Cannabidiol (CBD) and horses: What is it good for?
Hemp seeds, from which hemp oil is extracted. © ElinorD [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5], from Wikimedia Commons CBD. Whether you’re already using it, you’re thinking about it, or just plain never heard of it, it’s worth getting more familiar with. No, it is not the latest “snake oil” touting cures from hair loss to ingrown toenails. Instead, it is a chemical messenger in the “endocannabinoid system”, a natural and crucial part of the body. Research on this system is extensive, with years of examination and hundreds of studies.
My goal in writing this article is to offer you an overview of how CBD can impact your health as well as the health of your horses, dogs 1 , and cats. From a personal perspective, I have experienced significant pain relief from sciatica. Many of my clients have decided to use it for themselves, offering them better sleep, lessened anxiety and depression, improved digestive health, allergy relief, and reduced pain.
Chester is my 22-year-old horse. He suffers from arthritis in his hocks and knees and is now moving with much greater ease. Clients who have decided to try CBD for their horses have offered very positive feedback. Inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis and ulcerations are showing improvement, as well as pain relief from laminitis. Horses with anxiety or “sensitive” behavior, have a more relaxed demeanor. And, metabolic conditions may be potentially alleviated, which is quite exciting. While it’s too soon to tell if leptin and insulin levels are declining from CBD treatment, there have been studies showing how CBD reduces insulin resistance and obesity 2 , as well as appetite, in people with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. 3
What is CBD and is it marijuana?
CBD is short for “cannabidiol”, one of more than 80 different cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. CBD and THC are the two most studied, and this is where many misunderstandings stem from.
Cannabis sativa L. (genus, species, and subspecies) is the “umbrella term” for the plants known as hemp and marijuana. Marijuana is particularly high in THC, the cannabinoid that creates a psychoactive “high.” CBD, on the other hand, does not create this effect.
Hemp-derived CBD is not marijuana. Although both hemp and marijuana belong to the Cannabis genus, their genetic composition distinguishes them to produce vastly different amounts of THC. Hemp-derived CBD is high in CBD and very low in THC (less than 0.3%).
Though hemp-derived CBD is legal in all 50 US states, thanks to the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill 4 , federal law does not preempt state law, and there are still some restrictions within various states 5 . Just as many cities throughout the country prohibit alcohol sales, there are local and state laws that restrict industrial hemp products. But bottom line, it is legal to purchase and consume hemp-derived CBD products. The FDA 6 does not regulate it so it behooves you to choose a reputable company that is willing to disclose the source, extraction method, and analysis of their products.
A young cannabis plant in the vegetative stage. Plantlady223 [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
What is the endocannabinoid system?
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a major signaling system that exists in you and your animals. It continually monitors any instability within the body and returns it to a state of balance or homeostasis so that the internal environment remains stable.
CBD and other cannabinoids are compounds that activate this system. Cannabinoids, both naturally produced by the body (endogenous), and those supplemented from cannabis (exogenous), act as “keys” to these receptors, turning on a variety of functions.
Within the ECS there are two main cell receptors — CB1 and CB2:
- CB1 receptors exist mainly in the brain and central nervous system. They impact areas such as appetite regulation, memory, emotions, and feelings of pain.
- CB2 receptors are concentrated in the gastrointestinal tract and peripheral nervous system (nerve cells outside the brain and spinal cord) and modulate immune cell functions. When activated, they help reduce inflammation.
Endogenous cannabinoids are produced when the body signals that they are required, but are quickly degraded. Offering CBD (exogenous cannabinoid) allows the ECS to work harder and be more productive to help us and our animals deal with health issues such as:
- Anxiety and depression 7
- Insomnia 8
- Pain and inflammation 9
- obesity/increased appetite/leptin resistance 10,11
- Metabolic syndrome/insulin resistance 12
- Immune deficiencies and autoimmune diseases 13
- Digestive disturbances/ulcers/colitis 14
CBD has a favorable safety profile 15 . If overdosed, it can have some mild effects. These can include drowsiness, decreased blood pressure, dizziness, fatigue, and diarrhea. If you or your animals experience any of these, you can cut back on the dosage. Long-term use appears to be safe, though further research is needed.
Noteworthy: Until we know more, CBD should not be taken by pregnant women, though many women purport relief from nausea during pregnancy. Consult your veterinarian before giving it to a pregnant animal. It should not be given to children without professional permission. Since it can interact with some drugs 16 , including anti-epileptic and blood thinner medications, it is best to consult with your doctor or pharmacist when you have any doubts.
Let’s talk horses
As of this date, there are few, if any, research studies that use horses as subjects. But I expect this will quickly change as more and more companies are selling CBD for equine consumption. In the meantime, anecdotal responses are highly favorable. From first-hand accounts of horse owners, hemp-derived CBD appears to stimulate the horse’s ECS in the same way it does yours. It is well tolerated, without any euphoric or adverse effects. Specific health conditions that CBD may improve, based on currently available studies with humans and laboratory animals include:
- Pain 17 from arthritis 18 or laminitis
- Anxiety during stall confinement 19
- Stress during traveling and shows 20
- Ulcers and leaky gut 21
- Healing from surgery or injury 22
- Immune system depression from oxidative stress 23 experienced with Cushing’s disease
- Appetite regulation 24
- Obesity 25
- Inflammation, with the potential to reduce leptin levels 26
- Insulin resistance 23
Horse competition rules and testing
The FEI and the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) have strict rules regarding medicating horses before events. Recently, the USEF announced that as of September 1, 2019, positive test results for cannabinoids will incur violations.
Since it is THC that is detectable by a blood or urine test, it is highly unlikely for a positive test result to occur since hemp-derived CBD contains only minute amounts of THC. Nonetheless, it is possible, so it is best to discontinue its use 7 to 10 days before an event. Even if you choose a CBD isolate or broad-spectrum product (which does not contain any THC), it is best to err on the side of caution by stopping before an event.
Choose a safe, quality product
First, know where the hemp was grown. Choose products grown in the US or Canada. If it was grown overseas with potentially relaxed growing standards, it could be contaminated with chemicals, bacteria, and heavy metals that put your health at risk.
To ensure a clean, safe product, it is best to buy CBD that has been tested and offers a Certificate of Analysis (COA) posted on the company’s website This document shows how the company meets and adheres to product specifications and standards of production.
Some other things to pay attention to with CBD products:
- Check the label for accurate CBD content per dose.
- Choose a product from an organic source.
- Look for the percentage of THC on a provided COA.
CBD isolate, full-spectrum, or broad-spectrum?
CBD isolate means that the product contains only CBD with no other naturally occurring cannabinoids, including THC. That also means that other substances that are found in the plant, such as terpenes and flavonoids, have been fully extracted.
If you are undergoing a drug test for a job, it is best to use the isolate or stop your usage of the full-spectrum product a week or two before the test.
Full-spectrum is a whole plant CBD, meaning that it contains CBD and other cannabinoids (less than 0.3% THC), as well as terpenes, flavonoids, and active essential oils.
Broad-spectrum products also contain the whole plant compounds like full-spectrum, but the THC has been removed.
The “entourage effect”. It used to be thought that CBD isolate was the best approach. But it is now better understood that the cannabinoids and plant compounds found in full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD create a synergism where they work together to complement each other, offering a greater impact on health conditions.
It’s important to note that dogs and cats can benefit from hemp-derived full-spectrum CBD, even though they cannot tolerate THC from marijuana. The tiny amount of THC found in this product is safe may further increase the entourage effect.
Why is it so expensive?
It takes a lot of hemp plants to create a CBD oil (tincture). Products called “ hemp oil ” are not necessarily concentrated with CBD. Hempseed oil is a nutritious oil, high in essential fatty acids, but it is not a good source of CBD. Before you buy, read the label carefully to determine just how much CBD exists in the product.
What extraction method is best?
When researching a CBD product for you and your animals, it is best to know the extraction method used to remove CBD from the plant. Going through each method is beyond the scope of this article, but the approach that is most complete and the cleanest is a CO2 extraction. It uses carbon dioxide (CO2) to extract CBD from the plant to create products that are pure and very powerful.
How much CBD is in one dose?
The label should provide you with the amount of CBD per dose. But it can be confusing.
When using a CBD tincture, you should see the number of mgs of CBD in the full bottle. Some products can be very diluted, so be sure the manufacturer’s label is detailed and specific.
Many tinctures will offer directions by the “dropper-full.” But getting a full dropper is not always possible or can be inaccurate. The best approach is to first determine the amount of CBD in each drop. By knowing how many mgs are in each drop, you can accurately dispense the desired dosage.
To do this, you need to know these three things:
- There are 30ml of oil in a typical CBD tincture bottle,
- A full dropper-full is 1ml, and
- There are 20 drops in a ml
1. CBD tincture that offer 2500mg of CBD in the entire 30ml bottle:
- Divide 2500 by 30 to get the number of mg per dropper-full (1ml). This calculates to be 83.3mg of CBD in 1ml
- Divide 83.3 by 20 to give you the level of CBD per drop. This calculates to be about 4mg per drop.
2. CBD tincture for pets that offers 250mg of CBD in the entire 30ml bottle:
- 250 divided by 30 = 8.3mg of CBD in one dropper-full (1ml)
- 8.3 divided by 20 = .42mg (slightly less than ½mg) of CBD per drop
Other forms of CBD such as pellets, gummies, capsules, and topicals should offer specific amounts of CBD per dose.
What is the best dosage?
Dosages are weight dependent and based on the severity of the situation. It is best to start slowly, and then increase the dose as needed. A little trial and error is necessary to find the right dose that is best for you or your animals. Keep in mind that it takes about 2 weeks for the body to experience relief and will continue to improve over time.
Dosage recommendations are not standardized. However, through research studies and applications, here are generalized daily guidelines. I have found that dividing the dose into two servings is better than administering once daily.
- Under 25lbs: 10mg
- 25 to 75lbs: 10 to 20mg
- 75 or more lbs: 20-40mg
- Less than 100lbs: 20 to 40mg
- 100 to 174lbs: 30 to 60mg
- Over 175lbs: 60 to 90mg
- Minis: 25 to 50mg
- Full sized (1100lbs): 75 to 170mg
- Large breeds: 120 to 200mg
How to administer CBD
There are several ways to provide CBD:
- Sublingual: Placing the drops under the tongue and holding them there for 30 seconds provides good bioavailability and kicks in quickly. This is difficult to do for animals and is not recommended since most droppers are made of glass and can cause injury if bitten.
- Oral: Adding CBD to food, swallowing a CBD capsule, or chewing a CBD gummy, will take the longest time for the effects to become apparent, but this method is longer lasting than under the tongue. Pellets (typically available for animals) that are extruded are better absorbed than pellets that use binders, providing improved bioavailability and hence, lower effective dosing 27 .
- Pulmonary: CBD vapes are available. While this has the highest bioavailability, it has the shortest duration of action. I typically do no recommend this for people with any respiratory conditions, since it could be potentially harmful.
- Topical: CBD is absorbed well into the skin and is beneficial for targeted areas 28 .
Even though experts have been studying for decades the benefits of CBD, there is still research that needs to be done, especially for horses. Nevertheless, the outcome thus far is encouraging, revealing long-reaching benefits on the natural endocannabinoid system, providing relief from mental and physical ailments that affect us, our families, and our animals.
 Kogan, L., Schoenfeld-Tacher, R., Hellyer, P., and Rishniw, M., 2018. US veterinarians’ knowledge, experience, and perception regarding the use of cannabidiol for canine medical conditions. Frontiers of Veterinary Science, volume 10.
 Parray, H.A., and Yun, J.W., 2016. Cannabidiol promotes browning in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, volume 416, number 1-2, 131-139.
 Tarragon, E., and Moreno, J.J., 2019. Cannabinoids, chemical senses, and regulation of feeding behavior. Chemical Senses, Vol 44, pages 73-89.
 Everything you need to know about the 2018 Farm Bill (updated): http://bit.ly/2XhZuiI
 Is CBD oil legal in all 50 states? http://bit.ly/321o5M9
 FDA regulations of cannabis and cannabis-derived products. http://bit.ly/2JezpvH
 De Gregorio, D., McLaughlin, R.J., Posa, L., et al., 2019. Cannabidiol modulates serotonergic transmission and reverses both allodynia and anxiety-like behavior in a model of neuropathic pain. Pain, volume 160, number 1, 136-150.
 Maple, K.E., McDaniel, K.A., Shollenbarger, S.G., and Lisdahl, K.M., 2017. Dose-dependent cannabis use, depressive symptoms, and FAAH genotype predict sleep quality in emerging adults: A pilot study. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, volume 42, number 4, 431-440.
 Hammell, D.C., Zhang, L.P., Ma, F., Abshire, S.M., et al., 2015. Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviors in rat model of arthritis. European Journal of Pain, Vol 20, Number 6.
 Kunos, G., Osei-Hyiaman, D., Liu, J., et al., 2008. Endocannabinoids and the control of energy homeostasis. Journal of Biological Chemistry, volume 283, number 48, 33021-33025.
 Rossi, F., Punzo, F., Umano, G.R., et al., 2018. Role of cannabinoids in obesity. International Journal of Molecular Science, volume 19, number 9.
 Mastinu, A., Premoli, M., Ferrari-Toninelli, G., et. al., 2018. Cannabinoids in health and disease: Pharmacological potential in metabolic syndrome and neuroinflammation. Hormone Molecular Biology and Clinical Investigation, Vol 36, Number 2.
 Zgair, A., Lee, J.B., Wong, J.C.M., et al., 2017. Oral administration of cannabis with lipids leads to high levels of cannabinoids in the intestinal lymphatic system and prominent immunomodulation. Scientific Reports.
 Irving, P.M., Iqbal, T., Nwokolo, C., et al., 2018. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group, pilot study of cannabidiol-rich botanical extract in the symptomatic treatment of ulcerative colitis. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, Vol 24, Number 4.
 Iffland, K., and Grotenhermen, F., 2017. An update on safety and side effects of cannabidiol: A review of clinical data and relevant animal studies. Cannabis Cannabinoid Research, volume 2, number 1, 139-154.
 Medical cannabis – adverse effects and drug reactions. http://bit.ly/2Xcq6BE
 Cannabidiol: A new option for patients in pain? DVM360, September 2017, p 32-33.
 Malaita, A.M., Gallily, R., Sumariwalla, P.F., et al., 2000. The nonpsychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an oral anti-arthritic therapeutic in murine collagen-induced arthritis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA.
 Maroon, J., and Bost, J., 2018. Review of the neurological benefits of phytocannabinoids. Surgical Neurology International, volume 9.
 Campos, A.C., Moreira, F.A., Gomes, F.V., et al., 2012. Multiple mechanisms involved in the large-spectrum therapeutic potential of cannabidiol in psychiatric disorders. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society London Series B Biological Science, volume 367, number 1607, pages 3364-3378.
 Couch, D.G., Cook, H., Ortori, C, et.al., 2019. Palmitoylethanolamide and cannabidiol prevent inflammation-induced hyperpermeability of the human gut in vitro and in vivo – A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind controlled trial. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, Vol 25, Number 6.
 Styrczewska, M., Kostyn, A, Kulma, A., et al., 2015. Flax fiber hydrophobic extract inhibits human skin cells inflammation and causes remodeling of extracellular matrix and wound closure activation. Biomedical Research International.
 Booz, G.W., 2012., Cannabidiol as an emergent therapeutic strategy for lessening the impact of inflammation on oxidative stress. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, volume 5, number 5.
 Garamond, J.A., Whalley, B.J., and Williams, C.M., 2012. Cannabinol and cannabidiol exert opposing effects on rat feeding patterns. Psychopharmacology, volume 223, number 1, 117-129.
 Ignatowska-Jankowska, B., Jankowski, M.M., and Swiergiel, A.H., 2011. Cannabidiol decreases body weight gain in rats: Involvement of CB2 receptors. Neuroscience Letters, 490, 82-84.
 Tarragon, E., and Moreno, J.J., 2019. Cannabinoids, chemical senses, and regulation of feeding behavior. Chemical Senses, Vol 44, pages 73-89.
 Forefront Equine makes an excellent extruded CBD pellet without THC. Available on Dr. Getty’s Free Shipping Store: http://bit.ly/2KOL7Al
 Hammell, D.C., Zhang, L.P., Ma, F., Abshire, S.M., et al., 2015. Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviors in rat model of arthritis. European Journal of Pain, Vol 20, Number 6.
Juliet M Getty
Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. has been called a “pioneer in free choice forage feeding,” and her articles and interviews often appear in national and international publications. » Read Juliet’s profile
Is CBD Safe For Horses? The Ultimate Guide to Equine CBD
If you’re considering giving your horse CBD, there are a few important things you should know. Find out how to use CBD with your horse safely & effectively.
You care more about your horse than anyone else. So, when she started turning down food due to pain — you decided to try something different and have been looking into using CBD with your horse.
The truth is, you’re not alone.
More and more equestrians give their horses CBD these days for chronic pain, inflammation, and a host of other symptoms.
Recent evidence shows that CBD is safe, non-toxic, and non-addictive, and safe for animals — including horses.
If you’ve been thinking about giving your horse CBD, keep reading for tips on calculating an effective dose. We’ll also cover how to stay safe when giving CBD supplements to horses and discuss the different ways of administering CBD to your trusty steed.
Table of Contents
Best CBD Oils for Horses
First and foremost, what are the best CBD oils to use for horses?
The truth is that you don’t actually need a specific oil for horses. All CBD oil will work for horses just as they do for humans, and spending extra money on horse-specific products will only serve to markup the price.
The main factor to consider is the size of the animal. Horses are huge animals and may require relatively high doses of CBD. For this reason, we recommend going for some of the higher potency options when it comes to dosing your horse.
Here’s a collection of the best high-potency CBD oils on the market that are safe to use with horses:
(Best Overall) (USA)
Why Are People Using CBD With Horses?
Horse-owners use CBD to support the horse’s well-being. CBD’s anti-inflammatory and anxiolytic effects may help horses manage symptoms of common ailments, including:
That said, CBD is not used to “cure” common conditions in horses but to improve the animal’s quality of life. CBD in horses is also used to aid natural metabolic processes and speed recovery after a big day of exercise.
CBD may support horses in the following areas of health:
Some companies make specific CBD pet oils for arthritis or other chronic health conditions. These products are formulated with various other ingredients to help with a specific symptom or condition. You can find CBD pet oils for cancer, epilepsy, anxiety, and more.
Most of these formulas are marketed for dogs because there are many more dog owners than horse owners — but these oils are perfectly safe for both animals. Just be aware that the dose for a horse will be a lot higher than a dose for a dog.
Is CBD Safe For Horses?
Horses, like humans, have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) — which functions as a regulatory system in the body to maintain homeostasis (balance) of many different areas.
Some basic functions of the ECS include regulating digestion, sleep, appetite, inflammation, mood, immune function, temperature, memory, and more.
Although there are no horse-specific studies involving CBD — most of the research performed on both humans and animals shows that CBD is non-toxic and non-addictive .
In fact, even when administered in higher doses, CBD is well-tolerated by both humans and animals.
Some common side effects of CBD in animals include diarrhea, drowsiness, dizziness, and dry mouth — all of which are mild in nature and tend to only result from using very high doses.
CBD May Help Your Horse When Nothing Else is Working
Many times, both hemp CBD and marijuana are used as a last resort for horses with painful chronic conditions.
One example of marijuana use in horses is Tori, a 16-year-old Paso Fino with equine melanoma. When Tori’s owner got the news of the horse’s probable euthanasia, she decided to turn to cannabis as the last option.
So, over the course of a few years, Tori’s owner used cannabis oil (a mix of 6% THC and 11.7% CBD) to keep her alive. Luckily, cannabis had a great long-term effect on Tori.
“Update from 2020: Tori’s tumors continue to look good, and she continues passing full rectums of manure nearing 3 years after it was first proposed to euthanize her for bowel blockage.”
Now, we wouldn’t recommend you give your horse marijuana without consulting a vet, but Tori’s story’s message is that cannabis won’t hurt your horse if used responsibly.
In fact, one veterinarian is making a case for the responsible use of THC in animals by comparing it to common pain medications. The logic behind that is that if you give your animal the minimum lethal dose of THC (3000 mg/kg for dogs), the animal will experience the same intoxication as if it accidentally ate an entire bottle of pain meds.
Now, back to hemp CBD.
Another horse owner decided to give hemp CBD pellets to his horse post-colic surgery. When the owner noticed that one scoop of CBD pellets twice a day didn’t show any results, he increased the dosage to two scoops twice a day and noticed a “huge difference.”
“His lingering edema almost completely went away within a few weeks, and he’s been moving so much more forward and pain-free. People are amazed at how quickly he’s bouncing back in under saddle work now.”
Furthermore, one case report found that 250 mg of pure crystalline cannabidiol administered by mouth twice daily helped a 4-year-old Quarter Horse with a 5-week history of “marked sensitivity to touch” — when traditional meds showed no improvement in clinical signs. When the animal started taking CBD, the clinical signs resolved after two just days .
Dosing Guidelines: How Much CBD Should I Give My Horse?
Now, the most important part is, “How much CBD should I give my horse?”
Animals are more sensitive to CBD — horses in particular. According to Dr. Luedke, a veterinarian and leading expert on CBD for horses, Horses require lower and less frequent doses of CBD than other animals.
Dr. Leudke stated that horses need longer dosing intervals than other species and seem to be more sensitive on the “per kilogram” dosing model.
For example, if a CBD dose of 1-2 milligrams per kilogram works well for dogs, horses need a lower dose — ranging from 0.25-1 milligrams per kilogram.
Horses’ sensitivity to CBD may or may not be attributed to how they digest food. As hindgut (large intestine) fermenters, horses get most of their energy through fermentation, not digestion like other animals do.
According to Kentucky Equine Research, simple things such as “feeding too much grain, improper ratios of forage and grain, or moldy forage or grain” can wreak havoc on the equine digestive system. This sensitivity may make horses more susceptible to CBD.
So, when you start giving your horse CBD, make sure you start low and increase the dose gradually. Starting with low CBD doses allows you to track your horse’s progress and adjust the dose when you start to see benefits.
Many people will start with the baseline dose of 40 mg and increase it until they reach the desired results. According to Dr. Juliet M. Getty, the best dosage for horses are as follows:
- Minis (400-660 lbs) — 25 to 50 mg
- Full-sized (660-1110 lbs) — 75 to 170 mg
- Large breeds (1100-1800) — 120 to 200 mg
1. Calculating CBD Oil Dosage For Horses
If you’re using CBD oils, first look at the size of the bottle and the amount of CBD inside. Then, you divide the amount of CBD by the size of the bottle. This will give you the oil potency in milligrams of CBD per milliliter of oil (mg/mL).
So, if your bottle is 30 mL and contains 3000 mg of CBD, you get 100 mg of CBD in 1 mL (a full dropper) — 3000mg/30mL = 100 mg/mL.
Once you know the potency, you can use simple math to find the right dose. If you have an oil with 100 mg/mL CBD, and you want a dose of 40 mg — all you have to do is give 0.4 mL (40% full dropper).
Our product reviews include the potency of each oil in case you’re not math-savvy.
CBD Oil for Horses [The Complete Guide]
With the CBD industry snowballing, it was only a matter of time before people started giving it to their animals. While the cannabinoid is already popular for cats and dogs, CBD oil for horses is less common. However, several companies have now started formulating CBD products specifically for our equine friends.
This article explains all about CBD for horses, its potential benefits, safety, and where to buy. Read on to learn more.
CBD Oil for Horses: How Does It Work?
Like all mammals, horses have an endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system has a vital regulatory function within the body. It is composed of cell receptors and chemicals known as endocannabinoids.
When these chemicals and receptors bind together, they trigger reactions that help maintain internal balance. The ECS plays a role in everything from appetite to inflammation and mood.
Plant cannabinoids like CBD can also interact with this system and enhance many of its crucial functions. Furthermore, they do so in a way that causes very few side effects. And, unlike its counterpart THC, CBD does not cause intoxication.
This is why CBD products have become so popular in recent years. People frequently use them to relieve everyday complaints, such as anxiety and pain. There is also evidence that CBD helps with more severe issues like epileptic seizures.
So, what are the benefits of CBD for horses? Let’s take a look.
The Benefits of Cannabidiol for Horses
CBD has many of the same positive effects on horses as it does on humans. It primarily helps to regulate the ECS and improve overall health and wellbeing. However, CBD may also have specific benefits for some common equine health problems, including the following.
Stress and Anxiety
Like all animals, horses can suffer from stress and anxiety. These issues may be especially problematic before transportation or shows.
Although there is little research specifically on horses, CBD has calming effects and may help to relax nervous animals.
CBD has calming effects and may help to relax nervous animals. Although there is little research specifically on CBD oil for anxiety in horses, human studies have shown beneficial effects.
This is potentially relevant, not just due to the shared ECS but also because of the surprising results of a study published in Animal Genetics in 2019. Researchers found that over 130 equine hereditary traits, including allergies, asthma, and muscle disorders, were similar to humans. The research team suggested the traits were valuable study models for similar human conditions.
Nonetheless, we still require clinical trials outlining the effects of CBD on horses to determine its efficacy.
Horses can suffer from a variety of inflammatory disorders, especially as they grow older. They include:
Arthritis is inflammation of the joints, while desmitis is inflammation of the ligaments. These problems can affect all horses, although athletic horses may have more severe symptoms. Laminitis is a common problem and involves inflammation of the hooves.
Research has shown that CBD has potent anti-inflammatory effects. It could also help to relieve the pain associated with these conditions.
Gastric ulcers are a widespread problem in horses. They affect over 90% of thoroughbred racehorses and over 50% of the general population.
There is a high concentration of cannabinoid receptors in the digestive system, meaning that CBD can influence its health.
Research on CBD for gastric ulcers in horses is lacking. However, studies on rats have shown that other cannabinoids can reduce gastric acid secretion.
Coupled with its anti-inflammatory effects, this means CBD could potentially offer some relief. Although more research is necessary to draw firm conclusions, it might also benefit other digestive problems like colic.
There is also anecdotal evidence that CBD offers several other benefits for horses, including:
- Improving overall digestive health
- Promoting a healthy coat
- Relieving allergies and skin conditions
Some sources also suggest that it could help to promote nervous system, immune, and cardiovascular health.
Is CBD Oil Safe for Horses?
One of the primary selling points of CBD is its safety profile, especially compared to many pharmaceutical drugs. However, it does have the potential to cause some side effects in horses, including:
- Increased thirst
- Appetite changes
- Drowsiness or fatigue
- Decreased blood pressure
Find out who says what…
These side effects are most likely to occur during the early stages of use as the horse’s body adjusts to CBD. To reduce the risk of adverse reactions, it is best to start with the lowest possible dose and gradually increase it over time.
Please note that it is unwise to administer CBD to racehorses. Several racing authorities around the world have banned its usage. In May 2019, the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) announced that positive tests for CBD in horses are classified as GR4 violations.
In December 2020, the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) notified trainers that a positive test for CBD or CBD metabolites in blood and urine constituted a class 1, category A drug violation. The penalty for this violation is a minimum 12-month suspension and a fine of $25,000 or 25% of a horse’s race winnings.
CBD Oil for Horses – What’s the Best Way to Provide It?
There is a growing number of CBD products for horses, though most owners prefer to use an oil. Administering the cannabinoid sublingually to a horse could prove challenging. It involves applying the CBD oil beneath the animal’s tongue and getting them to hold it for 60 seconds before swallowing. A more realistic option is to add the drops to the horse’s daily feed or treats.
However, there are plenty of other CBD products for horses available, including:
- CBD paste
- CBD horse pellets
- CBD horse powders
- CBD sprays
- CBD balms
- CBD treats
CBD oil for your furry friend…
CBD Oil Dosage for Horses
There is no widely accepted CBD oil dosage for horses. In general, the amount you administer depends on their weight. Bear in mind that horses can weigh over 1,000 pounds when calculating how much cannabidiol to give them.
Horses have relatively sensitive organs, so start with just 0.25mg-1mg of CBD per 10 pounds of body weight. For a 1,000-pound horse, this would equate to 25-100mg of CBD a day. If your horse has never consumed cannabidiol before, err on the side of caution and stick to the lower end of the range. Wait to see the outcome, and increase by 5mg a day until you’re happy with the results.
The Best CBD Products for Horses
As there is more interest in CBD for horses, an increasing number of brands offer products. However, we believe that the following reputable companies sell the best CBD oil for horses:
- Pet Hemp Company
- King Kanine
- Green Flower Botanicals
CBD products for horses tend to be much stronger than CBD for other pets due to their larger size. For instance, Holistapet’s CBD oil for horses contains 7,500mg of the cannabinoid in 120ml of liquid. This equates to 62.5mg of CBD per ml.
The brand also sells bags of CBD Pellets for Horses ranging from one pound to 25 pounds. The latter product contains an incredible 37,500mg of cannabidiol in total!
When buying CBD, bear in mind that the market is currently unregulated. Therefore, some unscrupulous brands are selling items that have little therapeutic value. The brands we have mentioned above are reputable and provide third-party lab reports to prove it. Steer clear of any companies that do not offer this feature.
Other considerations are whether the oil is organic and the CBD extraction process used. Most experts agree that CO2 extraction is superior. It allows the oil to retain its beneficial compounds without leaving traces of potentially harmful solvents.
Many people also prefer to choose full-spectrum CBD oils for horses. They contain a full range of cannabinoids and terpenes, providing additional benefits. Although full-spectrum oils contain traces of THC, it is not enough to cause a high. Furthermore, scientists believe that a little THC can enhance CBD’s effects.
CBD Oil for Horses: Final Thoughts
The CBD oil for pets market is expanding and includes products for cats, dogs, and horses. Proponents suggest it has various benefits, including reducing anxiety, relieving inflammation, and promoting digestive health.
Since all mammals have an endocannabinoid system, it makes sense that CBD could benefit horses.
Unfortunately, there is little research to back these claims at present. Most CBD studies to date have involved humans or other animals. However, since all mammals have an endocannabinoid system, it makes sense that CBD could benefit horses too.
With its excellent safety profile and low risk of side effects, there is little harm in giving CBD oil for horses a try. Just be sure to buy from a legitimate brand and consult a veterinarian before use.