We Asked a Vet How to Use CBD Oil for Pets
CBD has taken the world by storm. And it’s not only humans, but pets that are being given CBD products in the hope of finding relief from things like pain, seizures, and anxiety.
But when an owner takes their pet to the vet, their questions about cannabis, hemp, and CBD often go unanswered. With CBD becoming legal at a federal level just last year, few vets are trained in using CBD for animals.
This leaves many pet owners with more questions than answers. We interviewed Dr. Tim Shu, a veterinarian, and expert when it comes to using cannabis and hemp products for pets, to have him share his expertise with using CBD for our furry family members. Here’s what he had to share.
Calm by Wellness: Thanks for joining us, Dr. Shu. Can you tell us about yourself and how you became interested in CBD and cannabis for pets?
Dr. Shu: My background is as a veterinarian. When I was a veterinarian, I practiced in general medicine, emergency, and critical care medicine. And what I saw a lot of times was that a lot of the traditional prescription medications that we use, they can have some serious adverse side effects. So you know, a lot of the pain medications can do things like cause kidney damage, liver damage, or GI ulceration. And as a healthcare practitioner, it’s always been my moral and ethical obligation to be able to seek out all potential therapeutic options for animals.
And we know that cannabis has a lot of benefits in people and we know that it has a lot of evidence that it could have potential benefits in animals too. If cannabis was able to be a benefit to our patients, then I wanted to be able to fully explore that…So that’s what really sent me forth on this journey to be able to explore the therapeutic benefits of cannabis.
Calm by Wellness: Which animals have you seen benefit from CBD or cannabis therapy?
Dr. Shu: All vertebrate animals have endocannabinoid systems, and so because of that, they all stand to benefit from cannabinoid therapeutics. Now primarily we’ve worked with dogs and cats, but we’ve also seen horses benefit. We’ve also had people use it for their birds, rabbits, rats, guinea pigs, ferrets, and pigs. So we’ve had quite a variety of species show benefit from it.
Calm by Wellness: What are the most common applications for CBD for pets that people are using and seeing positive results for presently?
Dr. Shu: The top three that we see are a pain, anxiety, and seizure relief.
Senior animals, especially dogs and cats, as they get older, they develop some degree of arthritis in their joints and that can be debilitating. It’s just like with people. We have a lot of people that have found a lot of benefits using cannabis for their arthritic pets. It’s not just dogs and cats that get arthritis as they get older, other animals get arthritis too. So we have people that use it for their bird’s arthritis, their horse’s arthritis.
And then the second top condition that we see is for anxiety. Just like with humans, animals can get stressed out and they can get anxious. The two big categories that we see are separation anxiety and noise anxiety. Separation anxiety occurs when owners leave for the day and the pets are not well adjusted to being by themselves and they may freak out. They may cause the destruction of their home environment or even to themselves.
CBD and cannabis can help specifically with noise anxiety from the 4th of July fireworks. What’s cool about CBD and cannabis is that they specifically take away that anxiety and they don’t necessarily sedate the patient. A lot of people don’t understand that there’s a difference between anxiety relief and sedation. With sedation, your body can be sedated, but your mind can still be racing and anxious.
Number three is going to be seizures. You know, everyone’s heard about using cannabis and CBD for seizure patients with children and epilepsy, and animals get the same benefit. Animals can get seizures and they can also get epilepsy. Most commonly we see it in dogs, but other species can get it as well, including cats and horses. I’ve even heard of a sea lion having epilepsy. So it’s not just dogs.
Calm by Wellness: Are there any side effects that people should be on the lookout for when they use this kind of therapy for their pets?
Dr. Shu: In general, the nice thing about cannabis and CBD is that they’re very, very safe. So any sort of potential side effect profiles is much less than a lot of the traditional medications that we see. Certainly, there are small portions of the population that could have adverse reactions, but those adverse reactions tend to be milder…Soft stools or diarrhea, we’ll see that in animals sometimes, but it’s a very small percentage.
The other thing that we always caution owners about is that CBD is what’s called a competitive inhibitor of certain liver enzymes. What that means is that if a patient’s on CBD and they’re taking other medications at the same time, if those medications and CBD utilize the same metabolic pathway, then there is a potential for the other medication to have a higher blood plasma level if the patient’s taking CBD.
That’s why it’s always important for any patient, human or animal, to be able to talk to their doctor and let them know that this is something that’s been added to their regimen, especially if there’s already other medications on board.
Calm by Wellness: What would you recommend for pet owners when it comes to the dose of CBD for pets?
Dr. Shu: It depends on the individual and their condition. What we’ve seen is that it can vary quite a bit. We’ve seen some dogs that are larger dogs only need to use it once a day at a smaller dose, whereas another dog the same size with the same condition may need to use it two or three times a day at a higher dose…We always recommend starting at a lower dose and then titrating your way upwards because it’s just like with humans using cannabis, you want to start low and go slow.
Calm by Wellness: What did you consider when coming up with the formulation that you use in your Vet CBD products?
Dr. Shu: One of the things that we considered is that, when we’re comparing CBD products, a full spectrum is going to be more effective than an isolated CBD product. What I mean by full-spectrum is something that contains multiple cannabinoids in addition to the CBD. Not just the THC but also things like CPC and CPG. The studies out there have shown that when you’re using a full spectrum product compared to an isolated product, that you get the greater therapeutic effect and you’re able to achieve therapeutic effects at lower doses. And so what we did was we formulated it using a full spectrum product that does include small amounts of THC in there.
Calm by Wellness: Dr. Shu, what’s the best way for people to follow you?
Dr. Shu: You can check out our website – it’s vetcbd.com. And our hemp line is called Dr. Shu’s Pet Care, so you can go to drshuspetcare.com. We have veterinary nurses on staff because, for a lot of people, this is a really important aspect of their pet’s health care. They want to be able to get reliable, accurate information from professionals that are familiar with animals. If you email us or call us, you’re able to talk to our veterinary nurses. Or if you want to talk to me, I’m more than happy to talk to pet owners and veterinarians.