Cannabidiol is a non-intoxicating compound found in marijuana, and medical research has revealed some fascinating discoveries about CBD. For one, it is capable of counteracting the psychoactive effects of THC, so marijuana strains containing both compounds will not provide the same ‘high’ as one rich in THC alone. And another thing to note is that CBD has an array of potential medical benefits.
For example, it is used in children with epilepsy to reduce symptoms, and studies have also found that it could fight cancer, reduce anxiety, and relieve chronic pain. An increasing number of manufacturers are using CO2 extraction to ensure their CBD products contain additional compounds but zero THC.
What is especially interesting is that some CBD sellers have products specifically for pets. Incredibly, dog owners in particular are investing in their best friend’s health by purchasing CBD oil and treats. We know that CBD helps humans, but studies suggest it can also help your faithful canine companion.
Is CBD Safe for My Dog?
In a word, ‘yes’! The vast majority of companies that sell CBD products for dogs derive the compound from hemp rather than marijuana. Hemp oil is legal across the United States because it contains minimal or even zero traces of THC. As long as you purchase organic CBD oil with no solvents, THC, pesticides, or fungicides, it should have minimal side effects. It is also wise to begin with the smallest possible dose, and work your way up until it shows positive effects for your pooch.
As a responsible pet owner, you still have to ensure that CBD doesn’t cause any issues, so monitor your dog and discontinue usage of cannabidiol if they display any of the following:
- Dry Mouth
- Low Blood Pressure
Although hemp-derived CBD is legal according to federal law, your dog’s vet is highly unlikely to prescribe it because they can be held liable for prescribing any form of medical cannabis or CBD for your pet. Interestingly, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says that physicians for humans ARE legally allowed to prescribe marijuana for your dog!
What Can CBD Treat in Dogs?
Believe it or not, CBD could help treat most of the same maladies that afflict humans. This is because we have the same endogenous cannabinoid system as canines. CBD works by targeting receptors located in the organs, central nervous system, brain and immune system. As a consequence, CBD is used to treat the following issues in dogs:
- Poor appetite.
- Chronic pain and arthritis.
- Cancer prevention.
- Autoimmune diseases.
It is the final condition on the list that yielded some pretty astonishing findings, with the promise of more to come.
Can CBD Reduce Seizures in Dogs?
The most famous CBD-related story of all time is about a young girl named Charlotte Figi who has Dravet’s Syndrome and suffered dozens of seizures a day. After using oil extracted from a CBD-rich strain, the number of seizures were reduced to just a couple a month, and they usually occurred when Charlotte was asleep. This strain was developed by the Stanley Brothers of Colorado, and they renamed it Charlotte’s Web in her honor.
It seems as if dogs with epilepsy could also benefit from CBD; at least according to research by Colorado State University’s (CSU) Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Doctor Stephanie McGrath works there as an assistant professor and veterinarian, where she specializes in neurology and neurosurgery. At present, McGrath and her colleagues use drugs such as potassium bromide and phenobarbital as treatments for canines with epilepsy. However, these drugs come with debilitating side effects.
Doctor McGrath has been attempting to answer questions about CBD’s possible benefits for pets since it became legal for medicinal use in Colorado in 2012. Unfortunately, a lot of pet owners showed a lack of patience and began feeding marijuana edibles to their pets. Given the fact that these homemade products were for treating human ailments, and the lack of dosing information, a lot of people made their pets even more ill.
McGrath was also extremely skeptical about what was in the products sold in pet stores. At that time, there had been no qualified peer-reviewed scientific studies on CBD products for pets. One of the primary issues is the federally illegally status of marijuana which makes it tough for scientists to receive funding and permission for new CBD research.
In March 2016, McGrath was part of a CSU team determined to research the effects of CBD on epileptic dogs. The study involved the use of CBD oil created by Applied Basic Science, which is a well-respected Colorado-based organization. The firm was already selling its pet oil, which was proving to be extremely popular. The study involved giving 30 beagles high doses of CBD oil. The team used three dosing methods; transdermal cream, tincture, and capsule, and found that the tincture was the safest.
There were some mild side effects including elevated liver enzymes and diarrhea, although McGrath said there were no abnormalities on any blood test which would cause the removal of a dog from the study. It transpired that the results were enough for CSU to permit clinical trials.
These trials involved McGrath testing CBD on epileptic dogs while Doctor Felix Duerr focused on how cannabidiol impacts canines with arthritis. Both were double-blind studies that wound down a few months ago. While McGrath’s research involved 20 dogs, Duerr’s had 24, and each dog in his study received CBD for six weeks and a placebo for six weeks. Both doctors will have the results of their latest research published in late 2018.
Pam Uhlenkamp owns a dog named Ferguson, who has epilepsy and suffered from multiple seizures a day. Each one lasted up to five minutes and it would take the unfortunate Ferguson a full hour to recover. Once Uhlenkamp enrolled her dog in the study, things took a decided turn for the better. Ferguson had an MRI and spinal tap before consuming CBD and a placebo, with his owner keeping tabs on her dog’s progress. Within 2-3 weeks, Ferguson began experiencing fewer seizures and is now down to no more than three a week according to Uhlenkamp.
A Step in the Right Direction?
McGrath clearly believes that CBD has a real chance of helping dogs with epilepsy, because she is about to embark on yet another study which will include 60 dogs. To date, she has noted no substantially negative effects and is hopeful that the upcoming study will provide crucial evidence.
One of the major obstacles to research of this kind is lack of funding, but McGrath is having no such issues. The American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation has awarded the new research project over $350,000, and several sellers of CBD products for pets have also donated money to different studies in the hope of proving that their CBD oils and treats are worthy investments for pet owners.
Meanwhile, over at Alabama’s Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, there is likely to be a clinical trial of CBD in pets with epilepsy. A non-profit called Pet Conscious has donated $150,000 to the proposed trial, and promises that there will be more to come.
Final Thoughts on CBD for Dogs & Pets
Although it is fantastic news that there is finally a concerted effort to find out whether CBD can help pets, McGrath is encountering resistance. Even though the study on the 30 beagles determined that there were no harmful side effects, she found it difficult to get her study published in scientific journals.
According to McGrath, these publications didn’t want to get involved in studies on products that are not federally legal. In fact, McGrath had to go outside America to have her work published, as it was picked up by the Canadian Veterinary Journal, and due to be release in October 2018.
At present, there are 20 states where marijuana is illegal for any purpose, and even getting permission for studies on industrial hemp is tricky. As long as the complicated political and legal landscape keeps getting in the way, it will be hard to conduct double-blind studies on CBD’s effects on humans, let alone dogs.
One of the major issues to be investigated during the latest studies on CBD in animals is the dose needed to achieve a therapeutic response, along with the best method of administering it. Experts in the field of veterinary medicine believe that the industry will be left behind without wider support; let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
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