For many adults, the use of cannabis has been a go-to remedy for treating pain, anxiety, and other therapeutic purposes. More so, many people have become interested in CBD oil for their pets after experiencing the benefits for themselves. As a result, CBD has become one of the latest market trends, gaining popularity day by day as pet owners look for alternative ways to take care of their pets. In fact, the global CBD Pet Market is expected to amass $1.7 billion in revenue by 2030, with an annual compound growth rate of 31.8 percent between the years 2023 to 2030. With increased consumer awareness about the potential benefits of CBD and with more people willing to spend money on the health and wellness of their pets, this comes as no surprise.
Research is limited and still ongoing. However, from the results of studies conducted thus far, the benefits that pets can receive from the use of CBD does look promising.
What is CBD?
CBD is a compound that is naturally found in the cannabis plant. Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants that is from the family Cannabaceae. Within the genus, cannabis can be divided into three species of plants known as Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Ruderalis. Of the three, Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica are most commonly known and grown for recreational and medicinal purposes. According to Prima, Cannabis is a broad way of classifying any products that derive from the cannabis plant sativa.
The cannabis plant contains about 540 chemical substances and over 120 compounds, known as cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in cannabis that interact with certain parts of the human body in ways that can cause different types of effects and reactions. Two of the main cannabinoids in the cannabis plant are CBD and THC.
CBD—short for “cannabidiol”—is a naturally occurring, active chemical compound that is found in the cannabis plant sativa. It is the second most prevalent cannabinoid in the cannabis plant and accounts for 40 percent of the plant’s extract. Known for its use as CBD oil, this chemical can provide people with therapeutic or medical benefits. It is non-intoxicating and does not have the psychoactive effects that THC does. THC—short for “tetrahydrocannabinol”— is another common chemical compound found in cannabis plants. It is the psychoactive substance that can cause a “high” sensation. THC is toxic for pets and may cause them to feel disoriented, frightened, and more. Therefore, it is not really recommended for animal consumption.
CBD Derived from Hemp vs. Marijuana Plants
CBD of varying concentrations can be found in all cannabis plants. Therefore, it is possible that CBD products can be derived from either hemp plants or marijuana plants. Though both are two varieties of the same plant (cannabis sativa), they are different in terms of legalities and psychoactive components. Hemp plants contain up to 0.3 percent THC. This is the legal amount that any products derived from hemp plants are allowed to contain. In other words, hemp-derived products will not cause any “high” effects. On the other hand, any product that contains more than 0.3 percent of THC is considered marijuana, or “non-hemp” and can cause psychoactive effects. Though marijuana is legalized in some states for medical and recreational use, it is still listed as a Schedule 1 substance under the Controlled Substance Act. The best CBD oils and products for pets should be extracted from hemp plants, considering its low THC concentration.
CBD Extraction Methods & Types of CBD
CBD for pet use is available in various different forms that pet owners may find to be convenient. For instance, CBD products can come in the form of oils, treats, chews, tinctures, topical creams, and edibles. In fact, oil is considered to be one of the best delivery formats by the American Kennel Club due to its ease of use in regards to dosing. For owners who may want a more pet-specific product, there are even CBD oils that are specifically formulated for your feline and canine companions.
CBD products come in three main types. However, before discussing the different types of CBD, it is important for pet owners to understand the different methods in which it is extracted from hemp plants. In order for products to be effective and beneficial to your pet’s wellness, CBD oil must be extracted in a safe and efficient manner that can guarantee the purity and quality of the final product. Two of the common extraction methods are as follows:
Ethanol happens to be one of the oldest methods of extraction. Over the years, ethanol extraction has been used to produce products such as wine and whipped cream. However, it is now a popular method for extracting CBD from hemp plants. Ethanol extraction can be done in cold and warm temperatures. During the ethanol extraction process
, the hemp plant is immersed and soaked in the ethanol solvent. Doing this separates the cannabinoids and/or terpenes from the plant material and dissolves them into the liquid. The ethanol is then removed through evaporation, leaving behind crude concentrate. Further processing will need to be had in order to remove undesirable substances.
Pros: Ethanol extraction is essentially cost effective and is considered to be generally safe, quick and efficient
Cons: Can be flammable. Due to its polarity, ethanol can also extract unwanted substances like chlorophyll and plant waxes. This can cause a bitter taste and may require a more lengthy removal process involving purification and refinement. This extraction can also potentially degrade some of the beneficial compounds during the process.
Supercritical CO 2
Supercritical CO 2 extraction uses varying temperatures and highly pressurized carbon dioxide to strip the hemp plant of CBD and other cannabinoids. It requires the use of an advanced and expensive machine with three chambers to undergo the process. CO 2 is first converted to a liquid state through high pressure and extremely low temperatures. The temperature is then increased until the liquid CO 2 reaches a “supercritical” point, meaning it has both the properties of a liquid and gas. It then passes through the hemp plant material located in the second chamber—effectively separating the cannabinoids and other compounds from the plant. In the third chamber, they are separated and the residual CO 2 evaporates, leaving behind the CBD oil extract. This method is more preferred than ethanol extraction.
: CO 2 is non-flammable. Supercritical CO 2 extraction is also able to yield a high concentration of the extracted CBD oil with terpenes, cannabinoids, and other phyto-compounds that can be safe for pets. Another benefit, according to Innovet Pet
, is that CO 2 extraction is able to separate the individual cannabinoids and terpenes from each other. This helps in creating unique extracts that can cater to specific illnesses or a more potent general cannabis oil since it gets rid of less therapeutic phytochemicals. The CBD produced is also more pure.
Cons: This method can be extremely expensive due to the machine being used for the extraction process. This process may also take longer than other methods.
When searching for the best products for your furry friend, there are three types of CBD that you should be informed about. The three types of CBD are: Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, and Isolate. The main difference between the three types lies in their compounds and compositions. Knowing the differences in each is significant because it can guide you in selecting the best type that is most appropriate for your pet’s individual needs and preferences.
Let’s take a look at the three main types of CBD below!
Full Spectrum CBD contains all phytocannabinoids of the hemp plant—CBD, terpenes, essential oils, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids. Terpenes refer to chemical compounds found in plants that are responsible for its aroma and the way it smells. It also contains up to 0.3 % THC, which is the legal amount derived from hemp plants. Full spectrum CBD is said to create what’s known as the “entourage effect”. According to a 2020 research study
, this essentially means that when CBD oils are paired with other cannabinoids and terpenes, they work together to maximize and strengthen the therapeutic benefits received from the product.
This may be of interest to pet owners who want the full effect and don’t mind the THC content. However, it is important to note that some terpenes can potentially be unsafe for animals. For instance, the terpene Limonene can be toxic to cats.
Broad Spectrum CBD contains most of the cannabinoids and terpenes that are extracted from the hemp plant, including CBG and CBN. It’s made by isolating individual compounds from the hemp plant and then recombining them in a way that mimics the effects of full spectrum extract. Oil derived from this type of CBD typically goes through an additional extraction and refinement process that removes all THC. However, trace amounts may still remain so it is always important to check product labels before purchasing! Broad spectrum CBD also allows for more consistency in products due to its ability to control specific cannabinoid ratios. This may be an option for pet parents who want the full benefits that full spectrum provides, but without the THC. Regardless of the amount, it is well-known that our pets can be very sensitive to THC.
Isolate CBD is just pure CBD alone. It does not contain THC or any other compounds from the hemp plant such as cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, etc. With no THC, is it 100% legal with no psychoactive effects, therefore, this can be beneficial for pets who may require higher doses of CBD. It also does not have a flavor or order, so pet parents may consider using it in their dog or cat’s food. Ultimately, it will not have the same effects/benefits as full and broad spectrum CBD.
How Does CBD Work for Pets?
Similar to its effects on humans, CBD has the potential to provide many benefits
for your pet. This is because when introduced into your pet’s body, CBD interacts with something called the endocannabinoid system (ECS)—found in both humans and animals. To start, pet owners should first gain an understanding of their pet’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS).
The endocannabinoid system contains three parts—endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, and enzymes—which all work together to help our bodies (including our pets!) maintain balance and function properly. Endocannabinoids are the key messengers of the ECS that sends signals between nerve cells. They are naturally produced in the body and are similar to the cannabinoids that are produced by the cannabis plant. Cannabinoid receptors are located on the surface of cells throughout the body and there are two of them. CB1 receptors are mostly found throughout the nervous system (brain and spinal cord), whereas CB2 are mostly found in the immune system, in organs and cells that are involved with a response. Endocannabinoids will typically bind to either of these receptors. This can cause different results depending on where the receptor is located in the body. By binding to these receptors, it sends a message to the ECS that action needs to be taken. Lastly, the enzymes are in charge of breaking down the endocannabinoids once the job is completed.
When our pet’s ECS is out of balance, we can usually tell by the physical manifestations that let us know something is wrong. Examples of this may include excessive panting, diarrhea, vomiting, whimpering, aggression, lethargy, and more.
CBD may be beneficial to pets in terms of dealing with pain, anxiety, nausea, inflammatory problems, seizures, joint health, arthritis, and more. With scientific research still ongoing, there isn't any definitive data or conclusions on the exact ways in which CBD oils benefit your pet—especially in terms of how much they should be given. However, studies conducted by accredited universities have shown that the use of CBD can act as a form of therapy for a variety of your pet’s conditions. Listed below are a couple of ways in which your furry friend can potentially benefit from CBD.
Osteoarthritis is one of the most common inflammatory diseases in dogs. It is defined as being a degenerative joint disorder caused by the deterioration of cartilage that worsens over time. As a result, dogs may experience increased pain and inflammation. Some of the signs and symptoms attributed to this disease are stiffness or difficulty moving, decrease in energy, or changes in their posture. Factors that may contribute to this include age, injury or repeated stress in the area.
In 2018, a study was conducted by the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University in order to determine whether CBD is effective in pain management for dogs with osteoarthritis—and yielded positive results. According to researchers, 80% of the dogs receiving the CBD oil experienced a decrease in pain. The study suggested that 2 mg/kg of CBD twice daily can potentially help increase the comfortability in dogs, as well as increase their activity.
A 2020 study conducted by an Australian animal health company named CannPal Animal Therapeutics Limited wanted to test whether CBD is effective in relieving atopy. Atopy is a chronic, inflammatory skin disease associated with allergies that can cause extreme itching, scratching, and chewing. While some dogs were given CBD and others a placebo, the study took place over the course of 56 days and yielded positive results. The company found that the dogs using their CBD product saw a 51% decrease in itching and other symptoms related to atopy.
At Colorado State University
, a study was conducted to determine the effect that oral CBD—combined with the use of conventional treatments—can have on reducing seizure frequency in dogs with epilepsy. The results of the study found that there was a 89% decrease in seizure frequency for the dogs who received the CBD, as opposed to those who received the placebo.
For many people, CBD has been an extreme help when it comes to reducing their anxiety. According to a 2020 Forbes survey, 51% of survey respondents said that they used CBD to help alleviate their anxiety. Naturally, pet owners became curious as to whether CBD can help their furry friends who may be exhibiting anxious tendencies.
A study conducted at Cornell University decided to test this by giving dogs CBD chews prior to being put in stressful situations. The result of the study stated that 83% of the dogs showed a decrease in anxiety related behavior.
It is important to note that every pet’s endocannabinoid system does not function the same. Therefore, not only is it possible for the benefits received to vary, but CBD might also work better for some than others. Some risks that may be associated with the use of CBD is that it can cause lethargy or vomiting. Other risks include dry mouth, drowsiness, or lowered blood pressure. The risks are often associated with dosing and the amount of CBD that is in your pet’s system.
Safety & Concerns Regarding CBD
As the trend of CBD use for pet wellness continues to gain popularity, a lot of products are being sold on the market claiming to have health benefits for your pets. However, pet owners should know that these products are not regulated or approved by the FDA before being sold. In other words, they have not been adequately tested or verified to be safe and effective for medicinal or therapeutic use by the Food and Drug Administration.
Due to these loose regulations, people have become increasingly concerned about the quality of CBD products marketed towards their pets—especially since they do not undergo the same production and process control procedures that other FDA approved drugs do. This can lead to widespread mislabeling of CBD products and potentially put your pets at risk if the product contains more or less of an ingredient than is being claimed by the company.
Below are some common questions and concerns that many pet owners have in regards to the safety and legality of CBD use for their beloved fur babies!
Is CBD legal?
In short, yes. Under federal law, CBD is legal if it is derived from hemp plants that contain no more than 0.3 percent THC. Anything containing over 0.3 percent THC is considered to be non- hemp, or marijuana, and may be illegal in other states. This is due to the 2018 Farm Bill—also known as the Agriculture Improvement Act— which removed hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act. This effectively legalized hemp-derived products across all 50 states. However, it is always important to check your state laws before purchasing any CBD product. Though CBD is legal under federal law, all states still have their own Controlled Substance Acts where hemp may still remain.
Will CBD cause my pet to get “high”?
No. CBD will not get your pet “high”. It is a cannabinoid that contains no psychoactive effects, unlike THC which is known to produce a high. Always be sure to check the product packaging and labels for specific details regarding its contents. Everything should be clear and concise. Pet owners should also conduct their own research and do a little digging into the company producing the product to make sure that they are reputable.
How much should be used?
Due to lack of conclusive data and since CBD products are not approved by the FDA at the moment, a specific dosage that should be administered to pets is not yet established. However, some factors that might contribute to the amount of CBD given include their age and weight. If you are keen on using CBD for your pet, always start with a low dose and then increase in small amounts. Make sure to monitor their reaction.
Choosing the Best Quality Products
As pet owners, we want to make sure our pets are given nothing but the best quality. This is especially when it comes to introducing new products that can contribute to a healthy lifestyle for our pets. Therefore, it is significant for pet owners to do their due diligence and do research of their own to gain a better understanding on what products and companies are considered safe and reliable to be purchased from. When searching for the best quality product for your furry friend, here are some things you should be on the lookout for:
Is it Organic?
This is important because the way that cannabis plants are grown can have an effect on the quality of the products that are derived from them. In order for CBD oils to be of high quality, they should come from organically-grown hemp to ensure that no pesticides or other harmful chemicals were used during the process. Pet owners should look for products that are certified by the NASC (National Animal Supplement Council), which identifies products from companies that have undergone rigorous quality audits.
Is a Certificate of Analysis provided?
A certificate of analysis is essentially a list of everything that is contained in the CBD product. The analysis is conducted by an independent third-party lab and includes the percentage of THC and other cannabinoids, pesticide analysis, heavy metal analysis, hemp extract concentrations, and more. This is a good way for companies to show transparency and trustworthiness. Without a COA, there is no guarantee that the ingredients you see listed on the product packaging are in fact what is actually in there.
Consult a Veterinarian
As always, it is highly important that you consult a veterinarian before making the decision to add a new product into your pet’s daily regime. In the case of CBD, this is even more important considering that there is not much conclusive data on the effects that it can have on your pet. Therefore, you would want to seek out a veterinarian who has experience in treating pets with CBD and can help you with any questions you may have.