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.
What Drugs Will Interact with My Pet’s CBD?
While we still do not even know the extent that people’s medications will interact with CBD, even less is known about pet CBD medication interactions. That is simply because the research is lacking for both, especially in the pet field.
My veterinarian will not talk to me about CBD, but I would still like to make an educated decision on whether or not giving them CBD would be for the best.
We understand that this can be a very frustrating issue for a lot of pet parents. While CBD can cause some pet medications to be more or even less effective if consumed with CBD, there are similar precautions that have to be taken when giving your pet herbal supplements or even vitamins. There is always going to be a chance of interactions. The extent of them depends on body chemistry and prescription dose. What will affect one pet, may not affect another.
When CBD is ingested orally at large doses a group of liver enzymes in your pet may be temporarily altered. One of the most common interactions that relate to this is grapefruit for humans. CBD is also metabolized by cytochrome P450 enzymes preventing it from metabolizing other compounds.
“The extent to which cannabidiol behaves as a competitive inhibitor of cytochrome P450 depends on how tightly CBD binds to the active site of the metabolic enzyme before and after oxidation. This can change greatly, depending on how – and how much – CBD is administered, the unique attributes of the individual taking this medication, and whether isolated CBD or a whole-plant remedy is used.” – Adrain Devitt-Lee, a researcher at Project CBD.
60% of all medications are metabolized in the liver via specific enzymes produced in it. CBD, like grapefruit, temporarily uses up the enzymes and/or inhibiting the action of others.
Drugs that may be used for pain relief in your pet such as NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory drugs), Tramadol, Gabapentin or anxiety relief such as Prozac all rely on the P450 enzymes. This does not mean your pet can’t take CBD, it just means you might want to be a little more careful when dosing it at first. And CBD can be a wonderful way to hopefully have your pet use less of the above medications.
NSAIDs can wreak havoc on the stomach and liver over long term use.
Tramadol and Gabapentin usually require an increased dose over time because the body gets used to it.
Prozac and any other anti-anxiety will have withdrawal symptoms if given over a period of time. Please do not ever take your pet off of these medications cold-turkey. It is very very important your pet is titrated down slowly off of them.
Here is how one of our clients uses CBD and Prozac together-
“I give my dog Blooming Culture pet CBD oil on a daily basis to help with her generalized anxiety. When we travel or fly I up her dose of CBD that day and add in her veterinarian prescribed Prozac. I have found in conjunction they work really well together for extreme circumstances.”
One of the biggest known and visible side-effects of dosing your pet CBD with any of these medications is tiredness, which can be easily remedied by adjusting their dose.
If you are thinking about switching your pet off their prescription medication or trying to lower their dose, do it slowly. You can first start with a low dose of CBD and talking to your veterinarian on the best way to ween off the particular medication.
All Drug Interactions are Not Negative
Since CBD can also enhance the effects of certain medications, this means that a lower dose of that medication or therapy can sometimes be used, which is a positive.
Drugs used for dog seizures is one. Since CBD also has its own anti-seizure properties, it has proven to work well in human clinical trials together with anti-seizure medications. The AKC Health Foundation recently announced that it will begin a major clinical trial to study the potential for pet CBD oil for use in drug-resistant epileptic dogs.
The second is chemotherapy. Dogs receiving chemotherapy for cancer tend to have a lot of unwanted side effects. Many pet parents use CBD oil as a way to curb some of them and make their pet more comfortable. The same way people going through radiation may use CBD or cannabis. But recent research has shown that giving CBD oil to your pet in conjunction with radiation actually may make chemotherapy more effective.
Some research states that CBD triggers TRPV2 channels, making the cancer cells more sensitive to chemotherapy.
A different study showed that rats with pancreatic cancer had 3X the survival rate when given CBD in conjunction with chemotherapy instead of only chemotherapy.
Again, please work with your veterinarian as much as possible to make sure every medication, natural or not is working together safely on your pet.
*This article is for informational purposes only. If you have pet medication interaction concerns, please always consult with your veterinarian first.
CBD Drug Interactions: Which Medications Should You Avoid
Next to CBD and the benefits that can help treat a long list of medical disorders, the other thing that has driven its popularity is its low risk for causing side effects. In fact, research shows CBD can be so safely used that it has the potential to replace other drugs typically used to manage pain, inflammation, anxiety, and on. In fact, in the case of certain epilepsy disorders, there are even times when CBD is the only thing that truly helps. None of this isn’t saying that using CBD doesn’t carry along minor side effects, which we will discuss in more detail later on.
While generally noted for its low side-effect profile, research shows CBD does have one significant side effect of note. And that is the potential for it to interact with certain prescription drugs that are metabolized by a family of enzymes. Known as Cytochrome P450, these enzymes, in particular, CYPA4, are responsible for breaking down about 60 percent of clinically prescribed medications.
While this news jumps out to many as incredibly alarming, it’s not uncommon for foods, supplements, and common medications themselves to inhibit CYP enzymes, causing drug interactions. Grapefruit, St. John’s wort, and kale can all cause drug interactions by inhibiting the same enzymes CBD products can. Then foods such as broccoli, spices like cumin, and drinks like coffee can all interact with the medication we take.
Because many of these are common items in a human’s diet, one way to quickly find out if CBD could interact with the medications you’re taking is to look on the drugs’ label for warnings about eating certain foods, in particular, grapefruit. This isn’t so easy with medications for our pets, however that’s why we are here to help. Because including CBD in our dogs and cats’ health regime is a great way to give them the health they deserve. The therapeutic effects of CBD are countless, and we will be covering the main health benefits in addition to advising you on how to safely use CBD alongside other medications.
What Happens When CBD Inhibits The Cytochrome P450 System?
By temporarily inhibiting cytochrome P450 enzymes, CBD along with the other cannabinoids found in all cannabis plants are able to delay the rate they break down their intended medication.
The metabolism rate of a drug is quite important for several reasons and must be known before an appropriate dosage can be prescribed. By delaying a drug’s metabolism rate, CBD can allow for too much medication to be in your system at once. And in essence, by raising the drug’s potency, this acts as if you took a higher dosage of that drug than normal. By effectively raising the dosage, you’re often increasing the risk for the said drug to cause side effects.
Research on the significance CBD can interact with other medications is still heavily being looked into, and discussed below. Anecdotally, we know that both marijuana and hemp products are commonly used alongside other medications. As we know, there is no great worry in the marijuana community at large about their use interacting with their prescribed medication. The same can’t be said when it comes to the side effects to memory and motor control due to the high amounts of THC found in these plants.
We can theorize from this, that while cannabis products can cause drug interactions and it is not something to take lightly, it’s not significant enough by large to cause a great concern amongst its users. It is important to note that Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), limited to 0.3% in CBD products vs 20%+ in marijuana is heavily involved in inhibiting CYP enzymes. Both CBD and THC are metabolized by CYP3A4 while THC is also metabolized by CYP2C9 and CBD by CYP2C19. From what we currently know, the less CYP are enzymes inhibited, the less chance it can interact with other medications. Along with its inability to cause a high, along with being available for kids and pets, this is another reason CBD oil may be the preferable choice vs medical marijuana.
However, don’t let this trick you into thinking that there isn’t good evidence that we shouldn’t be concerned about it. We have studies that show evidence of CBD itself raising the potency of blood-thinning medication along with seizure medication, causing a higher occurrence of side effects vs. the control groups.
Using CBD Safely With Other Medication
While CBD and other CBD products have the ability to interact with around 60% of prescribed medication, there are several ways to safely use CBD in conjunction with other medications.
First, never stop giving your pet medication prescribed by your veterinarian until you’ve consulted them. This goes for medication that may have a potential interaction with CBD and medication that doesn’t.
From starting CBD off at a lower dose than normal to timing out when CBD should be given to allow for the prescription drug to break down first, there are lots of little things that you can do to improve the safety of CBD. Your veterinarian can help you with these. As well, they can monitor blood plasma levels to ensure your pet’s medication is being properly metabolized or if it could do for a dosage adjustment.
There are times when CBD is touted for its ability to lower the reliance or dosage of prescription medication. One reason this happens is that CBD offers its own benefits. But the other reason we speculate this happens is that CBD may be raising the potency of the other medication in the body.
Last, even in the rare case your pet can’t ingest CBD due to a drug interaction, all hope of ever giving them CBD isn’t lost. The beneficial compounds found in CBD, and in hemp and cannabis products can be administered topically. CBD lotions, salves, and creams are great for help with surface-level aches and pain, skin breakout, inflammation, and more, These do this by avoiding entering the bloodstream, largely preventing CBD from interacting with Cytochrome p450 enzymes.
The skin is the largest organ and the first level of defense against nasties that can put severe stress on the body. Including CBD and hemp in your pet’s skincare regime is a great way to care for their general health.
Side Effects Of CBD
Without a doubt, the biggest and in most cases, the only side effect that comes from using CBD is its ability to interact with other medications. However, there are some minor side effects to be aware of. In most cases, these side effects occur when too large of a dose is given. CBD has a biphasic effect where low and common dosages can put a slight pip in your pet’s step. However, give your dog or cat too much, and you may find them catching some heavy Zzzz’s on the couch.
Another side effect of CBD, along with other cannabis products, is dry mouth. CB1 and CB2 receptors which make up the endocannabinoid system — the system cannabis largely interacts with — are found heavily in the mouth where they help regulate saliva production. But by the same token, the opposite of dry mouth can happen, and CBD may temporarily boost saliva product/release. CB1 receptors are overstimulated with high-THC products like marijuana. Because there are only trace amounts of it in CBD products, issues like dry mouth are much less commonly seen.
High doses of CBD can lower resting blood pressure causing some lightheadedness, which should quickly pass. One 2017 study found the potential for CBD to help lower blood pressure in those with high blood pressure.
Nausea and stomach discomfort are frequently cited side effects seen with nearly every medication. This especially happens when first starting a medication due to the body needing to take time to realize it’s not a threat or allergy. The same can happen with CBD, despite it usually having adverse effects and helping with nausea and stomach discomfort. Changing the dosage while the body learns to recognize CBD can help. Usually, a lower than normal dose for a few days to a week is a great course of action for this side effect.
What Research Says
Research on CBD, and cannabidiol itself, and the potential for drug interactions so far has been a bit of a mixed bag. Some researchers have found a low dose of CBD is effective enough in avoiding interactions with the drugs they were studying. While other researchers have found a precise dosage – that can be either low or high – is preferable and dependent on the patients’ and their medications. So how do we interpret this data?
First, the big thing that comes from the studies we have found is while CBD can cause interactions with the medication we take, studies still find CBD is a safe and effective treatment. With simple monitoring and potential adjustments in the dosage, there is little risk to continue using CBD. This is awesome news!
The reason a low dose usually works, but not always for avoiding a drug’s side effects is likely due to the individual cytochrome that’s responsible for the metabolism of the drug. Researchers have found CBD can both speed up and slow down the metabolism rate depending on the drug and the cytochrome it interacts with. Again, while there is some risk with CBD, when given the appropriate care, the data shows CBD is very low risk.
Clinical trials show care and safety should be given in the case of epilepsy because while CBD can significantly help seizures, they can easily interact with seizure medications increasing their side effects, which can produce seizures of their own. However, again, researchers have found CBD and seizure medications can be used together with a smart medical treatment plan. In fact, epilepsy is currently the only thing the FDA has approved the use of CBD for.
Frequently Asked Questions Concerning CBD and Drug Interactions
We hope our article has provided you with all the information you need when deciding if CBD is something you should give to your pet. Especially if they are already on medications. Because we’ve taken such an extensive look at CBD and its potential for causing a drug interaction, we wanted to quickly answer some of the most asked questions concerning the topic.
Can You Take CBD With Medication?
In the large majority of cases, CBD can safely be used with most medications. Using CBD in tandem with over-the-counter medications warrants little to no concern. If using an OTC drug long-term or at a higher than normal dosage due to medical advice from your doctor or vet, please consult said authority before using a CBD product. While a CBD product has the potential to cause drug-drug interplay in about 60% of prescription drugs, for the most part, with the proper medical advice and guidance, CBD can be safely used.
What Meds Does CBD Interact With?
CBD has been shown to interact with blood-thinning drugs like Warfarin, raising abnormal liver enzymes along with inducing tiredness when used in conjunction with Valproic Acid – sometimes used for controlling seizures. This information comes from research on Epidiolex, an FDA-approved cannabis extract for help with epilepsy. Epidiolex is an isolate, meaning it only contains the single cannabinoid, cannabidiol, in very high amounts. Most CBD products aren’t a single cannabinoid but contain the full range including high amounts of cannabidiol.
For a full list of potential drug interactions, please see our list at the end of the article.
Can CBD Interfere With Arthritis Medications?
In the large majority of cases, it’s very unlikely CBD would interfere with the metabolism of drugs used to treat arthritis and other inflammatory joint disorders. For help with pain and joint issues, veterinarians commonly prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that are safe for dogs. Except for diclofenac, it appears CBD will not have a drug-drug interaction with an NSAID drug. While NSAIDs are commonly given to dogs, the over-the-counter medications we commonly take – like Ibuprofen – should only be given to your dog under the supervision of your vet due to their ability to easily pass the safety threshold in dogs.
Does CBD Interfere With Blood Pressure Medicine?
While high blood pressure and hypertension occur in humans more, our dogs are susceptible to the disease and put on similar medications, as well. Because CBD can lower blood pressure and potentially help those with hypertension, it can seem like a good idea to use it in conjunction with drugs designed to do the same, but caution is advised. While CBD can be used in tandem with blood pressure medications, it’s recommended you discuss it with your veterinarian first.
There are several medications used to treat high blood pressure, including angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor antagonists (ARBs), diuretics, and calcium channel blockers. Because of this, if your vet finds they like what CBD is offering your pet, but they see it interacting with their medication, they have the option to switch to a different medication.
Has CBD Ever Caused A Life-Threatening Drug Interaction?
To the best of our knowledge and thorough research, we can not find an example of CBD or any cannabis product causing life-treating drug interactions.
Again, this should not make you disregard potential drug interactions. Instead, we are simply saying that while cannabis can cause such, it’s frequently used alongside other medications, often without the guidance of a health provider, yet for whatever reasons, a crisis has not occurred.
Discussing CBD And Drug Interactions With Your Vet
CBD has a world of therapeutic benefits that can improve our pets’ health in both small and big ways. Backed by research, CBD oil and other CBD products have been shown to be extraordinarily low-risk options for the benefits it has. However, while you can use CBD in tandem with other medications, there is a chance for an interaction that can increase the risk of the drug causing side effects. Interactions cannot happen with all drugs, but a majority of prescription medications (about 60%) have potential. This includes medication commonly used to treat epilepsy, for which CBD is commonly used to help as well.
If your dog or cat is on medication, and you’re concerned about CBD and its potential for drug interactions, your best bet for advice is their vet. While CBD may interact with medications your pet is on, your vet can safely assess if CBD is still the correct choice for them. Often timing out the dosages or changing the dose of CBD or the other medications can allow them to be used together for the best of both worlds.
With proper care, current research indicates CBD can offer a treatment plan an irreplaceable tool for improving health without causing serious adverse side effects, even when there is potential for a drug interaction.
List Of Known Drugs CBD Interacts With
If either you or your pet is on one or more of the medications listed below, please consult the appropriate medical professional before using CBD. Just because a medication is listed below does not indicate that it can never be used in conjunction with CBD or another cannabis product. Nor does it mean you will personally see drug interactions or side effects from them. Instead, it simply means there is potential for an interaction that you should be aware of.
Our aim for this list is to give a comprehensive reference point. However, there is always the chance we could have missed some medications. As well, there are studies and clinical trials dedicated to the research of CBD and drug interactions currently in operations that could change our list.