CBD and other Cannabinoids for Pets

What is it?

CBD, or Cannabidiol, is one of several hundred cannabinoids. The most researched phytocannabinoids, or exogenous cannabinoids, to date are: CBD, CBG, CBC, CBN, CBDA, CBGA, CBCA, CBDV, Δ9-THCA, Δ9-THCV, Δ8-THC, and Δ9-THC.

CBD, as well as other cannabinoids, are naturally occurring in a variety of plants.  Hemp and Marijuana contain a higher level of cannabinoids than most other plants, making them much more “medicinal” than alternatives. In plant sources, cannabinoid benefits are boosted by naturally occurring terpenes, flavonoids, and certain macronutrients.

What can it help?

Cannabinoids such as CBD have shown through numerous studies dating back more than 50 years to benefit, at a minimum, the following issues:

–          Thunderstorm phobias,

–          Noise phobias,

–          General anxiety

–          Arthritis,

–          General pain,

–          Cancer,

–          Immune conditions,

–          Gastrointestinal conditions,

–          Heart conditions,

–          Seizures

–          Osteoarthritis (anti-inflammatory),

–          Inflammatory bowel disease,

–          Diabetes – can reduce insulin needs

–          Feline lower urinary tract disease

–          Heart disease

–          Dementia

–          Neuropathy

Cannabis (hemp or marijuana) is by no means a cure-all.  However, it has the potential to affect a wide range of organ systems.

For detailed study and research information purchase the Cannabis Health Index by Uwe Blesching https://www.fruugo.us/cannabis-health-index-by-uwe-blesching/p-8197601-17505471?language=en&ac=google&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIt-To1LSp5wIVUvDACh2ZdA2GEAkYFCABEgIYOfD_BwE

Why does it work?

Ever heard of serotonin receptors? Well, the body also has cannabinoid receptors! These receptors are found throughout the body in a system called the “Endocannabinoid System.” The body produces cannabinoids internally but often isn’t capable of producing enough to resolve numerous issues in the body. It is this system, and it’s vast influence around the body, that makes cannabinoids effective at supporting so many different functions and resolving so many different issues. Fun fact, Anandamide is an endocannabinoid that the body produces- it is found in the highest levels in breast milk! Hemp is an exogenous source of supplemental cannabinoids that are capable of helping the body where it’s lacking!

How do I pick a good product?

Due to the increasing popularity of cannabis for companion animals, there are a growing number of products that claim to be effective. Unfortunately, not all cannabis products have the same quality and efficacy. Important considerations before choosing a product:

Extraction method – there are numerous means of extracting the cannabinoids from the cannabis plant. Some of these methods leave behind trace amounts of chemicals which may be detrimental to your pets’ health. Ultimately CO2 and responsible ethanol extraction are going to produce the safest final products.

Organic vs inorganic products – Did you know that Cannabis has such an affinity for toxins that it was planted around Chernobyl to pull ionizing radiation out of the soil? Cannabis plants are known for their bioaccumulation abilities. This means that any chemicals and nutrients the cannabis plant is exposed to during growth are absorbed and retained at high levels in the plant itself. These chemicals are then concentrated into the final product.  When considering a consumable product from cannabis it is important that no chemical fertilizers or other additives are used. Using organically grown products is the best way to ensure product safety for you or your pet.

Laboratory Testing and Company Transparency – The final product should be tested at a

third-party laboratory that measures not only CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids, but also beneficial terpenes, flavonoids, and heavy metals. These testing results should be readily available for your inspection to ensure the cannabinoids your pet needs are present in therapeutic levels. When looking for these results, ask the company for their “COA” (certificate of analysis). Also, make sure that their heavy metal test results are in ppb (parts per billion), not ppm (parts per million).  Many companies test with lower sensitivity so they can “get away with” having higher levels of heavy metals in their products before they are detected.

We recommend that you find a product that is closer to nature – something that contains a high level of CBD but also contains a small amount of CBN, CBG, CBA and a small amount of THC (all products that are sold outside of a dispensary are heavily regulated to contain levels of THC that are not only safe, but incapable of causing a “high”.) Products that contain only CBD are often sourced from chemical facilities or are heavily refined and potentially dangerous.  Further, CBD isolates have been shown in lab studies to, in some cases, INCREASE anxiety, intestinal inflammation and body temperature.

Products made by nature, not man, are scientifically proven to have increased therapeutic potential, safety, reduced undesirable effects, and have an “entourage effect”… like dominos, they are capable of collectively supporting more functions than what CBD alone can help.

Base –

Cannabinoids are lipophilic.  What does that mean?  It means that they have an affinity for fat.  A high fat carrier base, such as Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, can decrease the needed dose. Also, coconut oil tends to have very few damaging effects or chemicals as compared to many alternative options.

How do I properly dose it?

There are a variety of factors that affect dosing needs –

  1. Body composition – overweight individuals will need lower doses than underweight individuals
  2. Macronutrient ratios – those consuming a high fat diet will need lower doses than those consuming high carb or high protein diets.  Feeding your pet a high fat treat, such as a raw marrow bone, will also decrease the need for high doses acutely.
  3. Age – Older individuals need lower doses than younger individuals.  The endocannabinoid system develops over time.  Young individuals (children, puppies, kittens) need as much as 10 times the dose that adults do in order to gain the same effect.  It is not recommended that you give cannabinoids to puppies, kittens or children, though, as there is a chance that supplementation may inhibit the development of their endocannabinoid system – resulting in a need for permanent, life-long supplementation
  4. Genetics – some naturally metabolize cannabinoids faster than others.  It’s best to start low and work your way up to determine sensitivity. Giving doses higher than necessary is not harmful but wastes your money and is unnecessary.
  5. Duration of use – Hemp products tend to take about 2 weeks to become fully effective. Also, there is often a “plateau” of efficacy.  Eventually you are likely to have to increase the dose slightly to maintain the desired effect.
  6. The specific bottle you purchased – unlike pharmaceuticals, naturally grown plant products can not guarantee that chemical constituents (CBD, terpenes, flavinoids, etc) are exactly the same in every batch. The temperatures, light, and variations that plants are exposed to can dramatically alter their chemical composition at the time of harvest… even the time of harvest can dramatically alter their chemical composition.  From one batch to another, even within the same brand and potency, there will be minor variations of beneficial constituents.  In cases of severe seizures or cancer it is recommended that you start giving doses from the new bottle before you run out of the old one… basically “weaning” your pet from one batch to the next to ensure that their body tolerates the composition of the new batch as well as the last.

In general, the recommendation is 1mg per 10lbs of body weight per day for dogs.  You can safely give as much as 1mg per 1lb of body weight per day, but that is only recommended for dogs with severe seizures or cancer. The recommended dosage for cats is half of the previously stated amounts. In order to figure out how much this is, you must do the math.  Here are some examples:

A 1 ounce bottle contains 900 drops

A 2 ounce bottle contains 1,800 drops

A 500 mg bottle that is 1 ounce would then contain 0.6 mg/drop

A 1,000 mg bottle that is 1 ounce would then contain 1.1 mg/drop

A 5,000 mg bottle that is 2 ounces would then contain 2.8 mg/drop

Are there any side effects?

Again, cannabinoids are naturally occurring in the body and work with the body, not for it. The most common outcome from CBD consumption is a sense of calm, which may be viewed as mild lethargy or sedation.

It is possible to have side effects from medication when adding cannabinoids. Gabapentin, for example, utilizes the same metabolic enzyme pathway that CBD does. Certain CyP450 pathways affect the way the body tolerates some medication.  The side effects of Gabapentin include vomiting, lethargy, loss of coordination, bulging eyes… symptoms that people often associate with a “high” from THC. However, the reality is that even when providing the same dosage of certain medications, the addition of CBD can result in a slowing of the metabolism of medications which causes side effects even though the dose didn’t change.  When giving seizure medication, pain medication, and certain antibiotics start at the lowest possible dose of CBD and work up very slowly.  If there are any side effects either decrease the medication or decrease the CBD dose to regain beneficial balance in the body.

*There has been very little research done on CBD and cats.  Anecdotally, thousands of cats nationwide have been provided CBD for pets for several years.  Many brands even make CBD products that are specifically labeled for cats (which tends to mean that they are lower potency per drop than other products).  There have been no incidents that imply that cats don’t tolerate CBD.  However, there are no scientific studies that I am currently aware of that show the benefits or detriments to cats.  Further, like in ALL cases, any studies done would need to describe the specific cannabinoids used – as stated here, CBD alone can increase inflammation and anxiety while CBD in conjunction with other naturally occurring cannabinoids do not.

Despite a lack of comprehensive research, the FDA and State Departments of Agriculture do not allow the use of ingredients in pet and agriculture consumables unless they are able to say that the product is safe for use in all species that are regulated under the same umbrella.  Therefore, if cats were incapable of tolerating hemp products the FDA and State Departments of Agriculture would not allow its use for any animals.

This document is not an endorsement for or against CBD products – rather, it is a guideline of very, very basic information about how to choose a brand and dose correctly based on years of research and consumer use/feedback.

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