Cannabidiol (CBD) Oil Use and Toxicity in Cats
The recent legalization of marijuana for human medicinal treatments has increased interest in the properties of the Cannabis plant. The Cannabis plant contains approximately 483 known chemicals and over 80 cannabinoids. A cannabinoid is a class of chemicals isolated from Cannabis that can cause various effects on the body. The amount and concentration of each cannabinoid vary with the different plant and strain of plant. The two most studied and available cannabinoids are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD).
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most potent and psychogenic of the cannabinoids. It is used medically to treat nausea, muscle spasms, seizures, anxiety as well as other medical problems.
The focus of this article is on the use of Cannabidiol (CBD) in cats.
What is the Difference between Marijuana, Hemp, THC, and CBD?
The terms THC, CBD, etc. can be confusing and are often mistakenly used in the media. The term Marijuana most commonly refers to the tobacco product made from Cannabis leaves. THC and CBD are both cannabinoids derived from the Cannabis plant. The difference between the THC and CBD is that THC causes psychotropic effects (affects mentation) while CBD is felt to have limited toxicity, is not psychotropic, and has other beneficial properties.
Hemp is a type of Cannabis plant that is known to have more CBD than THC. CBD is often extracted from the plant and sold as an “oil” although it also comes in other forms such as treats or as topical products. Cannabidiol is thought to decrease anxiety, decrease nausea and vomiting, decrease seizures, and have anti-inflammatory properties. It is increasingly being used in human, cats, and dogs.
It is important to understand that there are important and substantial differences in the quality and purity of CBD (more below).
Can Cats Get CBD Toxicity?
CBD is not approved by the FDA for use in cats. The true safety of CBD in cats has not been researched and we do not know how CBD may interact with other medications or treatments that your cat may be taking. Due to these factors, many veterinarians are reluctant to prescribe or recommend CBD for cats.
However, CBD is not psychotropic (does not affect mentation) and appears to have limited toxicity. As with any supplement or medication, there is a risk of adverse effects. In people, the most common side effects of CBD are a dry mouth, drop in blood pressure, and drowsiness, which are difficult to identify in cats.
Many CBD products are oil based with the potential to cause nausea and vomiting in some cats. The risk of toxicity will depend on the dose given to your cat, the quality of the product, presence of insecticides or pesticides, preservatives or additives present, and the potency of the product. Overdoses with impure products can lead to symptoms of THC toxicity. Cats may be lethargic, listless, stumble, have glazed over eyes, and be incontinent of urine.
If you are interested in giving your cat CBD oil and you have any concerns, please contact your veterinarian.
Can CBD Oil For Cats Help?
Most research on CBD use in animals has been focused on dogs. In dogs, CBD it is used for pain relief, treatment of seizure disorders such as epilepsy, and for the treatment of anxiety-related problems. There are no formal research studies about the use of CBD in cats. Much of the use and information is extrapolated from human studies. With that being said, many veterinarians have found positive effects from using CBD in their feline patients.
The most common uses of CBD in cats include:
- Anxiety and fear problems including noise phobia
- Appetite stimulation
- Immune system stimulation
- Inflammatory problems such as those associated with inflammatory bowel disease or pancreatitis
- Nausea, especially nausea associated with side effects to drug therapy
- Neurologic diseases such as cognitive dysfunction
- Pain relief from arthritis, inflammation
- Treatment of cancer as some CBD is thought to have anti-tumor properties
- Treatment of seizures such as epilepsy
The AKC Canine Health Foundation with Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine is currently conducting research to determine the usefulness of CBD in dogs with epilepsy.
Is CBD Legal?
CBD is legal in most states however new rulings have changed this in states such as Ohio. As a veterinarian in Ohio at the time of this writing, it is illegal for veterinarians to sell or prescribe CBD oil. However, it is available in some states over-the-counter without a prescription.
How Do You Pick a Good CBD Oil for Your Cat?