As we begin to better understand the effects of CBD on the human body through mounting evidence and larger research studies, more and more pet owners are also considering the viability of cannabidiol for pets. What about CBD oil for cats? What’s the safety profile of treating our furry friends with the same medication? Can CBD offer the same relief for cats and dogs as it does for humans? Is it legal? What kind of effects can pet owners expect with cannabidiol for pets?
Although there is still limited scientific research available on CBD for pets, the existing evidence suggests that treating animals with CBD can be a safe and successful option for a wide range of ailments. This is in addition to the countless number of testimonials popping up online from pet owners who are already seeing extremely positive results after beginning treatment on their furry children.
In the United States, it is still illegal for vets to prescribe medical marijuana for their patients, and in most cases, they are still in the dark about this form of treatment. Many are even hostile to the idea due to a lack of information, and a negative bias often fed and propagated by the media.
However, cannabinoid receptors exist within mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish. Research in canines has shown that they can metabolize cannabinoids, with tinctures demonstrating the best results for safety. The results from this original study were positive enough that there are now two clinical studies underway. These studies, conducted in Colorado, are exploring CBD for canine osteoarthritis and epilepsy. 
Holistic pet supplement companies and their investors are already betting big money on the viability of CBD oil for cats, dogs, and other pets. Slowly, veterinary associations are beginning to address the information gap. For example, the California Veterinary Medical Association recently held a major conference, and one of the main focuses was the use of marijuana as animal medicine. Also, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has begun pushing the federal government for further research into the subject and has even posted testimonials on their website from pet owners giving their pets CBD. Times are changing, and it appears that more veterinarians seem to be open to the idea of CBD for cats and dogs. This makes sense, as the benefits are getting increasingly difficult to ignore. 
As with any medicine, there is always some risk of side effects with use. Some research has been conducted on treating animals with marijuana, but as marijuana can contain strong psychoactive compounds, most researchers concluded that it was unsafe, or, at the very least, that more research is required.
According to the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, marijuana toxicosis in animals increased alongside medical marijuana legalization in Colorado. Marijuana toxicosis is a risk when the psychoactive properties (mainly due to the cannabinoid THC) of marijuana cause anxiety, abnormal behavior, diarrhea, vomiting and other negative effects. In some rare cases, ingesting strong doses of marijuana has resulted in animal deaths. Alternatively, based on the available evidence (both anecdotal and otherwise), the side effects related to CBD treatments are both rare and mild.
Treating animals with CBD is obviously much different than treating an animal with medical marijuana. The psychoactive effect is eliminated in CBD, leaving primarily cannabidiols. A quick search online exposes a growing community of individual pet owners who have begun treating their aging and ailing pets with CBD and many, if not most, are reporting extremely positive results. Despite the lack of robust scientific data, using CBD for cats, dogs, and other animals is increasing. Pet owners are reporting that using CBD for animals’ health have benefits that far exceed the benefits gained from mainstream medications.
According to the AVMA, cannabidiol for pets is already well established. But for what purpose are pet owners using CBD oil for cats, dogs, and other animals? The understanding is that the pet owners use CBD for their own health and symptom management. These symptoms include pain, inflammation, seizures, cancer and its associated issues, phobias, digestive issues, and anxiety. Naturally, the reasoning is that what works for the pet owner could work for their pets.
Other owners have reported treating their animals with CBD products to offer better palliative care. These owners report that their pets’ quality of life vastly improved - they gained weight, energy, and appetite, and, most importantly, dogs started wagging their tails and cats started purring again. In one study, more pet owners approved of giving their pets CBD for issues such as pain, inflammation and insomnia or anxiety in their pets than those who didn’t. The most reported side-effects were sedation and increased appetite. The authors conceded that the study has limitations, but, based on the pet-owners’ favorable viewing of marijuana-based products for their pets, “the survey...emphasize(s) the need for veterinarians to be informed about these options, and the need for objective, placebo-controlled clinical trials.”
The available anecdotal evidence also suggests that cannabidiol for pets has a future in veterinary care. Pets owners report it to improve the quality of life for sick and infirm animals when dosed appropriately. They are increasingly looking to switch from treating their furry children with pharmaceutical products that may have many negative side effects or are extraordinarily expensive, to a more natural solution that can have the same or more positive effects. 
Before making the switch, or starting a CBD treatment regime, always approach a veterinarian. Based on online testimonials, many pet owners have reported their veterinarian being wary of a CBD treatment plan. A vet’s refusal is often times simply due to lack of information or their prior experience with treating marijuana toxicosis. Also, medication interactions can play a role, as CBD is metabolized by the liver at the same sites as those of many mainstream medicines. So, it is vital to discuss this plan with the veterinarian, as there can be complications from eliminating one medicine and replacing it with CBD oil.
Always start a CBD treatment plan slowly and in small doses. The typical recommendation is 1-2 drops of CBD oil per 10 pet pounds, mixed into food once a day. Cannabidiol for pets may take a few days to demonstrate results. Once a baseline is established for using CBD for cats or dogs, any increases or reductions can be determined based on the pet’s reaction. In the end, caring pet owners know their pets the best and know when other treatments are not providing the necessary quality of life to an animal. More research may begin to scientifically prove that CBD oil for cats, dogs, and other pets may be a viable method of improving the daily experiences of sick and ailing animals.
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