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Pets’ Endocannabinoid System

Like humans, pets have endocannabinoid systems that may play a role in regulation of mood, pain, sleep, and more. However, research on pets’ systems is much more limited than on humans, and significant differences have been found. This suggests that while CBD and other cannabinoids may have useful therapeutic value for pets, more research is needed to understand it.

What Is The Endocannabinoid System in Pets?

The endocannabinoid system in humans has gotten increasing attention in recent years, particularly as the internal system has clear bearings on many human states and emotions, including mood, memory, sleep, and more. This has been particularly important in research around CBD (and THC), as interactions between CBD and the endocannabinoid system appear to generate the effects of the substance in question, and may suggest cannabinoid efficacy in treating pain, anxiety, sleep, mood, and other disturbances.

For similar reasons, research has been conducted into the endocannabinoid system in animals — including common pets, like cats and dogs — albeit on a much smaller scale. While research on this subject is far more limited, understanding the role of the endocannabinoid system in pets may suggest ways to treat pets with anxiety disorders, sleep disorders, and other conditions.

How Does the Endocannabinoid System in Animals Work?

According to a 2019 review in the journal Animals, the endocannabinoid system is found in most mammals and consists of three categories: endogenous ligands, membrane receptors, and deactivating enzymes. However, these systems are not the same across different animal groups. For instance, the localization of cannabinoid receptors clearly differs across species; dogs have more CB1 receptors than humans in the hindbrain.

Can You Treat Your Pets With CBD?

There is some evidence, noted in the review above, that CBD can be effective in treating certain pets’ disorders. CBD — via the endocannabinoid system — clearly plays a role in modulation of anxiety and stress, modulation of inflammatory conditions, modulation of pain, and in other systems and bodily functions in humans. For these reasons, there is reason to believe it may play a similar role in dogs. One study, for instance, documented pain reduction effects in dogs. However, research on the subject remains extremely limited. Other studies, for example, have shown that CBD may not be effective at reducing anxiety in dogs. While CBD may be useful for your pet, and there is considerable anecdotal support for its efficacy in pets, it is best to consult with your vet before using CBD as a treatment for any particular condition or disease your pet may have.

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