Is CBD OK for dogs?

Is CBD OK For Dogs?

This is where all dog owners want a straight answer and handed a dog ready CBD product straight off the shelf. First though, there are a few things that owners need to be aware of in support of their CBD seeking journey. 

The law in the UK states CBD cannot be marketed to pets (that’s dogs, cats, horses, chickens or otherwise!). Whereas if you take a trip over the pond you will find the opposite is true with many brands promoting CBD for pets. This makes it hard for owners as there is conflicting information available on the first page of a Google search.

 It’s made even harder as dog owners are usually desperately seeking a form of relief for their beloved family member and when they enquire with a trusted brand, they are notified of the status here in the UK.

 This isn’t where it has to end, there is still support that can be given.

The laws around marketing CBD for pets are in place, most brands stick to them, some do not, but none of this changes the fact that thousands of pet owners are reaching out to CBD brands for support. 

The main reasons we have heard from pet owners are because their pooch is suffering from anxiety or age-related symptoms such as arthritis. It’s also common to read from owners that have dogs who suffer from neurological disorders such as epilepsy. First, let’s take a peek into anxiety. Anxiety can manifest itself in a multitude of behavioural traits. For dogs this includes:

  • Drooling
  • Panting
  • Destructive behavior
  • Depression
  • Excessive barking
  • Pacing
  • Restlessness
  • Repetitive or compulsive behaviors [1]

Anxiety in dogs can be brought on by a specific event such as fireworks, a storm, travelling or being introduced to new people. It can also be a deeper, more rooted behavioural trait that manifests in day to day life. Whatever the cause, its straining for the owner and hard going for our hounds.

The current treatments for our anxious pets include veterinary approved sprays, drops, tablets and an innovative creation called the storm jacket. With the exception of the storm jacket, the other treatments can involve introducing synthetic medication which is fast becoming undesirable with the natural revolution us humans are going through. There are also great successes with behavioural experts but these can be costly or worse; costly and ineffective.

Why are dog owners reaching out to CBD brands for help?

A large driver is the increasing knowledge base being built around CBD for our own anxiety relief, supported by overwhelming anecdotal evidence. It’s hard to ignore the statistics with 38% of users in the UK taking CBD to ease anxiety [2].  

The science is catching up too.

 A paper written this year, which also references cannabinoid studies from as far back as 1980 stated Preliminary evidence from human trials using both healthy volunteers and individuals with social anxiety disorder, suggests that CBD may have anxiolytic effects [3]. (Anxiolytic being a term used to describe a medication that has anti-anxiety properties).

The same human related experiences can be applied to dog owners seeking relief for pain related issues, especially arthritis for dogs trying to enjoy later life. We have seen first-hand the difference in one particularly special black Labradors life after introducing a few drops of CBD. Chico went from taking days to recover after a long walk to regaining the spring in his step just a day later. 

Why aren't vets being consulted to provide CBD?

Well, they are! However, visiting the vets comes with a price tag and many can’t afford too many visits to the vets each year (let’s keep these expenses for the occasions where an entire box of chocolates has been eaten or 3 DVD’s and the case of digital camera… Yes, speaking from personal experience!).

There is another fact that dog owners need to be aware of. There currently are no approved CBD products for dogs that vets could prescribe. If you were to dig a little deeper you would find this statement from the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD): As there are currently no CBD products authorised in the UK for veterinary use, a veterinary surgeon may prescribe a legally obtained human CBD product under the provisions of the prescribing cascade [4].

This means that a dog owner would go to the vets, explain the issue, hope the vet would consider CBD in the first place and if they did the vet would then source an off the shelf ‘human’ CBD product and prescribe it to the patient.

With this process an owner would pay a consultation fee (people are always advised to seek medical advice from a recognised medical professional no matter what the circumstances are) and then pay the vet a premium for a product that could have been sourced without their assistance. Granted, you would assume at the very least the vet would have access to a trusted and compliant brand and if the dog owner wasn’t informed enough to identify one then this then it is certainly worth paying extra for. But, for many pet owners the option of researching and seeking a solution online is a more viable one.

Is CBD Safe for dogs?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) states: CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile. Reported adverse effects may be as a result of drug-drug interactions between CBD and patients’ existing medication(5).  This statement is in support of human use and the advice always remains the same – seek medical advice from a professional when considering CBD as an alternative to prescribed medication. Despite these references being made in support of human studies, there are similarities that can be drawn between us and our canine companions. Dogs, like humans, have an Endocannabinoid System (or ECS) which is a process designed to regulate their internal functions  to keep them in a peak state. The ECS has cannabinoid receptors in the central and peripheral nervous system that are actively waiting for the signals generated by cannabinoids, such as CBD, so they can turn this into a pulse to maintain the body’s natural functions. In humans our ECS contributes to our overall homeostasis (the state of balance and wellbeing in our bodies). Dogs, like humans and all other mammals, also rely on this internal system for the same result.

What about potential side effects?

Again, as there is a lack of scientific studies to say definitively. Currently, potential side effects are based on how CBD affects humans. These side effects can include drowsiness or lowered blood pressure (described as temporary which may create a brief feeling of light headedness).

The key element that dog owners need to look out for when considering side effects from CBD is dosing. If an owner was to deliver a suggested dose intended for a human then the chances are, they may witness the side effects stated above. CBD dosing is not an exact science for humans and the advice is always to start on a low dose and increase slowly until you find what works for you as an individual. 

Finally, Does CBD work for dogs?

It’s the answer we all seek to hear or read from a trusted and prominent source!  Much like our own reasons for seeking CBD, the answer can be lifechanging. For now, there is no official answer or credible source to reference. For us in the UK we must continue to get advice from trusted sources and consider all the anecdotal evidence before making our own minds up as to whether it is the correct choice for our four-legged family members. One thing we are sure of; anecdotal evidence will only continue to mount up and the science won’t be too far behind.

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References

1 Kriss, R. (2019). Understanding, Preventing, and Treating Dog Anxiety. Available: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/treating-dog-anxiety/. Last accessed 1st Dec 2020.

2 Mikulic, M. (2019). Share of reasons for the medicinal use of cannabidiol (CBD) products in Great Britain in 2019. Available: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1093333/reasons-for-cbd-usage-in-great-britain/. Last accessed 1st Dec 2020.

3 Wright, M . (2020). Use of Cannabidiol for the Treatment of Anxiety: A Short Synthesis of Pre-Clinical and Clinical Evidence. Available: https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/can.2019.0052. Last accessed 2nd Dec 2020.

4. VMD. (2018). VMD statement on veterinary medicinal products containing Cannabidiol. Available: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/vmd-statement-on-veterinary-medicinal-products-containing-cannabidiol. Last accessed 30th Nov 2020.

5. WHO. (2018). CANNABIDIOL (CBD) Critical Review Report. Available: https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/CannabidiolCriticalReview.pdf. Last accessed 3rd Dec 2020.

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