Over time, the powerful health benefits of CBD for horses, cows, and sheep have seen its popularity among pet enthusiasts explode. Trainers and owners are now using it with their animals to help them with their health. This potent natural extract from hemp has many benefits for animals that have endocannabinoid systems. Horses, cows and sheep all have this system and can benefit from its numerous benefits. It can help mitigate stress and anxiety, minimise pain perception, alleviate inflammation, aid with sleep, plus bolster immunity. It functions through a complex system of receptors and enzymes throughout an animal’s body. Activating this system stimulates profound homeostasis, supporting well-being benefits, promoting calmness and rejuvenating the animal. Understand why you might use CBD for your horse, cow or sheep. We’ll cover how it works, the evidence behind it, safety considerations and how to give it to your horse or cow correctly.
- 1 What is CBD?
- 2 Does CBD Help Farm Animals?
- 3 How Does it Work?
- 4 CBD’s Benefits in Farm Animals
- 5 Best Way to Give Horses and Cows CBD
- 6 Tips On Using CBD with Horses and Cows
- 7 Is CBD Safe for Horses and Cows?
- 8 FAQs
- 9 Conclusion
What is CBD?
In cannabis, there are hundreds of unique bioactive compounds that have therapeutic effects, which are known as cannabinoids. You have probably heard of the two primary cannabinoids the plant naturally produces: THC and CBD. Both have a place in modern medicine today in treating various conditions. But only CBD can be used in animals like horses. The difference between them is THC is much more potent, highly psychoactive and can cause or exacerbate many mental illnesses. CBD, on the other hand, is more therapeutic and primarily works on the body’s endocannabinoid system. In Australia, both are now legal to use via a medical prescription since laws were recently changed. As such, interest in the cannabinoid has spread to farms, stables and barns. Farmers, horse enthusiasts, shepherds and all animal lovers are looking to CBD to help their horse or cow improve or reinforce their health.
What’s most notable about CBD is its broad range of health applications in pets and people. It can bind to the endocannabinoid system in animals like horses when consumed. Receptors at the binding sites release endocannabinoids like anandamide, which are highly anti-inflammatory and aid with anxiety, pain and immunity. These receptors are called the CB1 and CB2 receptors (CB stands for cannabinoid) and are located in the central nervous system, brain, and body. The distribution of these receptors is why cannabinoids like CBD, CBN and CBG can treat both mental issues like insomnia or anxiety as well as bodily aches, pains, and inflammatory problems like arthritis.
Does CBD Help Farm Animals?
CBD can benefit mammals that have an endocannabinoid system similar to humans. Like in humans, CBD interacts with this system to trigger therapeutic effects like reduced inflammation. Animals like cows or horses each have an endocannabinoid system. While this system and its physiological effects will vary and have nuances in each type of animal, each can still absorb and benefit from CBD. The endocannabinoid system primarily functions as a signalling and regulatory system, helping coordinate and normalise functions like immunity, sleep (circadian rhythm) and the stress response (anxiety).
Yet while cannabinoids can undoubtedly help many pets, including farm animals like horses, cows and sheep, benefits will differ by each species. Like comparing humans with dogs, different animals have varying endocannabinoid system pathways and don’t all respond to CBD in the same manner. Even at an individual level, other animals may be more or less responsive and sensitive to cannabinoids like CBD. Responsiveness can significantly influence the results that an animal sees. It can also play into tolerance levels, allergies and sensitivities that should be accounted for.
Studies into CBD’s effects in horses, cows, and sheep are limited. Some initial experiments with positive results have explored how CBD can help horses with arthritis. Fewer studies have been performed on sheep or cows. Other animals, such as cats and dogs, are known to be capable of using CBD plus seeing benefits for stress, anxiety, sleep, pain and inflammation. While their biology is distinct from farm animals, there is likely a fair amount of crossover in effects and benefits between them, which is promising.
Horses contain endocannabinoid systems and can benefit from cannabinoids like CBD or CBG. Similar to dogs, however, they cannot be given THC, which is toxic to them. The benefits of CBD for horses differ from those seen in people or dogs. Most owners use it with their horses to help with inflammation and arthritis. Arthritis is widespread in horses due to the high degree of stress and force placed on their joints, which causes wear with age. Mitigating and counteracting the inflammation arthritis leads to is critical to slowing its progression.
There have been several early veterinary studies into some of these benefits. For example, a 2020 study published in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science experimented on 30 horses over four weeks to explore the pharmacological effects of CBD on the equine species. It indicated benefits in lowering anxiety and mitigating arthritis amongst the subject group. Cannabidiol was well-tolerated in the test subjects, and there were no reports of adverse behaviours or negative impacts on blood chemistry markers. A different 2019 study corroborated this finding. Released by the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, it highlighted similar beneficial effects on osteoarthritis symptoms for horses using a daily dosage regime.
Cows & Sheep
Research on the effects of CBD in cows and sheep is currently limited. Initial findings suggest that, just like with horses, CBD may offer some relief and support for symptoms of arthritis, anxiety and inflammation. The Journey of Dairy Science published a study in 2020 that concluded CBD had benefits in limiting the inflammation caused by mastitis in cows with the condition. Mastitis is a bacterial infection that affects the udders. It causes them to become swollen and painful. As farmers seek tools to help their livestock cope with inflammatory conditions like mastitis, we will inevitably see CBD used more widely and garner increased interest in clinical studies.
How Does it Work?
As mentioned, farm animals have an endocannabinoid system due to being mammals. This excludes avian or non-mammalian farm animals such as chickens. The endocannabinoid system links to the brain, central nervous, endocrine, and immune systems. The role of the endocannabinoid system is supportive in animals. It helps maintain homeostasis and regulate immunity, sleep, mood, inflammation and appetite.
Its mechanism of activation is via the cannabinoid type 1 and 2 receptors, which bind with cannabinoids (such as CBN, CBD, or CBG) when they are consumed. CB1 or type 1 receptors are primarily located in the brain and CNS. In contrast, the CB2 receptors can be found across the peripheral nervous system, organs, skin, gut and spleen. The receptors trigger the release of endocannabinoids (endogenous cannabinoids) like anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) when cannabinoids bind to them. Cannabinoids have limited direct effects metabolically on their own. It’s mainly via endocannabinoid activity that they stimulate therapeutic effects and health improvements when used.
Endocannabinoids are highly anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain-reducing), and anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing). They can help relieve a range of physical and mental ailments. Notably, the CB1 receptors are primarily located in the CNS and brain. This receptor type is the main path that relief for problems like stress, anxiety, depression, and epilepsy is enabled. CB2 receptors, on the other hand, are found in the endocrine system, joints, muscle cells, gut, spleen, and skin. Due to their potent anti-inflammatory properties, endocannabinoids help limit the extent of inflammatory problems like arthritis or colitis (inflammation of the gut) in many animals. They can even support improving skin or fur moisture and treat inflammatory conditions like psoriasis. Cannabinoids with documented anti-inflammatory properties include cannabidiol (CBD), ß-caryophyllene (BCP), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC), cannabigerol acid (CBGa), cannabidiol acid (CBDA).
Animals break down endocannabinoids through enzymes such as FAAH or Fatty acid amide hydrolase. It’s been discovered that some cannabinoids, like CBD, can inhibit the action of these enzymes, prolonging the effects of endocannabinoids. This may explain their heightened degree of antioxidative and inflammation-fighting potential compared to THC. In addition, they may also help in regulating neurotransmitter levels for serotonin, glutamate and GABA. Each has its effects and resulting benefits when modulated by CBD. For example, serotonin controls mood, memory and appetite. It is thought that CBD’s interactions with the serotonin receptors can correspondingly stimulate improvements in mood and help in appetite control. In each case, it works with the neurotransmitter sites to help them signal and regulate more normally, boosting homeostatic balance.
Does CBD Get Animals High?
CBD may cause drowsiness in some animals but won’t get them high or cause intoxication. It doesn’t activate the cannabinoid receptors strongly like THC and isn’t metabolised in the same way. It’s less powerful, making it safer and better tolerated, with low side effect risks when used appropriately with your pet or animal. In Australia, CBD for pets must only come from industrial hemp plants that contain 0% THC. These plants are bred to eliminate THC content, making their extracts suitable for animals like cows or horses. Always purchase products designed purely for pets and formulated to contain no THC if you’re buying CBD for an animal to avoid poisoning them.
CBD’s Benefits in Farm Animals
While the research is limited compared to CBD’s effects in humans, early signs show that mammalian farm animals see health improvements after using CBD appropriately. In particular, it’s known to help mitigate aches and pains from issues like arthritis, help with inflammation and gut health, promote lower anxiety, plus bolster skin health.
Anxiety and Stress Reduction
Anxiety affects pets similarly to humans. This mental condition is the result of excessive fear and worry. It’s effectively the fight or flight response stuck in overdrive. The mind and nervous system become overwhelmed, leading to long-term mental and physical strain. Anxiety in cats, dogs, and other pets can be debilitating and cause them to become fearful and withdrawn. Both genetics and environmental factors can cause it. Your pet may be scared and anxious about everyday noises like car sounds, thunder, or horns. They may also have anxiety due to fear of other pets, humans, or other phobias. In most pets, this will surface in erratic behaviour, poor mood, scratching, biting, or even hiding away. CBD is helping more pet owners lower their pet’s anxiousness and promote improved feelings of calmness.
Mammalian pets have CB1 receptors located in their brain and nervous system. When triggered by cannabinoids, these receptors release calming endogenous compounds like anandamide. As a result, the pet will become calmer, feel less stressed and be able to relax. A 2012 study of rats showed that cannabidiol produced a marked reduction in anxiety levels across hundreds of subjects and reduced cortisol. CBD has powerful anti-anxiolytic (or anxiety-reducing) properties. It can assist with problems in pets like noise-based anxiety, fear of other animals, and even with phobias. Many pet owners use it daily for their beloved pets to provide them with relief and calmness. Combined with other changes like pet behavioural therapy, it can help promote powerful results.
Cannabinoids like CBD can provide a degree of analgesia, or pain reduction, through CBD1 receptors in parts of the brain responsible for pain reception (nociception) and CBD2 receptors in the nerve endings in the body. They also help to alleviate pain by causing other cells to reduce their release of inflammatory agents. Numerous cannabinoids, including CBN, CBCA, and CBGA, have demonstrated analgesic properties. While shown in humans, this effect likely also applies to animals like horses. Many horse owners have cited the ability of CBD to limit the pain and discomfort seen in their animals due to issues like arthritis. It is thought to dampen pain sensations to enable animals to regain confidence and move again with less pain.
It’s common for farm animals like horses or cows to experience pain. This could be from aggravated minor injuries or strains as they age, for example, knee issues caused by arthritis. More significant injuries are also possible in animals from accidents or falls. Horses, in particular, are prone to leg or knee injuries because of the amount they run. Their joints can weaken when they age, exposing them to a greater risk of leg or hoof injuries. Sheep can also experience pain, but it’s more likely from diseases, parasites or animal attacks.
While the injury is often unavoidable, its pain can distress animals and cause severe discomfort. As such, many animal owners and farmers look for methods to help mitigate pain symptoms. CBD is one such tool, offering a natural means to help deal with minor pain. Its properties in altering nociception enable it to suppress or dampen the pain response. In many animals, it can help with injury recovery. Some research has already been performed on its pain-alleviating effects in horses. It was linked to reduced pain symptoms, greater mobility, less leg stiffness, and better inflammatory markers when used amongst subject horses. CBD’s role as a recovery aid to speed up and bolster animals’ healing from injuries may prove yet to be a robust use case for the cannabinoid.
Stress and Anxiety
As with humans, animals can easily get stressed or anxious. Stress is common amongst farm animals who may fear loud noises, people, farm machinery sounds or other animals. Anxiety conditions can affect horses and cows, causing them distress. If it does, they will show signs such as excessive neighing or mooing, pacing, irritability and anti-social behaviours. Stress is detrimental to the health of animals. In cows, it can reduce the quality of dairy and meat, spoiling its flavour. Stressed cows are also more prone to disease and have weakened immune systems. Likewise, horses perform worse athletically, have more significant injury risk and dampened health markers when chronically exposed to stress.
Trainers and veterinarians alike will advise most farm animal owners to keep them calm and happy. Mental distress can exacerbate physical ailments, making it essential to avoid them. As such, more trainers and pet owners are now seeking out CBD to help with their horse, cow or sheep’s stress. The anxiolytic and potent calming properties it has can help them mitigate feelings of anxiousness. Managing these stress levels also helps the animal socialise and sleep, promoting overall well-being. They should see better performance and behaviour outcomes as a result.
For most animals, including cows, sheep and horses, arthritis is prevalent. It is mainly known to affect the knee joints as animals age and their joint health declines. Most commonly, it is seen as osteoarthritis, which results from the regular wearing of the joints, or rheumatoid arthritis, caused by inflammatory immune conditions. Using CBD for animals can help reduce their joint inflammation and also assist with arthritis pain. The cannabinoid works for both types of arthritis because of its anti-inflammatory and pain-blocking properties. These properties mean it can help delay the progression of arthritis, protecting the joints against damage and inhibiting the release of inflammatory factors that exacerbate joint aches. It can’t cure arthritis but may help to extend a good quality of life for horses and cows afflicted with it.
Other cannabinoids that act as anti-inflammatories are CBG, CBC, CBCA, and CBDA. A research study in 2017 explored the application of CBD oil for dogs who were afflicted with osteoarthritis. Even at low doses of around 5 mg per kilogram body weight per day, the subjects showed positive results versus placebo. Pain and aches from arthritis were reduced, mobility improved, and the dogs appeared happier. Larger doses would be needed for horses or cows to achieve similar effects. The researchers noted that high dosages performed better on pain and movement scores but weren’t necessarily needed to obtain quality-of-life improvements amongst each pet.
It’s common amongst horses and other farm animals to develop chronic inflammatory conditions as they age. Chronic inflammation results from an animal’s natural immune responses to allergens, irritants or pathogens in the body. But if their body continually attacks itself, it never gets a chance to heal and can become damaged. This detrimental effect underlies many inflammatory problems like arthritis, colitis, laminitis and pleuritis. It can affect many bodily areas, including the joints, skin, tissue and even gut.
Inflammation can cause swelling, irritation, pain and redness. For example, horses with arthritis in their joints will experience significant stiffness and chronic pain symptoms. It can be difficult to treat inflammatory issues, and few natural remedies exist. One such option horse and cow owners are looking towards is CBD because of its anti-inflammatory powers. Cannabinoids, including CBG and CBD, aid the immune system in normalising its activity. They help to reduce the excess production of inflammatory agents that stimulate the immune response and cause chronic inflammation. For many horse and animal owners, CBD is well-positioned as an alternative to NSAIDs, corticosteroids and other pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory medications, which can be very prone to side effects.
Through this path, they help alleviate the painful soreness accompanying chronic inflammation. But unlike pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories like NSAIDs, cannabinoids are natural and well-tolerated. While offering similar benefits, they are not as powerful or impactful as these compounds and have lower side effect risks. To date, there have been a couple of studies on the benefits of CBD for inflammation in horses. For example, a 2023 study explored how CBD could help mature horses with inflammation and recovery without detrimental health effects. The study was performed on 30 horses over four weeks, providing them with CBD daily doses and comparing blood test parameters to a placebo test group. It noted the safety of CBD and suggested it offered some benefits in both assisting with lowering inflammation and aiding in anxiety reduction.
A separate study from 2021 was run using an in vitro experiment on blood from senior horses. CBD powder was exposed to the test blood samples, with inflammatory markers such as TNF-alpha and cytokine levels monitored. The samples mixed with CBD showed lower inflammatory marker levels after a 24-hour. Researchers suggested that the cannabinoid aided in reducing cytokine activity in the blood of the senior horses, recommending that follow-up studies be performed. Equine treatments for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis may soon be produced from these experiments.
Cows and horses can develop skin conditions like psoriasis, pruritis and eczema, which cause irritation, discomfort and itchiness. Many of these conditions are caused by autoimmune inflammation in the animal’s skin layers. The skin contains nerve fibres and immune receptors that can overreact and continually misfire when these conditions occur. Over time, the skin will display redness, blemishes or build-ups of excess skin tissue. These conditions can get so bad that pet owners sometimes turn to euthanasia out of desperation.
Because CBD is anti-inflammatory and helps to downregulate overactive immune activity via the endocannabinoid system, it can assist in some cases. A core function of the endocannabinoid system is supporting homeostasis and balancing the immune system, bringing about internal balance in an animal. It can even help with this within the skin through CB2 receptors in the epidermis. Endocannabinoids like anandamide that activate in these receptor sites can help to calm the skin, ease inflammation and balance hormone levels. Equine and bovine skin is different to that of humans but similarly responds well to CBD.
Researchers have found that cannabinoids like CBD applied directly to equine skin topically can significantly reduce itching in subjects. Other studies have also found that cannabinoids can protect against contact dermatitis and psoriasis. Hemp also contains substantial healthy fat content that is present in extracts from the plant. CBD oil, balms and ointments can be used for cows, horses or sheep to help rejuvenate and heal the skin, plus enrich it with moisture. The ALA, GLA, Omegas and Vitamin E in hemp oil nourish the skin and offer antioxidative protection.
Best Way to Give Horses and Cows CBD
Giving your horse, cow, or other farm animal CBD has several ways.
As with other animals like dogs or cats, CBD can be dosed directly in oil form to horses, cows or sheep. You can either use a dropper or delivery syringe to drop CBD into the mouth of the animal or drop it into their natural feed to mask the flavour. Some animals can be fussy with eating CBD because of its scent and taste. They may avoid it or be difficult if you try to give them their dose directly. Adding CBD doses to hay or grasses you feed to your animal can aid them more readily fitting into the natural foods they eat daily. Another option is using a syringe or squirt bottle to inject the CBD dose under the tongue of the horse. Place the syringe in the corner of the horse’s mouth to do this. Its natural response will be to lick the device, letting you easily slip a dose under its tongue, where it will be more rapidly absorbed. Seek droppers or syringes with accurate measuring capabilities, such as millilitre measurement markers.
CBD Gels or Topicals
CBD topically is the other primary way to provide it to your farm animal. You can now find a range of CBD topical products applied directly to the animal’s skin where it is absorbed. Salves, creams, ointments or gels containing CBD are viable ways to deliver CBD topically in a cooling, soothing lotion form. Many of these products are enriched with moisturising agents, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats that will support the skin health of your animal. They’re better suited to combat psoriasis, eczema or inflammatory conditions on an animal’s skin. In addition, they can be employed to provide targeted relief in a particular area of the animal’s body. For example, CBD gel on a horse’s knee can help them deal with arthritis and better alleviate symptoms in a specific troubled knee. Doing so can aid with bringing back mobility, reducing stiffness, mitigating pain and supporting the horse to move again.
Tips On Using CBD with Horses and Cows
Some key things to note when using CBD with your horse, cow or sheep.
Most studies on CBD’s benefits for horses used dosages under 0.8mg per pound of body weight. More commonly, 0.1-0.4mg per pound ranges were used daily to achieve strong results. Determining your horse’s optimal dose will require some trial and error. It’s tough to ascertain the right amount of CBD your horse or cow will need upfront until you’ve used it with them for a period. Factors like metabolism, body weight, sensitivities and the targeted conditions all play into the amount required. Confirming with your veterinarian before beginning doses is essential. They can help you identify and avoid common risks or pitfalls in using CBD, for example, guiding you on potential medication interactions to prevent with your animal that can cause liver problems.
A good rule of thumb is to begin with minimal doses, which you can raise over time. Starting low helps gauge your animal’s response, plus any potential allergies or sensitivities they have. After a few days, you can begin to titrate dosages up. Stay on a low dose for 4-6 weeks before exploring higher dosage levels. Easing into using CBD with an animal is essential to keeping them comfortable and affiliating them with its taste. Over time, they’ll become accustomed to using it or even enjoy the flavour. Your maximum dose shouldn’t exceed 0.8mg per pound body weight unless you confirm with a veterinarian this is necessary.
Before you begin using CBD with any animal, a veterinarian check-in is needed. They are the main port of call for all health-related topics in your animal to keep them safe, plus ensure their well-being is prioritised. CBD isn’t always the best answer when assisting animals like horses to achieve better health outcomes. It can form part of a broader picture of health practices, diet, exercise and medical protocols used to support an animal’s health span. But viewing it through the lens of a cure-all or treatment for everything is not the proper perspective. An objective, evidence-based approach will put your horse or cow’s health first. CBD is often not the best method for many conditions or certain animals. It is often better positioned as a natural support mechanism for holistic well-being improvements. Working with a veterinarian will mean you can discuss your animal’s need for CBD, how they might respond, side effects to monitor, potential adjustments in approach, and develop a tailored dosage plan.
Monitoring for Side Effects
Like other animals, including humans, CBD can cause side effects in horses, cows and sheep. These are typically rare and transient or passing in nature.
Some common side effects include:
- Shifts in appetite or thirst;
- Signs of dry mouth, including mouth or lip licking;
- Sleepiness and lethargy;
- Gastrointestinal changes such as stool movements or stomach discomfort;
- Behavioural changes such as more mooing or neighing.
Watching your animal for side effects after providing them CBD is essential, especially if your horse or cow hasn’t used it before. Side effects are more common early on when sensitivities may be present. If any side effect persists or you are concerned about your animal’s health, ensure they get veterinary care. You may be using too much CBD in these cases, and dosages could need adjusting.
Buying a Quality Product
Seeking out organic, pure and reputable CBD products is advisable to avoid risks of contaminants, heavy metals or pesticides from harming your animal. Low-quality products are produced with subpar manufacturing and CBD extraction techniques. They are, therefore, much more commonly contaminated with THC, which isn’t always entirely removed from the extract. Similarly, solvents can be present if used for extraction. Find a product formulated for animals or horses plus strong enough to meet your dosing needs.
Most horses and cows weigh over 700kg, requiring much greater CBD volume to meet their needs. Strength and potency should play a consideration here, with more potent products requiring fewer dosage volumes to achieve the same effect from their CBD quantity.
You might also consider full-spectrum CBD products, which are less refined and retain more phytonutrients than their isolate counterparts. Beware that this also means they can have a higher risk of containing THC. But the upside is they offer terpenes, antioxidative plant nutrients like lignans, cannaflavins and other beneficial vitamins that help with holistic well-being in animals. Rich in healthy fats, this oil type can help address inflammation because it retains more minor cannabinoids like CBG, CBN and CBDA. In addition, the terpenes present in this formulation help amplify the absorption and effects of other cannabinoids. This is called the entourage effect, which can boost the strength and benefits of the overall product.
Ensure you get a 3rd party lab test with your product to confirm it contains the ingredients and cannabinoids it states on the label. Lab tests by independent bodies help to verify both the types and quantities of cannabinoids like CBD contained in the product. Without this, there is little evidence or assurance your product is safe and will work for your animal. The output of a lab test is a certificate of analysis, which should be provided on the retailer’s website or packaging. In particular, it should verify your product contains no THC, which is poisonous to animals.
Look for organic products that are additive, artificial flavour and colouring-free. These synthetic components can irritate an animal’s gut and cause more side effects than those seen in humans. This includes essential oils and scent compounds used in CBD products to mask their smell.
Is CBD Safe for Horses and Cows?
The research indicates CBD is well-tolerated in horses. Whether the same is true for cows and sheep is hard to ascertain at this stage due to a lack of studies on these animals. In each case, the long-term risks and side effects are also not fully known. There are yet to be extensive longitudinal studies on the potential risks of CBD and their likelihood over long periods. It’s also unclear how it may interact with common veterinary drugs like dewormers or heart medications, which could cause adverse reactions.
A positive safety signal is CBD’s strong safety profile amongst humans. An intensive study by the World Health Organization in 2018 looked at whether CBD could have harmful side effects. It concluded that for humans, CBD was non-harmful, and side effect risk and impact were very low. The most significant danger identified was that it could cause liver complications when consumed with other medications that are detoxified via the liver, such as ibuprofen. Most pharmaceuticals are processed this way. Using any medication with CBD is risky and should be avoided. The liver may not thoroughly cleanse the other drugs via its enzymes (cytochrome catalysts), which can lead to toxicity in the body. It’s important to avoid mixing medications with CBD oil thoroughly. For animals, this can include heartworm medicines, which are also passed through the liver.
A study by Murray State University concluded that CBD was safe for horse use. 30 horses were given CBD daily via pellets for eight weeks. The CBD was quickly absorbed plus assisted the horses with regaining movement, reducing joint stiffness and counteracting arthritis symptoms. This study was positive and suggested follow-up research would be prudent. However, it also noted that low dosages (up to 250 mg daily) were used. Follow-up tests at higher dosages for more prolonged periods were recommended.
The most considerable risk of using CBD with animals isn’t CBD at all but rather a CBD product that contains THC. If your product, such as CBD dog treats, becomes contaminated for whatever reason, it poses a significant health hazard to your horse or cow. Unlike with humans, THC is highly toxic for animals, even in trace amounts. Many CBD products for pets are mislabelled or contain greater than trace amounts of THC due to contamination. Ensure you thoroughly research the product you buy for your horse or cow and check its lab test results to confirm that it contains no THC.
Pets can also be more sensitive to CBD than humans and can display adverse reactions if it is not tolerated well. You should also begin with a low dose to test your pet’s sensitivities or allergies and avoid problems. Monitor your pet and their behaviour when dosing with CBD oil or pellets. Any changes in behaviour, such as scratching, erratic movement or noises, may indicate that your pet is experiencing side effects. If this occurs, cease dosing. You may need to seek veterinary attention if symptoms continue.
In Australia, most veterinarians haven’t yet caught up with much of the research and evidence surrounding CBD. Much work is still to be done in progressing the dialogue and moving forward with the therapeutic benefits of CBD for pets. Most won’t prescribe it and will favour pharmaceutical solutions to health conditions. If you are purchasing online, it’s always advised to buy from a trusted, reputable supplier and seek test results if possible to ensure your product contains no THC. This is toxic to most animals, including cats and dogs. When purchasing your product, look for ‘full’ or ‘broad spectrum’ on the label. This oil will contain more significant quantities of hemp phytocannabinoids, nutrients, and terpenes. Your pet will have more effect on their wellness, and terpenes can benefit from the entourage effect, enhancing the efficacy of other cannabinoids like CBN and CBG. Isolate oils typically only contain CBD – they’re still effective but won’t provide as deep relief and results.
CBD has shown promise in reducing pet anxiety due to its anxiolytic properties. This property is well known and studied amongst human users. Many pet owners anecdotally report that CBD can help calm anxious pets that may be chronically stressed due to environmental factors like loud noise. In turn, these pets often see behavioural improvements, reduced separation anxiety and less fear during stressful situations. The calming effects of the cannabinoid are believed to be related to its interaction with the endocannabinoid system in animals. Its CB1 receptor interactions in the brain and nervous system enable it to downregulate the stress response.
Research on CBD’s benefits on horses and cows is quite limited. Initial studies have only been conducted on horses to date with strong positive results. Potential applications of the cannabinoid in livestock may include pain management, stress reduction, gastrointestinal health promotion, anti-inflammatory effects, and immune system support. Check with a veterinarian experienced in large animal care for more specific guidance.
CBD in pets can take some time depending on the pet’s size, the product used and its strength, its responsiveness, and the conditions being treated. Some pets may see noticeable effects within 30 minutes to an hour. In others, it can take days or weeks of consistent usage to note a benefit. Remaining patient and monitoring your pet’s response is always advisable, in addition to checking in with your veterinarian before starting.
CBD causes relaxation and reductions in stress in humans and animals. This can cause mild drowsiness or lethargy in some pets, particularly when higher doses are used. This effect is often desirable for anxious pets to keep them calm. But be aware as it can affect a pet’s activity level and alertness. Drowsiness should pass quickly and not persist.
Usage frequency of CBD dosing depends on a pet’s condition and the product’s recommendations. Typically, it is provided once or twice a day, but the frequency and timing can vary based on your preferences. It’s crucial to consult with a veterinarian to determine the appropriate dosages and schedules for your pet’s specific needs.
CBD is generally considered safe for pets with an endocannabinoid system. However, dosing it incorrectly or using excessive quantities significantly raises the risk of a pet experiencing side effects. Some pets can be sensitive to cannabinoids, too, which poses added concern. If you see your pet experience diarrhoea, substantial behaviour changes, dizziness or vomiting, you should stop giving them CBD. In these cases, getting veterinary advice and re-evaluating the dosage or product is advisable.
CBD is becoming popular among trainers and animal owners for its health benefits in horses, cows, and sheep. While studies into CBD’s effects on farm animals are limited, early veterinary trials have shown positive results in mitigating arthritis and lowering anxiety in horses. Farm animals have an endocannabinoid system like humans, which helps maintain homeostasis and regulate immunity, sleep, mood, inflammation and more. CBD’s therapeutic effects are thought to occur via this system and the endocannabinoids it produces. Early signals indicate animals like horses and cows see health improvements after using CBD appropriately with controlled doses. Some early benefits appear to be anxiety and stress reduction, mitigation of aches and pains from issues like arthritis, help with inflammation and gut health, and bolstering skin health. Using a pure, reputable product with no THC ensures safety. In addition, consulting with your veterinarian before using any new product with your animal should always be the first step.