Should You Try CBD for Your Pet?

Important Safety Tips, Training / Behavioral -

Should You Try CBD for Your Pet?

Ella, a 10-year-old Saint Bernard, doesn't like loud noises. At the first rumble of thunder or pop of fireworks, the dog starts panting and pacing, says Jeffrey Powers, D.V.M., Ella's owner and a veterinarian who practices in northern Michigan. "The minute fireworks go off, she's running to hide," he says.

At least, that's what used to happen. But (not very long ago), Powers says he has found a way to control his dog's noise fear and stress-related: cannabidiol--aka CBD, a compound that can be (pulled out or taken from something else) from (plant from which marijuana is made), which includes marijuana and hemp.

 

 



CBD is thought to have many medically helpful properties, but unlike (plant from which marijuana is made)'s other main compound THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), it doesn't get users high. And Powers, who is also vice chairman of the American Veterinary Medical Association's (group of people who advise or govern) on Biologic and Medically helpful Agents, credits CBD for (reducing/ slowing/ slowly moving) his dog's worry and depression.

But Powers is not legally allowed to prescribe or even recommend CBD to his veterinary clients because on the federal level, CBD remains separated and labeled by the Drug Enforcement Management as a Schedule 1 possibly dangerous drug, the same as heroin.

As of July 2018, 47 states have gotten around this federal restriction by (making something permitted by law) CBD for human use within their own states, according to the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). Doctors there can now recommend CBD to their patients, and people (who use a product or service) can often buy the compound on their own--for themselves or their pets--without any interaction with a healthcare professional.

If, however, you want guidance from a veterinarian about CBD for your pet, you'll have to start the conversation. That's because vets have been left out of most state laws concerning (plant from which marijuana is made), so they can talk about CBD only if clients introduce the topic.

Only California has passed laws (and law making) that specifically approves veterinarians to discuss (plant from which marijuana is made) with their clients, according to experts. As a result, vets lag behind doctors in working with (plant from which marijuana is made) and researching its use in pets.

Fueled mainly by reports, people are turning to CBD to help manage pain, painful joint swelling, seizures, and other health problems in their pets. And a growing crop of CBD products marketed for pets--including tiny bits, capsules, and chew treats--has burst onto the market to meet the (related to people who use a product or service) demand.

But as Powers admits/recognizes/responds to, there's even less research for those uses in animals than there is for humans. And while studies suggest CBD doesn't present/cause a risk of (state of being dependent on a drug) and generally causes few side effects, there are some risks, says Casara Andre, D.V.M., person (who started a company) of Veterinary (plant from which marijuana is made) Education & Consulting, an useful thing/valuable supply for pet owners and veterinarians.

For one thing, Andre says, CBD can interact with medicines, including those used by vets. Also, there's less oversight and testing of products marketed for pets, and there have been reports of animals harmed by contaminated or spoiled CBD products, she says. There have also been reports of animals that seemed to get high from products, possibly because the creations had more THC than was claimed. (CBD-only products are supposed to contain less than 0.3 percent THC.)

Veterinarians are beginning to study CBD's effects on pets and test/evaluate its safety. So if you're (thinking about/when one thinks about) it for a four-legged member of your household, check out what the experts have to say first.

Have Realistic Expectations
While some pet owners swear by CBD, keep in mind that (people who work to find information) are just starting to learn how to use it for pets and at which dosages, says Stephanie McGrath, D.V.M., a veterinarian and helper professor of (nerve-related medical care) at Colorado State University's College of Veterinary Medicine and (the study of how life and medicine work together) Sciences.

In 2016, she managed and did/done some of the first studies looking into basic questions about how CBD is (chemically processed and used up) by dogs and whether the compound presents/causes any immediate health threats. "There were no studies on CBD [and pets] at that time," says McGrath, who published two of her CBD studies in 2018. "But people were using it and they were (without hope/very upset). I [thought] we need to start answering these questions."

After her (at the beginning) research, McGrath began two scientific fact-finding experiments, one on dogs with epilepsy and another on dogs with painful joint swelling. Early results are encouraging, she says, but notes that the results are not yet final or published.

A separate study from Cornell found that 2 mg per kilogram of CBD twice daily "can help increase comfort and activity" in dogs with painful joint swelling.

But McGrath is still cautious about advertising/talking well about CBD's promise until larger studies are done. "I feel really comfortable at this point, given all of our scientific fact-finding experiments and our (at the beginning) research, that it's a safe product," she says. "But the jury's still out on whether I'm totally convinced about its effectiveness."

 
Talk With Your Vet
If you live in a state that has (made something permitted by law) CBD, there's nothing to stop you from giving it to your pet on your own. But experts say it's a good idea to talk with your vet first. And while veterinarians can't bring it up themselves, they can certainly answer questions you have in an effort to reduce any possible harm to your pet, Andre says.

If your vet doesn't know much about CBD, think about/believe going to veterinarycannabis.org for help. The company, which offers discussions (with other people), courses, and education to pet parents and veterinarians, can work with you and your vet by providing guidance about CBD products, dosing, and possible interactions.

Choose Products Carefully
Because (plant from which marijuana is made), especially for pets, is mostly uncontrolled, it can be very hard to know which CBD products have been created responsibly, are free from contaminants, and contain the ingredients that the product labels list.

So when shopping--whether online, in a retail store, or a dispensary--look for products that claim to follow Good Manufacturing Practices or that have a seal from the National Animal Add to/addition (group of people who advise or govern) (NASC). These labels increase the chance that a product has been made with safe ingredients in a clean, high-quality (surrounding conditions), says Stephen Cital, a veterinary technician, (plant from which marijuana is made) consultant, and co-person (who started a company) of the Veterinary (plant from which marijuana is made) College/school.

Wondering whether you should give your pet a CBD product meant for humans? While that may be fine, "some human products have other things in them, such as xylitol or grapeseed oil, that could be poisonous to the animals," Cital says.

And be especially cautious about products that also contain THC. While some veterinarians use it to treat certain conditions in animals, experts don't recommend pet parents experiment with THC on their own.

Look for the Product's Certificate of Analysis
For any CBD product for you or your pet, your best bet is to find a company that has (put into use/paid in exchange for services) independent third-party testing and can provide a Certificate of Analysis, or COA.

The lab results should show how much CBD (and THC) the product contains, as well as how the product did in tests checking for contaminants such as heavy metals and fungus-killers, Cital says. If you can't find a COA on the company's website or the company refuses to share it, that's a red flag.

Watch for Interactions
Though CBD seems to cause few side effects, Andre points out that (plant from which marijuana is made) does interact with some drugs. So it's important that you and your veterinarian be alert to any changes in your pet. Like many medicines, cannabinoids are (chemically processed and used up) through the liver, so combining CBD with other drugs may improve the effects of those drugs.

"We do see the strength of drugs increase when dogs are taking CBD, so we can often taper down some of those drugs," Andre says. "For example, CBD often potentiates the effects of antiseizure medicines, which is why a lot of times when we combine those with (plant from which marijuana is made), we get better control."

Dose Slowly
Although some CBD products have dosing instructions on the label, little is really known about what doses are most effective and safe. For example, while McGrath's initial research in dogs used 2.5 mg per kilogram twice a day, she is now using nearly double that dose in her latest trial.

And Judy Morgan, D.V.M., an (interested in the whole or the completeness of something) vet in New Jersey and co-author of "Yin & Yang Nutrition for Dogs," recommends starting with 1 mg per 10 pounds of body weight twice a day--and watching/supervising your pet's reaction.

Until more is known, the experts strongly encourage caution. "Numbers are really useful, but (plant from which marijuana is made) is a very (designed for one person) medicine," Andre says. She advises that pet parents "start low and go slow" when figuring out a dosage. She also hints that using tiny bits rather than a chew treat can make it easier to scale dosages up or down.

Store Products Carefully
"Cannabinoids are easily able to be harmed or influenced by insulting/worsening. Oils and treats should be kept at room temperature away from bright lights or sunlight," Cital says. "Heating and extreme cold can very much change (percentages of different chemicals within a substance)." If you have an oil that has changed colors, it's probably damaged and should be thrown out.


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