What’s good for the goose is good for gander
If you are anything like me, then you tend to treat your pets better than you treat yourself. My four cats (yes, I have four cats, don’t judge) eat the best food I can find, drink from a purified water fountain, and, frankly, command more space in my bed than I am comfortable with. And when it comes to their health, I’m always looking for ways to make sure my kitties will be around for as long as possible.
But I’m a skeptic at heart, and when I hear about people giving their pets pharmaceuticals like Prozac I start to wonder if we all aren’t beginning to lose our pet-loving minds. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand the impulse to do whatever is in your power to make your companions happy, but as someone who avoids even taking over-the-counter pain medication, I’m left wondering if there isn’t a better option for our animals.
Needless to say, I wasn’t immediately sold on the idea of giving the CBD found in hemp extract to pets. However, after doing some research and thinking it through more carefully, I think I’m sold on it not being as crazy as I initially thought.
Read on to have your CBD for pets questions answered!
First, are we talking CBD or hemp extract?
Good question! When I talk about CBD, I’m referring to the natural, normally occurring substance found in the hemp plant. So, for my purposes, CBD and hemp extract are interchangeable.
Now, there are some companies that have synthetic CBD made from sources other than hemp, but I recommend you go with a reputable company, like Grön, that gets their CBD from a natural, hemp-based source.
Wait, I can give CBD to my pets?
One thing that humans and other animals with a backbone have in common is the endocannabinoid system. Like us, other animals have an already existing set of receptors in their bodies that CBD can bind with. This means that our animal friends and companions can enjoy some of the same benefits from CBD that we do.
This might sound silly, but learning this fact made me feel a bit closer to my cats. One of the reasons I think I’m uncomfortable with the idea of giving a pet Prozac is that I don’t know how I feel about giving ME Prozac. CBD, on the other hand, is something I personally feel comfortable using for athletic recovery and anxiety. The fact that my cats and I are physiologically similar enough to both benefit from the same wellness practice is both cool and weirdly endearing.
What pets can use CBD?
Technically speaking, any animal you are likely to keep as a pet will have an endocannabinoid system and will therefore be able to benefit in some way from CBD. However, most of the testimonials I’ve seen, as well as research I’ve come across, has to do with mammals like horses, cats, dogs, rabbits, and guinea pigs. So, I recommend you stick to treating those sorts of fury friends until more information becomes available.
Can I give “human CBD” to my pets?
There are a lot of websites and articles out there that say you should only give “pet CBD” to your pet, but here’s the thing: CBD is CBD. There is absolutely nothing different, on the chemical level, between the CBD oil you would use and CBD oil that has been “specifically formulated for pets.”
The difference between CBD oils marketed to humans and those marketed to pets, if there is one, is usually in their potency. As I’ll discuss in more detail below, many animals are more sensitive to CBD than humans, if only because of how much smaller they are. This means they will generally need far less CBD than a human would, and CBD oils that are marketed to pets generally account for this.
But the fact of the matter is that you are going to have to figure out the proper dosing for your pet regardless of which CBD oil you purchase. You will always have to take into account your specific animal, her weight, her condition, and how she responds to the CBD.
In my experience, it isn’t difficult to dose out the amount of CBD your pet needs from a “human” tincture dropper. So, use whatever CBD oil you prefer! I do recommend, however, that you stick with unflavored tinctures. Some animals don’t appreciate the flavored kinds.
First of all, DO NOT give CBD chocolate to your animal! Chocolate is toxic to many animals and could make them very sick or even kill them.
Instead, your best bet is to give them an unflavored CBD tincture. To best ensure proper dosing and absorption, you will want to administer CBD directly into your pet’s mouth 15 minutes or longer either before or after a meal. Luckily, many animals find the oil appealing and will begin licking the dropper, making it easy to squeeze the contents into their mouths.
If you find direct application too difficult, then try placing the CBD oil on a very small amount of wet food. If your pet refuses the direct method and food, then try placing the CBD in your pet’s water bowl with a small amount of water. Although this will get the job done, it makes it difficult to closely monitor dosing, as pets will often not drink the entirety of the water or splash some onto the floor.
What can CBD do for my pet?
In general, CBD helps the body balance itself out when it’s going through some sort of stress or change, and there are many instances where your pet might benefit from a little assistance in that department.
For example, many pets experience anxiety when their owners leave the home, when they are around other animals or people, or when they have to travel or be in unfamiliar environments, and CBD might help alleviate that stress. Additionally, CBD has been shown to be effective in pain management and as an anti-inflammatory.
I have heard first hand reports that CBD is particularly helpful for pets that are recovering from injuries or surgeries, as well as for elderly pets that suffer from arthritis or other types of chronic inflammation. Finally, some have reported success with CBD as a way to stimulate appetite in finicky eaters or any animal that struggles to put on weight.
Here are some conditions I have heard people have success treating with CBD:
- Separation anxiety
- Anxiety from trauma
- Stress from multi-animal homes
- Symptoms from cancer and cancer treatment
- Low appetite
- General behavioral problems
But these are just a few of the many ways CBD can be used to help the animals we love. I encourage you to do your own research or to give CBD a try for yourself and report back your findings.
Is CBD safe?
Research has shown that it is virtually impossible to overdose on CBD in both humans and animals. Despite this, some animals, including dogs, are more sensitive to CBD than humans, and there are signs to look for that might indicate you are giving too high of a dose. Lethargy, or an appearance of low energy or depressed mood, may be a sign that you should lower the dosage, as are vomiting or any reduced desire to eat. In general, if your pet begins to not act like herself (in a bad way!) then cut the dosage back.
One last thing to take into account is whether your CBD oil also contains THC and how well your pet tolerates it. Just like “dosing” a human friend with THC without them knowing can lead them to have a very bad time, your pet can also have an adverse reaction. If you want to avoid these issues entirely, look for brands, like Grön CBD, that rigorously test their products to make sure there is an acceptable level of THC in your pet’s tincture.
How much CBD should I give to my pet?
The basic rule of thumb is 1mg of CBD per every 5 pounds your pet weighs. This means an 8 pound cat should get a little under 2mg and a 15 pound dog would get 3mg.
However, this is just a general guideline and there are many factors that can impact the proper dosage for your specific pet. For example, some dogs are more sensitive to CBD and might require a slightly lower dose. Also, animals with a higher muscle mass, like pit bulls and Maine Coons, might require a slightly higher dose.
Some larger animals, like horses, might require a much larger dose due to both their weight and higher muscle mass. In fact, I have heard reports of horse owners giving their race horses upwards of 1,000mg of CBD as a method of coping with the stress that comes about from pushing hard during a race. This would be at the higher extreme of dosing, of course, and I would definitely consult an expert before administering a dose anywhere near as large as that.
In general, I recommend that you do the same thing you would do if YOU were taking CBD: start with a very small dosage and slowly work your way up over time. In fact, I would begin with a dosage well below the 1mg per 5 pounds guideline and see if my pet shows any improvement. It’s easy enough to slowly creep the CBD dosage up over the period of a few days or weeks.
How do I know if the CBD is working?
Even though our pets can’t speak our language to let us know how they are feeling, they most certainly are communicating with us if we pay close enough attention. After 14 and 13 years respectively with my two older cats, I feel like I can very clearly understand when they communicate their needs to me.
Although the specific signs will depend on why you are giving your pet CBD in the first place, in general you want to look for an overall improvement in quality of life. This might mean an improved range of movement, a general improvement in mood, an increase in appetite, a reduction in anxiety, or a decrease in visual signs of pain.
The bottom line is that you know your pet, so pay attention to their behavior and listen to what they are telling you through how they act. If you know your pet even somewhat well, and I bet you do, you will know when they are feeling better. There are usually signs, and you will likely pick up on them.
If you have used CBD to treat one of your pets, then please let me know in the comments below! What results have you seen? Was it difficult getting your pet to take the CBD? What tips or tricks do you have for the rest of us who are thinking about giving CBD to our four-legged loved ones?