· By Jay Nathan
If our pets could talk, oh the conversations we’d have! They’d bark their wildest dreams, meow their biggest fears, and maybe squawk the secrets of the universe. They could also tell us when they’re hurting and how to help. While we work on that animal-to-English dictionary, we want to share our personal experiences and recent research about pets and CBD.
Dogs and CBD: Woof (!!)
When it comes to canines, there’s a growing body of scientific research and lots of personal stories about dogs and CBD. Keep reading for the latest research and a few recommendations that might help your pet.
Hey, Jay here! To kick things off, I want to tell you about my pup’s CBD journey. Cabbage the dog has had a wild life. In her 13 years she has jumped out of a car sunroof, over a six-foot fence, and was caught mid-leap from a second story window. My wife and I don’t know much about her early years, only that she was abandoned by the side of the road in Yancey County, NC. So she has a bit-o-anxiety when riding in cars or being left alone. She also tore her ACL a while back, has some joint pain, and is generally slowing down in her mellow years.
Cabbage became Garden Party’s Resident Canine CBD Tester when I started working at the shop last year. She started with a low dose of Not Pot’s full-spectrum CBD salmon oil on her food every night. She was more agile climbing front steps and a bit more content when her humans left the house, but the changes were subtle.
Then we gave her a larger dose of oil before a long car ride. Wow, she was almost like a different pup. Her usual panting, shedding, and crying were greatly reduced. She gazed at the lights out the window, flirted with the dudes driving behind us, and then took a snooze. She slept extra soundly that night, but no grogginess in the morning or other side effects from what I could tell. This sweet anxious dog found a way to relax!
Naturally, that’s just the experience of one mid-sized pitbull mutt. An “N of 1 trial” if you will. So let’s check out some research.
A 2018 Cornell University study evaluated the safety and efficacy of giving osteoarthritic dogs 2 mg/kg of CBD oil twice daily vs. a placebo. Researchers tracked canine brief pain inventory and Hudson activity scores over four weeks and found significant decrease in pain and increase in activity with CBD oil. Veterinary assessment showed decreased pain during CBD treatment as well. This pharmacokinetic and clinical study suggests that 2 mg/kg of CBD twice daily can help increase comfort and activity in dogs with osteoarthritis.
Other studies have found that CBD can reduce inflammatory responses in healthy dogs, reduce the frequency of canine seizures, and decrease itchy skin for dogs with canine atopic dermatitis. Research on canine anxiety is limited and mostly anecdotal at this point, but an Australian study found that dogs in rescue shelters had a reduction in aggressive behavior when given CBD oil.
All of these studies have fairly small sample sizes, so let’s take them with a grain of kibble and look forward to more research in the future. In the meantime, learning about the many experiences people in our community have with pets and CBD is an equally valid way to gain knowledge. So let’s chat cats!
Cats and CBD: Meyowww (??)
There’s far less research on felines and CBD. Is it because cats refuse to sit still and fill out surveys? The answer is likely yes, due to their lack of opposable thumbs. Still, scientists are just starting to research how cats respond to CBD.
This 2021 study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery evaluated the safety and tolerability of escalating doses of cannabis oils including CBD, THC, or both CBD and THC in healthy cats. Researchers found titration to maximum doses was safely achieved in all felines. All observed adverse events were mild, transient, and resolved with no medical intervention. So does CBD help cats? These initial results are inconclusive, but the findings suggest that hemp is safe for felines, which clears the way for more research into CBD and cats.
Now let’s hear from some real kitties! Garden Party’s co-owners, Tarleton and Seth, have two fine felines with their own CBD journeys. Tozer, is approaching 18 and has arthritis in his hind legs. He goes to the vet once a month for a shot, but toward the end of each month we start noticing that he favors his left side significantly. I've started giving him the recommended dose of CBD leading up to his vet visit. He's very finicky about taking CBD but ultimately we've noticed a small difference in that he isn't favoring one leg over another after several says of CBD dosing.
Etta has always been an anxious feline. Perhaps it's her busy schedule or her close encounters with ghosts and extraterrestrials. Either way, this cat is jumpy and tends to hide under the covers at the slightest noise. Sadly we haven't noticed much of a difference in her demeanor with or without CBD, because she seems to run at a base level of anxiety always, but this cat LOVES the taste of Not Pot. She'll even lick the bottle trying to get to the good stuff. So we keep giving it to her and know that while she might just always be anxiety-driven, the Salmon Oil is still like a little treat for this little bub.
“Just Say No” to Pets + THC
If you’ve ever seen (or been) someone who blows weed smoke in a pet’s face, it might seem kinda silly and harmless. Wait, stop, no! Our sweet dogs and cats have a slew of CB1 receptors that make THC hit them really, really hard. I can only imagine how intense that must feel in their little bodies.
THC toxicity is a real concern when it comes to pets getting into your stash, especially edibles that might also contain chocolate. Several animal deaths from THC edibles have been reported, and these appear to be the result of complications like aspiration. If you know or suspect your pet has been exposed to THC, call your vet or go to an emergency animal clinic right away.
Whew, that’s heavy to think about. If you’re curious about the rad science behind pets and THC, this episode of Leafly’s The Roll-Up podcast breaks it down in a fun way. TL;DR stick to CBD-only products that are formulated especially for pets.
What Do Vets Say about CBD?
This is a tricky one! According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, “under current federal and state law, veterinarians may not administer, dispense, prescribe or recommend cannabis or its products for animals.”
It’s a bummer because vets are truly a wealth of resources and knowledge. Some vets are willing to share information, but don’t feel comfortable recommending specific products. Other vets use CBD with their own animals and are open to sharing some of those experiences. Some vets are a flat out no on CBD and advise patients to use pharmaceuticals for pain and other ailments. Regardless of their outlook, it’s important to talk to your vet about CBD – especially if your pet is taking other medications.
Veterinary perspectives and comfort levels with hemp run the gamut, so we really can’t say that all vets feel one way or another about CBD. That’s true for doctors who treat human beings, too. It’s all about finding a vet who is a good match for your goals and can answer questions about your pet’s health with compassion.
So how much CBD should I give my pet?
Glad you asked! Dialing in the right dose of CBD for your dog or cat is super important. Start low and go slow. Your pet might need less than you think! Starting with a low dose helps prevent wooziness and saves you a lil money so you can give them the good stuff every day (or whenever something stressful rolls their way).
Here’s how to dose pet CBD products that our sweet Garden Party menagerie knows and loves:
Not Pot makes a broad spectrum pet CBD oil with no THC. Each bottle contains 1000 mg of sustainably sourced, hemp-derived CBD that’s USA grown and lab-tested. It contains just hemp and salmon oil for an omega-rich bonus. It’s formulated for dogs and cats of all sizes. Here’s how to figure out your pet’s initial dose based on their weight:
5 tiny drops = 5mg CBD. Ideal for a 10 pound dog or cat.
1 full dropper = 33mg CBD. Ideal for a 66 pound dog.
You can do the math with your pet’s weight to find a nice medium dose for dogs or cats. Feel free to start with less, or go up later on if you feel like your pet would benefit from more. You can drop the oil into their food, on top of a treat, or squirt it in their mouth, if they’ll let you. Cats usually love the taste of salmon oil and their humans like how easy it is to measure a low dose that’s comfy for a small animal.
If your dog isn’t into fishy flavors or salmon oil sounds too messy, Otherside Hemp farm near Asheville makes Peaceful Pup Chill Chomps (oohh, we love the alliteration). These 10mg treats are made with CBD isolate and are gluten free with ingredients like peas, chickpeas, potato, egg, pumpkin, apple, and sweet potato.
1 treat = 10mg CBD. Ideal for a 40lb dog.
Treats are generally geared towards mid-sized and large dogs because it’s tough to break any kind of treat into an exact dose. Fyi, these particular treats hit Cabbage a little harder than the ratioed oil. When she’s not taking CBD oil, she gets one treat nightly for mobility and joint pain, or two treats for daytime anxiety in advance of stressful situations. Remember: every pet is wonderfully, sometimes frustratingly, unique. It can take 30 minutes-2 hours for your pet to experience the effects of CBD, so plan ahead if you can.
Bottom Line for your Fur Bebes
CBD shows a lot of potential for helping pets live comfortable lives that are low in pain and anxiety, and high in mobility and good times. We’ll keep reading the research as it rolls in and keep you posted.
In the meantime, you can pay attention to how your pet reacts to different hemp formulations. Watch their mood and moves. Try a higher dose to reduce anxiety before thunderstorms or long car rides. See if a lower dose hits the spot for daily skin health or increased mobility. Find out if they’re a real treat hound or a fine salmon-oil-loving feline.
We loooove to hear about your furry friends! So bring your pets to Garden Party, or just stop by to tell us all about them. We’re here to answer questions and help you find safe, trusted pet CBD products that help your best friend live their very best life.