By Jenny Menzel, H.C.
There are two kinds of people in life: cat people and dog people — at least in America. Accounting for 97% of owned pets in the U.S., cats and dogs are widely loved for good reason. UCLA research on animal-assisted therapy found our furry friends improve our mental and physical health by boosting our mood, soothing stress, and providing purpose due to their trustful reliance on our care.
Dogs are especially beneficial to their owner's health. Walking your dog is not only suitable for your pet, but it's a heart-healthy exercise that's good for you, too. If you have neighbors or frequent a dog park, you know that walking your dog is also great for social interaction. Because let's face it — most people don't randomly speak to strangers walking down the street unless they happen to have a cute dog with them.
Alternatively, independent and litter-trained cats require much less human maintenance, but their value to our health is no less. With a frequency measuring between 25-150 Hz, a cat’s purr was found to be helpful in healing bones, calming nerves, lowering blood pressure, and even healing wounds and infections, according to research in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.
Whether you prefer dogs or cats, caring for their health is likely a high priority for you. Can the popular hemp compound cannabidiol (CBD) naturally preserve their health? Let’s look at the most therapeutic effects of CBD and how it might restore balance in your four-legged family.
5 CBD Benefits for Pet Health
1. Reduces Pain From Inflammation
Since the endocannabinoid system (ECS) works the same in animals as in humans, CBD provides a similar anti-inflammatory effect on pets. And with inflammation being at the root of many pain symptoms, CBD is a top contender as a natural painkiller — especially for arthritis in aging pets. A number of positive immune reactions are stoked when CBD interacts with your pet’s CB2 receptors, the cannabinoid receptor in charge of influencing immune cells in the liver, lungs, skin, and bones — leading to a noticeable improvement in their general well-being.
2. Calms Stress and Anxiety
Just like humans, pets have personality — they also have stress, fears, and anxiety like us. Though they can’t communicate in our language, we can read their signs of stress by how they act and react to us. Persistent barking or meowing, negative attention-grabbing behaviors like damaging furniture, and aggressive responses such as scratching or biting, are just a few indications your pet may be struggling with stress. While it's not yet entirely clear how CBD eases anxiety, it has been shown by researchers to decrease depression by boosting serotonin — one of our many feel-good neurotransmitters.
3. Reduces Nausea and Improves Appetite
If you’ve noticed your pet has odd eating habits, vomits often, or has excessive thirst — dehydration, weight loss, and fatigue may result. Medications for these digestive disturbances are available, yet they often come with the price of just as disturbing side effects. CBD effectively eases digestive distress in conditions as severe as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), although researchers are not sure how. One theory points to the perception of pain that gets altered when CBD binds with vanilloid receptors, which could explain the reduction of inflammation found in one study. As digestive troubles are often a result of stress, the anxiolytic effects of CBD might be a reason it smooths out your pet’s appetite.
4. Regulates Seizures
Seizures seen in epilepsy may not be as common in pets as the other symptoms, but the main symptoms of seizures or spasms include violent shaking. However, CBD may contain anti-seizure properties, though it’s not fully understood how CBD acts on the brain to control seizures. But research thus far suggests that CBD’s sole action on the CB1 receptor could be what inhibits seizure activity and severity.
5. Improves Immunity
Homeostasis is the state of the body when it is in a healthy balance. When your pet’s immune response is dysfunctional, uncomfortable symptoms such as those previously mentioned may appear. Because of CBD’s stimulating effect on the endocannabinoid system, and more specifically, to the immune cells that are influenced by its interaction with CB2 — a broad range of positive actions occur. This makes CBD a great choice as a natural preventative care supplement — promoting homeostasis in your pet and fortifying immune health with consistent use.
Finding the Right CBD Product for Your Pet
The easiest way to administer CBD to your pet is through a chewable treat, an oil to mix in with their food or water, or a topical if your pet needs localized pain relief. Dosing will depend on more than just the type of CBD product you choose for your pet; it will also vary due to product quality and potency, your pet’s body size and weight, and the nature of your pet’s ailment.
Considerations for dosing and administration:
Trial and Error: Just as it takes time to find the right product delivery and dosing for humans, know it may take a few attemptsto find the right CBD product for your pet.
Dosing: Start at the lowest recommended dose, working your way up slowly to monitor change. Also, be sure to follow all product dosing guidelines regarding your pet’s weight and size.
Delivery and Taste: For picky eaters, drop CBD oil onto a treat you know your pet loves eating. Mixing CBD oil with their food may mask the taste of CBD best, while mixing it with water may not be ideal if your pet doesn’t drink water as often.
Our pets provide us joy, companionship, and even scientifically-proven health benefits. It’s only natural that we want to give them with the same unconditional comfort and care. When given as a preventative and therapeutic supplement or topical solution, CBD is one of the best natural options for your pet's overall health.
- Animal-Assisted Therapy Research. (n.d.). Retrieved November 19, 2020, from https://www.uclahealth.org/pac/animal-assisted-therapy
- Costa B, Giagnoni G, Franke C, Trovato AE, Colleoni M. Vanilloid TRPV1 receptor mediates the antihyperalgesic effect of the nonpsychoactive cannabinoid, cannabidiol, in a rat model of acute inflammation. Br J Pharmacol. 2004;143(2):247-250. doi:10.1038/sj.bjp.0705920
- Linge R, Jiménez-Sánchez L, Campa L, et al. Cannabidiol induces rapid-acting antidepressant-like effects and enhances cortical 5-HT/glutamate neurotransmission: role of 5-HT1A receptors. Neuropharmacology. 2016;103:16-26. doi:10.1016/j.neuropharm.2015.12.017
- Jones NA, Hill AJ, Smith I, et al. Cannabidiol displays antiepileptiform and antiseizure properties in vitro and in vivo. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2010;332(2):569-577. doi:10.1124/jpet.109.159145
- Muggenthaler, E. V. (2001). The felid purr: A healing mechanism? The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 110(5), 2666-2666. doi:10.1121/1.4777098
Jenny Menzel, H.C., is a Certified Health Coach and branding specialist for various alternative healthcare practices, and volunteers her design skills to the annual grassroots campaign, the Lyme Disease Challenge. Jenny was diagnosed with Lyme in 2010 after 8 years of undiagnosed chronic pain and fatigue, and continues to improve by employing multiple alternative therapies, including Āyurveda, Chinese Medicine and Bee Venom Therapy.