Kidney disease is a leading health issue in senior cats, and it becomes more and more common each year. If you have an elderly cat, you might start to notice symptoms of kidney disease, including pain, appetite loss, and lethargy. CBD oil is a proposed treatment to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and stimulate appetite.
There is reason to think that CBD oil is a safe and effective treatment for kidney disease in cats but use caution. CBD oil isn’t approved for use in pets by the FDA and isn’t subject to regulatory oversight. This means that owners giving their cats CBD do so at their own risk.
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What Is CBD Oil?
CBD is short for cannabidiol, an active ingredient found in cannabis plants. CBD oil is derived from hemp plants—a legal definition of a cannabis plant that produces very low levels of THC, a psychoactive drug also found in cannabis. CBD oil without THC is legal to sell in the United States, and many pet companies sell CBD oil geared toward pets. It’s often used as a home cure for chronic pain.
Is CBD Safe for Cats?
The short answer is that good quality CBD oil is probably safe for cats, but we don’t know for sure¹. Unlike humans and dogs, there haven’t been any major studies on giving cats CBD oil. That means that there hasn’t been research on its effects on a large scale. CBD oil is also not an FDA-approved treatment for cats. Your vet won’t be able to prescribe CBD.
However, CBD has also been used by many pet owners over the years, and more and more anecdotal evidence suggests that it isn’t any more harmful to cats than it is to dogs or humans. Very few pet owners report any type of side effects from using CBD to treat cats. Occasionally, minor stomach upsets or lethargy are reported, but these side effects don’t last long term. Small doses seem especially safe.
There is one more caveat, though. CBD oil isn’t regulated, and there are some worries about CBD extracts sold online. At least one study¹ found that many products had much less CBD than advertised and that some products had harmful contaminants. It’s always important to buy CBD from a trusted source in order to keep your cat safe.
Why Give Cats CBD Oil for Kidney Disease?
If you feel comfortable giving your cat CBD oil, there is some reason to think it is an effective treatment for kidney disease. Some types of kidney disease are caused by an infection, parasite, or cancer that is treatable, but many cases of kidney disease are chronic. In these cases, the best treatments include diet changes and medications to help control symptoms. Many recognized effects of CBD oil¹ can help manage the symptoms of kidney disease. Although there aren’t studies of effects on cats specifically, research in mice, dogs, and humans suggest these symptoms might be relieved:
- Nausea and Appetite Loss: CBD can dampen nausea and restore appetites.
- Inflammation: A major side effect of kidney disease is inflammation in the kidneys. This also spreads to the joints. CBD has anti-inflammatory properties
- Pain: CBD is recognized to help with chronic pain.
- Stress and Anxiety: Stress and anxiety often come with chronic disease. CBD is known to lower stress in humans and animals.
If you have a cat with kidney disease, CBD oil is one avenue to explore. Although the lack of solid research and regulation makes it a bit riskier than many traditional treatment options, many owners have reported great results, and there are reasons to think that CBD really can help. If you decide to give it a try, make sure to source your CBD oil responsibly.
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