Can Pets Have CBD? Vets Say To Use The Compound With Caution

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There's no denying that cannabidiol, aka CBD, can work wonders for many people struggling with symptoms of anxiety disorders, or issues related to chronic stress. So much so that some humans have been speculating if the hemp-derived compound can have a similar calming effect on their anxious pets. According to research, CBD may be a helpful supplement for pets experiencing anxiety — however, vets warn that CBD should be used with caution when it comes to your fur baby.

"CBD has anti-anxiety properties in animals as well [as in humans]. In fact, many of the studies done showing anti-anxiety properties of CBD were established through animal models," Dr. Tim Shu, the founder and CEO of VETCBD, tells Bustle. He adds that, like in humans, "CBD acts through various mechanisms to reduce stress and anxiety" in our pets, but mainly interacts with serotonin receptors — a neurotransmitter that is thought to play a main role in your mental health.

Just like people, your animals at home (and in the wild) can experience different types of anxiety. For instance, some dogs may suffer from separation anxiety, or noise anxiety related to things like fireworks. Moreover, you may have a cat with anxiety that excessively grooms themself, meows a lot, paces, or even becomes aggressive seemingly out of nowhere. So, sure enough, people are trying CBD —a known anxiolytic — to help their furry friends chill out. And, many are finding it works in animals just as well as it does humans.

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Though research is still limited, studies have shown that CBD can be an effective form of therapy for dogs and cats with an array of health issues — including pets with seizures, anxiety, digestive problems, and inflammation. Moreover, the call to research CBD for veterinary use has grown in recent years: As The VIN News Service reported in March, The American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation (AKC CHF) recently awarded funds to research CBD for treating pups with epilepsy.

Not only does CBD show great promise for pets with anxiety, but it's remarkably safe for both your dog and your cat. "CBD has a remarkable safety record, especially when compared with many traditionally prescribed medications," Dr. Shu explains. "Although rare, potential side effects include sedation, or loose stools."

Despite the growing list of benefits, this doesn't mean you should just buy all the CBD treats you can find, and give them to your pet willy-nilly. Much like checking in with your human doc if you're considering adding a new vitamin or supplement to your own wellness routine, you should talk to your pet's veterinarian about CBD treats or oil beforehand. That way, they can decide proper dosing based on your pet's size, and recommend high-quality CBD products.

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"CBD can be very safe to give to pets suffering from stress and anxiety, so long as the formulation and dosing is done by animal health professionals, and the products are tested for potency, pesticides, microbials, and solvents," says Dr. Shu. Furthermore, he explains checking with your vet is super important if your pet is on any prescribed medications, because there's a possibility that CBD can "interfere with the metabolism of other medications."

All in all, the potential for CBD to become a standard anti-anxiety medication for our furry friends is there, but more research needs to be done in the long haul. In the meantime, you can still opt to try CBD for an anxious pet, but be sure to schedule a trip to the vet first.