Is cannabis oil safe for cats? And what sorts of ailments might it treat? Before using CBD oil as a means of treatment for your cat, it's important to understanding the potential side effects. Read on for more information.
CBD Oil for Cats: What You Need to Know
As cat owners look for ways to keep their kitties happy and healthy, they’re starting to explore alternative treatments not previously considered by Western medicine. Among these alternative treatments is cannabis oil.
This isn’t much of a surprise, considering that more people are turning to cannabis as a natural treatment for their health issues and research studies have consistently shown the plant’s positive impact on inflammation and other ailments. However, as studied as cannabis’s effect on humans may be, there have been no official major scientific studies into its impact on pets.
So, is cannabis safe for cats? And what sorts of ailments might it treat?
What Is CBD Oil?
Cannabis plants contain more than 100 active compounds, but the one most often used for medicinal purposes is cannabidiol, or CBD. CBD differs from cannabis’s major active compound, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), in that it does not have a psychoactive affect, meaning it will not get users “high.” CBD oils contain a high concentration of CBD and can be used for therapeutic purposes.
“There are not many classical medical studies that explore the effects of CBD oil in cats,” says Dr. Daniel Inman, a veterinarian at Burlington Emergency Veterinary Specialists in Williston, Vermont. “While we don’t recommend CBD oil for our patients, holistic veterinarians are using it to treat a variety of ailments, including inflammation, anxiety and pain.”
Inman is careful to specify that CBD oil is often used to subjectively increase comfort and improve quality of life in pets, not necessarily cure ailments. This type of treatment should be advised by your veterinarian and not initiated without their consent.
Is CBD Oil Safe for Cats?
Although there have been no scientific studies that specifically investigate the impact of cannabis on pets, Dr. Gary Richter, a holistic veterinarian and owner and medical director of Montclair Veterinary Hospital and Holistic Veterinary Care in Oakland, California, says that CBD oil is generally safe for cats. However, there can be some adverse effects to giving your cat CBD oil, including gastrointestinal upset and some sedation, both of which can be relieved by discontinuing the use of the oil.
“I think the bigger issue, from a medical perspective, is making sure that animals are dosed appropriately. This means that the CBD oil is having the affect you want it to have, and that you’re not accidentally overdosing,” he says.
Dr. Liza Guess, a clinical assistant professor at the Ohio State University Department of Veterinary Medicine in Columbus, Ohio, says that the lack of official, documented research into the affects of cannabis products for cats would make her hesitant to recommend them.
“I have heard that, in humans, marijuana products can be used for neuropathic pain, intractable seizures, anxiety, and appetite stimulation. I have plenty of medications in each of those categories [that are not cannabis] that have been safely used in cats for years that I am very comfortable using and understand well,” she says. “These medications have gone through rigorous studies and are approved by the FDA. Why would I want to use a poorly understood treatment that I can’t guarantee is safe or even effective?”
She adds that the FDA does not regulate the CBD products that are available on the market, so consumers can’t be sure that they’re giving their pets the dosage that they think they are.
“Pet owners looking to give their animals CBD oil should do their due diligence before purchasing anything online,” Richter says. “The marketplace is very much a ‘buyer beware’ environment, and people should be sure that the product they’re buying has been laboratory tested for both content, as well as contaminants like bacteria, fungus, and heavy metals.”
Also, it’s worth nothing that while CBD oil is typically quite safe for cats and dogs, cannabis plants are not. “There is plenty of documentation of marijuana toxicity in cats, for those that nibble on the plants,” Guess says.
Inman adds that as an ER veterinarian, he often sees marijuana toxicity in the animals that come into his practice. “You can usually tell if a pet has gotten into someone’s marijuana. And, in more severe instances, I have had to hospitalize animals until the affects have worn off.”
Is CBD Oil Legal?
Regardless of how well CBD products work for cats, there is also the issue of legality. If a cannabis product contains less than 0.3 percent THC, it’s classified as “hemp,” which is not a restricted substance. Most, if not all, CBD oil fits this description. The bigger issue is discussing this course of treatment with your veterinarian.
“In a perfect world, your veterinarian would be able to discuss this treatment as an option for your pet, but depending on where you live, your veterinarian may or may not be legally at liberty to have this conversation with you,” Richter says. “Even if you live in a state where cannabis is legal, it can be illegal for a veterinarian to tell a pet owner how to appropriately use these products.”
There are activists looking to change these laws, Richter among them.
“For example, there’s a bill being brought to the California State Legislature to debate the use of medical cannabis for animals and veterinarian involvement,” he says. “There’s a very robust conversation going on right now about it whether or not veterinarians should be able to discuss and recommend cannabis for their patients, and, if so, exactly what that looks like.”
Being able to discuss all types of treatments with your veterinarian is key, and Richter advises checking in with your vet before giving your pet any sort of cannabis. “There’s no reason to ever start giving any kind of medication or supplement without having a conversation with your veterinarian first,” he says.
6 Potential Side Effects of CBD Oils for Cats: What You Should Know!
Cat owners are turning to holistic approaches and natural supplements like CBD oils to treat their felines more than Western medicine. And, as these alternative treatments keep proving their effectiveness, it isn’t much of a surprise that more and more pet owners are getting invested in the oils.
Although substantial research studies on these natural oils are still ongoing, the findings and the health benefits of CBD oils on humans look incredibly promising.
But then, there haven’t been official significant scientific findings on the oil’s impacts on pets even though research on humans has proven effective. So, is CBD oil safe for cats?
What is CBD Oil?
The cannabis plant contains over a hundred active compounds that humans have been using to treat various ailments for a long time. Cannabidiol, or simply CBD, is one of the main compounds extracted from the plant to be used for medicinal purposes.
After extraction, feline owners blend the CBD compound in oils like coconut, olive, avocado, hempseed, and palm oil. These oils act as carriers, just like essential oils, where owners give them to cats orally.
The primary purpose for the extraction of this compound from the cannabis plant is to create a high concentration of CBD, a substance with medicinal and therapeutic properties. Unlike the major active compound in cannabis – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not have a euphoric or psychoactive effect that may leave its users “high.”
Since CBD is not mind-altering, cat enthusiasts have been using it to improve the quality of life and contain feline issues like:
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How Do CBD Oils Work in Cats?
Animals such as cats and dogs have an endocannabinoid system that helps keep their bodies healthy. This system works as the body’s control system to facilitate healing.
Since it is innate, kitties produce endocannabinoid substances known as endogenous cannabinoids. After release, these substances travel the bloodstream and help the cat’s body system maintain an internal balance known as homeostasis. This balance dictates to the body how it should respond to external events.
Therefore, when the CBD enters the body, it interacts with the endocannabinoid system to prevent the endocannabinoids from breaking down, pushing it to react accordingly. For this reason, people use CBD oils as a gentle supplement for their felines.
However, as much as some cat parents attest to major success in managing feline’s various health concerns using these oils, you should understand that cats and humans don’t process supplements the same way. For this reason, it would be best to contact your veterinarian before initiating it to your kitty.
Potential Side Effects of CBD Oils for Cats
Although no research has confirmed the substance’s safety and effectiveness in cats, some doctors claim that CBD oils are generally safe for cats. However, cat owners need to stay alert and consider potential side effects after administering CBD oil to their cats.
It would be best to visit the vet or ensure that you adhere to the correct dosage to combat some of these effects. Check out some of the adverse effects of CBD oils on your kitty.
Although cat parents use CBD oils to treat stress and anxiety in cats, the calming effect afterward can turn to drowsiness, especially if in high doses.
Image Credit: sleepy cat, Unsplash
Gastrointestinal upset is the worst and grossest adverse reaction of CBD oils for cats, especially if it manifests as diarrhea. However, cat owners can find it hard to know whether the bowel issue’s real cause is the oil or the feline’s eating habits.
The best way to discern is to remove the questionable foods one by one, including the CBD oil, to see if the situation eases.
Another most common side effect of initiating the CBD oil to your kitty is vomiting. The reason is, CBD oil is bitter, a taste that may prompt your pet to reject and vomit it.
Although some CBD products are flavored and may taste better, it can take you a lot of effort and time to find the most ideal for your kitty. It is vital to make out if the vomiting is due to the oil and take appropriate actions like consulting with your vet since excessive vomiting can dehydrate your pet and worsen it.
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4. May Interact and Inhibit other Pet Meds
CBD substance is an inhibitor of enzymes like cytochrome P450 that metabolize drugs in the liver. The interaction has the potential effect of affecting the metabolism of any drug that your pet might be using. For this reason, cat owners need to check with their vets for recommendations and advice on which drugs to use and the ones to stop when initiating CBD oils.
5. Lowers Blood Pressure
You can expose your kitty to a drop in blood pressure if you administer the CBD oils in high doses. Your cat may start experiencing a brief feeling of light-headedness, and it may feel sluggish and sleepy.
It would be best to check with your vet immediately and mention that you were treating it using CBD oil.
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6. Dry Mouth
While you may hate your kitty’s saliva, saliva in a cat’s mouth signals good health. It helps maintain a feline’s dental hygiene and digestion. However, according to scientific research, CBD oils can decrease saliva production in cats, causing their mouth to dry.
Mouth dryness can affect a kitty’s teeth, gums, cause bad breath and difficulty in swallowing. For this reason, your kitty gets thirsty faster and drinks more water than usual to make up for the lack of fluids in the mouth.
If you notice this effect in your pet, it would be best to reduce the CBD dose and seek help from a physician it does not get better.
Cat parents share an incredible bond with their pets and will always find ways to ensure their cat’s health and well-being. And while the efficacy of this holistic treatment is still inconclusive, there’s no doubt that this versatile oil might be the key to your feline’s well-being and happiness.
Although it may be tempting to share a dog’s or human’s CBD oil with your cat, only give your cat something tailor-made for it. The reason is, ingredients that may benefit humans may be harmful to your feline friend.
As always, cat owners should check with their vets first before introducing these supplements to their pets.