Pet CBD: How Your Furry Friends Absorb CBD Differently
CBD (cannabidiol) is a cannabis-derived cannabinoid that has become a popular natural supplement among both humans and their pets. Humans take CBD for a wide range of reasons, including anxiety, pain relief, to treat seizures, and even to lose weight. They give it to their pets for many of the same reasons, too!
CBD does come from the cannabis plant, so it’s understandable that you might have concerns about giving it to your furry friend. However, unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD doesn’t cause psychoactive effects and is not poisonous to your pet.
While studies about CBD for pets (and humans) are still ongoing, research points to CBD being safe, but the ASPCA recommends that you should still talk to a professional before you start giving it to your pet. Read on for details on how CBD affects pets, how they absorb it differently, and the best methods for administering it.
Pets Have Endocannabinoid Systems, Too
Although pets do absorb CBD differently than humans, there are some similarities. In order to understand why CBD works, you need to start with a basic understanding of the endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system is a network of endocannabinoids, endocannabinoid receptors, and enzymes located throughout the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system (spinal cord and brain).
To put it simply, the endocannabinoid system is responsible for maintaining the body’s balance, or homeostasis. Here are some of the main biological functions and processed affected and regulated by the endocannabinoid system:
- Sleep Patterns
- Muscle and Bone Growth
- Immune System
- Motor Control
So, how does the endocannabinoid system work? The body contains endocannabinoids, just like the cannabis plant! These endocannabinoids bind with cannabinoid receptors, stimulating various responses within the body and brain.
For example, say you (or your pet) have arthritis pain. CBD endocannabinoids could stimulate endocannabinoid receptors related to pain response, signaling your brain (or your pet’s brain) to release pain-relieving endorphins. Or, if your pet is suffering from sleep deprivation, CBD endocannabinoids could bind to receptors associated with sleep patterns.
How Animals Absorb CBD Differently
Pets have endocannabinoid systems just like humans, but research suggests that they absorb CBD endocannabinoids differently. One study showed that taking pills on an empty stomach did little to help dogs, while CBD oils were more effective. So, if you plan to give your pet CBD, you should skip the pills and opt for CBD oil or CBD oil-infused treats made specifically for pets.
Choose the Right Dose
There’s no single correct dose when it comes to CBD for pets, although some experts recommend 1-5 mg per kg of body weight, according to Leafly. Just like humans, each animal has its own unique body chemistry, so you may need to experiment to hone in on a dose that yields results. Start with a few drops, and move up slowly until you see a difference.
CBD Delivery Methods
You can give your pet a CBD-infused treat, administer sublingually by applying it directly to the teeth and gums, or you can mix it in with food so it can be absorbed by the stomach. Sublingual dosing works faster, usually within 20 to 60 minutes. Absorbing it through the stomach takes a bit longer, typically within 45 to 90 minutes. Again, you may need to experiment to find which method works for your pet.
Is CBD Right for Your Pet?
As a general rule of thumb, you should only give your pet CBD if there’s a reason (not just as a treat). For instance, if your pet gets nervous traveling, you could pack CBD into a travel kit for dogs. Or, maybe your dog is exhibiting signs of physical pain. CBD could be a natural, safer pain relief option for pets. CBD may also help to calm hyperactive or anxious pets, treat epilepsy, or improve sleep habits.
Speak with Your Vet First
Although CBD seems to be safe, you should always speak to a qualified veterinarian before giving your pets any sort of medication — even natural ones. Your vet might be able to provide specific treatments instead of or alongside CBD. They can also recommend an appropriate dose, delivery method, and schedule. You can never be too careful when it comes to your beloved companion!
Know When to Discontinue Use
Although many pets respond wonderfully to CBD, it’s not necessarily an ideal choice for all animals. After dosing your pet, it’s very important that you monitor them for behavioral and/or mood shifts. Pay close attention to how they act, and watch specifically for signs of nausea, anxiety, distress, discomfort, and depression. If they’re not responding positively, discontinue use and talk to your vet about a new plan.
Not All CBD Products Are the Same
Because CBD is still relatively new to the scene, it’s not regulated by the FDA, as of 2020. That’s why it’s absolutely crucial that you research CBD products before giving them to your pet. Make sure that you choose a CBD oil formulated specifically for animals, and always check to make sure it doesn’t contain THC or any other surprise ingredients.
Just like other cannabis products, quality matters. Low-grade CBD may cause adverse reactions, so you want to be sure to buy top-quality CBD oil that has been extracted and purified to eliminate every last bit of THC. Additionally, it’s important that you buy CBD that has been independently tested by a third-party laboratory to ensure safety, potency, and overall quality.
Try CBD and Proceed with Confidence
As a pet owner, it’s up to you to keep your four-legged pal safe and happy. If you’re nervous about giving your pet CBD, you might want to try some yourself to get a better understanding of its effects. That way, you can get an idea of what your pet will be experiencing. You might even find that it helps you too!