Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of over 90 cannabinoids that are used by the Cannabis sativa Plant and has great potential for therapeutic use in veterinary medicine. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the regulated manufacture and use of hemp and hemp products that contain less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the United States. Since then, CBD products have become widespread and interest in using CBD to treat our pets has grown rapidly. This is due not only to individual reports, but also to scientific evidence of beneficial behavioral and health effects, especially in diseases (especially arthritis), inflammation, anxiety, seizures and the modulation of the immune system in pets.
Overall, the use of CBD in dogs appears to have a good safety profile and a low risk of side effects. However, “appears” is the key word here. Because cannabidiol and other hemp products were on the federal level illegal As of 2018, we are only now seeing the results of the most recent scientific studies conducted on these products.
Like humans, dogs are known to have an endocannabinoid system (a complex cell signaling system); However, experts have not yet figured out how it all works. Since we are only at the very early stages of understanding how cannabinoid-based drugs affect the dog’s body, we need to be careful when giving CBD to our dogs. While we wait for the results of new and ongoing research, here are a few key points to keep in mind when considering CBD:
- There are currently no CBD-containing veterinary drugs approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). CBD products are currently sold as dietary supplements and “drug claims” about their use are strictly illegal.
- There is little documented research, control, or regulation over CBD products. This can lead to very different compositions, concentrations and qualities, even from one batch to another of the same product. Because of this, consumers may not know what an individual product contains.
- A current study (“Cannabinoid, terpene, and heavy metal analysis of 29 over-the-counter commercial veterinary hemp additives”, Veterinarian Med (Auckl). 2020; 11: 45-55) from Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine and ElleVet Sciences, a manufacturer of CBD products for pets, tested 29 CBD products for pets. Labeling guarantees for the cannabinoid concentration contained in the supplement existed on 27 of the 29 products, but only 10 of the 27 “were within 10% of the total cannabinoid concentrations of their labeling claim. “ Several cannabinoid concentration claims tested under their label and two products contained no CBD at all. Heavy metal contamination was found in four of the products, with lead being the most common contamination (three products).
- Owners and veterinarians considering using CBD must be aware of the proliferation of low concentration products. Obtaining a Certificate of Analysis (COA) from a third party laboratory will help you calculate the dosage correctly.
- No data are yet available on the effects of long-term administration of CBD to dogs. It is also not known whether there is a cumulative effect.
- A possible interaction between CBD and other drugs is of particular importance. Because CBD is metabolized by the cytochrome P450 family of enzymes, it can affect the metabolism of the other drugs in the system. This, in turn, can change the effectiveness of these other drugs by either increasing their activity or by inhibiting the desired activity. Studies in humans have shown that this interaction affected drug levels in the blood. It has been found that there is a potential for interaction with the drugs warfarin, tacrolimus, theophylline, ketoconazole, and zonisamide in humans. Since these drugs are also used in dogs, it is possible that there will be interactions in the dog’s body as well. Other medications that CBD can affect include antibiotics, antipsychotics, antidepressants, blood thinners, and any other drugs that are metabolized by P450 enzymes.
- Scientific studies have shown that CBD can cause increases in the liver enzyme alkaline phosphatase (ALP), but the significance of this is not yet known. It is believed that CBD can increase the effects of certain drugs. This may present an opportunity or need to reduce the dose of certain medications given to a patient who is also being given CBD.
- Since NSAIDs, tramadol, gabapentin, and anti-anxiety drugs rely on P450 enzymes for metabolism, be careful with adding CBD.
- In a recent study by Morris et al. (The Impact of Feeding Cannabidiol), it was found that CBD when administered with trazadone inhibits trazodone’s ability to lower cortisol in the blood [CBD] Contains treats for how the dog reacts to a noise-induced fear reaction test, front. Vet. Sci., September 22, 2020). This underscores the potential interactions with CBD and could support previous work showing that CBD is a potent inhibitor of the cytochrome P450 family of enzymes.
Ongoing research is important to better understand how CBD affects the dog’s body. As with any medication, consult your veterinarian before treating your dog with CBD.
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Read on: Know Your CBDs