With the CBD industry snowballing, it was only a matter of time before people started giving it to their animals. But 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.
In this article, we explain all about CBD for horses, its potential benefits, safety, and where to buy. Read on for our complete guide.
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 a series of reactions that help to 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 CBD Oil 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.
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.
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 that CBD could potentially offer some relief. It might also benefit other digestive problems like colic, although much more research is necessary to draw firm conclusions.
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
These side effects are most likely to occur during the early stages of treatment 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.
How Much CBD Oil Should Horses Take?
The exact amount of CBD oil a horse should take will depend on its size. As a general guideline, 0.25mg/lb will provide a mild dose of CBD, while 0.5mg/lb will offer more potent effects.
That said, as with humans, it is best to give a single drop as the first dose and see how the horse reacts. If there are no issues, increase the dosage to one drop twice daily for a few days. Continue to increase the amount steadily in this fashion up to the ‘minimum effective dose.’ This term means the lowest amount of CBD that produces positive effects.
Using this method will keep the risk of side effects to a minimum. It will also ensure that you do not waste money by giving your horse more CBD than it needs.
The Best CBD Products for Horses
CBD products for horses tend to be much stronger than CBD for other pets, due to their larger size. To administer, place the right amount directly into your horse’s mouth, or add to food or water.
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. 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 the 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 now includes horses as well as cats and dogs. Proponents suggest it has a variety of benefits, including reducing anxiety, relieving inflammation, and promoting digestive health.
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.