If your beloved dog is in pain, or is suffering from anxiety or stress, most of us will do anything to help.
With the continuing changes in laws governing the growing, processing and dispensing of marijuana it is very tempting to jump on the bandwagon of using it to relieve our canine companions.
What is it? Is it safe? Is it legal? What about research on dogs?
There are anecdotal reports aplenty of dogs benefitting from CBD use and we are now seeing many, many products enter the market claiming benefit. Your cousins, neighbors, best friends brother in Colorado says it’s a miracle cure for ___ you can fill in the blank. Oh my!
There is a drought of research regarding how much, for what and when to administer CBD to canines. Complicating concerns are the issues of vast variation in canines! A Great Dane surely will not react in the same way to the same amount of CBD as would a Chihuahua.
What is it?
Well first of all it’s a good idea to understand the terminology. It can be confusing!
Cannabis is literally the name of the tall plant that is used to produce hemp fiber. It is also called hemp or marijuana.
Cannabinol is a crystalline compound whose derivatives are active components of cannabis.
The two most commonly discussed components or cannabinols are THC and CBD. THC is Delta-g-tetrahydrocannabinol. THC is responsible for the “high” or behavioral/recreational influences of Cannabis in humans.
CBD is Cannabidiol and is one of the components having mild psychoactive effects. Although CBD is similar in structure to THC, it does not directly interact with CB1 receptors in humans. However, it does influence a specific serotonin receptor as well as interact with other transmitter systems. CBD may be able to decrease seizure frequency when added to a conventional antiepileptic treatment in humans. CBD is the component that is most often referenced for use in dogs.
Is it Legal?
Another issue is the legality of use throughout the US. The laws vary greatly from state to state. In recent news reports several elderly women using CBD oil have be arrested for possessing small amounts for personal use.
According to a recent article in the Fort Worth Star Telegram: The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has come out and stated that marijuana and it’s extracts and concentrates are all schedule 1 drugs. Texas Law enforcers say CBD oil is illegal in Texas, except for when legally prescribed. Some disagree, saying the US 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized industrial hemp, makes it legal to buy and use the oil. And North Texans do that online and through a variety of stores. The Legislature has passed a separate bill, HB 1325, letting Texas farmers legally grow industrial hemp. This bill would take hemp off the state’s controlled substance list and, it is believed, legalize hemp and extracts such as CBD oil, if they don’t contain more than 0.3 percent THC. The bill needs final approval from the House before being sent to the governor for consideration. The Tarrant County District Attorney’s office has said CBD oil is only legal under the 2015 Compassionate Use Act, which made cannabis oil legal for Texans with intractable epilepsy. Others buying or selling CBD oil are breaking the law.
The bottom line is that currently the use of CBD oil is illegal for use in humans and canines in Texas. Is this law enforced? Sporadically and seldom. Are you in danger of arrest for the possession of CBD? It's possible but not very likely.
Is it safe?
CBD oil is essentially unregulated. Manufacturers claims of strength, purity, or effects are all over the board. The FDA has issued warning letters to several companies regarding making unfounded claims regarding their products as well as not having the actual percentages reflected accurately on labeling once they were tested. The labeling issue is backed up by findings published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) which found that only 30 percent of the products contained percentages of CBD that were within ten percent of the amount advertised and some products also contained detectable amounts of THC, despite being promoted as THC-free. The FDA has also decided that CBD products are excluded from the dietary supplement definition and also deemed that CBD products are not legal for interstate commerce.
So what about research on dogs?
We found two research studies. Cornell University is conducting research on the safety and efficacy of cannabis use for the treatment of osteoarthritic dogs. The study found that CBD administered correctly can help increase comfort and activity in dogs with osteoarthritis. Information regarding the clinical study can be found at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6065210/
A two year study has been conducted at Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital. The primary purpose of this study was to test the effectiveness of CBD on epileptic seizures and its results were promising, spurring a larger study into its effects. This study, is published in the June 1, 2019 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. According to the study there was less seizure frequency in epileptic dogs than a control group. During the study, they also did a peripheral study into the effects of CBDs on canine behaviors such as anxiety or aggression and no significant changes were measured. However, the number of dogs in the study was very small. For more information go to https://cvmbs.source.colostate.edu/results-from-cbd-clinical-trial-to-assess-efficacy-on-seizure-frequency-in-dogs-encouraging/
What's the Take Away?
Visit with your veterinarian about CBD use for your dog. A growing number of vets are recommending CBD and believe it may offer relief for osteoarthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, allergic skin disease, appetite stimulation, and nausea relief (among others). Yes high level clinical study is scant. Many main stream veterinarians who do not are not fans of alternative medicine believe the use of CBD is safe and effective.
The information presented here is not intended to substitute for the advice and care of a veterinarian. Consult your veterinarian regarding all issues relating to your dog's health.