If you’re reading this, chances are you have some gaps in your knowledge about cannabinoids, and you want to fill in those gaps—especially if they may benefit your pet’s overall health. Sure, you’ve probably heard of Cannabis, but what does that have to do with cannabinoids?
The truth is, the cannabis plant wouldn’t be anything without cannabinoids. These little compounds have the potential to pack a lot of punch for our sweet fur babies, and they’ve been the main focus in the wildly successful cannabis industry. So, what are cannabinoids and what kind of benefits can they potentially offer our furry friends?
What are Cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are broken down into two categories: phytocannabinoids and endocannabinoids.
By definition, phytocannabinoids are unique chemical compounds that naturally occur in the Cannabis sativa plant. These little compounds, when consumed, may serve unique and beneficial roles in our pets’ bodies. Researchers suggest that over 100 different cannabinoids have been identified in the cannabis plant, two of which have gained worldwide attention: Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD).
Endocannabinoids, on the other hand, are endogenous cannabinoids found in animals and humans. Only two endogenous cannabinoids have been discovered and identified within the body: Anandamide (the “bliss molecule”) and 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). These two molecules help make up the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) and send messages to activate the cannabinoid receptor cells (CB1 and CB2), which are found all throughout our pets’ bodies.
Amazingly, our pets’ endocannabinoids play a huge role in maintaining balance in their health. Administering certain plant derived-cannabinoids, in some cases, can actually help deliver these beneficial effects in their bodies. This is because certain cannabinoids affect our pets in different ways, and researchers are just starting to scratch the surface of the beneficial properties these cannabinoids contain.
Over the last few decades, scientists have been researching these incredible compounds to see what they offer the mammalian body. For now, scientists believe that phytocannabinoids, when consumed, directly and indirectly work with endocannabinoids (here’s a great link that explains more about phytocannabinoids as it relates to their potential benefits).
Structurally, phytocannabinoids and endocannabinoids are quite similar, but their functionality is different. When our pet’s endocannabinoid system is working properly, it produces the correct kind and amount of endocannabinoids their body needs. However, if their endocannabinoid system isn’t correctly producing the proper amount of endocannabinoids their body demands, problems can arise.
Scientists, when referring to to poorly functioning endocannabinoid systems, think the functionality of phytocannabinoids may help because they interact with cells in our pet’s bodies, and consuming them may help with various unwanted symptoms.
Benefits of Cannabinoids
Although scientists are still learning about cannabinoids’ effects on the mammalian body, the few studies that have been conducted show that certain phytocannabinoids do hold beneficial properties. But before we dive into the benefits of cannabinoids, it is important to note that certain cannabinoids may not hold a lot of value on their own. Cannabinoids research is still in its infancy, and what scientists know right now is that certain cannabinoids may only be helpful when combined with other cannabinoids in specific ratios. This is true especially for animals, who are more sensitive to phytocannabinoids than humans.
It’s worth noting that dogs, in particular, have more endocannabinoid receptors located in their brain than us humans. This makes them much more sensitive and susceptible to cannabinoid’s effects. This inherently means that pet owners must do their research, and consult with their veterinarian, before giving their pet certain cannabinoids.
Let’s begin with the (in)famous Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While we know that THC offers psychoactive effects in large amounts, it does NOT in trace amounts, and trace amounts actually add to the benefits these cannabinoid may proivde. Less than 0.3% THC is present in our full spectrum hemp oil products, and has been proven to offer no psychoactive effects, especially when high levels of CBD are present. On its own, THC is intoxicating and harmful for the extremely sensitive systems of our beloved fur babies. But in trace amounts, and combined with other cannabinoids, THC can help enhance the desired effect.
Cannabichromene (CBC) is a completely non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in small amounts in the cannabis sativa plant. CBD is known for supporting a healthy inflammatory response, promotes the body’s innate response to pathogens, and supports proper balance of normal intestinal flora. Generally, CBC is more effective when combined with other cannabinoids.
Cannabigerol (CBG) is another completely non-psychoactive cannabinoid that may offer tremendous benefits. It is known to be the chemical precursor to several other cannabinoids, giving it the “mother” title. While there is no scientific evidence that suggests it’s the precursor to ALL cannabinoids, it is in fact the precursor of THC, CBD and CBC. Full spectrum hemp oil with CBG is known for supporting cellular health, supporting the immune system, helping maintain joint mobility, and promotes a sense of relaxation without causing drowsiness. It is also well-known for helping maintain normal function of the urinary tract. As with CBC, the effects of CBG are enhanced when combined with other cannabinoids.
Cannabinol (CBN) is the byproduct of THC and is found in small amounts in the cannabis sativa plant. It’s mostly known for its effects on sleep. While little else is known about CBN, research suggests that CBN may help with physical discomfort. It works well with THC, too.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is the most talked about non-intoxicating cannabinoid in the cannabis industry. CBD supports a healthy inflammatory response and may support normal healthy brain activity and function. Studies also suggest that CBD could help with joint discomfort due to age-related issues. CBD performs well on its own, but when combined with other cannabinoids, its effects are typically enhanced.
While these benefits are thought provoking and compelling, more studies are desperately needed, as each animal responds differently to certain cannabinoids. Still, pet owners are noticing positive differences in their pets with the use of cannabinoids, and that anecdotal evidence is worth reading about!
If you think your pet may benefit from the qualities these cannabinoids offer, be sure to seek out reputable companies that offer “full spectrum” or “broad spectrum” hemp products specifically made for pets. Reputable brands have their products tested by an independent third party to ensure its quality, safety, and efficacy. They’ll also give you access to their COAs (Certificate of Analysis) upon request, or they may have them already displayed on their website. We take pride in reaching all of these necessary standards in order to ensure that you’re giving your pet the very best you can. As always, though, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian before introducing any product into your pet’s diet.