Claws and Effect

There’s nothing worse than when your sweet little pet is in distress. Just like us humans, our beloved fur babies can deal with everything from chronic pain to anxiety, too. And just as with humans, it’s being reported that CBD might be an effective way to deal with a variety of animal ailments. You may have even seen CBD-based pet treats trending recently — and there’s a good reason for that.

Gary Richter, a doctor of veterinary medicine and veterinary health expert with Rover.com, says that CBD-based products are safe for pets and may be effective for a wide range of conditions affecting dogs and cats, including pain and soreness, seizures, gastrointestinal upset, and stress and anxiety. CBD may also have anti-cancer effects in canines and felines, too, he says. A recent clinical study conducted by Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine used a hemp oil blend to treat dogs with osteoarthritis and found that the dogs that took the hemp oil had significantly improved symptoms over those on a placebo. (It’s unclear at this time whether CBD could be useful for pets other than cats or dogs, says Richter.)

“While the use of cannabis products containing THC and CBD can have great medical benefits, dogs and cats are easily overwhelmed by excessive amounts of THC,” says Richter. “While rarely fatal, dogs and cats overdosed with THC may become unresponsive, lose bowel and bladder function, and be unable to eat or drink. Veterinary care is frequently required to support these pets until the symptoms subside.”

Richter says that unlike with THC, there aren’t any concerns about toxicity or overdose when it comes to predominantly CBD products, which can be made from either hemp or cannabis. Worst case, CBD could make your dog or cat a little sleepy, says Richter. “But that’s about as bad as it would be expected to get,” he says. “Every once in a blue moon, there’s a dog that experiences some gastrointestinal issues, but it’s actually pretty uncommon.”

How does it all work, though? CBD has a similar effect on animals as it does on people. “CBD affects the endocannabinoid system [ECS], which is a system of neurotransmitters in the body that helps balance and maintain normal body function,” says Richter. “This includes helping with pain, inflammation, anxiety, arthritis, and others.”

The ECS is made up of a network of receptors in cells throughout the body. It’s designed to help you maintain a state of normality. “Just like our bodies naturally regulate our temperature and blood sugar at optimal levels, the ECS works to maintain a wide range of body functions including memory, appetite, energy level, stress response, immune function, and pain levels,” says Richter. “Our bodies and those of our pets literally evolved this system to help us survive in a stressful world.”

Just keep this in mind: Richter says that there are no states in the United States where vets are legally able to prescribe or recommend CBD treatment for a pet. The same goes for Canada. There are currently bills pending in New York and California that would allow vets to prescribe CBD to their animal patients in those states, but neither has been signed into law yet.

Story by Christina Heiser
Graphic by Andrew Cooper

The preceding is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to condone the use or consumption of cannabis. For more information, please refer to our disclaimer

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