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
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 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.