cbd oil for cats with liver problems

CBD Oil and Cats

The information below was written for the Cats with Multiple Medical Conditions group on Facebook. This is a science-based support group which does not promote or accept the use of untested and unproven therapies for cats. The group post has been reproduced here with the original author’s permission.

OK everyone. It’s time to address the potentially huge issue that is CBD oil. We seem to spend a lot of time reiterating on various posts that we don’t recommend it and that no advice can be given. That still stands; however, we feel it’s time to explain why.

As you are all probably aware, little real research exists into the use of cannabis/hemp/CBD products in cats. We don’t really know what it does, if anything, to help our cats. Some of the claims that are made for relatively low doses are pretty outrageous and have no real backing scientifically. The market is completely unregulated, creating the possibility that many of the currently marketed products for cats may contain something completely other than CBD oil, may not contain enough to have any real effect beyond a placebo, or may in fact contain so much that they are actively dangerous on their own. They may also, in some cases, contain high levels of THC which is also a known toxin for cats. To add to that, there are compounds within CBD oil that are known to potentially be problematic for cats – terpenes are known to cause toxicity in cats, yet are what CBD oil relies on as that is where the allegedly active ingredients are contained. So we have a real potential issue there before we even get any further into the science of how the body processes CBD.

Next, we have to look at how CBD is processed in the body. We see recommendations on an almost daily basis that state that separating CBD oil from other meds by 2 hours will make it all safe and that there won’t be any interactions with other prescribed meds. However, none of the available evidence backs this up. Cannabis compounds are detectable in human urine up to 30 days after last use. Even if we assume that cats metabolize twice as fast as humans (and that’s not necessarily an accurate number although does appear to work for some medications like insulin), that means that CBD oil is active in a cat’s system for around 15 days…as long as the Convenia shot that so many refuse to consider for their cats due to it’s longevity in the system. And for all of that time, it has the potential to cause drug interactions. Separating it from other meds by just 2 hours is, honestly, a pointless exercise given that information.

Cannabis/hemp compounds, including CBD are cleared from the system using the cytochrome P450 mechanism. Unfortunately, the majority of commonly prescribed drugs are also cleared using this same mechanism. This means that, given that CBD is a strong P450 inhibitor (increasing concentrations of other drugs more than five-fold, while potentially decreasing clearance rate by 80%), there is a very real risk of a cat being overdosed on their prescribed meds if CBD oil is given concurrently. And by concurrently, I mean within days of the prescription meds given how long CBD lasts in the system. To give just one example, if you then add in a dose of amlodipine which is both processed by cytochrome P450 AND further inhibits it, you could find the situation where the cat actually has active levels of more than 100% higher than intended in its system – and those levels could very easily take days to clear…by which time more doses have been added potentially leading to a life threatening overdose over the course of several days/weeks. Many types of anesthesia drugs are also processed by the P450 mechanism – do we really want to take the chance that a cat is either overdosed on anesthesia should an emergency surgery be required, or that they cannot clear the anesthesia drug from their system following surgery?

On yet another note of caution, using cannabis compounds when there is kidney, liver, cardiovascular disease or any degree of immune system suppression is not recommended. There is potential evidence that these compounds can actually cause renal issues…not something we want for our cats who are already prone as a species to kidney failure.

In light of all of this, and pending further research, we have to take the decision that we cannot allow CBD oil to be recommended currently within the group. We cannot permit dosing recommendations to be given for it, especially in conjunction with any other medications. If your vet is prepared to make a recommendation then you are, of course, free to follow it but there is not enough information currently available for us to be able to offer any advice or help with its use.

Liver Supplements for Dogs & Cats

The liver is one of the most important organs in the body. It is a crucial part of the digestive system, as well as playing a role in the immune system. Most blood from the intestinal tract is routed through the liver for detoxification. The liver can operate effectively with only 20% of its cells working, so it has a large reserve capacity. Without the liver, the body is doomed within days. But the good news is that, with proper support, the liver can completely regenerate itself after injury or disease. These traits make the liver truly remarkable; and mean that even serious liver disease is survivable and has a much better prognosis than similar damage to other organs.

“The liver is one of the most important organs in the body.”

The liver is also one of the few organs with key differences between dogs and cats. The dog’s liver is very similar to that of humans and other mammals. However, a cat’s liver contains fewer metabolic enzymes and has a diminished ability to handle toxins. The development of liver disease is also due to different causes between dogs and cats. In dogs, liver failure is commonly due to congenital problems, traumatic injury, infections, or other disease. Cats, on the other hand, can develop liver disease not only from infection or trauma, but also from seemingly minor stresses, such as not eating enough for whatever reason.

Keeping the Liver Healthy in Dogs & Cats

Preventing liver disease is a whole lot easier than curing it. A high-quality diet, including at least some wet food for both dogs and cats, is the first and most basic step. Additionally, there are herbal and nutritional supplements that can support and strengthen the liver so that it can handle damage and disease more efficiently. Supportive supplements with specific benefits for the liver include:

“Preventing liver disease is a whole lot easier than curing it. A high-quality diet, including at least some wet food for both dogs and cats, is the first and most basic step.”

Supportive supplements with specific benefits for the liver include:

Probiotics to balance the digestive system Only Natural Pet Probiotic Blend Animal Essentials Plant Enzymes Pet Naturals Digest Support for Cats and Dogs

Antioxidants to prevent and reduce inflammationOnly Natural Pet Whole Food Antioxidant Blend Vetri-Science Antiox

Omega-3 Fatty Acids such as those found in fish oil, also have strong anti-inflammatory properties.

  • Only Natural Pet Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil

Co-Enzyme Q10 to enhance cellular metabolism and prevent the formation of damaging oxygen free radicals. It is best absorbed in an oil formulation, such as:Vetri-Science CoQsol

General Liver Health Support for liver health and nose-to-tail wellness. If you want keep things simple and give just one terrific supplement to your pet, these products contain milk thistle, taurine, antioxidants, digestive enzymes, and Omega-3 fatty acids, along with important vitamins and minerals:

  • Only Natural Pet Ultimate Daily Canine Senior
  • Only Natural Pet Ultimate Daily Feline Senior

Supplementing your pet’s diet with a portion of cooked organic calves’ or chicken liver once or twice a week will provide all the ingredients needed to keep the liver in good repair. It’s important to buy it fresh and organic because the liver is the body’s main detoxifying organ, and there may be stored toxins in non-organic that could harm your pet.

“If you want keep things simple for liver health and nose-to-tail wellness, give just one terrific supplement to your pet.”

Does Your Dog or Cat Have Liver Issues?

In dogs with liver disease, a precise diagnosis is important. This usually involves blood tests, and possibly also ultrasound or even biopsy of the liver. Different causes need different treatment. For example, in a puppy with a liver shunt (an abnormal blood vessel that bypasses the important detoxification processes of the liver), a high protein diet—which is normally fine for the liver—could be deadly. Cats have a less diverse potential problem list, mostly involving either inflammation or hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease). Signs are similar, and treatment in cats nearly always comes down to: “feed the liver,” although specific treatment with antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs may be needed, depending on the cause of the problem. Unfortunately, feeding an animal with liver disease both crucial and difficult, since these pets tend to not want to eat at all. Force-feeding or even surgical placement of a feeding tube may be necessary components of treatment. Just mix the supplements with a little blended canned food, and force-feed the mixture by syringe or via tube. Here are a few tips to make this process easier:

  • Mix up the whole day’s worth of food in the morning, with all the supplements in it.
  • Set aside a portion for the first feeding, and put the remainder in the refrigerator.
  • For subsequent feedings, take out the appropriate portion, mix a little hot water in to warm and soften it, and you’re ready to go.

The herb milk thistle is an important healer for the liver in times of stress or disease. It protects the liver from toxins and helps it regenerate. The active ingredient of milk thistle, “silymarin,” reaches high levels in the bile and liver tissue. It can be used in the treatment of hepatic lipidosis, chronic hepatitis (generalized liver inflammation), cholangitis (inflammation of the bile ducts), and pericholangitis (inflammation of the tissue around the bile ducts). It may be useful in preventing or treating some liver problems, as well as gallstones, by thinning the bile. It is very safe. You can give up to 250 mg of milk thistle daily for every 10 pounds of your pet’s body weight. It is most effective when given in smaller portions throughout the day than in one big dose. Two of our favorite milk thistle products are:

  • Super Milk Thistle X
  • Only Natural Pet Liv-Herb Herbal Formula

Omega-3 fatty acids can be given at higher doses for a sick animal. Give 2 or 3 times the normally recommended amount; up to 3,000 mg per day for a large dog.

Carnitine, an amino acid, is extremely important for cats with hepatic lipidosis, but is helpful for all dogs and cats, especially those who eat a lot of high-carbohydrate dry food. Give 250-500 mg/day for a cat. Carnitine is also important for heart muscle function in both dogs and cats. Our highest potency products are:

  • Vetri-Science Cardio-Strength
  • Vitaline L-Carnitine

“A pet with liver disease needs professional care from your veterinarian, but you can greatly help the healing process with the right supplements, and of course plenty of TLC!”

How to Know if Your Pet Is Suffering from Liver Disease

Find out the signs and symptoms of liver disease in cats and dogs, and how you can help prevent and treat it.

Your pets are your family. You care for them as if they were your own children. However, just because they aren’t human doesn’t mean they are exempt from the same diseases and ailments.

Your dog or cat may be suffering from one common pet condition that is also common in humans: liver disease.

Unfortunately, most pet owners don’t know the signs of liver disease in pets, nor do they know how to go about treating the condition.

No longer will this be a worry.

Here is everything you need to know about liver disease in cats and dogs.

What Is Liver Disease?

The liver carries out a variety of functions in the body, ranging from blood filtration and detoxification to producing, secreting, and storing vital bodily compounds (1). These functions, among countless others, are crucial to the body functioning correctly.

When the liver is damaged, it cannot do its job. This can have detrimental effects on your health or your pet’s health, and should be avoided at all costs.

Such impairment can come from the onset of liver disease. As the name implies, liver disease impairs the liver and its ability to carry out its functions.

Liver disease is known for its stages, one more serious and harmful than the next.

  • Inflammation: The liver becomes inflamed and enlarged.
  • Fibrosis: The liver begins to scar. Harmful scar tissue begins to replace healthy liver tissue.
  • Cirrhosis: Widespread distortion of the liver’s internal structure occurs as more and more healthy liver tissue is replaced with scar tissue.

If the liver becomes damaged beyond repair, liver failure may ensue. Such an occurrence is life-threatening. It is because of these reasons that liver disease should not be taken lightly and should be treated immediately, for the sake of your life or your pet’s life (1).

My Pets and Liver Disease

Dogs are the staple pet of American households. According to the Insurance Information Institute, over 60 million households in the United States have a pet dog, the greatest number of any type of pet. Following close behind in second is cats, appearing in over 47 million American households (5).

Despite their popularity, they are still at risk for life-threatening conditions like liver disease.

4 Risk Factors

There are a variety of factors that may make your dog or cat susceptible to liver disease.

These may include:

  1. Age: The older your pet is, the more susceptible he is to diseases in general, including liver disease.
  2. Medications: If you give your dog or cat medications containing acetaminophen to treat other conditions, it may be damaging his liver. The same goes for humans (think Tylenol).
  3. Breed: Certain breeds are more susceptible than others to liver disease. Dog breeds like Rottweilers, Yorkshire Terriers and Cocker Spaniels, as well as Siamese cats, are predisposed to develop liver disease and, in some cases, may be born with it.
  4. Obesity: Overweight cats and dogs are prone to liver disease, particularly fatty liver disease.

While none of these factors are guaranteed to lead to liver disease, it is a possibility. Consult a veterinarian to ensure you are taking the steps to limit these chances (2, 3).

12 Symptoms of Liver Disease in Pets

Signs of liver disease can vary from dog to dog and cat to cat.

Nonetheless, these are just some of the symptoms you should look out for:

  1. Digestive issues (diarrhea, constipation)
  2. Vomiting
  3. Loss of appetite
  4. Sudden weight loss
  5. Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or whites of eyes)
  6. Excessive drooling
  7. Changes in urine (usually darker color)
  8. Lack of energy
  9. Increase in thirst
  10. Eye discharge
  11. Sinus issues
  12. General behavioral changes

Many of these signs don’t immediately scream “liver disease,” as many are common and generic symptoms that you wouldn’t associate with the liver.

What could a little excess saliva possibly have to do with the liver? Well, the liver plays a crucial role in the body and touches nearly every biological body system, ranging from the digestive system to the circulatory system.

Because of its involvement all over the body, an impaired liver can have consequences all over the body. Such consequences can take very different forms, from a change in urine color to a rapid loss of weight.

Of course, your dog may be vomiting because he ate something disagreeable and your cat may not have an appetite because she ate too much earlier in the day. However, liver disease should never be counted out, especially if these behaviors become common (2, 3, 4).

What Should I Do?

Liver disease is serious and can have detrimental effects on your pet’s health. If your dog or cat is experiencing any of the symptoms outlined above, speak to your veterinarian about the possibility of liver disease. It is easier to treat liver disease in its earlier stages, so do not hesitate to take the necessary courses of action.

Some of these may include:

  • Diet Change: A healthy diet is essential to limiting liver damage. Feed your pet food that is filled with vitamins and minerals and limit any processed or fatty foods: the toxins will only do more to harm the liver.
  • Supplements: Supplements that benefit the liver, like milk thistle and CBD oil, can help to heal the liver after liver disease has taken hold.
  • Medication: Some medications that regulate liver activity may need to be prescribed, while medications your pet is already taking may need to be re-evaluated to ensure they are not taking any toll on the liver.

With these steps, you can prevent or treat your dog or cat’s liver disease (4).

The Bottom Line

Liver disease is serious. When undiagnosed, it can wreak havoc on the liver and, consequently, the rest of the body. The same goes for our pets, as liver disease is common in the dogs and cats we care for each day.

Be on the lookout for abnormal behavior that your pet may repeatedly exhibit. It could just be that your dog or cat has an upset stomach. However, it also could be a side effect of liver disease, and should be treated immediately.