By now you’ve likely heard of the many benefits of CBD products for pets in the media. If not, we’ve written about some of these benefits already, including:
- Reducing stress and anxiety
- Reducing symptoms of cancer
- Treating seizures
- Relieving pain
- Promoting heart health
- Promoting skin and fur health
And, yes, they’re all backed up by clinical studies which we’ve linked in the articles mentioned above. However, while many of us know about these benefits, not so many of us understand how they take place.
What Is the Endocannabinoid System?
Simply put, the ECS is part of the microscopic world of neurotransmitters. A neurotransmitter is a molecule produced at the synapse (connection) of a neuron (brain cell). The function of the neurotransmitters is to trigger a signal in a connecting neuron, or to enter the bloodstream to find its way to other cells in the body. Confused? Don’t worry.
Let’s use a simple analogy. John and Jane are brain cells, and they want to talk to each other. The only way they can communicate is by sending each other emails. The email in this case is a neurotransmitter. So, to talk to Jane, John writes an email, sends it to Jane, she gets it, and they’re talking! Jane might then send an email back to John, or send another email to a fellow neuron, or perhaps to the bloodstream. Think of the bloodstream here as the internet of the body: there are lots of places she could send her email, from major organs, through to the immune system.
What Does the Endocannabinoid System Do?
The role of the ECS is ultimately one of balance, or homeostasis. Whereas hormones, for example, can sometimes get us very happy, or anxious, or angry, the ECS tries to balance this out so everything is functioning as it should. Without the ECS, feeling consistently anxious might lead to chronic mood disorders, or unduly tax our organs which are working harder as a result of consistently being stressed. That’s just one simple example, but the functions of the ECS in regulating our bodies, and those of our pets, is extremely varied and complex.
To go back to our earlier analogy, think of the ECS as the spell checker for all the emails being sent around the body. Without the spell checker, there can be typos, and the message received may not be properly understood. John emails Jane, there are typos, she then sends another email with more typos to the next neuron, Jim, and after being relayed (literally) millions of times across millions of neurons, the email at the end with the important instructions is nothing like what John originally sent. Your pet’s cells, organs, and immune system can be heavily compromised in this way.
The ECS works to ensure that each cell in the body is getting clear instructions, and this is a vital function in your pet’s body.
What Does All This Have to Do with CBD?!
We’re glad you asked. You see, there’s a particular type of signalling molecule we’re concerned with here: cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of a family of molecules known as cannabinoids.
There are two types of cannabinoids that we’ll focus on here: endocannabinoids, and phytocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are naturally produced by our bodies, and also in most other animals including mammals, birds, and fish. Phytocannabinoids are produced in plants, with hemp flowers producing the most in the plant kingdom.
This is where things get really interesting, and where the therapeutic properties of CBD products for pets (and humans!) come into play. You see, phytocannabinoids can mimic certain endocannabinoids.
How Does the CBD Work with the ECS Work in Dogs and Cats?
Many cells in our pets’ bodies (and in our own) have receptors on their surface that interact with cannabinoids. Sometimes, either due to environmental factors, or internal physical factors, like disease, as the brain relays instructions to major organs or the immune system there can be an imbalance. Perhaps the message is garbled, or perhaps the cell or organ is not doing what it’s supposed to. This is where CBD comes into play.
As a supplement to the endocannabinoids already produced within your pet’s body, CBD helps regulate every aspect of its healthy function: from mood and stress, through to heart function, and even helping to deal with cancer cells. If your pets’ body is stressed by having to fight something, sometimes there may not be enough CBD naturally produced in its body. This helps explain why adding supplemental CBD can help treat so many physical and psychological issues.
Whenever trying a new treatment or supplement, you should contact your health care professional, or a veterinarian for your pet. However, as we’ve noted above, the benefits of CBD for dogs and cats has been shown in various studies. Just be sure that when you’re looking at CBD products for pets, the company you’ll buy from has independent laboratory analyses of their products for potency and purity, like ours do here.
Do you use CBD for your cat or dog? How does it help? Let us know in the comments! And if you have any questions, feel free to reach out and email us. We’re always happy to help.