Downeast Dog News
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How Hemp-Derived Phytocannabinoid Nutraceuticals May Help Your Dog

By Don Hanson, ACCBC, BFRAP, CDBC, CPDT-KA | Jul 01, 2018
Photo by: Debra Bell

Marijuana and hemp-based products are being promoted for medical reasons for dogs. Research indicates that phytocannabinoid nutraceuticals can be very effective in helping with allergies1, anxiety2,11, arthritis3,4,11 , behavioral issues5,11, depression2, epilepsy and seizures5,6,11, inflammation7, joint health3,4, digestion, joint mobility11, nausea8,9, and pain relief 10,11. A report in the Spring 2016 issue of the Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association reviewed how 631 pet owners used cannabinoids with their pets12. Commonly reported benefits were: relieved pain, aided with sleep, relieved anxiety, supported nervous system, reduced inflammation, reduced seizures, reduced vomiting, helped suppress muscle spasms, aided digestion, helped with thunderstorm or fireworks phobia, inhibited cell growth in tumors and cancer cells, and helped with skin conditions.

What is the difference between hemp and marijuana?

While hemp and marijuana are both part of the Cannabis family, they are not the same. The chemical makeup of marijuana and hemp is very different. Marijuana is probably best known for containing an endocannabinoid called THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana which can cause one to “get high.” Marijuana has a high THC content (5 to 35%) while the THC content of Hemp is less than 0.3%. This is very important as THC can be toxic to dogs13,14. Common signs of THC toxicity are: severe depression, staggering, lethargy, coma, low heart rate, low blood pressure, respiratory depression, dilated pupils, coma, hyperactivity, vocalization, and seizures.

What are phytocannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are substances that occur naturally in both hemp and marijuana. There are 66 different types of cannabinoids. Cannabidiol (CBD), is the most abundant of the cannabinoids and can make up as much of 45% of the resin extracted from the cannabis plant. CBD is believed to have anti-anxiety effects and may counteract the psychoactive effects of THC. Since there is now a CBD based drug undergoing clinical trials, the term PRO (Phytocannabinoid Rich Oil) is being used for phytocannabinoid nutraceuticals.

How do phytocannabinoids work?

All animals have an endocannabinoid system that works with the body’s physiological, neurological, and immunological systems. Our bodies produce endocannabinoids which fit into specialized receptors throughout the body. In the dog, CB1 receptors are found in the brain, gastrointestinal tract, lungs, muscles, reproductive organs, and vascular system. CB1 and CB2 receptors are found in the bone marrow, brain stem, gall bladder, liver, and pancreas. CB2 receptors are found in parts of the brain, bones, skin, and the spleen. Cannabinoid receptors in your dog’s brain play a role in the Cerebral Cortex (memory, thinking, awareness, and consciousness), the Hypothalamus (metabolic processes, appetite), the Amygdala (regulation of emotions), the Hippocampus (memory and recall), the Basal Ganglia (motor skills and learning), the Cerebellum (muscle control and coordination), and the Brain Stem (reflexes, heart rate, blood pressure, pain sensation and muscle tone). Producing adequate numbers of endocannabinoids is essential to good health. When the body does not produce enough endocannabinoids due to poor health, we can supplement them with phytocannabinoids derived from hemp.

Are phytocannabinoids right for your pet?

Whether or not phytocannabinoid are right for your pet is something that only you can decide and I would suggest you do so only after having a discussion with your veterinarian. At the end of 2017, the World Health Organization issued a report15 indicating that CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential, and in several clinical trials has been shown to effectively treat seizures. Research suggests that it may be useful in treating a number of other medical conditions and has a good safety profile.

Buyer Beware!

The buzz over CBD/PRO products is enormous, so it is a “seller's market.” Whenever that happens, it is not uncommon for some unreliable companies to get into the business. Before adding these products to our offerings at our store, we did a great deal of due diligence to select a company with a known track record and a commitment to quality and education. I would advise you to spend some time doing your own research before you buy a product, or talk to your veterinarian or a pet care professional you trust. Whatever you do, do NOT use marijuana you are growing yourself or that you buy from the couple down the road. You could kill your dog.

< For an expanded version of this article with links to the footnotes and references and recommendations on what to look for in a CBD/PRO product, go to my blog at http://bit.ly/BLOG-Hemp-CBD-PRO-for-pets >

 

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Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop (greenacreskennel.com) in Bangor where he has been helping people with their pets since 1995. He also produces and co- hosts The Woof Meow Show heard on AM620 -WZON every Saturday at 9 AM. Podcasts of the show are available at www.woofmeowshow.com. Don also writes about pets at his blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com. He is committed to pet care and pet training that is free of pain, force, and fear. The opinions in this column are those of Don Hanson.