Canine News You Can Use
Last September, I attended the annual International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP) conference in Colorado Springs. There was an abundance of great information presented by a variety of speakers, and one in particular that caught my attention was “Navigating the Veterinary Cannabis Industry.” I knew that Cannabidiol (CBD) was popping up just about everywhere, both for human and animal use, but my knowledge on the topic was at best, surface level. I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn more about the subject, so I attended. Here are a few things that I learned that may be of interest to you, the dog owner:
1) “Cannabis” is a general description for two different plants falling under that heading: hemp and marijuana.
2) CBD is not a drug and has no intoxicating effect on your dog. Without getting too technical, the CBD interacts with the cannabinoid receptors that every dog has (people have them, too).
3) CBD from hemp is legally available in most places and may be purchased in a base of oil (“CBD oil”), and it may be an ingredient in dog treats or supplements.
4) All CBD is not created equal. In some cases you will have little to no information on the source and purity, and there may be a multitude of other ingredients included. The CBD product should also be free of THC, which is the psychoactive component of marijuana that produces a “high.” Only “Made in the USA” products are recommended.
5) Regardless of how the CBD is delivered, it is important that a laboratory analysis of the product is available. Important factors that should be tested are heavy metals, microbiological contaminants, pathogens, pesticides, and THC. Also, an independent third-party laboratory (not the manufacturer’s lab) should perform the analysis and report the results on what is known as a Certificate of Analysis (CoA).
So, what did all this mean for me? More specifically, Fiona. Fiona is our senior dog (10 ½ years as of this post) and my assistant trainer at Blue Bridge Dog Training. She is also a therapy dog for Human Animal Bond in Tennessee (H.A.B.I.T.). She is generally very healthy, but over the past few years she has developed three behaviors/conditions, all puzzling to me: a) panting for no apparent reason, b) knocking over some specific items in the house, and c) trembling in her back-leg area. Sometimes they occur together, but not always, and mostly at night. Here is a video of her from about three years ago.
I could not pinpoint any particular stimuli that would trigger these effects, so after attending the conference I wanted to try CBD to see if it was of any benefit. I first discussed it with our veterinarian, then I researched what was available for canine use. I wanted to make sure that I was using the best product for my very special companion. I visited some local CBD shops in the area and searched on the internet, and found many, many options. I decided to purchase a product with only two ingredients, CBD and hemp oil. The ingredient label and COA are shown below.
There were two things that I did as this process began. First, I made sure that I kept a log Fiona’s behavior and physical well-being. This meant keeping track of changes in activity, pain level, sleep habits, appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, urination, and seizures. I started out with one-third the recommended dosage for her weight, and after a few months I reduced that dosage in half. I am happy to report that Fiona is exhibiting the behaviors/conditions to a much lesser extent than previously. She now goes for weeks without a major episode, whereas before it was typically several per times per week with longer durations. I consider this a big win!
IMPORTANT NOTE: I am a dog trainer and pet owner, not a veterinarian. This blog post is not a recommendation on using or not using CBD in any form for your dog. It is merely an explanation of my research and experience with CBD products. Always discuss the health of your dog with your veterinarian before proceeding on any course of action.
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