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Ask A Doctor – CBD For Pets: Delivery Systems, Health Issues And Dosing

CBD for pets
Written by Dr. Leah Zachar

Our pets suffer from many similar medical issues as we do, ranging from the simple colds to the more serious chronic illnesses.

Dogs (and most mammals) have a similar anatomy to humans. Studies in the last decade have shown that the endocannabinoid system can be found in most mammals.
Physically, their organs, metabolic systems, digestive mechanisms, and even medical diseases are like ours.

Pets don’t aspire to have a big bank account, run a business, build a house, or run the world. All they want is some food, to be petted now and then, and be given the opportunity to express their devotion to us.

Many pet lovers have been known to say that “pets are people too.” Literally, that is not so, but on many emotional & physical levels it is may be the case – so we should take care of them as we are the recipient of their unconditional love.

What are the health issues CBD can address in pets?

Aging, anxiety, appetite, phobias, digestion, epilepsy, mobility, muscle spasms, pain, skin, inflammation, and (anecdotally) some tumors. If your pet is taking conventional medications for any of these conditions, CBD may make it possible to use lower doses of them to achieve the same therapeutic benefits. In some cases, CBD may be even be able to replace them the medications your pet’s doctor prescribes – however, this should always be discussed with him first.

Is CBD safe to give our pets?

Yes, the most common side effect is that your pet may get a little drowsy – similar to after taking an antihistamine like Benadryl. You can avoid this by starting your pet on a low dose of CBD, and then tapering it up slowly. There is no such thing as an “overdose” of CBD, so just as in adults, you can increase the dose without worry.

How quickly will I see improvement in my pet’s condition?

When giving CBD to relieve pain, initial improvement can be seen in as little as 30 minutes, with the maximum benefit seen within a few hours. Anxiety improves early on as well. Appetite improvement is seen within a few days. Medical issues such as inflammation, muscle spasms, and mobility take many days, sometimes weeks. Every pet reacts a little differently – just like us humans.

What is the best way to administer CBD to pets?

The most widely accepted way to administer CBD to pets is with tinctures.
When using the tincture, put a few drops of CBD into your pet’s mouth directly. However, since sometimes that may get messy, you can also just drop the oil into your pet’s food or treats.

Is it safe to give THC to my dog?

Short answer: No!
Long answer: THC binds primarily to the CB1 receptors. Of all the mammals studied, dogs have the highest concentration of these receptors.
Because of this, dogs, with the greatest concentration of CB1 receptors, are more sensitive than humans to the psychoactive effects of THC.
When a dog is given a little bit too much of THC, he will develop a condition known as “static ataxia”, a condition where the animal sways from side to side, drools, and becomes completely disoriented.

CBD dosing for our furry felines & canines

Just as is the case in us humans, it is important to emphasize that every pet is is different – and will respond in his own unique way to any dose of CBD given. When treating pets, the dose of the CBD given is weight specific, rather than “condition specific”. In other words, whether you are treating anxiety or inflammation or epilepsy, the amount of CBD you give depends on the pets weight.

It is always a good idea when giving CBD to your pet to start off with a very small serving and work your way up to a higher serving slowly over a series of weeks.
Remember that there is no danger if you give too much CBD because there is no toxicity associated with CBD.

  • Low dosage: 0.05 mg x weight of your pet in pounds / twice daily
  • Medium dosage: 0.125 mg x weight of your pet in pounds / twice daily
  • High dosage: 0.25 mg x weight of your pet in pounds / twice daily

It is best to begin at the low end and base the dose on the pet’s body weight. Then, every 5-7 days, slowly increase the dose until you’ve achieved the desired effect.
Once you’ve achieved the outcome and your pet has relief, then maintain that dose of CBD. Over time, adjustments can be made, up or down when necessary.
CBD is not the answer for all pets. Just as in people, some pets respond better than others. When in doubt, always err on the side of under-dosing. You can always increase the dose slowly and monitor your pet for the optimum effects.
But be reassured, CBD enriched cannabis toxicity is nonfatal and causes no long-term side effects.

As per your request, we are moving the weekly In-house doctor session from Thursday at 1 pm EST, to Thursday at 3 pm EST (That’s UK’s 20:00, NYC’s 15:00 and LA’s 12:00)

If you want to read more from Dr Zachar, check out: ‘Ask A Doctor – CBD For Pets – Q & A’

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About the author

Dr. Leah Zachar

Dr. Leah Zachar, M.D. is a physician who worked for nearly thirty years in Internal Medicine.
She currently is a scientific adviser to CBD Testers. Dr. Zachar believes that there is much that medical cannabis, and cannabidiol in particular can offer to traditional medicine.