CBD for Pets – Does it Really Work?

CBD, the chemical from hemp also known as cannabidiol, is touted as a cure-all. The truth about CBD is that it isn’t a panacea for either pets or people, but it has a number of scientifically demonstrated applications and very important uses.

Consider epilepsy in dogs.  Canine seizures are a symptom, not a disease. There is usually some treatable condition that manifests itself as a seizure. Dogs that get seizures may have anemia. They may have suffered head trauma. They may have gotten into some toxic household product. There is often some treatable cause of canine epilepsy that spares the dog from future seizures and spares the family the agony of watching the dog in a grand mal seizure or the mystery of petit mal seizures that cause barking and odd behaviors.

But canine seizures do not always have a cause. There are dogs that suffer “idiopathic” seizures. These are seizures that will not go away when some other condition is brought under control — and they are the majority of seizures in dogs. When there is no medical diagnosis to guide the choice of an anti-seizure medication (remember, “seizures” are a symptom, not the disease), picking a drug to help the dog involves a certain amount of guesswork. And the problem with treating dogs with trial medications are that (1) often the vet does not know whether the medication will work and (2) most medications that stop seizures have serious side effects.

Primidone, for example, turns into a sedative called phenobarbital inside the dog’s body. It often stops seizures, but it makes the dog drowsy and dizzy. The experience for the dog is something like seasickness in humans. Its eyes cannot focus on objects in the distance so it cannot fetch. It gets nausea. It may have nausea and diarrhea.

Potassium bromide can also reduce the number of seizures. Dogs that are given this medication get thirsty a lot. As a result, they need to be walked a lot to take care of increased urination. They may lose appetite, lose weight, and become constipated.

Once a vet gives a dog a prescription for either of these medications, it is assumed that the dog will be on them for life. Owners will have to find treats that conceal the pills every day (or in some cases, two to four time a day) for life. And the tragedy is that sometimes these medications simply do not work.

Some dogs have seizures that are both idiopathic, that do not have a diagnosed cause, and intractable, that do not respond to any of the available prescription medications. Until recently, there was nothing to be done for them. But as CBD has become legal in more and more places, more and more vets have been giving dogs with intractable seizures CBD.

It has only been possible to do clinical trials of CBD for seizures in dogs (in most locations in the US) since the beginning of 2019. However, scientists have already shown that a low dose of CBD reduces the number of seizures in dogs on average by 33 percent. At the time this article is being written, the scientists — who put the safety of the dogs first, so they started with the lowest possible dose — are giving the dogs more CBD with the expectation of fewer seizures. Their agenda has been making sure there are no adverse effects of CBD (and so far, there have not been) even as it works better than any other medication available to the vet.

While it is too early to have a lot of hard scientific data on the effects of CBD for pets, we do have a lot of reports from a lot of veterinarians who have been giving CBD to their canine patients for several years. Here is an overview of what CBD can do for dogs from the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science:

  • 82.6 percent of veterinarians reported that CBD had been somewhat or very effective in treating acute pain.
  • 90.6 percent of veterinarians reported that CBD had been somewhat or very effective in treating chronic pain.
  • 87.1 percent of veterinarians reported that CBD had been somewhat or very effective in treating anxiety.
  • 77.6 percent of veterinarians reported that CBD had been somewhat or very effective in treating carsickness.
  • 77.1 percent of veterinarians reported that CBD had been somewhat or very effective in treating seizures (reducing their frequency).
  • 73.3 percent of veterinarians reported that CBD had been somewhat or very effective in treating fireworks and thunder phobias.
  • 56.7 percent of veterinarians reported that CBD had been somewhat or very effective in treating vomiting.

CBD is more than likely effective for these conditions for dogs. There is not scientific proof of the same kind some drug company might produce for its billion-dollar blockbuster drug, but when most veterinarians report that CBD works, you can feel safe that it does. It is also important that veterinarians report little to no side effects from CBD. It works without creating secondary harm to the dog.

But what about diabetes, cancer, flea allergies, infections, adrenal burnout and all the other conditions for which CBD is supposed to be a cure? Studies have not been able to fully prove yet that CBD can helps these conditions in dogs, but as stated before, CBD is not thought to be a panacea. Having something that works for seizures, acute pain, chronic pain, anxiety, carsickness, firework phobias, thunder phobias, and vomiting without side effects is a huge advance in care for dogs. And while cats respond to CBD in more subtle ways than dogs, there is good reason to give CBD a try for these conditions in cats, too. CBD is a product that bring relief to pets and the people that love them in some of the most important issues of pet care.

In the interest of full disclosure, it is important to note that 3.9 percent of pet owners who gave their pets CBD reported that they were “too” relaxed, or lethargic, but most people who give their pets CBD would not find this to be a problem.

So how do you get started with CBD for pets? Here is a quick checklist for beginners:

  • There is a huge range in costs for CBD. While both are good products, Charlotte’s Web charges $1.14 for 10 mg of CBD while Canna-Pet charges $4.54. Remember,  you want to buy CBD, not “hemp seed oil” or omega-3 fatty acids or anything other than CBD.
  • It may be easier to give your pet CBD liquids (from a dropper) rather than CBD gel caps. The liquids will be much less expensive.
  • Ask your vet about dosing, but 10 mg a day is usually a good place to start. That is also the amount of most products deliver

At this time, it is possible we recommend both Charlotte’s Web, NuLeaf Naturals, and Canna-Pet as having the CBD they promise on the label. Check for Charlotte’s Web coupons, NuLeaf Narurals Coupons, and Canna-Pet coupons here!

[link to coupon sites]

CBD is not a cure-all, but it is extremely helpful in managing some of the most troublesome pet health concerns. Just like humans, our pets also have Endocannabinoid Systems in their body, meaning their body can process and fully benefit from the effects of CBD. Start small and use CBD consistently for your pet’s health and happiness.