Overview of Cannabidiol (CBD) Oil for Pets
Marijuana, also known by the common term “pot”, is a psychoactive drug derived from the Cannabis plant that has been around for thousands of years. The recent legalization of marijuana for human medicinal treatments has increased interest in the properties of the Cannabis plant and has led to a substantial increase in marijuana (pot) exposure and toxicity in pets. In fact, according to the Pet Poison Helpline, there has been approximately a 450% increase in calls to animal poison hotlines due to marijuana exposure or toxicity.
The Cannabis plant contains approximately 483 known chemicals and over 80 cannabinoids. A cannabinoid is a class of chemicals isolated from Cannabis that can cause various effects on the body. The amount and concentration of each cannabinoid varies with the different plant and strain of plant. The two most studied and available cannabinoids are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD), Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) being the most potent and psychogenic. It is used medically to treat nausea, muscle spasms, seizures, anxiety as well as other medical problems. Learn more about the ingestion and toxicity of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). (INSERT LINK).
The focus of this article is on ingestion and toxicity of CBD oil in pets.
What is the Difference between Marijuana, Hemp, THC and CBD?
These terms can be confusing and are often mistakenly used in the media. The term Marijuana most commonly refers to the tobacco product made from Cannabis leaves. THC and CBD are both cannabinoids derived from the Cannabis plant. The difference between the THC and CBD is that THC causes psychotropic effects (affects mentation) while CBD is felt to have limited toxicity and is not psychotropic.
Hemp is a type of Cannabis plant that is known to have more CBD than THC. CBD is often extracted from the plant and sold as an “oil”. Cannabidiol is thought to decrease anxiety, decrease nausea and vomiting, decrease seizures and have anti-inflammatory properties. It is increasingly being used in both humans and dogs.
There are HUGE differences in the quality and purity of CBD (more below).
CBD Oil for Pets: Can Dogs Get CBD Toxicity?
CBD is not approved by the FDA for use in dogs. The true safety of CBD in dogs has not been researched. We do not know how it may interact with other medications or treatments.
However, CBD is not psychotropic and appears to have limited toxicity in dogs and cats. As with any supplement or medication, there is a risk of adverse effects. In people, the most common side effects of CBD are a dry mouth, drop in blood pressure, and drowsiness.
Many CBD products are oil based and have the potential to cause nausea and vomiting in some dogs. The risk of toxicity will depend on the dose given to your dog, the quality of the product, preservatives or additives present, and the potency of the product. Overdoses with impure products can lead to symptoms of THC toxicity. Pets may be lethargic, listless, stumble, have glazed over eyes, and be incontinent of urine.
If you are giving your dog CBD oil and you have any concerns, please contact your veterinarian immediately.
Can CBD Oil Help Your Dog?
CBD is most commonly being used in dogs for pain relief, treatment of seizure disorders such as epilepsy, and for anxiety-related issues. There are no formal research studies about the use of CBD in dogs. Much of the use and information is extrapolated from human studies. With that being said, many veterinarians have found positive effects from using CBD in their canine patients.
The most common uses of CBD in dogs include:
- Anxiety and fear problems including noise phobia and separation anxiety
- Cancer treatment (some CBD is thought to have anti-tumor properties)
- Decreased appetite
- Immune system stimulation
- Inflammatory problems such as those associated with inflammatory bowel disease or pancreatitis
- Nausea, especially nausea associated with side effects to drug therapy
- Neurologic diseases such as degenerative myelopathy or canine cognitive dysfunction
- Pain relief from arthritis
- Seizures such as epilepsy
The AKC Canine Health Foundation with Colorado State University's College of Veterinary Medicine is currently conducting research to determine the usefulness of CBD in dogs with epilepsy.
Is CBD Legal?
CBD is legal in most states however new rulings have changed this in states such as Ohio. As a veterinarian in Ohio at the time of this writing, it is illegal for veterinarians to sell or prescribe CBD oil. However, it is available in some states over-the-counter without a prescription.
How Do You Pick a Good CBD Oil for Your Dog?
Discuss the use of CBD oil with your veterinarian. Because of the popularity in this product, there are many products on the market. Some may have pesticides, some have small levels of THC, and the amount of CBD actually in the product varies greatly and may be as little as none.
In general, it is recommended to obtain a high-quality product that is organic and is free of preservative and additives. Ideally, it should be clear that the product has been tested and free of THC. You can buy CBD in treats or as an oil. Most veterinarians prefer the oil as you can better regulate the amount your dog is receiving.
What is the Dose for CBD in Dogs?
The dose of CBD oil may vary. Learn more about the dosage in this article: What's the Right Dosage of CBD Oil for Dogs?