What is CBD and the Endocannabinoid System?
Cannabidiol (or CBD) is one of many cannabinoids found in cannabis, growing in popularity for use in the treatment of various physical & mental ailments. It interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), one of the body’s largest networks that regulates most of our physiological functions and nervous, endocrine, digestive, & immune systems. The ECS maintains homeostasis: a state of internal physiological balance — AKA our healthiest state of being.
All vertebrae mammals have an ECS, which means CBD impacts our fur babies the same way it impacts us. Since they’re smaller with more delicate systems, they likely don’t need as large of a dose. But like us, each pet’s ideal dosage differs and takes time to find.
How can CBD help my pet?
Like humans, there are many reasons a parent might choose to give their pet CBD. Some of the most common are:
- Arthritis and mobility issues
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Seizures and epilepsy
- Skin irritations or allergies
- General well-being
Cannabinoid receptors are scattered throughout the body, bones, & organs, heavily in the central & peripheral nervous systems, brain, spinal cord, gut, lymphatic, & immune systems.
CBD interacts with these & other receptors, influencing things such as pain, inflammation, sleep, stress, memory, mood, metabolism, motor control, bone repair & growth, immune function, reproductive health, and much more.
How much CBD should I give my pet?
As always, consult a licensed veterinarian before changing your pet’s routine or adding new herbs to their diet. While working with a trusted healthcare professional, people usually start by giving a dose twice daily for 2 weeks. Observe your fur baby’s behavior and adjust the dosage accordingly.
Veterinarian Dr. Robert Silver suggests a starting dose of 1mg/10lb twice a day. If not seeing the desired results, you can increase the dosage after a week. Like with humans, there may be some trial and error finding the ideal amount. Some pets might need more than others.
Although CBD is not the magical “cure” for pets or humans, it is used to support the healing process. It’s most effective when paired with a balanced nutrition and lifestyle. That means different things for different pets. It’s important to take the time to find out what’s best for yours.
The large majority of commercial pet food is made with inflammatory ingredients, which has been shown to build up over time. Chronic inflammation can manifest as deeper physical issues. Buying from conscious companies and feeding them as little grains & dry food as possible can help avoid inflammation caused by nutrition.
If you notice a sudden change in your pet’s behavior or other abnormal symptoms, it’s always best to first consult a veterinarian and rule out any underlying conditions.
CBD for pet anxiety
I adopted my cat child from a shelter. He is so incredibly loving and affectionate. He also has severe anxiety and abandonment issues, so that affection is there on my face 24/7, clinging to my chest with claws like one of his nine orange lives depend on it.
If he’s not on me, he’s scratching or licking himself excessively. If he’s napping and I leave the room? He follows me around with loud insistence until I sit back down… then he’s out like a light again. Don’t even get me started on when I leave the house.
This anxiety often manifests as stomach problems and a lack of appetite. Sometimes he only eats if I’m standing next to him. As much as I love him, trying not to disturb a literal cat nap and watching him intensely inhale chunks of tuna is not something I enjoy doing every day.
When I give him CBD regularly, he enjoys his meal alone and at his leisure. And I enjoy knowing my cat will get the nutrients he needs when I’m gone. Then we can have joint CBD cuddle sessions (pun not intended)!
OK so your pet is like my cat. Medical conditions are ruled out. When it comes to treating anxiety, in addition to supplementing with CBD, the pet parent may want to look at a few other factors:
- Quality time with you!
Anxiety has so many potential causes, that we still spend countless hours researching its interaction with the body and mind. What we do know is while anxiety’s origin could be physiological or psychological, it’s often necessary to treat both since they’re so closely related.
Our medical system has gotten in the habit of treating symptoms instead of disease. In order to heal anything, it’s imperative to look at the root cause. Sometimes that root cause is simply endocannabinoid deficiency. But often the “root cause” is much more complex than that. It is a combination of factors.
Both humans and pets in today’s society deal with much unresolved trauma, affecting amygdala function in the brain, central nervous system patterns, and our environment. Trauma impairs the body’s vital functions, placing it in constant states of fight-or-flight. This doesn’t allow time to rest-and-digest, which is when our body repairs and absorbs nutrients.
Being in a constant state of adrenaline can cause a multitude of problems, including adrenal fatigue, endocrine, and digestive issues. This disrupts our ECS, so using CBD can be helpful, but we still must address the other issues. Otherwise, it’s a vicious cycle.
Who needs that when we could be snuggling with our stinky-breath babies?
Am I doing something or is something in my environment triggering pet anxiety?
Now, this isn’t to say cater to or validate our pet’s fears, but if you notice loud music makes them antsy, turn it down a bit and/or give them a little affection (& CBD!) to show they’re safe. If separation anxiety spikes the second you grab your keys, maybe pick up your keys throughout the day without leaving to help lessen the reaction to the trigger. Like with humans, we can validate their feelings without encouraging their fear. Find ways to gradually help them feel safer in normally anxiety-inducing situations.
Overall, being consistent with our pets like we would in any relationship is most beneficial for their health. Maybe set a time of day where you both take your CBD together! Even if your pet is healthy with no known condition, regularly giving them CBD can encourage homeostasis and support healthy immune function.
Whether it’s for a medical condition, anxiety, or well-being, providing them with high quality CBD, lots of love, and maybe that extra piece of turkey once in a while (sorry, my cat got ahold of the keyboard) can sometimes be the best medicine. They’re family after all!