CBD has been around for millennia, and while the benefits to humans have been long known, less is known about how CBD can help our pets. Happily, research focusing on our fluffy friends has shown that CBD can help alleviate symptoms of many disorders from cancer to anxiety. But how does it do this? Let’s find out.
CBD and Pet Health
Cannabidiol (CBD) is something you likely have heard of over many years, but what about CBD for your pet?
Originating in ancient China, CBD has been used for thousands of years to treat various ailments, including, headache, fever, bacterial infections, diarrhea, and rheumatic pain (1).
Despite its surge in popularity in Western countries during the 19th century, CBD was all but lost, that is until a couple of decades ago (2).
Since 1975, there has been a surge in scientific interest in CBD as a potential therapeutic drug for us, as well as our furry friends. As a result of more than 100 controlled trials (3), several countries have approved CBD for use as a medicine for us, but what about our fluffy companions?
What are the Benefits of CBD for Your Pet?
The potential benefits of CBD have been well documented in humans, with CBD helping with various disorders, such as pain, inflammation, cancer, asthma, glaucoma, neurological conditions, brain trauma, and the list goes on (4). While the body of information concerning the effects of CBD on animals is considerably smaller, the research currently published certainly confirms one thing: CBD certainly can help make our pets happier in many ways.
While the mechanism of action is wholly similar between us and our pets, working through the endocannabinoid system, what it activates can be different. For example, in our pets, CBD can result in several changes in parts of the brain, inflammatory system, and the immune system (5). Having such a significant effect on the body explains how CBD can have such a profound physiological effect on the health of our pets. So, what are these effects?
Many studies have shown that CBD can improve the functioning of the heart in several animals, including reducing the effect of heart conditions such as myocardial infarction, even reducing the amount of damage this potentially fatal heart condition causes to the body (6, 7). Administration of CBD has also been shown to reduce high blood pressure in rats (8), improve cardiac dysfunction, cardiotoxicity (9), and stop arterial blockage in mice (10).
CBD has been shown in several investigations to reduce the level of certain cancer types in many animals. For example, CBD reduces the number and dimension of metastatic cancer in mice (11), as well as reducing the growth of tumors, lung cancer, thyroid cancer, skin cancer, and lymphoma (12).
When administered with CBD, the pain experienced by rodents was significantly reduced. This includes pain induced by touch, temperature (13), and neuropathic pain (14). When given to animals that have an injury, CBD was able to reduce both swelling and the pain associated with the injury (15). When our pets have CBD, along with reducing swelling and pain in acute situations, like injury, it is also able to reduce inflammation and pain associated with chronic disorders, such as osteoarthritis (16).
As CBD acts on both the inflammatory and immune systems, it is effective in reducing the severity of allergic reactions, including reducing swelling in the respiratory system (17). In guinea pigs, CBD exerts a protective effect, reducing the severity of asthma attacks when induced by known allergens (18).
In animals with diabetes, CBD was able to reduce neurotoxicity, inflammation, and kidney damage, known, and devastating, effects of chronic diabetes (19). CBD is also able to help prevent diabetes in animals which are shown to have either latent diabetes or are in the initial stages of the disease (20).
Among many pet owners, it is well known that pets tend to vomit, and it is also known that they can be overfed, leading to our companions becoming overweight; however, CBD can help with both of these concerns. The administration of CBD can substantially reduce the severity of vomiting as well as completely prevent it (21). This is especially handy when you are gridlocked on the highway with a dog with motion sickness. Not only can CBD help with vomiting, but a study on overweight mice showed that the administration of CBD also led to a substantial reduction in the amount of fat stored in the body (22).
As we know, anxiety is an adaptive, emotional response. For our pets, this can include a range of situations, one of which is particularly common: separation anxiety. The administration of CBD to our pets can not only reduce the severity and frequency of anxiety, it can also improve their overall well-being (23).
The Bottom Line
While the benefits of CBD for humans have been known for many years, what it can do for our pets is another kettle of fish. From asthma to cancer, and almost everything in between, CBD can aid many medical conditions which affect our pets. With the increase in the number of CBD products available for our pets, it leaves all of us with waggy tails!