If you’ve been following the rise of cannabis in popular culture over the last few years, you’ll know that the days of shady stoners are long gone. Today’s legal cannabis industry is a sleek, multi-billion dollar market with the average dispensary easily mistaken for a hip millennial coffee shop.
In 2021, cannabis manufacturers and customers are no longer satisfied with just dried flowers, especially when the health risks of smoking are considered. On a near-monthly basis, some new cannabis product will hit the shelves, from vapes and creams, to sodas and chocolates—and most recently, CBD oils for dogs.
By extracting a select profile of chemical compounds (scientific name: cannabinoids) from the cannabis plant, producers are now able to bring the anti-inflammatory and mood-regulating benefits of Bob Marley’s favorite plant to those who aren’t interested in getting high. This includes millions of furry, four-legged friends, who stand to benefit from CBD’s inflammation-reducing credentials.
What makes CBD so different from the kinds of cannabis usually depicted in our popular culture is that it’s not really made from cannabis at all—at least, not the kind most expect.
All cannabis capable of producing a high is harvested from psychoactive marijuana plants. These are a subset of cannabis, cultivated to maximize the amount of an intoxicating cannabinoid called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in the plant’s flowers.
Most CBD, and all CBD for dogs, is not made from marijuana. It’s extracted from hemp. For your dog’s safety It’s important to know the differences between hemp and marijuana CBD oils. Hemp plants are a type of cannabis, but they don’t contain any more than 0.3 percent THC in the dried flower, which means that they cannot produce a high. It’s for this reason that CBD products are able to bypass state or federal prohibitions on (THC) cannabis, and remain eligible for sale and purchase under the 2018 Farm Bill amendments.
CBD is short from the cannabinoid ‘cannabidiol.’ Cannabidiol is the main active ingredient in CBD, but there’s like to be more than just pure cannabidiol in the products you see advertised in your local dispensary or pet store. While pure isolate products are available, most CBD is offered in what’s termed ‘broad’ or ‘full’ spectrum, meaning that the product contains a carrier oil, cannabidiol, and other non-psychoactive cannabis compounds deemed beneficial by the producers. Researchers believe that cannabis operates according to something called the ‘entourage effect’ which states that each constituent element of cannabis has a greater effect when consumed together than they would when consumed alone—hence the idea of extracting a ‘spectrum’ of cannabinoids.
All of which goes to say, whether it’s you or your dog (or both) who is supplementing with CBD, you can expect a very different experience compared to consuming other kinds of cannabis products. Anyone who’s already tried CBD can attest to its subtle nature, causing a sense of relaxation, at most. Some compare the experience of taking CBD to a massage or a small glass of wine, while others report no change in feeling at all.
The same is likely true for dogs. While we can’t know exactly what our dogs are feeling, we can monitor their behavior, and most owners report no dramatic change in their pup’s mindset after lengthy courses of CBD. Of course, every dog is different, and some sources suggest there may be an association between CBD consumption and diarrhea. However, it’s not clear whether such claims relate to the CBD itself, or to the sometimes rich carrier oils used to deliver CBD to the body.
Where owners are likely to see a difference before and after CBD supplementation is in the way that their dogs react to inflammatory issues. For dogs that struggle with aching or arthritic joints, CBD treatment is likely to target swelling, easing mobility, and increasing the speed at which dogs can move around. For dogs that are highly noise-sensitive or hyper-attached to a particular member of the family, CBD is likely to calm their reaction to triggers, making them more receptive to training techniques or diversions.
In this way, CBD is arguably more of a medicine than any other type of cannabis. While the notion of the cannabis plant being medicinal is not new, never before have its benefits been so distilled and regulated. With CBD, owners can feel as, if not more, confident that their pet is consuming a safe, well-tolerated substance, than when administering more traditional prescribed medications. In other words, CBD provides many of the benefits touted by well known pharmaceutical drugs, with fewer side effects, and greater tolerability by a higher proportion of pups.
As the popularity of CBD continues to increase, expect to see human and pet products begin to gain FDA accreditation. This will likely prove a tipping point for CBD and dogs, as it will allow vets to finally prescribe and bring up the topic of CBD in clinical settings. At that point, CBD will barely resemble a stereotypical cannabis product at all—it will likely be thought of as simply a beneficial and natural alternative medicine.