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CBD for dogs - uses, benefits and side effects

Cannabidiol (CBD) has recently become legal in New Zealand for human and animal use via prescription. While a registered product is still a wee way off for kiwi pets, now is the time to learn more about CBD and the benefits it could offer your dog. CBD oil has been touted as a treatment for a wide variety of human medical conditions, including seizures, insomnia, and anxiety. While many dog owners are asking their veterinarian about using CBD to treat their pet’s medical conditions, few veterinary-specific studies are available to answer these questions. However, several recent studies provide encouraging results. Keep reading to find out more about CBD oil for dogs in New Zealand.

What is CBD oil?

CBD is a phytocannabinoid found in all cannabis plants, including marijuana and hemp. Marijuana is defined as a cannabis plant that contains more than 0.3 per cent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), while hemp is defined as a cannabis plant that contains 0.3 per cent or less THC. Most CBD products are derived from hemp, meaning they are not psychoactive, and cannot cause you or your dog to experience a high. According to a 2017 World Health Organization (WHO) report, CBD in humans has not shown any indications that the product could potentially cause dependence, and no evidence of public health-related problems has been observed associated with pure CBD.

How does CBD affect dogs?

In humans, CBD affects the endocannabinoid system, a complex biological system that impacts several processes, including appetite, sleep, mood and memory. The endocannabinoid system functions using receptors, enzymes and endocannabinoids.

Two types of endocannabinoid receptors exist throughout the body, and provide a place for the endocannabinoids to bind. CB1 receptors are found primarily in the central nervous system and affect coordination, movement, pain, appetite, memory and mood. CB2 receptors are found in the peripheral nervous system and influence pain and inflammation.

Fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) are enzymes that break down cannabinoids. After the enzymes break down the cannabinoids, endocannabinoids bind to the receptors to affect body functions.

Cannabidiol is believed to work similarly in dogs, and dog owners’ anecdotal evidence suggests that CBD oil for dogs could help alleviate pain and control seizures. Other possible CBD benefits for dogs include anti-inflammatory properties, cardiac support, anti-nausea effects, appetite stimulation and anti-anxiety effects.

Side effects

No specific veterinary studies have been conducted to determine CBD side effects in dogs, but they are likely similar to humans.

  • Lethargy — CBD, especially in high doses, can cause sleepiness.

  • Dry mouth — human research has shown that CBD causes decreased saliva production, which would be manifested as increased thirst in dogs.

  • Lowered blood pressure — high CBD doses can result in a temporary drop in blood pressure.

The bottom line

Available research shows that CBD has promise as a beneficial tool for veterinarians to treat several medical conditions in dogs in New Zealand. However, without an approved dosing chart, the appropriate amount to administer is still unknown. This is one of the reasons why Hale Animal Health is conducting clinical trials right here in New Zealand and Australia to make sure its CBD products will be safe and effective. Always consult your veterinarian before giving your dog any new medication, and let them decide if CBD oil is right for your dog.

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