As CBD continues to get more and more attention for its potential therapeutic and pain management effects for humans, it’s no surprise the trend has carried over to our four-legged friends. Meant to be part of a wellness routine along with plenty of exercise and play, CBD can help support a sense of calm in your furry friend, and help relax many of your pet’s behavior and health concerns.
What Is CBD?
Let’s get scientific for a moment. CBD stands for cannabidiol, which is one of many phyto cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Another compound found in cannabis is THC, which is harmful to pets and is known for causing the psychoactive effect of feeling “high.” The best CBD oil for cats and dogs will be extracted from the hemp plant, a type of cannabis plant that is specifically designed to have non-intoxicating levels of THC. Hemp plants grown in the United States must have less than 0.3 percent THC to qualify as hemp, so it’s best to buy CBD oil from companies that extract it from domestically grown hemp. For added security, we recommend seeking out pet CBD oil that is THC-free.
The Benefits of Using CBD
CBD acts on the endocannabinoid systems (ECS) of both humans and pets, including dogs and cats. The endocannabinoid system is a unique communications system in the brain and body that affects many important functions, including how a pet feels, moves, and reacts.
When extracted and used in oils or other products like treats and chews, CBD can potentially assist with a variety of different conditions including calming, relaxation, inflammation and potentially even osteoarthritis pain relief.
Every pet is different, and not all dogs and cats will see the same results from using CBD products. Talk to your veterinarian if you have any concerns or questions about how your pet is reacting to a specific product.
Which Product Is Right For My Pet?
There are a variety of CBD products on the market, and each has a different use and is designed to serve a specific purpose. While products vary by manufacturer and brand, below are a few common CBD product types and labeling information that interested pet owners should become familiar with.
CBD Oil – also sometimes called a tincture – consists of an extract (either full or broad spectrum) that has been suspended in a carrier oil. The biggest advantage to using CBD oil is that it is dispersed to pets using a measured dropper. This allows you to dose your pet much more accurately and adjust the dose (up or down) as often as needed. Also, since oil is administered either under your pet’s tongue, cheeks or in your pet’s mouth, it has the potential to be absorbed more quickly through mucous membranes than if your pet swallows a pill or capsule.
The two main disadvantages of using an CBD oil tincture is that some pets don’t love the taste of plant material extract and oils are more difficult to travel with due to possible leakage.
When giving CBD oil to your pet, we recommend dropping it directly in their mouth (the preferred method) or you can put it in a treat or on top of their food. When dosing directly in a pet’s mouth, consider placing it on the side, up against your pet’s cheek, rather than directly on the tongue.
CBD Treats and Chews are a great way to get CBD extract into your pet, especially if they enjoy taking treats. These products are made similarly to regular CBD oils, but then the final oil product is infused into a treat or chew. The benefit of using a CBD chew for your dogs or cats is that it is easier to administer, because they are usually tasty. The downside is that the dose can’t be incrementally adjusted (up or down), which doesn’t provide as much control as the oil tincture.
CBD Topical Products are another popular way to utilize CBD products. These products are administered directly to the skin and designed to alleviate local conditions including aches and skin issues. This method of application is effective because there are cannabinoid receptors in a pet’s skin. When applying a topical CBD product to your pet, we recommend wearing gloves, placing it on a non-haired area (or a shaved area) and making sure your pet does not lick the site for at least 30-45 minutes.
CBD Capsules are popular options because they work for pets that are adverse to the taste of CBD oil or who happen to be picky eaters. Also, capsules are ideal for traveling. They are less messy and easy to carry around. However, there are two downsides of capsule CBD products for pets. Just like chews, the dosing cannot be easily adjusted (up or down). Also, a pet’s body does not absorb these as easily as an oil product. When administering a CBD capsule to your pet, consider placing it directly into their mouth or in a fun treat (like pet-safe nut butter, cream cheese, or a pill pocket).
Full-Spectrum Vs. Broad-Spectrum CBD Products
When you see the terms “full spectrum” and “broad spectrum” on labels, it provides some insight into what other compounds are in the products. Broad-spectrum CBD products for pets are extracted from the hemp plant. They include all of the other compounds from the plant—except THC. In broad-spectrum products, the THC is entirely removed after the initial extraction. Full-spectrum CBD products for pets are extracts that contain all of the compounds naturally found in the original hemp plant, including cannabinoids (THC and CBD), terpenes and flavonoids. Full-spectrum, hemp-derived products contain less than 0.3 percent THC by dry weight. All of these active compounds work together to provide amplified health benefits, a phenomenon called the entourage effect.
What Are Terpenes?
In addition to full-spectrum and broad-spectrum labeling found on CBD pet products, you may notice references to terpenes. Terpenes are essential oils found within marijuana and hemp plants that give the plant its distinct odor and taste. Each plant species has a different terpene profile. This specific profile is based on several factors in the environment that the plant is grown in such as the humidity, temperature, light, quality of the soil and more. Terpenes have their own effects on a pet’s body and can work with cannabinoids to improve medical benefits. An example of this is the terpene linalool (also found in lavender). This has been shown to improve anti-seizure activity when given along with CBD.
So Is It Safe?
Yes, it is safe to give your pet CBD, but you want to make sure you are giving them the appropriate amount of a high quality product. CBD alone has no psychoactive effects, just be sure to stay away from THC as it is toxic. Also, dogs and cats under a year old should never be given CBD, even in small portions. Puppies and kittens need a straightforward diet and lifestyle in their early years while they learn good behaviors and grow strong.
Once your pet is over a year old, the recommended daily serving sizes of CBD for dogs and cats will differ based on their size and needs. Every pet is different and will need a different daily regimen. It’s important to be consistent and monitor your pet carefully while figuring out how much CBD they need for the best wellness outcomes. Always consult your veterinarian, start with the smallest recommended amount for your dog or cat’s weight and monitor them for 30 days before changing their dose.
They say, “Happy wife, happy life,” but “happy pet, happy life” is the real mantra for us. CBD use can benefit your pet in many ways so you can look forward to calmer, happier, more active days. Whatever the breed, size, or age of your animal, pet CBD oil can support a natural, healthy lifestyle. And when your pet’s happy and relaxed, so are you!