CBD Products for Dogs: What Are They and What Do They Do?

tenten | 29/02/2020 | 0 | health magazine

If you were to go back ten years ago, you’d probably never imagine the robust magnitude of support for cannabis legalization. That extends not only from grassroots advocacy groups but even to conservative-leaning politicians. As a result of this unusual and unlikely synergy, the constantly bickering Democrats and Republicans put aside their differences to sign the landmark Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.

While the measure – colloquially known as the 2018 Farm Bill – dealt mostly with the granularity of the agricultural industry, one notable facilitation stood out: industrial hemp (so named because of hemp’s historically industrial applications) and hemp derivatives like cannabidiol (CBD) were now legal under federal law. The major caveat is that hemp and its derivatives cannot contain more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content.

As you likely know, THC is the most potent cannabinoid (or organic compound) inherent in the cannabis sativa plant. While THC may offer practical applications, it has gained notoriety for decades due to its imposition of psychoactive effects (i.e. “getting high”). Through historical events that are beyond this scope of this article, the U.S. government banned THC-laden cannabis (aka marijuana), declaring it a Schedule I drug.

Marijuana is still classified as such despite the landmark 2018 Farm Bill. But the new federal law is still a massive victory for botanical advocates. Finally, a key piece of legislative action virtually guaranteed access to CBD – the cannabis plant’s second-most potent cannabinoid – to American adults who seek natural, alternative therapies.

Because CBD does not impart a negative psychoactive impact – it may help soothe emotions among some users but does not cause them to get a high or otherwise impaired – this cannabinoid is considered the best of both worlds. End-users can enjoy natural medicinal effects relatively free from side effects, while being able to carry on with their daily tasks and responsibilities.

Society has warmed to the idea of people gaining access to nature-made therapies. However, what about CBD for man’s best friend? Although it’s a relatively new arena, the future for cannabidiol-infused pet products, such as the diverse choices available at Nug Republic, is an incredibly bright one.

Today, pets have become more than just household animals: they’ve become family members, embodying a critical cog within various societal structures. Because of this dynamic, there’s a greater incentive to ensure that what we give to our four-legged companions is the absolute best in quality.

But before we get into the details, let’s discuss the core element that underlines all CBD products: the endocannabinoid system.

How the Endocannabinoid System Works

One of the historical factors given for why the federal government has cracked down on marijuana is its incredible potency. Not only does the THC cannabinoid cause a psychoactive impact, it very often leads to other physiological effects. But what makes this particular botanical so powerful?

The answer is our body’s endocannabinoid system, which regulates many of our biological functions and processes. A core segment of this system are receptors known as endocannabinoid receptors; specifically, CB1 and CB2 receptors. As the name suggests, CB1 and CB2 typically binds with cannabinoids, producing changes within the body.

Endocannabinoids can be activated through three main mechanisms:

  • Endogenous cannabinoids, or lipids that engage CB1 and CB2 receptors. Interestingly, endogenous cannabinoids, when interacting with CB1 receptors, produce sensations similar to THC. This is what many athletes refer to as a “natural high.”
  • Plant-based cannabinoids, such as cannabis sativa.
  • Synthetic cannabinoids, or laboratory concocted cannabinoids. Please note that these are illegal in the U.S.

CB1 receptors are commonly located within the central nervous system. Because of this specific regional distribution, the engagement of THC-laced cannabinoids often imparts behavioral and psychological impacts. When used in an uncontrolled environment, marijuana has the potential to induce negative responses.

On the other hand, CB2 receptors are frequently found in the peripheral nervous system; specifically, in white blood cells, as well as in the tonsils and the spleen. What makes CB2 especially intriguing to scientists and medical researchers is that interactions between THC and CB2 receptors do not inhibit cognitive or psychological reasoning. However, evidence indicates that the interaction promotes anti-inflammatory responses.

Thus, in many ways, marijuana is a frustrating botanical compound. Yes, many people use it for purely recreational purposes – no one is under any illusions about that fact! But because of its psychoactive potency, marijuana faces both legal and societal opposition, stymieing efforts to research its therapeutic attributes.

And this is why CBD is so vital to the broader narrative: this legal botanical compound allows us to not throw out the baby with the bath water. Just as importantly, it has incredibly positive implications for our canine companions.

CBD for Man’s Best Friend

Just like humans, dogs also have an endocannabinoid system. As well, it functions similarly to our own, and is triggered by endocannabinoids (lipids), plant-based cannabinoids and synthetic cannabinoids. Therefore, the implication is that cannabidiol-infused products offer natural therapies for canines in a structurally similar manner for humans.

Now, it’s important to point out that the Food and Drug Administration has not officially endorsed cannabis products for the treatment or cures of any conditions or diseases. Subsequently, there is no governmental endorsement of pet-related CBD products. Any manufacturer or product claiming as such runs counter to federal regulations and could be subject to fines, censure and other punitive measures.

That said, the FDA isn’t living in a bubble, recognizing the very real potential for cannabis-based medicines. As a prime example, the regulatory agency approved Epidiolex, a CBD-based oral solution for the treatment of young children with seizures associated with the rare diseases Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. Epidiolex represents the first time the FDA has approved a marijuana-derived drug.

Coincidentally, this is also the first treatment of Dravet syndrome. It stands to reason that the FDA is turning around to cannabis’ medicinal potential. Thus, while the current environment is still constrained, the possibility for growth in this arena is very much tangible.

It’s another way of saying that pet owners have been encouraged to provide CBD-infused treatments for their four-legged friends. Further, a growing body of scientific literature supports this confidence.

Recent studies have analyzed the response of endocannabinoid system “activators” to help alleviate arthritic and spirocercosis conditions (related to neuroinflammatory diseases) in dogs. Subsequent data suggests that anti-inflammatory strategies should involve “modulating” the endocannabinoid system, which augurs well for the development of CBD products for dogs, and for animals in general.

However, the researchers did note that mere activation of the endocannabinoid system doesn’t automatically produce positive results. Variable factors, such as disease progression and type, may make some cannabinoid treatments ineffective or even worsen the condition. Therefore, a combination of endocannabinoid receptor agonists and antagonists may offer viable solutions for many diseases, including those in advanced stages.

Growing Demand for Canine-Optimized CBD

Among the more common conditions which dogs are afflicted with is osteoarthritis or OA. According to JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM, during OA, “a complex interaction of multiple factors (eg, metabolic, biochemical) and active inflammation results in loss of articular cartilage and eventual bony spur development.”

As any pet owner who has a furry family member suffering from the condition can attest, the symptoms are nasty. Even more problematic, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) do not always provide effective pain relief. Furthermore, many NSAIDs spark side effects, some of which may be debilitating on their own to impugn the net impact of the target drug.

Where can hurting dogs (and their equally hurting human family members) get relief? CBD may provide the answer.

Though again research is limited, canine cannabis studies on OA have produced encouraging results. Further investigations may reveal the specific mechanisms of the endocannabinoid system to promote desirable effects in canine OA patients. With it could come a whole spectrum of naturally sourced organic compounds that feature efficacy minus debilitating side effects.

It might sound like science fiction. However, the veterinary community is eagerly seeking natural-based solutions as an alternative to complex, arduous (and costly) therapies for common canine ailments. This produces healthier dogs and lower treatment costs for pet owners – a win-win across the board.

Moreover, we can reasonably expect continued enthusiasm and progression in canine- and animal-based cannabis product research. Principally, animals provide the ultimate testing ground for any proposed medical treatment: the concept of the placebo effect simply doesn’t exist with them.

Now, the placebo effect is a fascinating topic that has baffled medical professionals for decades. As such, this is an extensive subject that cannot be covered in a single article. However, the key point is that humans – through apparently a mind over matter mechanism – can “trick” themselves into being healed from their afflictions.

The phenomenon is so powerful that pharmaceutical companies must test their products against this placebo effect. If a drug is just as effective as playing “Jedi” mind tricks on patients, then the treatment is simply not effective.

However, animals don’t have such conscious mechanisms – at least not that we know of. Therefore, an animal treatment works or it doesn’t. There’s no middle ground, no room for mysterious phenomena.

It’s this undercurrent that makes animal CBD products particularly compelling.

Dogs Love CBD Too!

Ask any pet owner and you’ll come across a recurring theme: dogs develop human tendencies as they integrate themselves into our homes and family structures.

How many of us pet owners, for instance, have struggled to give our dogs a bath or shower? And when they’re done, they can never stand still, instead shaking the water off their fur with incredible vigor. It’s funny but it also creates a huge mess for the humans to clean up.

And that’s just the mundane activities. Few dogs that I’m aware want to see the veterinarian: now that’s a struggle! Like our human children, our dogs would prefer not getting stuck with needles – or worse. Although the veterinary community provides lifesaving services for our pets, it’s got to be emotionally taxing for Fido and Fluffy.

Hence, the beauty of CBD for dogs. CBD manufacturers have done an excellent job packaging their products in effective platforms that facilitate consumption, not rejection. One of the most potent delivery vehicles for cannabidiol is the tincture, which is typically infused with CBD, other non-psychoactive cannabinoids and terpenes (or essential oils).

Packaged in liquid form, you can apply tinctures directly to your dogs sublingually (underneath the tongue). However, most dogs don’t like to be touched in the mouth. For such situations, tinctures are incredibly handy because you can integrate them in water or in dog food.

Additionally, an incredibly popular product category is CBD-infused dog jerky bites. Whenever your dog does something right, reinforce that behavior with these tasty, wholesome treats. They’ll be getting a dose of cannabidiol, and they won’t even know it.

For dog owners, the bottom line is that they want to provide the best solutions for their four-legged family members. With CBD, they have the confidence of offering naturally sourced solutions, far removed from the exotic pharmaceutical concoctions typically prescribed in mainstream veterinary services. And as a bonus, CBD solutions are comparatively affordable, bolstering the broader argument for botanical integration.

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