In previous blog posts, we’ve both defined CBD, and discussed its medicinal properties by explaining precisely how CBD works. To summarize, CBD binds with various receptors found within the body, thereby regulating different biological and physiological processes. These receptors are one of the three core components of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), which helps regulate our appetite, digestion, metabolism, pain-sensation, inflammation, mood, sleep, stress, and even our memory. The ECS exists within every mammalian body (to include dogs, cats, and horses), and as there are thousands of studies discussing the potential benefits of CBD, many users have begun to question its benefits for our four-legged friends.
Although CBD companies existed several years prior, in 2018:
- The U.S. House voted to pass the Farm Act Bill, which more broadly defined industrial hemp, and removed hemp from the Controlled Substance Act (CSA).
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Epidiolex, an oral CBD solution used to treat seizures associated with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) and Dravet syndrome (DS). To date, this is the only FDA-approved drug that contains cannabidiol (CBD).
These two advancements within the hemp industry resulted in a boom of CBD products and companies entering the marketplace, and with that, an abundance of misinformation and gimmick products. It is our intention at Rx Remedies to not only provide effective plant-based remedies for both people and pets, but also to help better educate consumers on the benefits of plant-based medicine, including cannabinoids and terpenes.
How is CBD administered to animals?
The products offered for pets are generally available in the same forms you’d see offered for people – edibles in the form of treats or powders, oils or capsules taken orally, and even topicals. Most companies will offer suggested dosing or application, however, there is still quite a bit of guesswork involved in establishing a perfect dose.
How much a pet should take is dependent on the issue they’re trying to treat, the severity of the issue, and how the animal metabolizes cannabinoids, all of which can vary from one pet to another Additionally, the size of the animal can determine the necessary concentration, as a Chihuahua would surely not require the same amount of CBD as a Great Dane.
Can CBD help with the overall health of your pet?
The available research is encouraging, however, it is still early by scientific standards. A study published in 2018 found CBD helped ease discomfort for dogs with osteoarthritis, which was further supported by a random, double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in 2020, which found cannabidiol, “…significantly improved the mobility of large domestic canines afflicted with osteoarthritis…”.
Dr. Stephanie McGrath, a neurologist at Colorado State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital, has been a pioneer researcher in the field of veterinary cannabis as early 2013. Her study to assess the use of cannabidiol for dogs with epilepsy found that 89% of dogs experienced a reduction in the frequency of seizures, which she later published in 2019.
These studies, although successful and peer-reviewed, are small and considered very preliminary. Still, veterinarians have shared genuine optimism at these findings, as much anecdotal evidence exists supporting the anxiolytic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory benefits of CBD in animals.
While McGrath’s research focuses primarily on the benefits of CBD in dogs, researchers like Dr. Kimberly Guary from Tarleton State University’s Equine Center are looking into the benefits of CBD in horses.
Guary’s unique study hoped to quantify how CBD affects inflammation, stress, and/or known negative behaviors in horses by focusing on the physiological effects, such as heart rate and cortisol levels. Guary published her findings in October 2021, stating that “Horses exhibit anxiety due to training or housing situations, which is sometimes expressed via…cribbing, aggression, etc”. Using four mature mares and four mature geldings, Guary’s team developed a randomized controlled treatment where behaviors were recorded following dosages of olive oil (control group) and dosages of CBD. The study concluded that, “behaviors including aggression and pawing occurred less when horses were given the high dose (of CBD) compared to the control”.
Rx Remedies similarly tested their recently developed Advanced Equine Supplement, which is a proprietary, sixteen-component, phytocannabinoid-rich (PCR), CBD-based, dry powder feed additive, specifically formulated to treat horse pain. The fourteen-day, three-group, ten-horse preliminary study was conducted to assess:
- pain reduction
- improved mobility
- behavioral response, and
- changes in core temperature, appetite, urine coloration and manure output.
Ten horses were selected, those exhibiting pain (n=8) and those not (n=2). Horses were then randomized into three groups; Group 1 (n=6) demonstrated pain, exhibited joint swelling and were treated, Group 2 (n=2) did not demonstrate pain, yet exhibited limited joint inflammation and were treated, while Group 3 (n=2) demonstrated pain, exhibited joint swelling, and were not treated (control group).
Our hope was at least 70% of the test group would experience a decrease in their pain and inflammation, however, the data far exceeded our expectations with 100% favorable therapeutic response:
- All Group-1 horses exhibited reduced pain and increased flexibility favorable responses beginning on or around day-7, and were either flexible or completely flexible without pain by day-10.
- All Group 2 horses, with no presenting original pain, exhibited reduced joint swelling and improved behavior.
- All Group 3 horses remained with chronic joint stiffness and pain.
- An unexpected beneficial response in one test horse was the eradication of cresty neck mass, 60-pound weight loss, ceased loss of hair, and recuperated coat sheen.
This limited study demonstrated total effectiveness in pain reduction, improved mobility, and behavioral response, while also improving appetite, urine coloration, and manure output, with no change in animal core temperatures.
Is CBD safe for animals? Will CBD get my pet high?
The World Health Association states CBD is non-addictive, has no withdrawal symptoms, and has a great safety profile, however, it is important to note that CBD can interact with some medications (particularly, if the animal is already on medications that are metabolized in the liver). Moreover, a study published in 2018 investigated the pharmacokinetics and safety in cannabidiol for dogs, and found “no observable side effects”. Although for most pets, CBD is completely safe for daily use, we do recommend contacting your veterinarian prior to using any CBD product.
CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning you cannot get stoned or high from using it. It is the psychoactive cannabinoid, THC, that makes the user feel “stoned”. Hemp-derived CBD products are legally limited to 0.3% THC or less, which although can aid in the efficacy of CBD, it is not enough to cause any sort of intoxication. As a point of reference, most strains of medical marijuana have at least 15% THC, so comparatively, hemp-derived CBD products have 45x less THC than found in medical marijuana.
How to choose a CBD product for your dog, cat or horse?
To date, there is no regulatory oversight in the CBD industry. Not the FDA, not the DEA, and not the Department of Agriculture. This means there are hundreds of companies selling CBD products in a totally unregulated market, which places much of the responsibility on the consumer in purchasing a legitimate product.
Reputable companies offering quality products will be cGMP-certified, and will offer third-party lab test results for every batch of oil. And these test results should be readily available to potential customers. Make sure the company clearly states “CBD” and not just “hemp oil” or “hemp seed oil”; neither of which contain the medicinal properties of CBD.
Also, does the company have scientific and/or medical expertise? Formulating products isn’t as simple as adding CBD to a tincture or supplement. Both cannabinoids and terpenes are medicine, therefore there is a significant amount of medicinal science to be understood and applied in product development.
Bottom line, first discuss the potential benefits of CBD for your dog, cat, or horse with your veterinarian (this is particularly important if your four-legged friend is currently taking other medications). Make sure the product you are using is concentrated, specifically promotes CBD (not hemp oil or hemp seed oil), offers third-party testing, and is manufactured in a cGMP facility. And don’t be scared to contact the company directly with questions or concerns. If they don’t answer your inquiries, then that’s all the answer you need.