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As busy pet owners, it can be difficult to keep up with the current trends and research. Should you feed grain free or is that detrimental? What proteins are best for your pet? How old should your pet be when she is spayed? What immunizations should your pet have? The list can go on and on. There is always new information, new technology, and new safety protocols for caring for our pets. One of the newer trends is the increased use of CBD products for pets. What is CBD? Should you consider using it for your pet?

What is CBD?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound extracted from the cannabis sativa, or hemp, plant. It is derived from the non-intoxicating portion of the plant (high in omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, omega-9, amino acids, proteins, and other healthy nutrients) independently of THC, as opposed to marijuana. Definitions of hempseed oil or CBD versus marijuana are dependent on the amount of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol – a psychoactive compound, in the product. According to the Pet Safety Crusader, “the top portion of the cannabis plant where the flowers are, include the highest concentration of THC, while the stalk, stem, seeds, roots, and lower leaves house shallow levels of THC and a more significant concentration of CBD. The hemp plant’s medicinal and therapeutic properties live here.”

Products that are derived and labeled as hemp or CBD must contain less than 0.3 percent of THC. The American Kennel Club’s chief veterinarian Dr. Jerry Klein says “it is essential to note that in most cases, CBD oil does not contain delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound that gives marijuana its psychoactive properties. In fact, most CBD products are derived from hemp and not from marijuana.”

CBD is an all-natural supplement that partners with the endocannabinoid system. This system, in both humans and pets, is comprised of multiple receptors that interact with other body systems to maintain balance and well-being. For more detail about CBD and the endocannabinoid system the Pet Safety Crusader has a great post.

CBD comes in a variety of forms and formats. According to Only Natural Pet, CBD can come in 3 forms: Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, and Isolate.

  • Full Spectrum: Full spectrum CBD is a hemp extract that contains all of the naturally-occurring compounds in the plant, including terpenes, essential oils, and important cannabinoids (such as CBC and CBG) that have been shown to support healthy inflammation response and cell health. Full spectrum hemp-derived CBD contains trace amounts of THC (less than the legal limit of 0.03%). Since the amount of THC is so low, full spectrum CBD is non-psychoactive.
  • Broad Spectrum: Broad spectrum CBD is a manufactured alternative to full spectrum. During the manufacturing process, the hemp plant components are isolated and then reintroduced in specific ratios. This allows any THC (the psychoactive component) to be completely removed from the final product.
  • Isolate: CBD isolate is pure CBD that has been isolated from other parts of the hemp plant. It may be sold as a powder or mixed with a base oil (like MCT oil). CBD isolate does not contain any other cannabinoids (including THC) or compounds that occur naturally in the hemp plant.

The most commonly found format for CBD is an oil or tincture, but you can also find capsules, topical lotions or creams, and infused treats and food. Finding non-GMO, quality CBD is as important for pet consumption as for human consumption. Most CBD experts recommend getting an organic CBD oil. Being organic means it is free of any pesticides, fertilizers, or fungicides. Especially be certain your pet’s CBD is free of additives. Oils are ideal because you can dispense or adjust the correct dose by an individual drop.

What to consider (is it safe)?

Because CBD products are still fairly new and have not been subjected to FDA oversight or regulation, it is difficult for veterinarians to recommend their use. The American Veterinary Medicine Association cannot allow veterinarians to make recommendations without extensive research being completed. While several universities and clinics have begun studies on the efficacy of CBD products, their long term results will not be known or widely circulated for some time. The laws regarding recommendation and dissemination of hemp products (as opposed to marijuana based products) are also often hazy or complex. Many veterinarians are unable to legally discuss any cannabis based products, either hemp or marijuana, depending on state regulation.

However, this does not mean you should not use it. The studies that have been performed all found potential benefits without harmful side effects. CBD could offer many of the same benefits to pets as it does to humans. According to the AKC “while there’s no scientific data on the side effects of CBD usage for dogs, there are potential side effects based on how CBD affects humans.” These potential side effects of CBD usage for pets include temporary drowsiness, temporary drop in blood pressure with high doses and increased thirst and are considered very mild. For this reason, CBD is considered safe as long as you follow the dosage instructions and any of your veterinarian’s recommendations.

The biggest risk seems to stem from buying from a less-than-reputable supplier. As with any medical decision, extensive research as a pet owner is critically important when selecting a supplier! Regardless of where you get it, the label should indicate the strength of formulation and recommended dosage. The products should also come with a certificate of analysis. According to Dr. Downing, a veterinary pain specialist researching CBD, “this is a way for a producer to affirm and assure the public that what they produce is consistent, not contaminated, and has a specific concentration of active ingredients. Reliable companies are interested in acquiring and repeating independent analyses.”

Does it work?

Many pet owners have reported positive results when giving their pets CBD products. In theory, CBD can provide the following benefits:

  • Pain relief: CBD has an anti-inflammatory effect that can help relieve pain associated with joint disorders, arthritis, and even tumors. Joe Wakshlag, DVM, a veterinarian at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, completed a CBD study that showed a reduction of pain in dogs with osteoarthritis.
  • Anti-Tumor/Cancer properties: Cancer is scary and many treatments for cancer in both humans and pets can be harsh, with plenty of unfortunate side effects. CBD can help alleviate those side effects and can potentially help shrink tumors if taken internally.
  • Anti-Nausea properties: Your pet may be prone to car sickness or has eaten something that makes her ill. Several studies have shown that CBD can reduce nausea and vomiting.
  • Epilepsy/Seizure relief: Much like in humans, CBD can help to calm the neurotransmitters that tend to over-fire in epileptic pets. CBD can reduce the number and severity of seizures, often without the side effects of traditional drugs
  • Stress/Anxiety relief: Anti-anxiety meds are expensive, sometimes addicting, and can have negative side effects. CBD interacts with serotonin receptors in the brains of animals with anxiety giving them some relief from stress and/or anxiety.
  • General health and balance: If your pet seems a little “off” but you and your vet cannot put a finger on it, CBD might be beneficial. Because CBD triggers the endocannabinoid system to promote overall health and balance, it might helpful in getting your pet back to normal and helping to keep her that way. Natural Living Ideas states that CBD can restore appetite, protect the nervous system, and even help with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Where can I find it?

Finding a supplier of a CBD product that is trustworthy, derived from hemp-only and containing only CBD is absolutely essential. We recommend purchasing your pet’s (and your) CBD from Healthy Solutions, right here in Minnesota.

Healthy Solutions is a women-owned local business with extensive knowledge and ties to national leaders in the industry. Teresa and Tessi, the owners, only distribute locally sourced organic products that are top of the line. We’ve personally known these two women for over a decade and are confident in their knowledge of CBD products and their passion for improving the lives of people and their pets.

Healthy Solutions offers a full menu of products for pets and humans. For information on what products would be best for you and your pet, contact Tessi or Teresa.

Healthy Solutions has partnered with us to offer our clients a 10% discount on their first purchase. To purchase their products click here. Be sure to enter the discount code word “pets” to get your Whiskers to Tails discount.

 

When using CBD, it’s recommended that dog owners start with the smallest possible dose, watching for signs of improvement before moving to a higher dose. As with any substance, careful observation and starting slowly is absolutely essential.

We are all looking forward to that time when things get back to normal; when we return to work or school or a regular schedule. But what about our pets? They’ve been by your side 24 hours a day for the past several months and will struggle to adjust or readjust to the new normal. They won’t understand that this quarantine is temporary and you have to go back to working out of the house for 8 hours a day. They won’t understand the (to them) sudden change and lack of consistent contact. How do you help prepare your pet for that eventuality? And how do you help them cope with the adjustment when you do return to normal?

Labrador retriever standing next to a sitting golden doodle, looking out the window with their backs to the camera

What does Separation Anxiety look like?

There are many symptoms of separation anxiety. Some of your pets may already have some separation anxiety but if not, here are some of the symptoms to look for according to the ASPCA. Be sure to rule out medical problems for any of these behaviors with your veterinarian before treating your pet for separation anxiety.

  • Urinating or defecating: some pets will urinate or defecate in unwanted locations (in the house or outside of the litter box) when separated from their owners
  • Barking or howling: a pet with separation anxiety will often bark or howl persistently to indicate distress when they are left alone
  • Chewing, digging, or other destructive behaviors: typically if these behaviors are a result of separation anxiety they only occur when the pet is left alone, unlike general destructive behaviors of an untrained or young pet. These behaviors can often cause self-injury if the pet gets splinters from chewing furniture or ingests something they shouldn’t
  • Escaping: a pet who attempts to escape from an area in which he or she is confined when alone or separated from their owner is showing signs of separation anxiety. This is another behavior that can cause self-injury as the pet attempts to climb, dig, or push it’s way out of an enclosed space.
  • Pacing: pets who exhibit this behavior will move in circular or fixed patterns when their owner is not present
  • Coprophagia: in some cases dogs will defecate and then consume the stool they have expelled due to the stress of being alone

If your pet is showing any of the above symptoms, have them evaluated by your veterinarian. It may be helpful to video your pet as you prepare to depart from home and when left alone or separated from you. This can help your veterinarian make a plan for treatment.

How to prepare your pet?

The most important thing to do is start preparing your pet for the coming change now. According to Marjie Alonso, the executive director of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, we have to remember that our pets are individuals and just like us they are having differing reactions to this quarantine. Now is the time to start helping them adjust to the upcoming transition. Here are some tips from animal experts to help you help your pets:

  • Teach your pet independence and how to be alone comfortably.
    • Catch your pet being calm throughout the day, especially when the dog is ignoring you, and reward him or her with calm and pleasant attention.
    • Give your pet something delicious when you leave. Alonso states that “If you start stuffing that Kong with mashed potatoes and roast beef every time you walk out the door, the dog is going to be like, ‘Here’s your coat.’”
    • Provide separation with baby gates or doors for short periods of time, giving your pet a special treat or a puzzle toy, slowly allowing your pet to self-soothe and accept being alone.
  • If you are home all day, make sure you ignore your pet sometimes and do not give him or her constant attention or give in to constant demands.
    • You should not set attention and activity levels now that are difficult or impossible to maintain when you transition back to work, according to Mikel Delgado, a cat behavior researcher at the University of California-Davis.
    • He also states that owners should avoid working in places (like the sofa) that pets associate with cuddles or play.
  • Make sure your pet has alone time daily.
    • Alonso suggests that you make sure your pet has alone time. If you used to leave for work at a specific time go through your normal preparations (put on shoes, grab purse or briefcase and keys) and leave the house for a short period of time.
    • Dog trainer Tracy Krulik specializes in separation anxiety and agrees with Alonso. Take time away from your dog daily, even if it is to sit under a tree or take a work call from your car.
    • Laura Sharkey, a dog trainer in Arlington Virginia, reminds owners that if your dog was previously crated when you went to work, he or she should still have some alone time in their crates. Crate training can give your pet a safe space and can help your pup learn that being alone is ok and is even sometimes preferable.
  • Provide mental stimulation for your pet, both while they are alone and while you are home.
    • Sharkey tells owners to take breaks form work to run through obedience cues or teach new tricks or give meals in food puzzles. It’s important to give your pets mental stimulation so that they are better able to cope with their alone time.
    • Fear Free veterinarians and behaviorists suggest that owners meet their pet’s physical, social and exploratory needs every day with routine, scheduled activities including play, positive reinforcement training, leashed walks, or environmental enrichment.
  • Make sure your arrivals and departures are not a big deal. If you make a fuss over your pet when you come home or leave they may be more likely to believe it is something to stress over.
    • Dr. Katherine Houpt, professor emeritus of behavior medicine at Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine, gives owners the following advice: “When you are heading out for your first day back at work, it would be best to give them a brisk walk or a game of fetch before you leave. Before you leave be sure to leave a long-lasting treat such as a rawhide or a Kong toy with frozen melted cheese inside. When you come home don’t greet them until they are calm and not jumping on you or running in circles.”

What if your pet already has separation anxiety?

Pug sitting on a bed wrapped in a soft brown blanket with only his face showingHappily, many pets have been recently adopted during the quarantine. However some of those pets (as well as current pets) may currently experience separation anxiety, especially if they have been re-homed multiple times. If your pet already has separation anxiety, Steve Dale, a certified animal behavior consultant, suggests that owners take a proactive stance and utilize several tools at their disposal to help their pets both now and during the transition back to “normal.” Those tools include:

  • Pheromone products: Both dogs and cats can benefit from an external source of calming pheromones, like those provided by Feliway or Adaptil. Most pheromone treatments are either diffusers, much like the Glade Plugins you use around the house, sprays that you can put on blankets and bedding, or collars that use the pets’ body heat to stimulate the release of calming pheromones close to the pet’s nose.
  •  Probiotics: Dr. Karen Becker and other veterinarians and nutrition experts have completed studies that show that your pet’s digestive health can affect their psychological well-being and behavior. Probiotic supplements can help alleviate stress in your pets. Several companies, including Purina, have developed probiotics designed to help calm your pet and assist with stress management.
  • Nutraceuticals or supplements: Nutraceuticals are a combination of the words “nutrition” and “pharmaceutical.” According to Fear Free, nutraceuticals are food-derived substances that are claimed to have an effect on health. They are similar to and sometimes labeled as supplements. Products given the label nutraceutical are not regulated so be sure to do your research to figure out the safe and effective choices. Nutraceuticals and supplements can come in the form of chewable tablets, oils, or powders that promote various physical responses from pets. Calming nutraceuticals and supplements may help your pet with separation anxiety. Some experts suggest CBD products can also assist in reducing anxiety in pets.
  • Comfort vests: Vests like the ThunderShirt work by applying consistent gentle pressure, much like swaddling an infant, to your pet’s torso to help calm their anxieties, fears, or over-excitement. Research has shown that this type of pressure can cause the pet to release a calming hormone such as oxytocin or endorphins. Some pets (particularly cats) may need time to become accustomed to wearing a comfort vest so be sure to allow your pet to adapt to this at their own pace and encourage them to move normally.
  • Background noise: Some dogs seem to like having background noise to help drown out sounds that could be stressful or startling, like neighbor’s voices, garbage trucks, or construction work. Choose something soothing that will not have that type of noise, such as a nature or children’s channel on TV or turn the TV or radio to a station playing classical, light jazz, pop, or other pleasant music. Studies have shown classical music and even reggae can be calming for dogs.

What to do when you go back to work/school?

  • Continue the routine: As much as possible, maintain the routine you established during quarantine. Take a morning walk or have a morning playtime, get ready for work, then give your pup a frozen Kong or your cat a puzzle toy and head out.
  • Utilize the tools at your disposal: Don’t forget that you can use calming pheromones, supplements, or comfort vests to help your pet stay calm during this transition until they have adjusted to the new normal.
  • Don’t wait: If your pet is showing signs of developing or increasing anxiety contact your veterinarian. Left untreated, anxiety often worsens over time.
  • Get help: Pet sitters and dog walkers can help with this transition! Pet sitters can come give your cats some socialization and enrichment time to entertain them while you are at work. Sitters can also come play with or walk your dog to help them deal with any anxieties that have resulted from your return to work. Check out our services and rates to find one that fits your needs and let our sitters help you and your pet!

April is Pet First Aid Awareness Month!

puppy with first aid kit, pet first aid, pet health

We are living in some crazy times right now. You have to plan for disaster in your job, your rent or mortgage, and potentially your family. But have you planned for taking care of your pets? Your pets are family and should be a part of that planning!

At this time many veterinarians are unable to perform routine care for your pets. Now is a great time to familiarize yourself with basic first aid and safety for your pet! You may still need to get your fur baby to a professional but you can manage minor injuries, assess and stabilize, and provide some routine care yourself.

How can you prepare?

According to the American Animal Hospital Association, 25 percent more pets would survive if one pet first aid technique had been applied prior to getting emergency vet care. Many pet owners do not know what constitutes an emergency or what to do in an actual emergency to help stabilize their pets. Here’s how you can change that:

  1. Attend a pet first aid and CPR class! There are many courses out there, both online and in-person, to teach pet owners basic first aid and CPR. The Red Cross and Pet Tech have well known programs. Links to both courses are at the bottom of this post.
  2. Always keep a pet first aid kit nearby! Every pet owner should have a first aid kit at home. If you often take your pets camping, hiking, or hunting you may also want to have a first aid kit in your car. The American Veterinary Medical Association and the ASPCA have good checklists for what should be included. Make sure you check your first aid kit at least once per year to switch out any medications or supplies that have expired. Set a reminder to do so in April during Pet First Aid Awareness!
  3. Pet proof your home, especially your kitchen. Make sure you know what foods your pet should not eat and keep them out of reach from your furry friend. Remove hazardous objects from your pet’s environment, especially if you have a puppy. Puppies tend to examine their world with their mouths and you do not want to have to rush your pup to the vet because he ate a sock or your child’s action figure.

What should you do?

  1. Know your vet and your pet. Regardless of whether you’ve just moved to the area or lived there your whole life, make sure that you (and consequently your pets) have a relationship with a local veterinary clinic. It is important for you to know where your vet is, how to contact them, and that they know your pet and his/her history. It is also important that you know your pet’s “normal” so that you can tell when something is wrong. Make sure you take a resting heart rate, respiration, and temperature so that you have a baseline. Know your pet’s typically eating and eliminating schedule so that you can tell when something is off.
  2. Check the scene and the pet. If you did not witness what happened make sure you look for any potential hazards to you or the pet or clues to what your pet ate or interacted with. Once it is safe to do so, observe your pet’s body, posture, and breathing to inform the vet of their status. If applicable check for a heart rate or pulse, temperature, and level of consciousness and perform necessary CPR or first aid to stabilize your pet. Watch your pet for signs of distress and fear and respect their body language.
  3. In the case of an actual emergency, always call your veterinarian or an emergency veterinary clinic or poison control immediately. Relay the necessary information to your veterinarian clearly. If you have taken any first aid steps be sure to tell your vet. Prepare your pet for transport and ensure they are stabilized and safely supported during your trip to the vet. Be prepared for your pet to go into shock if it is a severe injury. Have a blanket or two to wrap around your pet to help maintain body temperature.
  4. Stay calm. Your pet can and will pick up on your stress which could exacerbate their emergency. Keep your voice and movements quiet and steady and do your best to stay in control. This is a scary event but if you can retain a sense of calm then you are already helping your pet.

Common household injuries

  • Abrasions/Hot spots: scrapes to your pet’s skin can be shallow and heal easily or larger and more serious. Hot spots are created by excessive licking or scratching in a certain area and can also vary in severity. Carefully clip the hair around the area so you can see and work on the wound. Wash the wound with warm water or a saline solution first to remove dirt, debris, or clumps of hair. Apply triple antibiotic ointment and try to keep your pet from licking/chewing on the area. You can put a clean sock or a clean gauze pad on the area to prevent licking. If the wound is large, deep, or doesn’t begin to heal in 3-4 days contact your veterinarian.

  • Allergies/Allergic reactions: The most common causes of allergic reactions are insect bites or stings or skin allergies. If your pet has been stung, make sure the stinger isn’t still present (it would usually be small and black). Do not pick it out as that can release toxins. Use a hard surface like your nail or a credit card to scrape it off. You can apply a cold compress or ice pack to reduce any swelling. You may be able to administer an antihistamine diphenhydramine (Benadryl) but only with approval from your veterinarian. Be sure that the product only contains diphenhydramine as other allergy medicines can contain toxic ingredients and only give the dose recommended by your veterinarian.
  • Diarrhea: We’ve all experienced this with our pets at one point or another. Diarrhea can be caused by many things, both serious and not. If your pet’s diarrhea continues for more than 24 hours, your pet is very old or young, or if there is blood in the diarrhea they should be checked out by a veterinarian. Take away any potential culprit (new food, new treat, new toy) that could be the cause. Put your pet on a bland high-fiber low-fat diet, such as boiled meat with cooked white rice in a 1 part meat to 3 part grain ratio, for 2-3 days before slowly reintroducing the normal diet. As long as there is no vomiting you can give your pet as much water as they’d like but make sure they do not gulp down too much at a time. You can add an electrolyte solution to their water to help replace lost nutrients. Ask your doctor about medications such as Kaolin/pectin or Pepto Bismol.
  • Dehydration: Dehydration can occur anytime but is most common during the summer months if your pet does not get enough water or has too much heat exposure. Dehydration can be serious and should always be discussed with your veterinarian. Chances are your vet will want to examine your pet to determine how severe it is. If your pet is not vomiting you can give him/her an electrolyte replacement drink like Pedialyte. If you suspect heat exhaustion/exposure, try to keep your pet cool and place cold damp clothes around your pet’s neck and on the pads of the feet.
  • Nails/Pad wounds:If your pet gets a broken nail or if you clip a toenail too short apply styptic powder (or cornstarch) to the area. You can also apply direct pressure to the nail with clean gauze or cloth for 5 minutes to stop bleeding. If you successfully stop the bleeding wait 1 day (to ensure you do not disturb the clot) and then soak the paw in warm water and a saline solution to help healing. Monitor the site for infection, swelling, worsening of pain or continued bleeding. If your pet presents any of those signs take him/her to the veterinarian. For pad wounds be sure to remove any foreign objects and wash the area with a saline solution. Dry and bandage the foot. Pads have many blood vessels so all pad wounds will likely bleed a lot and will require at least a call to your veterinarian.

  • Urinary accidents: I’m not talking about your puppy having an accident during potty training (unless they are frequent and excessive). Accidents from dogs who have been potty trained or frequent urination could indicate a urinary tract infection or a weak bladder. Contact your veterinarian to determine the cause and prescribe medication. If your pet is straining to urinate or crying when urinating, if you see blood in the urine, or if your pet is frequently squatting to urinate with only nothing or small drops present take your pet to the vet immediately as this could be a life threatening urinary blockage!
  • Vomiting: Many of us pet owners have had to clean up vomit at one point or another. While it is not normal, most of the time vomiting is a temporary condition and your pet will be fine. Withhold food and water for 8-12 hours (do not do this for young, old, or otherwise ill animals). If vomiting has stopped while not eating or drinking you can offer small quantities of ice chips every few hours as long as vomiting doesn’t recur. Slowly reintroduce water and an electrolyte replacement to prevent dehydration. If vomiting still doesn’t occur add a bland diet in small increments over the next 12 hours. Then slowly reintroduce a larger amount of food and decreased frequency over 48 hours before transitioning your pet back to their normal diet. If vomiting continues after you have withheld food for more than 12-24 hours contact your veterinarian immediately.

Always wash your hands and wear non latex disposable gloves when coming into contact with your pet’s wound or bodily fluids.

Don’t forget about your pocket pets.

Many people in the world also own pocket pets, including guinea pigs, mice, gerbils, hamsters, or rats. When it comes to first aid for these little friends, make sure you know what is normal. If you know what their normal respiration and heart rate are, how much they should weigh, and what is the ideal body temperature, then you can more easily see any abnormalities as they arise. However, although they may be easy to diagnose, pocket pets are often difficult to treat so it is always a good idea to contact your veterinarian. According to Denise Fleck, The Pet Safety Crusader, often unless there is an external physical injury the first sign of any issue is a lack of eating or pooping. Keep your pet warm and supported with a warm towel wrap and contact your veterinarian. Make sure you bring a stool sample to your appointment to test for parasites or other causes. Visible external injuries, such as a limp leg, weakness or paralysis, head tilt, visible bleeding, or  inflammation, also require a trip to a species specific vet. For small cuts and scrapes apply pressure with a clean gauze pad. Once bleeding has stopped wash the area with betadine or hydrogen peroxide and dab on some triple antibiotic ointment.

If you are ever unsure or worried, please contact your veterinarian immediately!

For ASPCA’s poison control hotline click here or call 888-426-4435.

If you’d like more details check out

  • The Red Cross Pet First Aid courses
  • Pet Tech’s Pet First Aid class
  • The Pet Safety Crusader’s courses