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Even the Best Laid Plans.....

Is CBD Safe for Your Pets?

If you have ever seen your 70-pound dog try to fit into the tiniest of spots as soon as he hears the first firework or shakes uncontrollably when the thunder of a summer storm, you understand that you will try to do anything to keep your best friend comforted.

CBD has increasingly been used by humans to treat stress and anxiety so many of us feel that it will be a safe alternative to medicating our pets.  The problem with that is there have not been any studies of note on the effects of CBD on pets. My veterinarian recently attended a conference on this subject and was disappointed that the information that was provided was not current, not thorough and not conclusive.  

Spending on pets has increased to over $72 Billion in 2018 and is expected to increase this year.  That number says that we love our furry friends and want them to be happy and comfortable. The CBD industry knows that and maybe trying to capitalize on these emotions.  One provider of pet CBD products sells dog and cat treats for $30 and CBD drops for cats for $38 and $78 for dogs. That is a lot of money to spend on something that has not been scientifically proven to be helpful and has not been proven to be unharmful either.

In an interview Veterinarian Kim Hammond said that pets cannot overdose on CBD, our understanding of CBD is still in early stages to even know if it works.  There are no standards for dosing and that there are no regulations as to the strength of products. Hammond did say that in controlled environments researchers have found that CBD can be a complementary treatment for certain conditions.  “We think there might be some health value, but I equate it to getting pain relief from massage and acupuncture,” he said.

Another concern with CBD is how it will react in the liver of our pets, especially when combined with other medications.  Because we do not have any scientific proof Tina Wismer, medical director at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center said that there are still a lot of questions.  There could be positive or negative effects. She cautions pet owners to seek the advice of your veterinarian. You will, however, have to bring the topic up first as your vet can typically only discuss CBD as a treatment once the subject has already been brought up by you.

A study is in the works at Colorado State University, sponsored by the Canine Health Foundation (CHF) that will evaluate the use of CBD in treatment-resistant epileptic dogs. The CHF hopes that this will be the first study to gain scientific data on the use of CBD on dogs with Epilepsy.

While there is no scientific information available there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that pet owners have seen in their own pets.  Liz, who is a dog walker feeds her pets oils and treats infused with CBD to help reduce anxiety., and has been delighted with the outcome.

One dog treat maker sells carob ‘chocolate bars’ and brownies.  He only uses CBD that has been lab-tested with the milligrams noted.  These treats gave one Shar-Pei lab mix a better quality of life in his final months. Jake was able to maneuver stairs and his old personality came back.  Another pet parent whose pet was suffering from joint pain as a result of Lyme disease used CBD as an alternative to medications that may cause liver damage.  An added benefit was that it was easier to give to her dog that was traditional medications.

Some expected benefits of CBD in pets include pain management, especially neuropathic pain, controlling seizures, anti-inflammatory properties, anti-nausea effects, appetite stimulation, anti-anxiety, and possible cancer benefits.

Not to be overlooked are the potential side effects based upon those found in humans,  including dry mouth which will result in increased thirst, lowered blood pressure which may cause light-headedness and drowsiness.

Should you and your veterinarian decide to try CBD be sure to look for a high-quality CBD that is organic. It should be free of pesticides, fungicides, and other solvents.  Note that a higher quality product will come with a higher cost. Try to buy CBD as an oil or tincture as it is easier to administer and adjust the dosage.

Connie Maxim-Sparrow