In humans, consumption of the extract is now associated with several health benefits including reduced anxiety, pain relief, cardiovascular health and anticonvulsant activity. Dr Silver argues that many of these benefits are transferable to common domestic pets and CBD could offer a practical alternative to many expensive treatments.
According to statistics issued by the PFMA (Pet Food Manufacturing Association) around 11m (40%) of UK households have pets. The pet population stands at around 57 million. In 2016, pet insurers paid out £452 million in vet’s bills for sick or injured cats and dogs – that’s more than £1.2 million every day.
Dr. Silver said: “In the US, many pet owners have already been using CBD for some time. There are plenty of documented cases where CBD has been more effective than the strong drugs that are typically prescribed. Pain relief is a huge area and for those pets with arthritis, hip dysplasia or sore joints, we are finding that the use of hemp relieves their pain and gets them mobile again.”
He added: “Canine anxiety is another key area where CBD can have an impact. For example, during those occasions where people shoot off fireworks, dogs are often terrified and can remain this way for long periods. A CBD supplement can curb these emotions in your dog and protect the animal against unnecessary stress.”
CBD oils are sold in various strengths, via liquid drops or atomiser sprays which can be consumed directly or mixed with food and drink. Due to the methods used in the processing and extraction of this oil, the psychoactive ingredient in Cannabis, known as THC, is removed.
The pet variant, aimed primarily at cats and dogs, is available in a 60ml bottle priced at £49.99. It is recommended that 4 drops are used per 1kg of bodyweight, 2-3 times per day. Drops can be placed directly in the animal’s mouth or mixed with food.
Aside from anxiety and pain relief, Dr Silver has witnessed the effectiveness of CBD in other pet treatments.
“In my experience, for those dogs with uncomplicated epilepsy, the hemp extract will often work better than pharmaceuticals. I also have several oncologists in a study group with the extract and they have found that CBD can help to stop the seizures and twitches that can come with brain tumors. After just 6 weeks administering hemp, one oncologist saw a tumor on the tongue of a dog reduce in size from 2 cm diameter to 3 mm.
There are many potential applications that show great promise and we haven’t yet looked at its use for conditions like degenerative myelopathy, laryngeal paralysis, or vestibular syndrome, all of which are neurologic syndromes in the dog.”
Worldwide, the UK ranks second in the number of web searches for CBD products online. It is estimated that the global CBD industry is already worth around $200million and the UK market is expanding rapidly. Increased demand for Hemp has led to an additional 42,000 acres of crop-farming across the EU for its non-psychoactive compounds such as CBD, whilst the legal cannabis industry is experiencing worldwide exponential growth.
The US and Canada are seeing the future potential of hemp extract, where, like in the UK, pet owners spend vast amounts of money on prescription medicines. There is mounting evidence showing that in the right situations, CBD is a viable alternative.