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As a reminder, CBD — or cannabidiol — is the nonpsychoactive ingredient in the marijuana plant. The chemical that is responsible for weed’s psychoactive effects is called THC — or tetrahydrocannabinol — which is mostly removed from CBD products. The biggest difference between CBD and THC? THC gets you high, and CBD doesn’t.
So why would pets need CBD? Just like humans, cats and dogs can live with arthritis and anxiety, and one of the most stressful holidays of the year for anxious pets is the Fourth of July. Fireworks can be both triggering and stressful for anxious dogs because the sudden loud sounds can release adrenaline and stress hormones that tell their instincts to run. Unfortunately, that means a lot of dogs run away and go missing over the Fourth of July weekend.
With Independence Day coming up, a lot of pet parents are considering CBD to calm their dogs during fireworks shows — but is there any science to it? We wanted to learn more about whether CBD works for pups with anxiety, so we spoke with two licensed veterinarians to get their take.
Is it safe to give your pet CBD?
Dr. Adam Christman is an award-winning veterinarian from New Jersey and a board member of the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association who has written books and created YouTube videos about pet wellness. He said there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence showing benefits to CBD for pets, but not a ton of research out there about CBD generally — even for humans.
“I always preface this discussion by referencing the first scientific study of CBD oil in pets,” Christman said.
The study he’s referring to is a 2017 Cornell University study in which CBD oil was given twice daily to dogs with osteoarthritis. The study found it helped increase their comfort and activity.
“The results seem to support anecdotal reports of CBD oil’s benefits for pain and anxiety,” Christman said. “However, we are truly unsure of its true safety and potential drug interactions with traditional medications. Therefore, there’s a very gray zone on this.”
Dr. Ibrahim Shokry, a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine with over 30 years of veterinarian experience, said there are still certain pet health concerns that can be address with CBD.
“It can be used in the treatment of certain types of seizures, to control pain, inflammation, nausea, vomiting, to stimulate appetite and to manage anxiety,” Shokry said. “All these uses are based on experiences, but controlled clinical studies are needed in dogs and cats to establish efficacy and safety.”
Would CBD help anxious pets on the Fourth of July?
Both vets agree that more research is needed to definitively say CBD can help anxious pets. Still, Showry said CBD is generally safe to use on pets if you’re buying pet products from a reputable source and use them in the correct dose. The substances’ sedating and calming effects may help the animals cope with the anxiety caused by fireworks.
What’s the TL;DR version?
If your dog is on any kind of traditional medication, chat with your vet before giving it CBD treats or tinctures. In other situations, proceed with care and caution, and follow the product’s recommended dosing guidelines. It’s generally a good rule of thumb to reach out to your vet before giving your pet any new products for health or wellness.
Still, if you are interested in learning more about CBD to calm your pet’s anxiety during fireworks this Fourth of July (and beyond), we’ve rounded up some reputable and popular CBD products for pets that are worth browsing. And, if you want more of our editor-sourced products and reviews, sign up for HuffPost’s sales and deals newsletter.
Take a look below:
Medterra Pets CBD Joint Support Soft Chews
Purfurred Pet 200mg CBD for Dogs
Proper Hemp Co. CBD Beef Chews for Dogs
Medterra Pets CBD Tincture in Beef Flavour
Medix CBD Oil for Dogs – Bacon Flavor
Therabis CBD Dog Treats Calm & Quiet
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.