Along with a quality diet and a good overall healthcare program, CBD can be used to add extra support to your dog or cat’s digestive well-being.
Optimal digestive function is crucial to good overall health, not just in humans, but in dogs and cats as well. Diet plays a vital role, of course, but without the digestive system converting food into nutrients, and its influence on most aspects of well-being, including mood, inflammation response, and energy levels, our dogs and cats would not thrive or live long. Here’s how CBD can be used to help support your animals’ digestive health.
The bowel contains cannabinoid receptors
You may not realize that the bowel is home to many cannabinoid receptors. They include CB1 receptors that are sensitive to THC, and CB2 receptors that are activated as a target of CBD. Endocannabinoids are produced by your dog or cat’s endocannabinoid system, and play many important roles in maintaining healthy digestion and bowel health. Both endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids can reduce bowel inflammation and leaky gut, as well as normalize bowel motility and digestive secretions.
What CBD can do for digestive health
- Cannabis and THC are well-known to increase appetite – i.e. the “munchies”. CBD can also contribute to improved appetite by supporting a feeling of well-being, and reducing pain and anxiety.
- Cannabinoids such as THC, CBD, CBG and THCV can affect the brain to reduce nausea and vomiting. They can reduce the inflammation in the stomach or elsewhere in the digestive tract that causes nausea or vomiting.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be caused by stress and anxiety which, over time, increase inflammation in the bowel. This is one example of what is meant by the “gut-brain connection”. Anxiety increases bowel motility, which decreases the time it takes for digested food to move through it, reducing the amount of fluid that can be reabsorbed from the large bowel and creating diarrhea.
- Colitis is a similar problem, as is inflammatory bowel disease or IBD, which is characterized by severe inflammation of the bowel wall, and can be considered a more severe manifestation of IBS. Crohn’s disease in humans responds well to cannabis.
Administration and dosage
My recommendation is to start with a broad spectrum or full spectrum hemp extract containing primarily CBD. Give your dog or cat about 0.25 mg of CBD for each pound of body weight, twice daily, as a safe and possibly effective starting dose. Try this for two weeks before increasing the dose for better efficacy if you are not satisfied with the results.
Keep in mind that cannabis works best if it is part of a comprehensive program for addressing your dog or cat’s digestive health.
Dr. Robert J. Silver is a 1982 graduate of Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. He has pioneered the use of diet, herbs and nutraceuticals in his small animal integrative practice in Boulder, Colorado for the past 25 years. He writes and speaks both domestically and internationally to veterinary audiences on the value of blending holistic modalities with conventional medicine, and is a consultant to the pet food industry. He is also the Chief Medical Officer of Real Mushrooms for Pets.