Applying cannabis as a supplement for dogs, cats, and other furry friends is very much like it is with humans: not everybody is in agreement or on the same page.
CBD hemp oil (which contains virtually no THC) as a daily nutritional supplement still faces stigma and scrutiny from human doctors and veterinarians alike. This can be attributed to a handful of reasons, ranging from lack of research to a head-in-the-sand mindset regarding anything to do with marijuana.
However, just like human M.D.s, there are also several animal doctors and vets who not only accept CBD oil as a treatment for pets, they swear by it and often recommend it. Some pet owners aren’t waiting for the science or the law to catch up with what they see as a viable option for treating their pets’ illnesses or making them more comfortable.
In this entry, we’ll hear why some vets and pet owners support CBD for pets, and then you can make the decision about whether your animal friend could benefit from a daily serving of CBD.
VETERINARY MEDICINE AND CANNABIS
Humans have used cannabis for quite some time. Some archeological sites have been discovered to show that cannabis was in use—even cultivated—for at least 10,000 years. Point being, even though CBD hemp oil is a relatively new addition to the cannabis world, hemp and humans have had a long and fruitful history.
Every day, more research and anecdotal evidence emerges about the benefits of taking a daily serving of CBD oil. Humans and mammals share the same type of homeostatic system within their bodies (more on that in just a bit), so naturally some forward-thinking vets believe that animals, including your Fido and kitty cat, can also benefit from CBD. You may be unfamiliar with what CBD oil is and how it works, so let’s do a quick review to get you up to speed.
WHAT IS CBD OIL?
CBD oil is extracted from the stalks and seeds of hemp plants. CBD is short for Cannabidiol. It is one of over 85 cannabinoids presently found in the cannabis plant and is the second most abundant cannabinoid in marijuana after THC. In hemp, however, THC is only present in trace amounts. In other words, CBD oil will not get you high.
HOW CBD INTERACTS WITH MAMMALS
CBD interacts with the body through the endogenous cannabinoid system (ECS) or endocannabinoid system. First discovered in the late 1980’s, the endocannabinoid system regulates the body’s homeostasis, or general state of balance, impacting such functions as mood, sleep, appetite, hormone regulation, and pain and immune response. As our environment around us impacts our normal balance, the endocannabinoid system “corrects” by mediating our body’s reaction to help keep us level.
The endocannabinoid system is found in all mammals, and is made up of millions of cannabinoid receptor sites located primarily throughout the brain and central nervous system (CB1 receptors) and immune system (CB2 receptors) that act in neural communication.
It’s clear that the endocannabinoid system is one of the most important regulatory systems in the human body, but most people do very little to support the health of this system, because cannabinoids have not been part of the average diet. This same line of thinking also applies to your pet’s body!
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CBD OIL FOR PETS?
Although the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) has no official stance or approval concerning CBD oil as a nutritional supplement, many vets and pets owners are convinced that CBD oil can be taken for as a supplement to help many conditions their animals experience.
The cannabinoid CBD interacts with the receptors in the body and can help modulate things like nausea, general health, and much more. There are also no life-threatening side effects with proper serving usage, and no damage to the kidney, liver, or GI tract.
As with any medication, pet owners should consult their veterinarian first before treating their dog with CBD oil. You may need to seek out a veterinarian who has experience with pets being treated with cannabis oil to discuss proper serving size and reputable manufacturers.
CBD OIL AND THE VETERINARY COMMUNITY
Not all vets are convinced that CBD oil is proper for pets, but that could change as public attitudes and even some laws surrounding cannabis shift.
In 2015, an Arizona State Senator introduced a bill that would have allowed the state to issue medical cards to pets with certain illnesses and required the state to regulate medical marijuana products for animals, including their formulation, labeling and dosage. Unfortunately, the bill died after failing to get a hearing in the Committee on Health and Human Services.
In Florida, a bill introduced in 2016 would have authorized the University of Florida to work with veterinary researchers to “conduct research to determine the benefits and contraindications of the use of low-THC cannabis and low-THC cannabis products for treatment of animals with seizure disorders or other life-limiting illnesses.” That bill died as well.
Although each bill was unsuccessful, it does show that some progress is being made.
In regards to CBD being taken by pets, there are various opinions among vets and their association groups.
Dr. Narda Robinson, a veterinarian and director of the Colorado State University Center for Comparative and Integrative Pain Medicine, says “In my opinion, research into cannabis as it relates to veterinary medicine is vital for a number of reasons. While the anecdotal effects do sound intriguing and potentially beneficial, research will help us sort the actual effects of cannabis from those of placebo.”
“My gut reaction is they do probably provide some therapeutic effect benefit,” said Dr. Dawn Boothe, director of the Clinical Pharmacology Laboratory at Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and the American College of Veterinary Clinical Pharmacology. “I’m saying there’s enough justification that we need to study it.”
THE AHVMA’S TAKE
The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association is the first, and so far only, vet organization that takes a stance and officially encourages researching the safety and uses of cannabis in animals.
The AHVMA has adopted a position that states: “There is a growing body of veterinary evidence … This herb may be able to improve the quality of life for many patients, even in the face of life-threatening illnesses.”
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