Endocannabinoids are one of the most versatile signalling molecules known to date. ECS creates homeostasis in the body because it is involved in a variety of processes, including pain, memory, mood, appetite, stress, metabolism, sleep, immune and reproductive functions. When the system is disrupted or damaged, it triggers a whole range of disorders and diseases - for example anxiety, stress, inflammation, nausea, arthritis, epilepsy and cancer.
CBD and THC have a similar chemical structure to the body's own ECS, which allows them to interact with cannabinoid receptors.
Endocannabinoid system in animals: How does it work?
Several studies have shown that ECS is not only present in humans, but even in primitive creatures such as sea squirts and flatworms. In 2012, the University of Pisa conducted a study in dogs. It was found that cannabinoid receptors of two types are present in the skin of both healthy dogs and dogs with atopic dermatitis. Another study dates from 2018. The Veterinary University of Hannover concluded that ECS is involved in immunomodulation. Regardless of the species, the endocannabinoid system consists of three essential components
The metabolic enzymes FAAH (fatty acid amide hydrolase) and MAGL (monoacylglycerol lipase) have two functions: to accelerate the synthesis of endocannabinoids and to degrade them once they have fulfilled their purpose. The ECS mechanism is different from neurotransmission and hormonal processes. It quickly releases enzymes and stops the action of cannabinoids. Neurotransmitters and hormones can in turn remain active and be stored in the body.
Cannabinoid receptors are located in cell membranes distributed throughout the body and we can compare them to auto-ignition, which affects a whole range of functions in the body: pain perception, immune system, mood, sleep and neurogenesis.
So far we know of two types of receptors: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are located in the brain and spinal cord and are related to the central nervous system. CB2 receptors are embedded in peripheral tissues and mainly influence inflammatory processes, immune and digestive systems.
THC or CBD?
THC and CBD are the most common cannabinoids, and despite their similar chemical structures, their psychoactive effects are very different.
THC binds to CB1 receptors in the brain, leading to a high feeling of euphoria. Other side effects include increased heart rate, coordination problems, red eyes, dry mouth, slower reaction and memory loss. High levels of THC can have long-term adverse psychiatric effects.
CBD is considered safe for animal treatment because it does not bind to CB1 receptors and therefore has no psychoactive effect. CBD oil extracted from hemp is absorbed into the animal's bloodstream and begins to regulate its physiological processes. This phytocannabinoid is normally well tolerated even in high units.
How CBD can be used in animal treatment
The list of CBD's effects on animals is long and not yet final, as research is constantly providing new evidence, and in this article we focus on the most commonly studied health problems.
You may find that your pet is afraid of toys, gets nervous when left alone or hides in the house, and if this behavior is typical, it is a clear sign of anxiety.
We can distinguish between situational and behavioural fear.
Situational fear occurs when your pet reacts to immediate triggers such as strangers, another dog barking, or fireworks.
Behavioural fear is triggered by past experiences. for example, an animal may remember separation from its previous owner or cruel treatment. this type of fear is more complex and includes several subtypes: separation, rescue/previous protection, disease-related and general fear.
CBD can reduce anxiety: Just like with us humans, CBD can also alleviate anxiety in our pets.
Infections in cats and dogs
our cats are exposed to pathogenic bacteria on a daily basis. most of the time their immune system can resist infection. if the immune system is weak, bacteria find a way to multiply and spread in the cat's body.
Dogs are no less susceptible to infections than cats. Similar to cat infections, the source of these bacteria is contaminated water, dairy products, faeces, or undercooked meat. Puppies and older dogs are also at higher risk of infection.
CBD in the fight against bacteria
According to the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland in Australia, CBD has already been tested against a variety of bacteria, including those that have become resistant to the most commonly used antibiotics. This research is particularly important as the World Health Organization admits that antibiotic resistance is reaching dangerously high levels.
During the research, scientists tested CBD's ability to kill bacteria. work on test tubes and animal models showed that CBD was in every case as effective as conventional antibiotics. the researchers tested CBD against some strains of streptococci, which cause sore throats, and staphylococci, which cause skin infections.
Scientists investigated how quickly CBD can kill the bacteria, and it turned out to be quite fast, lasting up to three hours. Commercially available antibiotics eliminate bacteria in six or even eight hours.
CBD helps to facilitate the penetration of antibiotics and kill the bacteria, and finally, laboratory studies showed that CBD is less likely to cause resistance than antibiotics.
CBD for pain
Traditional pain management for acute and chronic pain includes a range of drugs such as steroids, opioids and antihistamines. All these chemicals have a number of side effects, which in turn are treated with other drugs.
CBD is considered an alternative to conventional drugs. the "magic" of CBD is that it can up- and down-regulate neuronal transmissions. this means that the body's homeostasis moves towards a healthy state. the CBD effect is often compared to that of acupuncture. in addition, CBD prevents the body from absorbing anandamide, a compound related to the regulation of pain.
The antiseptic, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of CBD also promote healing in the body, and animals can suffer from wounds of different types:
At Year 2018 scientists from the University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS) and the Department of Pharmacology of the Faculty of Medicine of São Paulo studied the effects of cannabidiol on oral wound healing in rats. the research shows what effect CBD has on ECS. the ECS system in animals is involved in the healing process. CBD can accelerate the healing process and encourage the animal's body to produce more cannabinoids.
Cancer in animals
CBD can relieve different types of pain during cancer treatment. It can also relieve symptoms caused by cancer. By stimulating the ECS system, CBD can reduce inflammation, pain, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and nausea, and it can reduce the spread of cancer cells. Although research on CBD in dogs and cats is still in its infancy, research by Michael P. Barnes, honorary professor of neurological rehabilitation at Newcastle University, shows that CBD can even help stop the harmful cell growth in tumors.
Animal dosage forms of CBD
CBD supplements for animals are produced in the following forms:
Oil tinctures are supplied in glass bottles with a pipette that allows you to measure the exact dosage and there are several ways to give your pet an oil tincture.
You can inject the tincture directly into the mouth of your pet. Try it under the tongue so that the oil can be absorbed directly into the pet's bloodstream. If your pet does not allow this, spray the product on the back of the tongue. Afterwards, it's important to give some food to make sure your furry friend has swallowed the supplement.
capsules are said to contain full-spectrum CBD, terpenes and flavonoids mixed with natural hemp. manufacturing companies stress the advantage of capsules over tinctures and suggest that they are more convenient to use. the optimal dose has already been calculated and does not need to be measured each time.
Infused treats are an alternative to CBD gums, which come in a variety of shapes and flavors.
Research on CBD effects in animals is still in its infancy, but the available clinical studies and testimonies from animal owners suggest that CBD has the potential to complement treatment even in the most severe health conditions.