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Scientists have discovered that all animals have an endocannabinoid system (ECS). The endocannabinoid systemhas been recently recognized as an important modulatory system in the function of brain, endocrine, and immune tissues. It appears to play a very important regulatory role in the secretion of hormones related to reproductive functions and response to stress.” The ECS has been called the “master” or “universal regulator” and regulates sleep, pain, mood, immune function and more.

This ECS system makes its own cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) whenever needed in its constant effort to maintain homeostasis, that is, the managing, protecting, and balancing of the body’s systems to achieve optimal functioning. Regardless of whether the ECS receives cannabinoids from plant sources (phytocannabionids), like marijuana or hemp, or internally from the endo (within) cannabinoid system, both kinds bind to cannabinoid receptors (CBRs) in the brain, which then activate neurons that stimulate a reaction that brings physiological well-being back into balance.

How did scientists discover the endocannabinoid system?

The history of cannabinoids reveals that the first cannabinoid was isolated in the late 19th century, and in the 1940s, scientists Wollner, Matchett, Levine, and Loewe began exploring pharmacological uses for cannabinoids. These investigations paved the way for scientists Allyn Howlett and Bill Devane to discover cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 in 1988 and scientists Lumir Hanus and Bill Devane to discover in the mid-1990s that these receptors existed in all animals in what is now called the endocannabinoid system.

CB1 receptors exist in these areas:

    • Vascular system
    • Lungs
    • Brain
    • Gastrointestinal tract
    • Reproductive organs
    • Muscles

CB2 receptors exist in these areas:

    • Bones
    • Liver
    • Skin
    • Immune system
    • Spleen
    • Pancreas

Do human and canine endocannabinoid systems differ?

Yes. The endocannabinoid system’s purpose of maintaining the body’s homeostasis remains the same for all animals, and this includes the human animal. However, dogs have a more complex endocannabinoid system with far more receptors than humans do. Therefore, dogs feel the effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) more strongly than humans, and the same is likely true when they are given cannabidiol (CBD). In short, the similarities between humans and pets are the following: Both have endocannabinoid systems; both have CB1 receptors in the brain, CB2 receptors in the body, and neurotransmitters called anandamide that attach to cannabinoid receptors and work as messengers. Here’s where the difference lies: The cannabinoid messengers (anandamide) release a louder, lengthier, and more powerful message in our pets than they do in humans.

Therefore, while CBD is safe for pets, they should only be given CBD products formulated specially for them. CBD products for pets will be marked as such and dosage guidelines should be followed according to the label.

What happens if I give my pet human CBD products?

The major difference between the human ECS and a dog’s is the greater number of CB1 receptors present in the canine cerebellum, brain stem, and medulla oblongata. These areas are responsible for regulating heartbeat, breathing, salivation, coughing, sneezing and gastrointestinal functions. Because of this, pets should not ingest human CBD products, as the formulation and dose by weight is different. For instance, if given THC higher than 0.5mg, dogs may experience Static Ataxia (a condition that causes a rigid swaying with the inability to move) due to their high number of CB1 receptors. 

Another reason to make sure your pet CBD is specifically formulated for pets: some human CBD products include xylitol, a naturally occurring, low glycemic sugar substitute found in vegetables and fruit. This product poses no harm to humans, but may cause hypoglycemia in dogs, which exhibits a variety of symptoms, such as behavior changes, seizures, muscle twitches, sleepiness, muscle tremors, collapse, ataxia, impaired vision, and more.

Important note: While CBD companies list the THC or CBD milligrams on their products, there really is no way of verifying that information is correct unless a Certificate of Authenticy (COA) is offered with the product. Some products may be labeled incorrectly. It is recommended that you only purchase CBD products from companies that offer a COA with every purchase.

Does CBD hold any significant promise for pets?

Absolutely. In addition to the many consumer CBD pet products currently available on the market, scientific trials continue to find more information about CBD. Here’s a list of several studies that hold promise for what CBD might be used for in the future for pets.

Seizure therapy

Both cannabis and CBD are being investigated as a treatment for seizures in animals and humans. Studies show that CBD may restrict the ability of GPR55 (a G protein-coupled receptor) to stimulate neurons, which would lessen the likelihood of seizures. A 2019 study reports that using CBD to treat idiopathic epilepsy in dogs shows promise. Another 2019 study found that CBD may lessen the severity of seizures with related maladies, such as motor and memory loss. In 2018, the FDA  approved Epidiolex (CBD) for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy in humans.

Arthritis therapy

The results of a 2018 study reported that when dogs were given CBD, their arthritis pain decreased and was not accompanied by any adverse side effects. Another study from 2020 reported that CBD has the potential as a safe and beneficial arthritic pain reliever. 

Final thoughts

All G Essentials provides a variety of pet products to choose from in an assortment of pleasing flavors. Added to their diet, CBD for pets may support the functioning of the ECS system when proper dosing is followed. Make sure to see that a Certificate of Analysis is available with every purchase.