CBD Oil and Pet Anxiety: What’s the Sitch?

Image by Erin Stone from Pixabay

When it comes to keeping our pets happy, it seems anything is open for discussion. How about CBD oil?

A growing number of pet owners are in step with this wellness trend. A report by a cannabis market research firm found that the pet category for CBD oil products increased more than 900% in 2019. This followed the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill that made it easier for people to sell CBD products due to the lifting of some legal restrictions. Even Cesar Millan of Dog Whisperer fame is jumping on the CBD oil product bandwagon. However, what do we really know about it? Here’s the sitch.

CBD Oil: What it is

CBD oil comes in the form of lotions, capsules, and treats. The full name of CBD is cannabidiol, which is a compound present in hemp and cannabis, the basic source of marijuana. If that sounds a bit iffy to you, don’t worry, CDB oil does not have that little something that gives you a marijuana “high.” The compound, THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) , is not present in commercially-available CBD oil, and most do not actually come from marijuana at all.

At any rate, the important thing to note is that CBD oil is not going to be the gateway drug for your pet in any way. The question is, what does it do?

CBD oil use

The major reason pet owners consider using CBD oil is to help their pets overcome issues such as pain, seizures, anxiety, and even some skin diseases. Proponents also claim it can stimulate the appetite, suppress nausea, work as an anti-cancer agent, and improve cardiac function.

However, there is no real research into the efficacy of CBD oil when it comes to dogs and other pets. Some researchers have carried out studies, but the sample sizes have been small, so they are not definitive. Scientists concede that cannibinoids in general can help in keeping the body in a healthy and balanced state, but not, it seems, CBD oil in particular.

Anecdotal evidence alone indicates that CBD oil is effective in alleviating some pain symptoms, particularly neuropathic pain, and controlling seizures in pets. There is a move to sponsor a study into the effects of CBD oil in treatment-resistant epileptic dogs by the AKC Canine Health Foundation in partnership with the Colorado State University, but that is for the future. Right now, there is no concrete evidence that CBD oil works as claimed in pets.

Those that claim the efficacy of CBD oil say it is important to give the pet the right dosage for the desired results. However, since there is no real study on this, any site that make recommendations for this would go more in the category of best guess than any scientific-based knowledge.  This is a classic chicken-and-egg scenario.

CBD oil side effects

Since there has been no scientific study on the use of CBD oil in pets, there is no data on possible side effects. However, there have been studies on its effects on humans, which could be a suitable proxy for pets until future data says otherwise. It is worthy to note that the Food and Drug Administration has not approved CBD oil or published a dosage chart for pets, so no one knows what would represent a toxic dose.

The possible side effects of CBD oil in pets include:

  • Small dip in blood pressure
  • Light-headedness
  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness

Note that these potential side effects save perhaps for drowsiness are not necessarily observable to the pet owner, and drowsiness might be expected as CBD oil is supposed to have a calming effect on the pet. Increased thirstiness might indicate dry mouth, but that might only mean the weather was hot.

What you should know is that more is not necessarily better. While CBD oil is generally believed to be safe to use in small doses, there is always the risk of adverse reactions. Vets are not even allowed to recommend the use of CBD oil of vets. When considering dosing your pet with CBD oil, check with your vet first. Your vet cannot recommend it, but he or she can determine if it will harm your pet if you choose to try it.

Choosing CBD oil products

Vets generally advise caution when it comes to CBD oil. Despite its popularity, there has been no potential benefit seen in using it to help with your pet’s health issues. However, if you decide to try it anyway, you should know that not all CBD oil products are good quality. To maximize any potential efficacy, choose a product that is:

  • Organic, to ensure there are no harmful solvents or pesticides in the mix
  • Not too cheap, as good quality CBD oil will probably be a bit on the pricey side
  • Certified with regards to the CBD oil content (significant) and absence of THC
  • In liquid form such as oils or tinctures, which are easier to administer and control in terms of dosage

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