buy cbd oil for anxiety in pets

Cannabidiol used to ease pain and anxiety in pets

Kieren Anderson was looking for a way to relieve the anxiety his pet pooch, Lola, experienced every time they took her to the groomers, which was "quite often".

Key points:

  • A growing number of pet owners are using products containing cannabidiol or CBD to keep their pets calm and pain-free
  • It has a wide variety of applications including for fur and skin, arthritis, anxiety, and even epilepsy and depression
  • There is a push to make CBD products more freely available for both pets and humans by lifting legal restrictions

"She absolutely hates it and we have done a number of things to the point that the vet actually had to sort of sedate her to groom her," he said.

The northern Illawarra, NSW, resident then discovered cannabidiol — CBD as it is commonly known — and a few drops before the car journey seemed to do the trick.

"So now I just try to give her some CBD oil and that seems to calm her down a bit and that's my way of negating that issue," Mr Anderson said.

Mr Anderson now also sells the product to vets, so convinced is he that CBD can treat a wide range of ailments.

"CBD oil is an anti-inflammatory so it treats a number of things from arthritis, because that's obviously inflammation of the joints, to anxiety as it definitely has an effect on the mood," he said.

"I guess most people who are using it are people who are buying it for their older dogs that aren't as mobile anymore and you see a lot of people say that they have almost had a second lease on life for their dogs."

It was a familiar topic for veterinary products wholesaler Peter Brunskill who was pushing for a more educated approach with a new cannabidiol he had on the market.

He said CBD produced from hemp oil was legal for animals, while humans needed a doctor's prescription.

Mr Brunskill also said CBD had virtually no ability to make you or your pet high because it contained little or zero tetrahydrocannabinol — commonly known as THC.

"For some of these products to be sold in Australia it needs to have a maximum of 0.3 per cent of THC in it, so that means an animal or person would have to drink gallons of oil to have any hallucinogenic effects and that's not going to happen," he said.

"The oil that we sell is really rich in plant-based omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids, vitamin E, and minerals."

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Australia behind other western countries

Mr Brunskill said it was only a matter of time before Australia went down the path of overseas countries, such as the USA, where regulations for CBD and THC use on humans had significantly eased.

"In the past 12 months it has absolutely ramped up. With President Trump signing the US Farm Bill, it has become more of a mainstream product and legalised," he said.

It was one of the reasons why the Commonwealth-funded Australia Centre for Cannabinoid Clinical and Research Excellence was stepping up its activities.

The centre with researchers based mainly in Newcastle and Wollongong looks into both CBD and medicinal cannabis containing THC.

Post-doctoral research fellow Jessica Mills said, because of growing and accumulating evidence about its benefits, the centre was in the process of planning a new trial for next year.

"At the moment the evidence in humans is relatively limited because there have been several trials done in epilepsy, some in anxiety, and there are studies in depression being conducted, but we need to do more in order to consolidate our understanding of it," Dr Mills said.

She said the regulatory environment in Australia would change, gradually making both CBD and THC products more readily available. But it would take time.

Dr Mills said the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) had recently flagged changes.

"The TGA put out a few weeks ago an interim decision to potentially down-schedule CBD to an over-the-counter medication from June of next year," she said.

"Because of the growing interest and because of the accumulating evidence, there is a movement towards making it a bit more accessible for people who need it."

Some Marijuana-Derived Treatments Aim To Soothe Skittish Pets

Celebrations that include loud fireworks often terrify dogs. Though there’s not yet much science to confirm it, some veterinarians and pet owners say CBD, an extract of hemp or marijuana, can ease a pet’s fear. Francisco Goncalves/Getty hide caption

Celebrations that include loud fireworks often terrify dogs. Though there’s not yet much science to confirm it, some veterinarians and pet owners say CBD, an extract of hemp or marijuana, can ease a pet’s fear.

Along with picnics and barbecues, the Fourth of July brings a less pleasant yearly ritual for many dog lovers: worrying about a family pooch who panics at the sound of firecrackers.

Betsy and Andy Firebaugh of Santa Cruz, Calif., have reason for concern. They live on a mountain ridge overlooking the Pacific Ocean — a usually peaceful scene, except at this time of year, when people illegally set off firecrackers at local beaches. The explosive booms send their otherwise happy Australian shepherd — Seamus — into a frenzy.

“If he’s outside, he can freak out and run away,” Andy says. Or the dog will hunker in a corner inside the house, reduced to a quivering lump of cinnamon-brown fur. One year on the morning after Independence Day, the couple looked everywhere for Seamus.

“We finally found him underneath the bed, cowering,” Betsy recalls. “He wouldn’t come out.”

But to quell the dog’s nerves this year, they say, they may try something new: giving him a squirt of an extract of marijuana that’s mostly cannabidiol (CBD), a component of the cannabis plant that, unlike a better-known component, THC, doesn’t induce a high.

CBD has drawn a lot of attention in recent years from neurologists and other researchers intrigued by hints that the chemical might prove helpful to people; there’s been preliminary study of possible benefits in reducing chronic pain, anxiety and seizures in humans, for example.

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So it’s probably no surprise that some folks are interested in CBD’s therapeutic potential for Fido or Fluffy, too.

Betsy initially got a prescription for medical marijuana to help with her own joint pain. While at the medical marijuana dispensary, she also picked up a vial of CBD oil designed for pets, on the advice of the manager.

The supplement has already yielded good results in their other dog, Angus — a sweet blue merle Aussie who was abused as a puppy by previous owners, and still sometimes “becomes Frankendog” around canine strangers, Betsy says. Occasional doses of the cannabis extract in high-stress situations, she says, help to mellow him out.

The Firebaughs aren’t the only ones exploring marijuana-based therapies for man’s best friend. A growing number of firms are marketing CBD for noise anxiety and other ailments in companion animals. Denver-based Therabis specifically advertises one of its hemp-derived CBD supplements as an aid to help dogs get through the Fourth of July.

And the Los Angeles-based makers of VetCBD oil say that early July, along with New Year’s Eve, is one of their busiest sales periods. Animal shelters tend to see an increased influx of runaway pets around the two holidays — because of fireworks, notes VetCBD’s founder Tim Shu, who is also a veterinarian.

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Still, cannabis therapies for pets fall into a legal gray zone. While numerous states, including California, have legalized medical marijuana and/or recreational pot for people, cannabis remains federally illegal, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration recently clarified that it considers CBD extracts unlawful too. None of the cannabis-derived products for pets are approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and state licensing agencies, such as the California Veterinary Medical Board, don’t allow veterinarians to prescribe them.

Shu says marijuana has long had a bad reputation in the veterinary community, which has seen many ER cases of dogs suffering toxic effects from gobbling down their owners’ marijuana stash or edibles. Large doses of THC, the chemical that produces pot’s intoxicating effects, can cause wobbliness, disorientation, vomiting and loss of bladder control in canines.

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But the premise of companies selling cannabis-derived products for pets is that non-psychoactive CBD, in combination with a small amount of THC, can be beneficial. For instance, Shu’s VetCBD oil contains a 20:1 ratio of CBD to THC, a formulation he says he developed in a quest to aid his own elderly dog, Tye, a mixed pit bull breed. Tye has arthritic pain and fireworks anxiety, the veterinarian says, but can’t handle the side effects of standard veterinary medications.

By experimenting with Tye and other patients in his practice, Shu came up with his cannabidiol concoction — which is extracted from organic cannabis flowers — and a variety of specific dosages for pets of different sizes.

Tye’s mobility has since improved, Shu says, and “I can actually walk her outside during Fourth of July fireworks. For a lot of owners, it’s a night-and-day difference.”

Such anecdotes may sound compelling, but some other vets say they’d like to see scientific evidence. Brennen McKenzie, a veterinarian in Los Altos, Calif., writes the SkeptVet blog and is on the board of the Evidence-Based Veterinary Medicine Association. In regards to CBD, McKenzie says, “we have virtually no research in pets, so we are guessing and extrapolating.”

It’s human nature, he says, for us all to “see what we want and expect to see, rather than what is really there, much of the time.” He recalls, for example, a clinical trial in which some arthritic dogs got a pain reliever and others a placebo. More than half the owners of the dogs who got the placebo reported dramatic improvement in their pets’ symptoms.

McKenzie acknowledges that the limited laboratory research that’s been done in dogs so far hasn’t turned up any severe side effects from the short-term use of CBD. However, he points out, each animal species is different; cats, for example, are extremely sensitive to any chemicals.

Carefully designed clinical trials still need to be done, McKenzie says, to fully assess CBD’s benefits and risks in treating specific health conditions in pets.

Yet, the legal morass surrounding marijuana makes it difficult to conduct any scientific studies of cannabis-based treatments in the U.S. in people or any other animals.

So, McKenzie concedes it may sometimes be appropriate for people to try cannabis-derived products in their pets in certain situations, such as when they’ve exhausted other treatment options that are supported by better scientific evidence.

“You just have to be aware of the risk that you’re taking,” he says, “and the uncertainty involved.”

Noise anxiety may be one of those situations, McKenzie says, noting that veterinary medicine doesn’t have a great solution that’s widely and reliably effective in allaying noise phobia.

Standard treatments, such as sedatives and antidepressants, can come with their own side effects. Other options include behavioral therapies — playing white noise or music, for instance, or teaching owners to be low-key and calm in response to a panicky pet. But that may not work for pets with severe anxiety.

Even if CBD is effective for noise anxiety, McKenzie says, he has one more caveat: The marketplace of cannabis-based veterinary products is unregulated, with no oversight of quality control. “You may not be getting what you think you’re getting,” he says.

So where does all of this leave Betsy and Andy Firebaugh? They’re reluctant to put Seamus on a prescription sedative or antidepressant, and they’ve tried other tactics, including positive-reinforcement behavioral training and a swaddling jacket.

Bob Pallares, who runs the nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary in Santa Cruz where the Firebaughs bought their VetCBD supplement, says he carries this particular product because it’s organic and of high quality, as tested by a third-party lab.

Persuaded that VetCBD oil has helped Angus with no ill effect, the Firebaughs hope the supplement might do the trick for Seamus tonight, too. When the firecracker fracas starts this evening, they’ll shut the windows, turn up the radio — set to classical music — and cross their fingers. And if that’s not enough to soothe Seamus, they’ll mix a little CBD oil into his food.

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