I planned to write a simple article on the benefits and risks of Cannabidiol, or as it is more commonly known, CBD and using it with dogs. As anyone would do, I called a veterinarian friend of mine for advice. My contact was hesitant. Finally, under the promise of anonymity she told me that for veterinarians to talk about you-know-what in public or with patients was FORBIDDEN! VERBOTEN! PROHIBIDO!
Why? Because apparently according to our beloved federal and state bureaucracy even the discussion between vet and pet owner about the benefits and risks of CBD and dogs might lead to a dog version of Reefer Madness!
So don’t ask your vet for CBD.
But this, dear reader, did not stop your humble correspondent because I have Google!
I immediately (researching from my couch) discovered a few things. First, if you have an older dog with arthritis or an anxious dog you need to think about CBD. It is the hottest new product on the market to treat a variety of conditions that may ail your dog. Full disclosure: we use CBD with both of our big dogs for joint issues. (please don’t tell the feds)
So here is a quick summary. First, CBD is a derivative of the hemp plant or marijuana. Therein lies the problem. If CBD was derived from sunflowers, we’d have a ton of research, and we’d have answers! But because it is derived from marijuana and hemp we are in a bureaucratic mess of who’s on first and what is legal. (And what can even be researched) Cloud Cuckoo Land.
Next, CBD is not psycho-active. In other words, it will not get you or your dog “high.” The high of marijuana is a function of the other derivative, THC. Medical uses of THC and dogs is an altogether different topic.
I super-apologize for throwing a technical term at you — but next, it is important to understand that dogs have essentially the same endocannabinoid system as humans complete with cannabinoid receptors. That system regulates appetite, pain sensation and mood. Thus it makes some sense that CBD might have some of the same effects on dogs as it does on humans.
But who knows?
The fact is that there is little actual scientific research— double blind, placebo-controlled research — on the efficacy of CBD on dogs. That means, other than the great stories we hear; we don’t know if it works, what doses are effective, what is too much and what is too little.
What is driving the interest is the massive number of anecdotal stories (anecdotal stories are not research!) reporting positive results in a couple of areas. First CBD seems to help with pain control, especially with older dogs and arthritis. Second, it’s reported to help with anxious dogs and dogs with separation anxiety. Finally, there have been reports of CBD helping with cancers including pain relief and possibly the shrinking of tumors.
Given all this, if you are interested in using CBD with your dog (or cat), it is best to think about it as a medical-scientific experiment. Here are a few recommendations:
1. Know what you are treating.
2. Buy your CBD from a reputable and knowledgeable source. We buy ours from “Fruit of the Earth” in Santa Fe. The formulation should be from hemp and contain no more than .3% THC. (Their hemp is grown in Colorado).
3. Since there are no dosage recommendations, it’s important to start with a low dosage and slowly work up to an effective dose. An overdose is possible, although rare. An unusually sleepily dog might be a dog with too much CBD in his system.
4. Keep a daily behavior journal so that you can track changes. Sometimes the changes can be subtle, so it’s important to observe if you are getting the result you want.
5. Although veterinarians cannot prescribe CBD, be sure to keep your vet in the loop! Come up with a code word! (Like “ice cream!” The feds will never catch on . . .)
Seriously, no one knows your dog better than you. If a dog is in pain, or highly anxious, we have an obligation to find help even if it is outside of bureaucracy of standard medicine. Use common sense and do your research. CBD might be part of a healthy solution for you and your pets. But don’t quote me!