In the United States, 68 percent of households include at least one pet. Whether a dog or cat, fish or fowl, these creatures are part of the family. They’re a source of comfort in times of stress and they bring immeasurable joy to their owners.
For this reason, it’s no wonder people spend so much money taking care of their pets. According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans spent almost $60 million on their pets in 2017. A large portion of this spending went toward health care, which has rapidly increased in cost over the last decade.
Health care is often the most expensive aspect of owning a pet. The average veterinary visit can cost between $50 and $400. Costly vaccinations are often required by law. And dental care and medications tend to add up. Owners can end up spending more than $15,000 in health care costs over the course of their pet’s lifetime.
The increasing cost of health care overall has lead many people to look for alternative methods to treat illness and improve their mental health. Now, people are looking for alternative way to take care of their pets as well.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the alternatives many are turning to. Produced from the plant of hemp, CBD has been found to help both humans and animals relieve pain. It’s been used to treat anxiety. And it’s been proven to have an impact on alleviating more serious health issues like seizures.
Here are three ways CBD can improve your animal’s health:
According to the International Association for the Study of Pain, 90 percent of cats experience osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD). Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage within a joint is worn away, causing chronic pain. An estimated 50 percent of cats demonstrate physical signs of impairment due to joint pain.
Osteoarthritis is less common in dogs, but the disease is the most common type of canine arthritis, impacting one in five dogs. Additionally, 20 percent of dogs over the age of one have osteoarthritis.
CBD can improve quality of life for animals experiencing chronic pain. The compound is a proven pain reliever. According to a 2012 report published in the Translational Psychology journal, CBD can temporarily hinder the absorption of anandamide, a chemical that reduces pain signals in the brain.
Additionally, CBD has anti-inflammatory properties. The compound interacts with cannabinoid receptors, producing a variety of immune responses, including reducing inflammation in the body. By lowering inflammation and reducing pain sensations, CBD can provide ample relief for animals with arthritic pain.
An estimated 6.5 million animals enter U.S. animal shelters every year, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Many of these animals have experienced some kind of abuse from their previous owners or the people they encountered after they were abandoned.
Every year, an estimated 1 million animals are abused. These experiences have dire consequences on the mental health of these animals. Those who rescue abandoned animals often have to find ways to deal with the emotional instability of their new pets.
Additionally, anxiety doesn’t just impact those animals that have been abused. Like humans, many animals experience anxiety in specific situations or environments. Many dogs react badly to loud noises like fireworks, creating chaos in homes around the country on the 4th of July. Similarly, many cats get agitated during car rides, making it difficult for feline owners to move or take their pet on trips.
Traditional anti-anxiety medications work by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. A 2016 report in the journal of Neuropharmacology indicates that CBD has the power to do this as well.
Researchers in the published study found that CBD creates fast and maintained antidepressant-like effects in humans, indicating that the compound could represent a viable alternative to traditional serotonin-elevating drugs.
It’s estimated that between 0.5 and 5.7 percent of dogs suffer from epilepsy, but in certain breeds the incidence can be much higher. Additionally, less than 2 percent of cats experience epilepsy. While these numbers indicate that only a fraction of the pet population suffers from epilepsy, watching your pet have a seizure can be a devastating experience for a pet owner.
Seizures can be unpredictable. They can occur frequently and strike at anytime, often leaving pet owners feeling helpless. Additionally, seizures have irreparable consequences on the brain, creating mental deficits.
While a cure for epilepsy has yet to be found, decreasing seizure frequency and providing fast acting relief when a seizure strikes are key components of epilepsy treatment. The power of the cannabis plant in providing seizure relief is one of the main reasons medical marijuana has been approved in states around the United States. However, many pet owners have been using CBD to treat their animals’ seizure disorders for years.
In 2018, Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry released a report looking at evidence of the impact of cannabis and cannabinoids on epilepsy. According to the report, a reasonable proportion of patients, in the studies that have been conducted thus far, experienced a decrease in seizure frequency when using pharmaceutical grade CBD products.
While scientists and medical professionals have found evidence of the positive impact CBD can have on animal health, they stress that more research is needed. Consult your veterinarian before starting your pet on a course of CBD and start with low doses to determine which amount is right for your animal.