Is CBD a Safe Pain-Relief Alternative for Pets?
No one wants to see their pets suffer. Seeing an animal in pain is made extra hard by the fact that you can’t communicate with them why it is happening.
The good news is that a safe and natural pain-relief option for your pets may be available in CBD.
We’ve gathered everything you need to know about CBD for your pet’s pain.
Can CBD Really Reduce Pain?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a relatively recent compound in the world of research. CBD is one of the major cannabinoids found in both hemp and cannabis plants, and because of this, cannabis prohibition has, until recently, stymied research into the effects of CBD.
While research into CBD is still largely in its infancy, it tells us a lot about the potential effects of CBD and how it induces these effects.
CBD induces its effects by binding to non-cannabinoid receptors and interacting with other receptor pathways. In this way, this major cannabinoid has been found to result in a range of effects, including pain relief.
One way that CBD may be able to reduce pain is by interacting with serotonin receptors. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter in the management of pain because of its ability to both reduce pain levels and boost mood (1). We know from research that CBD activates serotonin receptors, with one study, finding that CBD was able to cause a reduction in pain perception by activating serotonin receptors (2).
Increasing serotonin isn’t the only way that CBD may reduce pain, however. A specific receptor protein called TRPV1 may also play a key role in CBD’s analgesic properties. TRPV1 helps to regulate your sensation of pain and heat, and a 2019 animal study found that CBD’s pain-reducing qualities were largely due to CBD activating the TRPV1 protein (3).
Pain in Pets
Seeing our pets in pain is tough, and we’d do anything to make sure they feel like themselves again.
Managing your pet’s pain can be difficult for a variety of reasons. For starters, even identifying that an animal is in pain can be difficult. Humans simply say when we’re in pain, but for our pets, we have to be aware of the signs of pain to make sure we know when we need to get them help.
Signs that your pet may be in pain include:
- Crying out
- Sensitivity to normal handling or touch
- Not playing or being as active as normal
- Limping or not using an area of their body as normal
- Reduced appetite
- Increased heart rate
- Grumpy temperament
- Flattened ears
Once you’ve identified that your pet is in pain, the next step is figuring out why. It’s always best to consult your vet about any pain you see in your pet to ensure you get an accurate diagnosis and the best care for your little buddy. Once you have a diagnosis, you can start to think about pain management.
Is CBD an Effective Pain Reliever for Animals?
As we can see from the research, CBD shows promise as a pain reliever, but do these analgesic properties extend to animals?
We have known for quite some time now that endocannabinoid receptors are present in mammalian brains (4). This means that cannabinoids are likely to induce their effects in mammals.
Another promising sign that CBD’s analgesic effects will be effective in animals is that a lot of the research into CBD is first tested on animal models, including mice, rats, dogs, and cats (5,6,7,8). With similar effects seen across a range of species, there is a strong indication that CBD’s pain-relieving qualities will be useful for a range of animal species.
There have also been specific studies investigating the analgesic effect of CBD on different animals. These include:Rats
A 2019 study found that CBD treatment decreased anxiety-like behavior in rats. This anxiety reduction was achieved by CBD activating both TRPV1 and the serotonin receptor 5-HT1A (9).Dogs
A 2020 study investigated the effects of CBD oil on osteoarthritic dogs and their pain levels. CBD oil treatment continued over four weeks, with researchers finding at the end of that period that CBD both reduced the dogs’ pain levels and increased their mobility levels (10).
Can I Safely Give My Pet CBD?
While more research is needed specifically in the safety profile of CBD oil for different animal species, the good news is that CBD oil is generally regarded as having a high safety profile (11).
Side effects that are typically seen from CBD use, tend to be mild. Side effects that you may expect to see can include diarrhea, fatigue, and increased temperature (12).
Animal-specific products like these are easy to introduce into your pet’s routine and come with helpful dosing advice.
It is important to keep in mind the different metabolisms and body systems of different animals and even breeds within species. These differences can mean that some animals may respond differently to dosing, so be sure to pay close attention to dosing recommendations and consult your vet if you have any concerns about adding CBD into your pet’s routine.
Will CBD Get My Pet High?
CBD does come from cannabis, but that doesn’t mean it will get your pet high. CBD does not induce any psychoactive effects. Another cannabinoid called THC is responsible for the infamous effects of cannabis.
CBD and THC induce their effects through different receptor types, and it is thought that this difference may be the reason why THC can induce a high while CBD can’t.
So, as long as you are giving your animal CBD and not THC, you can rest assured that they won’t experience any confusing and possibly scary psychoactive effects.
The Bottom Line
CBD shows excellent potential as a pain reliever, and further research will help us to understand just how effective it may be.
When it comes to different animals, it seems likely that the analgesic effects of CBD will affect a range of different species. CBD has a high safety profile with only mild side effects, meaning that it could just be an ideal safe and natural pain-relief option for pets.