Cannabidiol (CBD) and horses: What is it good for?

Last Updated on April 5, 2022 by Allison Price

CBD. It doesn’t matter if you are already using it or if you are thinking about it. It is not the latest “snake oils” promising to cure everything from hair loss and ingrown nails. It is a chemical messenger within the “endocannabinoid” system, a vital and natural part of the body. This system has been the subject of extensive research, including hundreds of studies and years of study.

This article will give you an overview on how CBD can affect your health and the health of your horses, dogs 1,, or cats. My personal experience with sciatica has been positive. My clients love it and have taken to using it themselves. It has helped them get better sleep, reduce anxiety, depression, improve digestion, relief from allergies, and less pain.

Cannabidiol and Horses

Chester, my 22-year old horse, is named after me. Chester is a 22-year-old horse who has arthritis in his knees and hocks. He now moves with greater ease. CBD has received very positive feedback from clients who tried it for their horses. As well as relief from laminitis, inflammation conditions such as arthritis, ulcerations, and pain due to arthritis are improving. Horses who are anxious or sensitive have a relaxed disposition. It is possible that metabolic conditions can be alleviated. This is very exciting. It’s still too early to know if CBD treatment has a negative effect on insulin and leptin levels, but there are studies that show CBD can reduce insulin resistance and obesity 2 in patients with type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome. 3

What’s CBD? Is it marijuana?

CBD stands for “cannabidiol”, and is one of the more than 80 cannabinoids found within the cannabis plant. THC and CBD are the most well-studied, which is why many misinterpretations arise.

Cannabis Sativa L. is the umbrella term for marijuana and hemp plants. CBD does not produce this psychoactive effect. Marijuana has a high level of THC.

Hemp-derived CBD does not refer to marijuana. Despite being both cannabis and hemp, their genetic makeup allows them to produce very different amounts of THC. Hemp-derived CBD has high CBD content and low levels of THC (less that 0.3%).

Although hemp-derived CBD has been legalized in all 50 US states thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill 4,, federal law doesn’t preempt state laws and some restrictions remain within different states 5. There are laws in many states and localities that prohibit the sale of alcohol. It is legal to buy and consume hemp-derived CBD products. However, the FDA 6 doesn’t regulate them so make sure you choose a company that will disclose their source, extraction methods, and analysis.A young cannabis plant at its vegetative stage. Plantlady223 [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

What’s the endocannabinoid systems?

Your body has an important signaling system called the endocannabinoid (ECS). It continuously monitors the body for any signs of instability and then returns it to balance or homeostasis, ensuring that the internal environment remains stable.

This system is activated by CBD and other cannabinoids. These receptors are activated by cannabinoids (both endogenous and exogenous) which act as keys to a range of functions.

There are two major cell receptors in the ECS — CB1_ and CB2_

  • The brain and central nervous systems are home to CB1 receptors. They have an impact on areas like appetite regulation, memory and emotions.
  • CB2 receptors can be found in the gastrointestinal tract, peripheral nervous system (nerve cells that are not part of the brain), and they modulate immune cell function. They reduce inflammation when activated.

When the body needs them, endogenous cannabinoids will be produced. However, they quickly become inactive. The ECS can be made more efficient by offering CBD (exogenous cannabisnabinoid). This allows them to work harder to help animals and humans with issues like:

  • Anxiety and depression 7
  • Insomnia8
  • Pain and inflammation 9
  • obesity/increased appetite/leptin resistance10,11
  • Metabolic syndrome/insulin resistance 12
  • Immune deficiencies and autoimmune disorders 13
  • Digestive disturbances/ulcers/colitis14
Side effects

CBD has a positive safety profile 15. It can cause mild side effects if taken in excess. These include dizziness, drowsiness and decreased blood pressure. You can reduce the dose if you or your animal experience any of these symptoms. Although long-term safety appears to be good, more research is necessary.

Notable: CBD should not be given to pregnant women until we have more information. However, many women claim CBD can help with nausea. Before giving CBD to pregnant animals, consult your vet. It should not be administered to children without permission from a professional. It can interact with certain drugs 16 including anti-epileptics and blood thinners. If you have any questions, consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Let’s talk horses

There are very few research studies that have horses as subjects, and even fewer. This will change quickly as more companies sell CBD for horse consumption. Anecdotal reports are very positive. According to firsthand accounts from horse owners, hemp-derived CBD seems to stimulate your horse’s ECS the same way as it does yours. It is well tolerated without any euphoric side effects. Based on current research with laboratory animals and humans, CBD could help improve certain health conditions such as:

  • Pain 17 due to arthritis 18 or laminitis
  • Anxiety during stall confinement 19
  • Shows 20 Stress while traveling
  • Leaky gut 21
  • 22 Healing after surgery or injury
  • Cushing’s disease has caused immune system depression due to oxidative stress 23
  • 24 Appetite regulation
  • Obesity25
  • Inflammation has the potential to lower leptin levels 26
  • Insulin resistance 23
Horse Competition Rules and Testing

The FEI and US Equestrian Federation (USEF), have strict rules about medicating horses prior to events. The USEF recently announced that positive results for cannabinoids would be subject to violations.

It is THC that can be detected by a urine or blood test. Therefore, it is unlikely that a positive result will occur. Hemp-derived CBD has very low levels of THC. It is possible to use CBD, but it is not recommended. You should stop using it 7-10 days before any event. It is best to stop using CBD isolates or broad-spectrum products before the event, even if they are not THC-free.

Select a quality, safe product

Know where hemp was grown first. Select products that are grown in the USA or Canada. It could have been grown in an area with less stringent growing standards. This could expose you to chemicals, bacteria, or heavy metals that can pose a risk to your health.

It is important to only buy CBD that has been tested. The COA can be found on the company’s site. This document shows how the company complies with product specifications and production standards.

Other things to consider when using CBD products

  • For the most accurate CBD content per dose, please refer to the label.
  • Select a product that comes from an organic source.
  • Check the COA for THC content.
Can you isolate CBD, broad-spectrum or full-spectrum?

CBD isolate is a product that only contains CBD and no other naturally occurring cannabinoids such as THC. This also means that all other substances found in the plant such as terpenes or flavonoids have been extracted.

It is best to stop using the full-spectrum product or the isolate before you go through a drug test.

Full-spectrum refers to whole-plant CBD. It contains CBD and other cannabinoids (less that 0.3% THC) as well as terpenes and flavonoids and active essential oils.

Full-spectrum products contain whole plant compounds, but have had the THC removed.

The “entourage effects”. Originally, it was believed that CBD isolate was the best option. It is now clear that CBD isolate does not work well. Instead, the full-spectrum CBD and broad-spectrum CBD have a synergism. They complement each other and can provide greater health benefits.

You should note that both dogs and cats can enjoy full-spectrum hemp-derived CBD. They cannot tolerate THC from cannabis. This product contains very little THC, which may increase the entourage effect.

Why are they so expensive?

To make a CBD oil (tincture), it takes many hemp plants. Hemp oil products are not always infused with CBD. Hempseed oil can be a healthy oil that is rich in essential fatty acid, but not as a source of CBD. You should carefully read the labels before you purchase to find out how much CBD is in the product.

Which extraction method is the best?

It is important to understand the method of extracting CBD from the plant when researching CBD products for your pets. This article will not cover all methods, but we will discuss the CO 2 extraction. To extract CBD from plants, it uses carbon dioxide (CO 2). This creates products that are both pure and powerful.

What is the CBD content in one dose?

You should see the label to determine how much CBD you are getting per dose. It can be confusing.

You should always see the total amount of CBD contained in a CBD Tincture. You should be aware that some products can be extremely diluted. Make sure to check the label.

Many tinctures will give directions in the form of a “dropper-full.” However, it is sometimes difficult or inaccurate to get a complete dropper. It is best to determine the CBD content of each drop. Knowing how many mgs each drop contains will allow you to accurately dispense the required dosage.

These are the three things you should know to do it.

  • A typical CBD tincture bottle contains 30ml oil
  • One full dropper-full of liquid is approximately 1ml
  • A ml contains 20 drops

Two examples:

1. CBD Tincture that offers 2500mg CBD in the whole 30ml Bottle:

  • Divide 2500 times 30 to calculate the mg per dropper-full (1ml). This gives you 83.3 mg of CBD per dropper-full in 1ml
  • Divide 83.3 by 20, to get the CBD content per drop. This gives you approximately 4mg per drop.

2. CBD tincture for pets, 250mg CBD in each 30ml bottle

  • 250 divided by 30, equals 8.3mg CBD per dropper-full (1ml).
  • 8.3 divided 20 =.42mg (a little less than 1/2 mg) CBD per drop

Other forms of CBD such as capsules, pellets, gummies and capsules should also offer specific amounts.

What’s the best dose?

Weight is a factor in how severe the condition is. Start slowly and increase the dosage as necessary. It may take some trial and error to determine the best dose for your animal companions. It takes approximately 2 weeks for relief to occur. The effects will continue to improve over time.

There are no standard dosage recommendations. These daily guidelines have been compiled from research and applications. It is more efficient to divide the dose into two portions than to administer it once per day, according to my experience.

  • Pets:
  • Below 25lbs: 10mg
  • 25-75lbs: 10-20mg
  • 75 lbs or more: 20-40mg
  • People:
  • For less than 100 lbs, 20-40mg
  • 100-174 lbs: 30-60mg
  • More than 175lbs: 60-90mg
  • Horses:
  • Minis: 25-50mg
  • Full-sized (1100lbs): 75-170mg
  • Large breeds: 120-200mg
How do you administer CBD

There are many ways to deliver CBD.

  • Sublingual Dropping the drops under your tongue for 30 seconds will increase bioavailability. It kicks in quickly. This is not recommended for animals as most droppers made of glass can inflict injury if they are bitten.
  • Oral: CBD can be added to food by chewing or swallowing a CBD capsule. However, this will take longer for the effects to manifest than if it is under the tongue. Extruded pellets (which are usually available for animals) are more absorbable than those that contain binders. This allows for better bioavailability and lower effective dose 27.
  • Pulmonary: Cannabis vapes are now available. This has the highest bioavailability but the shortest duration. This is a dangerous product and I do not recommend it to people suffering from any type of respiratory condition.
  • Topical CBD: CBD can be absorbed into the skin and is useful for specific areas 28.
Bottom line

Although experts have known for decades about the health benefits of CBD, more research is needed, especially for horses. The results so far are encouraging. They reveal long-lasting benefits on the natural Endocannabinoid System, which provides relief from mental and bodily ailments that affect us, as well as our families and animals.

Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!