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Potential Side Effects of CBD for Dogs and Cats

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Potential Side Effects of CBD for Dogs and Cats

You have probably heard of CBD oil by now. You may be using CBD oil yourself!

It is frequently touted as a cure-all magic pill for both humans and pets alike, but you may be hesitant to use it.

What is CBD oil? What can it do for your pet? Are tarehere any scary, dangerous side effects you need to watch out for?

As a responsible pet owner, you need all the facts you can get to make an informed decision for your cat or dog.

The bottom line is CBD is very safe and can be a fantastic addition to your plan for maintaining your pet’s wellbeing.

What Is CBD Oil?

Plants have been used throughout human history in medicine, magic, religious ritual, and folklore.

Anthropologists often find clusters of herbs on ancient remains; the famous ice mummy Ötzi, found in the mountains on the border between Austria and Italy in 1991, was discovered to have eaten medicinal wild herbs, ferns, and mushrooms shortly before he died and was carrying more with his supplies.

There is written evidence of medicinal plant use as far back as written human history goes. The ancient Sumerians created a guidebook of sorts: copies of a clay tablet listing hundreds of locally cultivated treatments including opium were kept in their government buildings and libraries.

Today, plants feature in a number of homeopathic remedies for various conditions. Walking into any store selling food and supplements, you can find chamomile teas for sleep and relaxation, echinacea pills to support immune health, ginger chews for digestive upset, and CBD tinctures for pain and inflammation.

CBD exploded on the natural health care scene and has been gaining traction steadily since. CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is one of 80 naturally-occurring cannabinoids found in the hemp plant.

Hemp is a close cousin to marijuana, but contains a significantly lower level of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the chemical that induces the high you experience when you smoke marijuana.

Hemp is grown all over the world. It grows in poor soil, needs little care, and has a quick turnover rate: about every 60 days a hemp farmer can harvest and resow his fields. Hemp makes accessible, inexpensive, sustainable goods including raw materials for construction, fabrics for clothing, and folk medicine.

Hemp is grown, harvested, and beaten to a pulp. CBD is extracted from this pulp, which is then used to make paper and “press board” wood. The extraction is chemically separated to draw out impurities, then the CBD is distilled in alcohol. From there it is packaged and sold to consumers.

CBD was discovered accidentally in the 1940s by a team of researchers attempting to study how marijuana affects human bodies. These scientists connected the effects of CBD to a previously unknown structure, similar to the digestive or immune system, which they called the endocannabinoid system. 

What Does The ECS Do?

The endocannabinoid system, or ECS, is a massive network of highly specialized receptors in the membranes of certain cells in all animal bodies.

Almost all animals have an ECS that functions the same way, so responses to CBD are predictable and almost formulaic.

There are two key types of cannabinoid receptors in the body. They are simply labeled CB1 and CB2. Both are found all over the body, but CB1 receptors are heavily localized in the nervous system.

The ECS plays an important role in almost all major biological processes. Every anatomical system is positively affected in some way when a human or animal ingests CBD.

Our bodies constantly strive to maintain homeostasis. This means it is able to easily regulate the internal environment, such as core temperature, despite the outside environment. It is absolutely essential to sustaining life. The ECS plays a part in that, too.

CBD has the potential to immediately improve every aspect of physical and mental health.

In humans, it can also be used as a homeopathic treatment for many illnesses and chronic conditions, including:

For your pet, CBD oil can vastly improve his quality of life. CBD is safe to use. There is absolutely no risk of overdose, no risk of developing a chemical dependency or addiction, and no withdrawal symptoms should he need to stop using it.

Your cat or dog can experience better sleep, more energy, fewer aches and pains, and quicker injury healing time. It can positively impact his metabolism, cardiovascular health, and immune system.

CBD can be a wonderful addition to even a healthy pets daily routine. It could maintain his current good health and protect him against developing scary physical conditions later in life. 

Potential Side Effects Of CBD Oil Use

Allergic reactions and negative side effects are a constant concern for some pet owners, especially those with a cat or dog that has proven sensitive before. It is heartbreaking to watch your pet suffer while you are feeling helpless to fix the problem.

Luckily, negative side effects from CBD use are remarkably uncommon.

Any time you give your cat or dog anything new it is imperative that you watch them carefully. Allergic reactions can occur very quickly and can be deadly if not treated promptly.

It may not be immediately apparent that your cat or dog is experiencing any side effects from his new CBD oil product. If your pet starts behaving strangely or does not seem “right”, discontinue use and check with your vet.

The side effects reported from careful, responsible CBD use are mild and rare. They can include:

  • Xerostomia, a condition more commonly known as dry mouth. If your pet is experiencing dry mouth, his saliva may be thick and viscous, his tongue and gums may be red and inflamed, and he may develop bad breath. Chronic dry mouth in cats and dogs can lead to difficulty swallowing, ulcers in the mouth, and irreversible dental decay.
  • Drowsiness. If your cat or dog appears lethargic or disoriented, he may be excessively sleepy due to his recent CBD dose.
  • Mild anxiety, especially with back-to-back doses. Anxiety in your pet may present as a number of odd behaviors, including uncharacteristic aggression, pacing, destructive behavior, and trembling or shivering.
  • Temporarily lowered blood pressure or heart rate. Cold feet, weak, threads pulse, and hyperventilation can be signs of low blood pressure in your pet.
  • Diarrhea and vomiting. You may notice your cat or dog is unusually thirsty, had lost his appetite, or is eating grass while outside. Place an emergency call to your vet if your pet is vomiting blood or if his diarrhea is dark and tarry.
  • Itching. You may notice your pet has patches of scaly, raw skin, or he is missing patches of hair. You may see him frantically clawing or chewing at his skin.
  • Dizziness. If your pet is repeatedly circling, is disoriented, or seems off-balance or unsure of his footing, he may be dizzy.

Any negative reactions associated with your pets CBD use could be explained by taking a look at the product bottle. Note the carrier oil, any additives, and the amount of THC present. Any of these could be factors in developing side effects not directly related to the CBD itself.

If your pet is taking ANY prescription medications, make sure your veterinarian gives you the go-ahead before giving him CBD oil. CBD can affect the liver's ability to create an enzyme that ensures the body can properly metabolize some medicines.

If your cat or dog is being treated for a tumor or cancer, CBD is an effective tool for helping manage the root cause and the side effects from other medications. Be cautious giving him CBD, however, if he is on immunotherapy treatments. In human studies CBD has decreased the efficacy of immunotherapy medicines.

Most side effects your pet may experience will be short-lived and will naturally disappear as his body processes the CBD.

If you have any questions or concerns, your veterinarian or other pet care professionals could help.

How To Use CBD Oil

To meet the recent uptick in consumer demand, cannabidiol is found in an astounding variety of products, with more being created every day.

The most effective method of CBD ingestion is by tincture. Tinctures are an ancient method of infusing the medicinal ingredient (in this case the cannabidiol) in vinegar or high-proof alcohol. The tincture is cured and stored until at maximum potency.

CBD Oil for Dogs

Using a tincture is fairly straight-forward. They come in sprays for the inside of your cheek, or a liquid you hold under your tongue before swallowing. The CBD is absorbed through the thin membranes in your mouth directly into your bloodstream, eliminating the wait time associated with digestion.

Tinctures are a good choice if you need immediately effective medicine in an easy-to-dose format.

Another popular method of CBD use is pure oils. The cannabidiol is suspended in a carrier oil with a high fat content. Coconut, almond, and avocado oil are popular carrier oils.

Some oils even carry positive health benefits of their own aside from the CBD infused in them, such as improved cardiovascular or neuron function. Oils contain antioxidants and high levels of monounsaturated fats, potentially contributing to increased immune function and lessening the discomfort associated with chronic inflammation.

Edibles are an exciting, popular new CBD-based product. Generally found as infused gummy candies for humans and flavored meat treats for pets, they are an easy way to convince your picky eater to ingest CBD.

Because cannabidiol interacts with every animal’s ECS the same way, it is generally considered safe to give your pet human CBD treats - with a few ingredient-based caveats.

  • Xylitol is often used in sugar-free human foods as an artificial sweetener. It is highly toxic to dogs and is not safe in ANY amount.
  • Certain essential oils are safe for inhalation and consumption in humans but not pets. Cinnamon, wintergreen, citrus, and peppermint are all unsafe for cats and dogs. Tea tree oil is also not to be given to pets.
  • It is common knowledge that chocolate can be toxic to dogs, so it is a good idea to steer clear of chocolate flavorings, too.
  • Anything with grapes or raisins, such as infused cookies or candies, can be dangerous for your pet.
  • Coffee products, such as espresso beans, can be unsafe for pets.
  • Of course avoid giving your pet any alcoholic beverages or edibles made with these products.

Health and beauty products containing CBD are quickly becoming more popular as humans realize cannabidiol can be used to eliminate cystic acne, soothe aching arthritic joints, and heal rashes and sun-damaged skin.

If your cat or dog is in need of topical, localized relief, whether it be for a skin ailment or a specific body part that is injured or sore, using massage oils and lotions created specifically for pets can be a big help in making him more comfortable. Some products can contain other relaxation aids like Epsom salts, which are safe to use on your pets, but some may also contain essential oils that may not be.

As always, it is a wise choice to check the ingredients label carefully, ask about anything you can not identify, and watch for allergic reactions.

If you have any questions, your veterinarian can guide you in choosing the best product for your cat or dog (and your doctor can help you pick one for yourself!).

There are some CBD ingestion methods for humans that are absolutely NOT safe for use around pets. One of these is vape pen cartridges, which may damage his lungs. These can also contain high levels of THC or nicotine.

Where To Find Quality CBD Products

Because cannabidiol is legal in all 50 states, if you choose to give your cat or dog CBD oil products, it is a likely bet that you can find a local storefront that sells some!

Google can help here. Just search your geographic area and keywords focused on the product you want, like ‘dog’, ‘cat’, or ‘CBD bacon treats’.

Ask fellow pet owners in your community, talk to your pet care team (groomers, veterinarians, and trainers), or post in natural pet health social media groups for recommendations.

It is, unsurprisingly, incredibly simple to find CBD vendors online. Any search including the words ‘cannabidiol’ turn up well over a million results! To narrow down the hits, include other keywords including ‘purchase’.

When you find a website carrying the pet CBD products you wish to buy, it is imperative that you thoroughly check every aspect of their manufacturing and purchasing process.

  • Choose products grown in the United States. Domestically- grown hemp is grown under very strict standards. Farmers and manufacturers are heavily regulated by several federal level offices including the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and the FDA (Federal Drug Administration). The constant supervision ensures the safest products for you, your pet, and the environment.
  • CBD oils made with organic hemp are the safest way to avoid toxic chemical contamination. Many commercial pesticides and insecticides have been definitively linked to tumor formation in humans and animals.
  • The website should look professional with clear and easily understood ingredient lists and dosing information. Customer service contact numbers should be immediately accessible. The website should be mostly free of technical and grammatical errors and the information should be consistent with information obtained from other resources.

The old adage “you get what you pay for” is definitely true with CBD oil products. High quality products are not cheap. If you choose a less expensive product, you may find it is less potent as well.

Wherever you choose to buy your CBD oil, you should be able to request the independent lab analysis. This report will tell you the exact concentration of CBD in your individual product, as well as any trace impurities or additives.

Dosage instructions vary by product concentration. Good calculators are available for free online or ask your veterinarian. They should also take into account your pets body weight, age, activity level, and the condition you are treating.

If you are seeking to improve a chronic condition your pet is suffering from, keeping a treatment journal is a good way of tracking his improvement. For each day you give him CBD oil, note his symptom changes, his overall physical condition, and any important notes from the day. Note his diet, any medications, and the dose of CBD oil given.

Regardless of the conditions you are aiming to treat with CBD oil, there are a few signs of serious health problems that need to be immediately addressed.

If you cat or dog collapses, is vomiting blood, cannot breathe, or displays any uncharacteristic aggressive behavior, contact your veterinarian right away. These could be signs of life-threatening illness necessitating emergency health care.

Your pet loves you and watches out for you, so he deserves the best care he can get. CBD oil products are a great way of ensuring your cat or dog stays healthy and is able to play and run with you for years to come.


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