Yes, yes I have heard about the CBD buzz and all of its “magical powers”; but what is it exactly?
First things first, let’s jump into a little bit of science. CBD belongs to a group of compounds known as cannabinoids. These cannabinoids are derived from hemp and cannabis (yes this guy right here ). Studies have shown that the body contains something known as the endocannabinoid system. This system contains receptors that are located throughout the body and contribute to multiple different functions such as sensation, nausea, mood, or appetite. Scientists are busy researching this endocannabinoid system and are discovering more receptors throughout the body. OK, so enough science. I’m sure everyone is thinking “If CBD comes from hemp and cannabis, then will it get my dog high?” The answer is: It definitely shouldn’t! That being said, some of the human CBD products that we are familiar with may actually contain a substance known as THC. This is another cannabinoid that can cause that high sensation we have all heard about. However, THC is actually toxic to pets. Therefore, pet friendly CBD oil should contain very little (if any) THC and should not cause any high sensations.
So this is great! They have CBD for my pet, but how do I give it to them? Well, CBD products come in a few different forms.
There are oils that can be dropped directly on the food, or placed inside of a capsule to give with a treat. There are also CBD chews or treats that some pets find to be very tasty. Some products work better for pets than others. It just depends on you pet’s special needs or preferences.
OK, CBD oil is a thing. Got it. So why would I want to use it for my pet?
Currently, there are a TON of amazing veterinarians and scientists that are working diligently to uncover all of the great uses of CBD. For instance, there was a study performed at Cornell University that looked at the pain relief potential of CBD oil in dogs with osteoarthritis aka OA. Side note: OA is degenerative joint disease that affects a lot of our older patients. They found that dogs suffering from severe arthritis showed notable improvement in mobility and comfort after adding CBD oil to their daily regimen. This study was SUPER exciting, because it provided us with another tool in our toolbox for pain management in our favorite senior doggos. There have also been groups of scientists that are exploring the use of CBD for other disorders such as anxiety and seizures. These studies are still in the works, but we are hoping that they provide us with yet another option for these common diseases in dogs and cats. Now the real question: Is it worth it?
Cool! This stuff sounds like it has potential! Does it actually work though?
First off, we have to remember that CBD oil has been surrounded by controversy due to its close connection to marijuana. Therefore, studies have just recently taken off due to changes in laws that allow us to use it in clinical studies and dispense it in our practices. What does this mean overall? It means that so far, we have seen evidence that CBD has great potential to help our 4 legged companions. However, more studies will help confirm the uses, doses, safety, and efficacy of this product. The good news is that everyone is STOKED and ready to start those studies. We just have to wait for the results and conclusions. Patience is a virtue. Bottom line: CBD has a place in the veterinary clinic, but that place is likely ALONGSIDE traditional treatments as well. A lot of dogs still need the help of other medications to fix their problems. For example, a dog with severe arthritis may still need their NSAIDs, but the CBD oil may give them that extra giddyup in their step. We all know that we love to see in our 11 year old labradors with OA going on hikes and jumping in water (see below). So yes, speaking from personal experience (and some of my clients), this stuff does seem to actually work. Which is super AWESOME.
Yeah, but is it safe? Because I don’t want to cause more problems for my pet.
So far, the studies have shown minimal negative side effects. A few of the dogs in the Cornell studies showed some elevations in their liver enzymes. These dogs were not showing any evidence of this elevation other than on their bloodwork. Also, the values went back down after stopping the CBD oil. Just like ANY medication, there are almost always some side effects. However, screening bloodwork and vet visits will help you to detect any side effects and be proactive with your pet’s health.
AH YAY! This sounds SO GREAT! Now, where do I find this stuff?
It’s literally EVERYWHERE. The internet, the gas station, the random shed behind the supermarket parking lot, etc etc. That doesn’t mean that you should be getting it from just anywhere though. With the lack of regulation, it can be tricky to find a product that actually has the amount of CBD it claims. More importantly, it can be tricky to find a product that does not contain anything that will be harmful to your pet. All CBD oils are not created equal. So, how did I go about finding a CBD oil for my doggo Ranger? I did some research. I looked for companies that had evidence backing up their product. I also looked for companies that were willing (and able) to provide the ingredient breakdown of each batch of CBD oil that they distributed.
Eventually I found a product called Ellevet. About 6 months after I started using it on Ranger, we started carrying the product at Stow Kent Animal Hospital. We have the treats and oil (also available for cats). If you have been thinking about trying it for your dog, PLEASE feel free to ask any of us here at Stow Kent Animal Hospital! We are always happy to chat about whether or not your pet should get started on it and which product is best for you!
Katie Oden, DVM
Stow Kent Animal Hospital