing to do.
This is where a veterinarian can be very helpful, as this is a tricky one.
Dr. Andre explains in the case of certain weakened immune systems or tremors, using a CBD with more of a molecular mix versus one, strong isolate tends to be more beneficial in supporting multiple body systems.
In certain cases of using a high dose isolate, Dr. Andre explains, “when we lower the dosage but add in more molecules, we have a better clinical outcome.”
What You Can Do Next
If after reading this article you are ready to purchase CBD for your pet, a good next step is to assess if the product you are interested in is an isolate or a molecular mix.
You can ask the CBD brand for a COA (Certificate of Analysis) which will entail some of the following details:
- Cannabinoid profile (You may be able to see if the CBD is an isolate or a mix of different molecules. You may want to lean on your vet for which is recommended based on your pet’s needs.)
- Safety information (You’ll want to see that the product is free from heavy metals and has no pesticides.)
- Terpene profile (For more on terpenes, read Part 2 of this 3-article mini-series)
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