Every pet parent needs a 101 on administering CBD to their pets. As it goes most often in the cannabis industry, the excitement to use and explore cannabis products comes a lot quicker than the genuine understanding of how to use them correctly. And when we’re talking about our furry friends, there’s much less scope for that exploration and experimentation. Pet parents have a major responsibility.

In a still heavily unregulated industry, pet owners need to be discerning on a number of things. Firstly, they need to be discerning on the kind of cannabis product they choose to give to their pet (we’ll go through toxicity later in the article). They also need to be discerning about dose, timing, and whether or not it will genuinely help the symptoms associated with their pet’s condition.

Veterinary care is a special kind of medicine because we don’t get to ask animals what their goals and expectations are for treatment. We make these decisions for our pets, and that’s why it’s important to exercise more caution than when making health decisions for yourself.

This article is a full breakdown of the kinds of reasons a pet owner might give CBD to their pets along with dosage instructions so that if you do choose CBD for your furry friend, you know exactly how to administer it safely.

When and why should you give your pet CBD?

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Nobody can stand to watch their furry companion suffer through pain, arthritis, inflammation, epilepsy or anxiety. Veterinary medications exist for these health conditions in animals. However, for the same reasons people seek out CBD, pet owners do the same. Pet owners might prefer to use something more natural on their pets or might also find that CBD treatment is less costly than conventional veterinary pharmaceuticals (which are often very expensive).

With that in mind, the first things you need to ascertain are:

  • What is my pet’s diagnosed health condition?
  • Is CBD an effective treatment for that health condition?
  • What does my pet’s vet say about using CBD for this health condition?

It’s really important for pet owners to acknowledge that only a vet can diagnose their cat or dog with a health problem. We can (dangerously) play self-diagnosis with our own selves because we experience our own symptoms, but the general population has a lack of understanding of animal bodies. Please don’t play Google doctor with your pet.

With all of that being said, here are some of the most common pet problems that CBD might be helpful for:

  • Arthritis
  • Epilepsy
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Cancer
  • Inflammation and painful conditions
  • Age related symptoms such as poor appetite 

A note on safety, toxicity, efficacy, and research

It’s worth mentioning that until now, there is very minimal research with respect to CBD and animals in terms of efficacy. In the few trials that have taken place, CBD seems to be well tolerated by cats and dogs, although it’s noted that cats absorb and eliminate CBD differently to dogs. We still don’t know the implications of this or how this affects dosage and efficacy.

There is also clinical evidence to suggest that THC may have toxicity potential for dogs. It’s believed that cats can also become intoxicated with CBD. Researchers believe this is because dogs have a higher concentration of cannabinoid receptors in their brains, making the intoxicating effects of THC stronger for dogs than humans.

Toxicity does not necessarily mean death. It means that THC ingestion by dogs can lead to unwanted symptoms such as loss of motor control, drowsiness, sleepiness, and in some very bad scenarios, coma. The very minute amounts of THC in full spectrum CBD products is not toxic for cats and dogs, and shouldn’t be considered dangerous.

How much CBD should you give your pet?

The moment of truth — what every pet owner wants to know: how much CBD to give your pet? Well, it’s all going to depend on what kind of pet you have, their size, and their physical ailment. We understand very little about the pharmacokinetics of cannabinoids in animals. We still aren’t sure of the bioavailability of cannabinoids, and in any case, erring on the safe side is better!

The following information should help you to decide the most appropriate dose to give your pet. Remember to start on the lowest possible dose and watch your pet to see if it’s working or if there are any adverse effects.

A chart describing the CBD dose for different sized pets

Is it the same for cats and dogs?

The simple answer is yes. The complicated answer is no. As we mentioned, we know that cats absorb and eliminate CBD differently to dogs but we don’t know the implications of this. However, dosage guidelines are based on weight and can therefore be applied to cats. Given that most adult cats are in the 5-10kg weight range, it would never really be appropriate to administer more than 10mg in any given dosage.

What about bigger animals like horses or farm animals like chickens?

There are reports of people using CBD on bigger animals such as horses. But again, there is so little research that nothing can be said conclusively about horses, exotic animals or even farm animals. The majority of studies exist around the use of CBD on dogs. It’s important to consult your vet if you want to give CBD to any animal other than a cat or dog.

What happens if your pet has a bad reaction to CBD?

It’s normal for your pet to have a response to CBD. Here are some normal side effects your pet might experience if they take a little too much CBD:

  • Drowsiness
  • Diarrhoea
  • Signs of digestive upset

These symptoms will go away when CBD has worn off and is a sign that you should administer less next time.

If any other symptoms occur that are not drowsiness, diarrhoea, or mild digestive upset, you should immediately take your pet to the vet. It is extremely unlikely that your cat or dog will experience a bad reaction to CBD but it’s very important to be watching your pet when you give them CBD. Observe them and if any concerning events take place, go straight to the vet.

What’s next?

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Go to the vet and ask for their opinion and advice.

The fact that CBD is readily available for pets doesn’t replace the need your pet has for real veterinary care. Most pet owners are not qualified to diagnose and treat their pets, so it’s fundamental to include your vet in this process. It’s especially true if your cat or dog is taking other medications. You don’t want a reaction to happen that your vet is unaware about or that you don’t want to have to explain at the emergency.

Before giving your pet CBD, it’s nice to have the vet on your side. A cannabis-friendly vet will also help to manage your expectations as a pet owner about the symptom management and recovery of your pet.

Finally, make sure you source a top-quality CBD product. Animals shouldn’t tolerate contaminants or inferior cannabis products the same way humans shouldn’t. Be sure to care for your furry friends by shopping for CBD products specially formulated for a pet’s palate and needs.

Have you ever given your pet CBD? What did you use it for and was it effective for them? We’d love to hear your stories. Drop it in the comments!

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