Cbd oil for cats studies

Safety and tolerability of escalating cannabinoid doses in healthy cats

Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine the safety and tolerability of escalating doses of orally delivered cannabis oils predominant in cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), or both CBD and THC in healthy cats.

Methods: In this placebo-controlled, blinded study, 20 healthy adult cats were randomized to one of five treatment groups (n = 4 per group): two placebo groups (sunflower oil [SF] or medium-chain triglyceride oil [MCT]), or three plant-derived cannabinoid oil groups (CBD in MCT, THC in MCT or CBD/THC [1.5:1] in SF). Up to 11 escalating doses of each formulation were delivered orally via syringe to fasted subjects, with at least 3 days separating doses. Safety and tolerability were determined from clinical observations, complete blood counts (CBCs) and clinical chemistry. Plasma cannabinoids (CBD, THC) and metabolites (7-COOH-CBD, 11-OH-THC) were assessed.

Results: Titration to maximum doses of 30.5 mg/kg CBD (CBD oil), 41.5 mg/kg THC (THC oil) or 13.0:8.4 mg/kg CBD:THC (CBD/THC oil) was safely achieved in all subjects. All observed adverse events (AEs) were mild, transient and resolved without medical intervention. Gastrointestinal AEs were more common with formulations containing MCT. Constitutional (lethargy, hypothermia), neurologic (ataxia) and ocular (protrusion membrana nictitans) AEs were more common with oils containing THC (CBD/THC and THC oils). There were no clinically significant changes in CBC or clinical chemistry across treatment groups. Higher plasma levels of the cannabinoids and their metabolites following administration of the CBD/THC combination product are suggestive of a pharmacokinetic interaction.

Conclusions and relevance: This is the first feline study to explore the safety and tolerability of CBD and THC, alone and in combination, in a controlled research setting. These findings will inform veterinarians of the safety profile of cannabinoids, particularly when considering the potential therapeutic use of CBD in cats or recognizing clinical signs associated with accidental exposure to THC-containing products.

Keywords: Cannabidiol; cannabinoid administration and dosage; cannabinoid adverse effects; safety; tetrahydrocannabinol.

Conflict of interest statement

Conflict of interest: JK, GE and DV are employed by Canopy Growth Corporation. LP was previously employed by Canopy Growth Corporation. Staff at VivoCore, and not the authors, were responsible for study conduct and data collection.

CBD Oil for Cats: What You Need to Know

As cat owners look for ways to keep their kitties happy and healthy, they’re starting to explore alternative treatments not previously considered by Western medicine. Among these alternative treatments is cannabis oil.

This isn’t much of a surprise, considering that more people are turning to cannabis as a natural treatment for their health issues and research studies have consistently shown the plant’s positive impact on inflammation and other ailments. However, as studied as cannabis’s effect on humans may be, there have been no official major scientific studies into its impact on pets.

So, is cannabis safe for cats? And what sorts of ailments might it treat?

What Is CBD Oil?

Cannabis plants contain more than 100 active compounds, but the one most often used for medicinal purposes is cannabidiol, or CBD. CBD differs from cannabis’s major active compound, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), in that it does not have a psychoactive affect, meaning it will not get users “high.” CBD oils contain a high concentration of CBD and can be used for therapeutic purposes.

“There are not many classical medical studies that explore the effects of CBD oil in cats,” says Dr. Daniel Inman, a veterinarian at Burlington Emergency Veterinary Specialists in Williston, Vermont. “While we don’t recommend CBD oil for our patients, holistic veterinarians are using it to treat a variety of ailments, including inflammation, anxiety and pain.”

Inman is careful to specify that CBD oil is often used to subjectively increase comfort and improve quality of life in pets, not necessarily cure ailments. This type of treatment should be advised by your veterinarian and not initiated without their consent.

Is CBD Oil Safe for Cats?

Although there have been no scientific studies that specifically investigate the impact of cannabis on pets, Dr. Gary Richter, a holistic veterinarian and owner and medical director of Montclair Veterinary Hospital and Holistic Veterinary Care in Oakland, California, says that CBD oil is generally safe for cats. However, there can be some adverse effects to giving your cat CBD oil, including gastrointestinal upset and some sedation, both of which can be relieved by discontinuing the use of the oil.

“I think the bigger issue, from a medical perspective, is making sure that animals are dosed appropriately. This means that the CBD oil is having the affect you want it to have, and that you’re not accidentally overdosing,” he says.

Dr. Liza Guess, a clinical assistant professor at the Ohio State University Department of Veterinary Medicine in Columbus, Ohio, says that the lack of official, documented research into the affects of cannabis products for cats would make her hesitant to recommend them.

“I have heard that, in humans, marijuana products can be used for neuropathic pain, intractable seizures, anxiety, and appetite stimulation. I have plenty of medications in each of those categories [that are not cannabis] that have been safely used in cats for years that I am very comfortable using and understand well,” she says. “These medications have gone through rigorous studies and are approved by the FDA. Why would I want to use a poorly understood treatment that I can’t guarantee is safe or even effective?”

She adds that the FDA does not regulate the CBD products that are available on the market, so consumers can’t be sure that they’re giving their pets the dosage that they think they are.

“Pet owners looking to give their animals CBD oil should do their due diligence before purchasing anything online,” Richter says. “The marketplace is very much a ‘buyer beware’ environment, and people should be sure that the product they’re buying has been laboratory tested for both content, as well as contaminants like bacteria, fungus, and heavy metals.”

Also, it’s worth nothing that while CBD oil is typically quite safe for cats and dogs, cannabis plants are not. “There is plenty of documentation of marijuana toxicity in cats, for those that nibble on the plants,” Guess says.

Inman adds that as an ER veterinarian, he often sees marijuana toxicity in the animals that come into his practice. “You can usually tell if a pet has gotten into someone’s marijuana. And, in more severe instances, I have had to hospitalize animals until the affects have worn off.”

Is CBD Oil Legal?

Regardless of how well CBD products work for cats, there is also the issue of legality. If a cannabis product contains less than 0.3 percent THC, it’s classified as “hemp,” which is not a restricted substance. Most, if not all, CBD oil fits this description. The bigger issue is discussing this course of treatment with your veterinarian.

“In a perfect world, your veterinarian would be able to discuss this treatment as an option for your pet, but depending on where you live, your veterinarian may or may not be legally at liberty to have this conversation with you,” Richter says. “Even if you live in a state where cannabis is legal, it can be illegal for a veterinarian to tell a pet owner how to appropriately use these products.”

There are activists looking to change these laws, Richter among them.

“For example, there’s a bill being brought to the California State Legislature to debate the use of medical cannabis for animals and veterinarian involvement,” he says. “There’s a very robust conversation going on right now about it whether or not veterinarians should be able to discuss and recommend cannabis for their patients, and, if so, exactly what that looks like.”

Being able to discuss all types of treatments with your veterinarian is key, and Richter advises checking in with your vet before giving your pet any sort of cannabis. “There’s no reason to ever start giving any kind of medication or supplement without having a conversation with your veterinarian first,” he says.

Is CBD Safe for Cats?

CBD has taken the pet world by storm; however, scientific research on the impacts of CBD on dogs and cats is still in its infancy—especially for cats.

Let’s look at what cat parents should consider before giving their cats CBD oil or CBD cat treats.

What Is CBD?

CBD stands for cannabidiol, and it’s the second most common active ingredient found in the cannabis plant.

While CBD is present in all cannabis plants, it’s primarily derived from the hemp plant—which a recent study defines as, “Cannabis sativa with a total THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) less than 0.3% dry weight in leaves and buds.”

It is also important to note, that legally, a hemp plant cannot contain more than 0.3% THC or else it is considered a Schedule I controlled substance (illegal narcotic).

Unlike hemp oil and hemp seed oil, CBD is extracted from the stalks, leaves and buds—not just one part of the plant.

Has Research Been Done on CBD for Cats?

As far as I’m aware, no scientific studies have been published regarding the use of CBD with cats.

So, as is often the case, we’re left to interpret research results in dogs, people and other animals combined with anecdotal evidence to try to determine if giving CBD to cats is a good idea.

Research on CBD Use in Dogs and People

Recent studies indicate that CBD can help relieve pain and promote activity in dogs with osteoarthritis and can reduce seizure frequency in cases of severe epilepsy.

The fact that CBD has been shown to help dogs with epilepsy correlates nicely with the 2018 US Food and Drug Administration approval of the human CBD medication Epidiolex for the treatment of certain types of childhood epilepsy.

Other common uses of CBD for which there is at least some supportive scientific evidence (in people or non-feline animal models) include inflammatory conditions—like inflammatory bowel disease—as well as asthma, anxiety, pain and nausea.

So, Is CBD Safe for Cats?

Based on reports from veterinarians and pet parents, CBD itself appears, on the surface, to be very safe for cats.

Some people report that their pets become sleepy or develop upset tummies, particularly when given very high doses, but these problems resolve when CBD is discontinued or the dose is lowered.

A Word of Warning About CBD for Cats

Although CBD gets good reviews from pet parents, there is one big problem with the use of CBD in cats: an almost complete lack of regulatory oversight.

This lack of oversight has resulted in a wide availability of low-quality CBD products.

One study tested CBD products and found that many have little—if any—CBD. Or they have more CBD than is reported on the label.

Studies have also found that some CBD products contain potentially harmful contaminants.

This is especially concerning for cats because of their increased sensitivity to medications and toxins.

How to Find Safe CBD for Cats

If you choose to try CBD for your cat, here are a few ways that you can protect your pets from poor-quality CBD:

Find products that carry the Certified Seal of the U.S. Hemp Authority ™ or the National Animal Supplements Council (NASC) Quality Seal, as these meet industry-imposed standards and have passed a third-party audit.

Use only products that are designed for cats or that contain just CBD oil—and maybe a benign carrier like hemp oil, coconut oil or MCT oil.

Talk to an experienced veterinarian. The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association provides a “Find a Vet” tool on its website if your veterinarian is unable to help.