Cannabidiol (CBD) has recently earned its place at the table of medicinal products. CBD has therapeutic benefits associated with anxiety, epilepsy, pain, sleep disorders, and more. CBD reacts directly with the endocannabinoid system that is present in all mammalian species. With many people finding much needed relief, some wonder if their beloved pets will have similar experiences. Veterinarians are hesitant to discuss or recommend CBD for pet treatment. Many say there is not enough evidence to support therapeutic claims. Moreover, the endocannabinoid system is not taught in veterinary schools. However, the taboo stigma of medical marijuana is finally starting to lighten. This creates opportunity for scientific studies regarding the use and effectiveness of medical cannabis, in turn CBD, for not only humans but pets as well.
Relevant studies do exist for practical use of cannabinoids and animals. The safety of CBD was studied by Dr. Stephanie McGrath with Colorado State University. A group of 30 healthy beagle dogs were randomly assigned CBD oil in a capsule for ingestion or CBD transdermal cream. The study concluded that these specific CBD products were well tolerated in dogs.
There are two more ongoing studies at Colorado State University. Dr. McGrath is in the process of overseeing clinical trials using CBD to treat dogs with epilepsy and osteoarthritis. The preliminary data shows that 89% of dogs who received CBD in the clinical trial had a reduction in the frequency of seizures. This is very promising for pet owners who struggle with finding effective and safe treatment for epilepsy in dogs. This study is double blind, with dogs randomly assigned to a treatment or placebo group. Dr. McGrath and Dr. Mejia enrolled 23 medium-large breed dogs in the pilot study regarding osteoarthritis. This study is also double blind with one group assigned to a placebo and the other to the treatment. The preliminary data of this study suggests that CBD benefits dogs with osteoarthritis associated pain.
Anticancer effects are another common interest with pet owners. The scientific literature in rodent models is promising in several different cancer types. A study at the University of Florida for three different types of canine cancer cells shows exciting preliminary results. Animal models of CBD use for anxiety relief is supported from studies using mice and rats. These are mainly done by placing a prey species in front of the predator species to monitor stress. Canopy Growth announced their study regarding CBD treating anxiety in companion animals will be released in the next year. It is critical that more scientific research is conducted to shed light on the benefits of this amazing cannabinoid.
When purchasing CBD products for pets, always make sure it is fully tested. Manufactures must follow good manufacturing guidelines, use safe ingredients, and be transparent. Education is power. Challenge your local veterinarians to educate themselves on this new and emerging topic.
I would like to share my personal experiences with CBD treatment for pet epilepsy. Please note, this is not based on a scientific controlled study.
My best friend and partner in crime, Mr. Bojangles, was diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy when he turned 3 years old. He has cluster seizures. Cluster seizures are categorized by the pet having two or more seizures in a 24-hour time frame. Many veterinarians prescribe pets Potassium Bromide, Phenobarbital, or Levetiracetam. Sometimes a combination of the three. Benzodiazepine is also common, such as Valium. These drugs have serious side effects that require constant monitoring of blood work. Liver failure and pancreatitis are common serious side effects of these drugs on continual usage. The other side effects include lethargy, muscle in-coordination, depression, and nausea to name a few. There are not many studies on these drugs regarding treatment for canine epilepsy. Once a dog starts these drugs the veterinarians exclaim the dog must take them for life. I had a hard time giving my dog the medicine my veterinarian prescribed. Do I reduce the probability of him having seizures and in return reduce the longevity of his lifespan? This and other moral questions kept running through my mind. I finally decided to give him the seizure medication. I rationalized that seizures can be life threatening, and I was hopeful the medicine would stop the seizures completely. After three months on the medicine, Mr. Bojangles would still have a seizure episode at least once a month. He would have cluster seizures too, which often required another trip to the veterinarian for a shot of valium. I struggled for a long time trying to control my own emotions and moral obligations to protect my best friend. Working at my dispensary, I observed many patients find relief from human epilepsy by using CBD oil. I decided to give this a try for my pet. This is when I started carrying Treatibles in my shop that are made exclusively for pets. I read testimonies of other pet owners finding success. The next time Mr. Bojangles had a seizure, I gave him an oral dose of CBD oil during his seizure. The effects were almost immediate. His seizure ended about 5 seconds after giving him the oil. He did not have a second seizure either! This was amazing to me. He always clustered when he had an episode. I was hopeful. Hope – something I hadn’t felt for a while. I cut down the dosage of Keppra (Levetiracetam) for Mr. Bojangles. I made up for it by using CBD oil in conjunction with Keppra. My veterinarian advised against this. He wanted to prescribe Mr. Bojangles a stronger Levetiracetam dosage, as well as Potassium Bromide. I refused. My dog has been on CBD oil and a small dose of Keppra for 5 months now. During this time, he’s had 2 episodes. These seizures seem to be milder. The post seizure phase does not seem to be as severe (such as constant pacing, incoordination, etc.). The side effect severity has also dropped. More time is needed to observe the benefits, but I am very hopeful.
If you would like to learn more about Treatibles for pets, please see the following link:
We currently carry a full line of Treatibles products for pets at our Tulsa dispensary Lady Jane's Naturals.
Guiden, Mary. Preliminary Data from CBD Clinical Trials 'Promising'. The College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences f, 19 July 2018, https://cvmbs.source.colostate.edu/preliminary-data-from-cbd-clinical-trials-promising/.
Mejia, S. Evaluation of the Effect of Cannabidiol on Osteoarthritis-Associated Pain in Dogs—A Pilot Study. Thieme, 2019, https://www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/html/10.1055/s-0039-1692272.
S Cital, Cannabis Science and Technology 2(2), 56-60 (2019). http://www.cannabissciencetech.com/article/cannabis-animals-look-cannabis-medicine-pets/page/0/2