Dalmatian waiting for a treat

CBD Oil and Cannabis: Safety for Dogs and Cats

June 12, 2019 6:02 am Published by 3 Comments

With more and more medical marijuana, cannabis, and CBD oil products emerging across the country, more and more pet owners are looking to help their pets be healthier and live longer by using these products. Although cannabis has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes, there is still a lot of controversy surrounding its use for dogs and cats.

The first question pet owners who don’t have experience using CBD oils or cannabis products want to know is: will my pet be safe using these cannabis products?

The second question quickly follows: how can this help my dog or cat?

What CBD Oil Is

CBD is the shortened name for cannabidiol, a natural compound found in hemp and cannabis. CBD products come in various forms from tinctures, treats, pills, and chews. Cannabis oil is extracted from the plant’s flower often using a CO2 extraction method. There are more than 80 different cannabinoids found in marijuana plants

One of the 80 cannabidiols derived from the plant is tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC. THC is the component that gets people high since it is a psychotropic drug. Hemp products and CBD oil products for animals should contain less than 0.3% of THC (hemp naturally contains less than this amount) which makes it safe for dogs and cats to take without getting high or having adverse effects from THC exposure.

What Medical Marijuana Is

Medical marijuana is a non-FDA approved way humans treat a variety of ailments from anxiety to seizures by using the unprocessed marijuana plant. While the FDA has approved two cannabinoid medications in pill form, the use of the entire plant is still under clinical trials.

Medical marijuana is not something you should give a dog since it has the full spectrum of cannabidiols. Cats can actually ingest the actual plant without concern. Dogs can get high by ingesting the marijuana plant and could have a potentially die if they get into human edibles or eat too much of the actual marijuana plant.

Cannabis products have removed the high levels of THC and don’t pose a threat to your dog to get high or overdose (unless they get into an entire edibles stash).

What Cannabis Products Are

Cannabis products refer to the oils, treats, and capsules made from the cannabis plant. Again, this could be the hemp plant or the marijuana plant. Hemp plants don’t contain high levels of THC while marijuana plants do. This means that cannabis products for humans are different than cannabis products for pets.

Determine how much THC is in your pet’s CBD treats or capsules. Even if it is considered full spectrum, it should be less than 0.3% to be safe for your pet.

Full Spectrum Vs THC-Free

Full spectrum CBD products contain all cannabidiols including THC while THC-free products are limited. It is thought that using full spectrum CBD products creates an entourage effect, increasing the effectiveness of the product. Some full spectrum products for humans have more than 0.3% THC levels and may also have other potentially toxic ingredients for dogs and cats such as Xylitol found in gummy products.

Which Cannabis Products Are Pet Safe?

When taking properly, cat and dog CBD oil products are safe to use, meaning your pet won’t get high and, unless allergic to something, shouldn’t have an adverse reaction. We can’t stress enough that giving your pet your cannabis or CBD products can lead to toxicity. Cats metabolize THC better than dogs and can actually consume the plant itself, but at the levels that CBD products for dogs have (less than 0.3%), there is no risk for standard dosing and use of treats and supplements.

Keep in mind that your dog getting into the treat bin or being tossed a whole bag of cookies by an eager child could lead to problems. While research and anecdotal evidence suggests that cannabis products made specifically for pets is safe when taken properly, there is still a lot of research that needs to be conducted to determine if cannabis products have a positive medicinal effect on animals.

Is THC Toxic To Animals

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is a natural compound found in the marijuana plant and is considered toxic to animals when taken in high doses. Dogs and cats that eat the plant, the plant’s flowers or buds can get high and potentially overdose leading to death. Dogs will eat the plant or could potentially get into mom or dad’s marijuana-laced goodies.

While THC toxicity is rarely fatal, it is something dog owners should be aware of and monitor the signs and symptoms of.

Potential Side Effects of CBD in Dogs

Dogs and cats may experience side effects after ingesting a cannabis or CBD product. Just like any supplement or new food, always monitor your pet for adverse signs and reactions. If you feel your pet is having an extreme reaction, seek veterinarian assistance immediately.

The potential side effects of CBD with dogs include:

    • Dry mouth: Pet isn’t satiated with normal water consumption and may have less drool or saliva than normal
    • Low blood pressure: A drop in blood pressure may be diagnosed by a pet that stands and then suddenly falls back to the floor due to light-headedness
    • Lethargy: Pets have less energy for normal activity and become disinterested in regular play
    • Drowsiness: An increased desire to sleep and nap even under circumstances that normally lead to energy and interest

Symptoms of Marijuana Overdose in Dogs and Cats

Beyond the potential side effects of CBD use, dogs and cats will exhibit certain symptoms if they overdose with marijuana or THC. If you suspect your pet has overdosed, take him to a veterinarian immediately to properly diagnose and treat the problem.

The symptoms of overdosing on marijuana in dogs and cats include:

    • Ataxia: Unable to maintain coordination, wobbling and appearance of being drunk
    • Incontinence: Accidental urination or dribbles even while inactive
    • Hypersensitivity: Not wanting to be touched or agitated with petting and cuddling
    • Slow heart rate: Dogs normally have a heart rate of 100 to 130 beats per minute

Most pets will recover within 24 hours from an overdose, often seeing improvement within 12 hours. Don’t try to get your dog to vomit if you think he has overdosed on marijuana or cannabis products; he may aspirate food items and choke. Instead, seek veterinarian care immediately.

Be honest about what your dog ate; your veterinarian is concerned about his health not whether you had more weed than you possibly should have. An IV might be given if induced vomiting is not an option. The IV helps dilute and slow the absorption rate, reducing the overall effects of the drug.

CBD Oil Treats for Dogs

If you have decided that CBD products are for you and your dog, be mindful of what to look for when shopping for CBD treats.

Here are some tips on how to assess what you find on the market with CBD pet products:

    • Organic: Only buy organic products that haven’t been exposed to pesticides, fungicides or solvents.
    • Price: Getting the best price is important but understand that higher-priced products are reflective of higher processing standards. Cheaper products may have additives or toxic substances used to extract the oil.
    • Analysis Certificate: Legitimate CBD oil products come with a manufacturer’s analysis and third-party verification telling you exactly how much CBD and THC is in the product.

Safer Family Pets CBD Choice

Full disclosure: we use HempWorx as our resource for CBD dog treats and oils. When first looking at CBD products, it was our understanding that any THC would be bad for our dog. With more digging about the research available, we learned that keeping the amount of THC per treat or dose below the 0.3% was the goal.

HempWorx is a full-spectrum CBD product for dogs that are designed to activate CB2 receptors thought to help with overall health and balance. Our dog has many skin and food allergies so finding a product that he enjoys that is also soy free, corn free and grain free is important.

Purely anecdotal since one dog is not a clinical trial, but his scratching has slowed since he started getting his daily treats. Here at Safer Family Pets, you know our pets’ safety is our number one priority. We encourage every pet owner to discuss any new supplement program with their veterinarian since every animal is different.  

FDA and Clinical Trials of CBD Products

There is still a lot of work to be done regarding clinical trials and more research on the effectiveness of CBD products for dogs physical and mental health. Colorado State University has preliminary data on using CBD for epilepsy in dogs. Cornell University also published a study using CBD to treat arthritis in dogs.

As research expands, look to see more studies on how CBD can help dogs with:

    • Anxiety
    • Pain
    • Noise phobia
    • Epilepsy
    • Inflammation
    • Loss of appetite
    • Nausea
    • Arthritis

Even with clinical trials and research pending, there are a lot of anecdotal stories from pet owners and veterinarians about the efficacy of CBD products for dogs and cats. While an anecdote is not evidence, the number of anecdotes suggests that there is something within CBD and cannabis products that help dogs and cats live longer, healthier lives.

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This post was written by Kimberlee Leoanrd

3 Comments

  • Melissa says:

    Such a great resource for information! I have heard of CBD oils but never thought about using them much with my pets.

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  • Darja says:

    Oh man, I just imagined a poor little dog accidentally getting high and not being able to communicate or ask for help. Poor fella! Interesting that there are now dedicated CBD products for pets. Learn something every day 🙂

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