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Pet CBD: A Beginner’s Primer

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You have definitely heard about it. You may have tried it yourself. You’re not sure where to buy it or even if you could. There’s no doubt about it though: CBD is the newest buzzword in the human and animal world alike, and everyone wants to know what it is, if it’s safe, and most importantly, if it works. But where do you even start? Read on for your first step in understanding the world of CBD.


What is CBD?

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is made from the cannabis sativa plant. CBD advocates have touted its benefits for pets suffering from anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain. Critics warn however that the CBD is insufficiently tested and developed to be used medicinally. 


How does CBD work?

While no one has the answer for this quite yet, there are several working theories. Scientists at Colorado State University are one of the first groups to formally observe animal reactions to CBD, and their preliminary research suggests CBD interacts with the Endocannabinoid System (“ECS”). RJ Silver, the Chief Medical Officer of RxVitamins, writes that the ECS can be found in all mammals, and helps in balancing the immune system, nervous system, and other physiological processes including:

  • Stress
  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Anxiety 
  • Sleep

A review of existing evidence “suggest[s] that cannabinoids are beneficial for a range of clinical conditions, including pain, inflammation, epilepsy, [and] sleep disorders;” but the development of CBD-based drugs  “requires well-controlled clinical trials to be carried out in order to objectively establish therapeutic efficacy, dose ranges and safety.”


CBD Isn’t Pot

Marijuana is a strain of cannabis sativa used to grow pot and contains the mind-altering compound tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”). CBD itself has no mind-altering properties and is generally derived from hemp, the strain of cannabis containing no more than trace amounts (.3%) of THC. 


Is CBD Legal?

Yes -- when used properly. In 2018, Congress removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act. That means hemp-derived CBD can be legally produced. Further, the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”), which regulates pet food and animal health product, has not objected to the use of CBD in cosmetics and pet topicals. The FDA has, however, clearly prohibited CBD in pet foods and products making medical claims. Some states have additional restrictions on the use and sale of CBD products. 


Is CBD safe?

The FDA notes that while it “is aware of reports of pets consuming various forms of cannabis, to date, FDA has not directly received any reports of adverse events associated with animals given cannabis products.” That said, the “FDA has not approved cannabis for any use in animals, and the agency cannot ensure the safety or effectiveness of these products. For these reasons, FDA cautions pet-owners against the use of such products and recommends that you talk with your veterinarian about appropriate treatment options for your pet.” 

As to the opinion of veterinarians, we’ve collected some here: 

“I have been using CBD oil for many of my patients for a variety of problems including seizures, pain, cancer, inflammation, and anxiety. I have started using it myself to treat pre-cancerous skin lesions and I now give CBD oil to all of my dogs (seniors with arthritis, heart disease, cancer, and other chronic inflammatory conditions).”

  • At the American Kennel Club, Dr. Jerry Klein, their Chief Veterinary Officer, advises that CBD is used often to treat nausea, pain, and inflammation in dogs and cats. While Dr. Klein admits that no conclusive data has been collected on the effects of CBD, he did reveal that the AKC is sponsoring the first formal study through the Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
  • Veterinary Cannabis is a modern group of veterinarians devoted to educating pet parents, businesses, and other pet professionals about CBD. You can visit their website to schedule a consultation and learn more about how the hemp plant can help your dog or cat.

How to Choose the Right CBD Product

If you’re ready to try CBD, you’ll need to pick the best CBD solution for your dog or cat. Most commonly available pet CBD products are available as edibles, oral tinctures, or topical balms and foams. There are varying benefits and drawbacks to each method: 

  • Edibles 

Edible CBD such as chews and treats allows “standardized concentrations/doses and a non-complicated administration route . . . . Nevertheless, absorption is slow, erratic and variable.” [1] The problem is that the CBD is absorbed through the digestive system, causing highly different results depending on factors such as how recently your pet has eaten and its rate of digestion. 

  • Oral Tinctures 

Oral tinctures that are not swallowed allow CBD to be absorbed through the mouth and “directly into the blood, thereby eliminating first-pass metabolism.”  [2] This “has provided a non-invasive method of administration that has proven itself to be significantly superior to oral dosage.” It is difficult, however, to hold an oral tincture in your pet’s mouth without them swallowing. 

  • Topical

Topical application “avoids the first-pass metabolism effect that is associated with the oral route and thus improves drug bioavailability.” It is “potentially ideal for localized symptoms, such as those found in dermatological conditions and arthritis.” [3

  • kin+kind Topical CBD 

kin+kind’s topical CBD solutions are designed to soothe and relax dogs and cats without the risk of medicated alternatives. Perfect for CBD beginners, these applications allow low, controlled quantities of CBD for consistent, easy to monitor effects. 




CBD Conclusion (Finally!)

If you’ve stuck with us for this long, go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back. CBD is complicated, and while a lot more research still needs to be done, you can relax knowing that the animal world is working hard to find the best and safest solution for your furbaby. For more information about CBD, we recommend talking to your vet and checking back with kin+kind University for ongoing updates and information. 

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