CBD has been exploding in popularity recently. You’ve likely seen advertisements all over about the positive effects that this compound can have for you, and even for your pets. More and more, pet foods and supplements are containing CBD to bring benefits to our pets, including horses. Horse treats made with CBD are now commonplace, and many horse owners are turning to CBD as a natural alternative to other medications.
Though CBD is certainly not new, the research on it is. There’s still limited research concerning CBD’s use with horses, so most of what we know is anecdotal or comes from research performed on other species, such as humans, dogs, or cats. Our knowledge of CBD is expanding every day, but this article will outline what we know about CBD right now, so you can decide whether it’s a good option for your horses or not.
What Is CBD?
CBD stands for cannabidiol, and it’s just one of more than 80 cannabinoids that can be found in the cannabis plant. Long used for medication, the cannabis plant has gotten a different reputation as a mind-altering drug due to another cannabinoid it contains known as THC. THC is the cannabinoid within cannabis that causes psychoactive effects, also known as the high. But CBD is an entirely different compound, and there’s no high associated with CBD.
Though it doesn’t produce any noticeable changes to your mindset, CBD does other things in the body. For instance, CBD can lower pain and inflammation. It can also help reduce the effects of arthritis. CBD can even inhibit neuropathic and inflammatory pain, which Harvard Health Publishing says are the most difficult forms of pain to treat. Granted, these effects have all been shown in humans, not horses, but it’s believed that similar effects carry over to other species.
CBD has still more proven benefits. It’s effective at treating several forms of epilepsy, for instance. You can also take CBD to help with anxiety, and it’s shown effectiveness against insomnia as well.
Is CBD Safe for Horses?
As you can see, CBD comes with some impressive effects. The question remains, is it safe for horses? We know it’s alright for humans, but horses are an entirely different species. According to Ph.D. and equine nutritionist Juliet M. Getty, there’s no real research to show CBD horse safety, but anecdotally, things are looking good. Horse owners who have administered CBD seem to report that the compound has a similar effect on a horse’s endocannabinoid system as it does on a human, without any signs of mind alterations or adverse effects.
Side Effects of CBD
When appropriately dosed, CBD doesn’t have any negative side effects, though you can cause some mild effects with overdosing. These include:
Benefits of CBD for Horses
There’s very little research on the benefits of CBD for horses. That said, we do know a lot about how CBD use affects humans, and we can surmise that many of the effects should be the same for our equestrian counterparts. Also, users that have given their horses CBD have anecdotally shown some positive benefits for their horses. Some of these include:
How Much CBD Should Horses Be Given?
It appears that horses are quite a bit more sensitive to CBD than other animals. They’re also much larger, so though the dose-per-pound for a horse might be lower than dogs or cats, the overall dosage will be much higher. Often, if people aren’t seeing the desired effects from CBD with their horses, the problem is under-dosing. Remember, horses weigh 1,000 pounds or more. It takes a good amount of CBD to work on such a sizable creature.
The general guideline is 100 mg–125 mg for a full-size horse. Of course, there’s no research to support this; it’s a number picked anecdotally that many users seem to have success with. But this is for a standard therapeutic dose. If your horse is in severe pain or has major inflammation from arthritis, you might need to administer up to four times this amount, for a total of 400 mg–500 mg at most.
Every horse owner will have to decide what’s right for their horses. Only you know your horse’s situation. CBD has been shown to slow down arthritis and reduce pain and inflammation in humans. Horse owners say it does the same in horses, but you’ll have to see for yourself since there’s no thorough research on the topic as of yet. Until the research is performed, you’ll have to trust your best judgment. Luckily, CBD seems to be essentially harmless in small doses, so it probably won’t hurt to try it if your horse is suffering from symptoms that CBD could help alleviate.
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