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Written by: Brad Heath
CBD companies are constantly promoting their product, advertising the medicinal benefits of cannabidiol. In recent years, CBD (also referred to as Hemp) has shifted to not only have a market for us humans, but for our animals as well.
Although reading about all the claims and how CBD can help your horse is great - as horse owners, the safety of our horses comes first. So, the first question that arises is, is CBD even safe for horses?
Science and research say yes.
There have actually been multiple studies not only attesting to the fact that CBD is safe to use for horses, but praising the beneficial effects.
Study #1: Performed at Colorado State University by Erin Contino from the Department of Clinical Research. A 4-year-old Quarter horse mare had sensitivity to the touch near the shoulders. The mare received many supplements and medications such as magnesium, vitamin E, prednisolone, acupuncture, and dexamethasone. The mare showed no signs of improvement. However, the mare was then started on 250mg of cannabidiol by mouth twice daily and resolved her discomfort/sensitivity to touch.
Study #2: Performed by Alicia Yocom, an equine sports medicine veterinary resident along with colleagues at CSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital. 12 mixed-breed mares were studied giving high and low doses of CBD each day for 6 weeks. After constant monitoring during the study, Alicia and team confirmed that cannabidiol is bioavailable to horses and there were no ill effects physically, or behavioral changes found.
Study #3: Performed by Dr. James Baumgartner from John Hopkins University. When studying and researching the effects of cannabidiol for chronic pain and anxiety in horses, Dr. Baumgartner concluded that utilizing CBD showed improvement in pain response and anxiety scores for horses.
The majority of experts agree that the biological benefits of CBD for horses are astounding.
There are a few different conditions that can be managed and/or improved with CBD in horses.
Cushing’s Disease: Cushing’s disease is an endocrine disorder in horses. The disease is caused by a benign tumor that grows in the pituitary gland. Horses that have cushing’s disease will show symptoms such as delayed shedding, weight loss, excess water consumption and urination, lethargy, and more. Using CBD oil for horses with Cushing’s can alleviate the symptoms of the disease. CBD is an anti-inflammatory, and it works within the horse's body to shrink the tumor that causes Cushing’s.
A study performed by the CDC found tested CBD use in mice with cancerous cells. The study found that the use of CBD not only slowed down the growth of the cancerous tumors, but prevented future tumors from growing. The study reported that CBD could be a good option to manage and prevent tumors in both animals and humans. One of our readers, Kathy, attested that she uses CBD for her older horse who has Cushing’s. Kathy stated that, “She is shedding like crazy and trotting around again, it’s amazing. I didn’t believe it until I tried it for 30 days.”
In addition, Gina shared with us that her older mare had Cushing’s as well. Gina stated that after about a month, her mare showed improvement in symptoms. We asked Gina if she would recommend other horse owners to use CBD, Gina replied, “Yes - did a horse hair analysis for the horses and improvement was made after hemp was being fed.”
Arthritis: CBD oil for horse arthritis is a hot topic because as horse owners, the worst thing is seeing our horse in pain. There is a great likelihood that most horses will experience arthritis at some point during their lifetime. Although not in all cases, it typically appears in horses that are 15 or more years old. Some symptoms that your horse is experiencing arthritis include shortened stride, lameness, swollen joints, stiffness, or showing signs of being in pain. When Cannabinoid receptors are supplied to the horse’s system, inflammation and pain are both reduced.
Insect Bite Hypersensitivity (IBH): A lesser-known equine condition is insect bite hypersensitivity (IBH). IBJ is an allergic skin disease that causes an inflammatory response to bug bites. One of our readers, Jamee, shared with us that after using CBD for her horse with IBH, “The inflammatory response and skin irritation to bugs improved almost immediately.”
Anxiety: Although it’s not talked about enough, anxiety in horses is very common. Anxiety in horses often presents as pacing, sweating, rearing, bolting, spooking, grinding teeth, or upset stomach. Many of our readers that we spoke to have used CBD to help their horse manage anxiety and can attest to the effectiveness.
Check out this story from Jordan:
“My horse has anxiety in confined spaces of any kind. Sadly it’s not just a vice anymore, it’s unhealthy. It’s gotten worse as he’s gotten older . My horse broke loose twice in the middle of the night at a campground because he was so anxious. He has also lost weight due to anxiety in the stall, and he will bite the air when he gets worked up about it. At the next event I started giving CBD and he was able to stay in a stall, not calling, not sweaty. No problems.”
And, another story from Trudy…
“I have used CBD oil for my horse. He was born and raised on a horse facility in Yakima, WA. He never left there, and was trained well by the owner's husband, a horse trainer. As we left the place, the owner said, "Ace has never been in a moving horse trailer." Should have clued us in. Ace was 16 years old and never experienced ANYTHING! I started taking him places and riding. Ace would be dripping sweat when we arrived, even if the trailer ride was 10 minutes. Always loaded great. Ace was afraid of trees, noises, cars, posts, rocks, etc.Not misbehaving but not wanting to go. Ace was anxious about EVERYTHING! He was not also remembering that we have been here before, riding in a trailer, etc.
I was at a drill team event with my daughter and someone was selling CBD cookies. I didn't buy any then, but did later online. Cortney and I were going on an endurance ride and I wanted Ace to try them. The CBD cookies did not come on time, so I bought CBD oil at the feed store. I gave it to him before he got in the trailer, and at the ride. A very noticeable difference!
When the CBD cookies arrived, I gave ACE one daily. The CBD cookies took 1-2 hours to work. The cookies did not help, he seemed to be anxious in the pasture more. I stopped the cookies, but they worked for Cortney's horse. For that horse, the CBD cookies took the edge off at drill practice.
I give Ace 2.5 ml of CBD oil 10-15 minutes before I take him out of the pasture. The oil comes with a syringe and I shoot it in his mouth. Ace is a 17 year-old registered Arabian, about 800 pounds. I buy Treatibles CBD oil online. It is not cheap. I now have a horse I can take anywhere, ride anywhere, ride alone, and stand to be tacked up. The CBD oil reduced Ace's anxiety to think "I've done this before", "I've been here before", etc. After I began using the CBD oil it took about 2-3 months of exposure to life to get the horse I have. I would recommend CBD oil for any animal that has anxiety. Ace relaxes in the pasture and when riding now. His neck was always ramrod straight up, now it is down parallel to his withers.”
Laminitis: Laminitis is extremely painful for horses. Laminitis can be caused from hormonal disorders/imbalances, or inflammatory conditions (such as Cushing’s disease). Laminitis is not always easily recognized, but horse owners should be on the lookout for sudden reluctance to move, appearance of fat pods, behavior changes, or the horse often shifting weight from one foot to the other. Using CBD for horses with Laminitis can function similarly to using a NSAID drug - reducing the overall pain and inflammation levels for the horse.
In addition, a CBD in horses can also be useful for:
CBD for horses is available in different forms, and can be administered in different ways.
CBD Pellets: CBD pellets can be fed directly to your horse, or mixed in with their feed.
CBD Oil/Tinctures: CBD in oil/tincture form is administered via a dropper. In this form, the CBD can be added and mixed into your horse’s feed, or the drops can be administered orally.
CBD Cookies/Treats: CBD in the form of cookies, treats, or gummies can be fed by hand or added to the top of horse feed.
Topical CBD Treatments: CBD can be infused in products like lotions, ointments, creams, or balms to apply topically to your horse.
Because CBD comes in many different milligram dosages, the proper dosage will vary greatly based on the form of CBD that you purchase, as well as how concentrated that form is. We recommend that before adding any type of CBD to your horse’s regimen, you consult with your veterinarian first. Depending on which CBD brand and/or supplier that you purchase from, the CBD should come with dosing guidelines specific for that product. However, there are some general guidelines that can be followed for the different forms of CBD for horses.
CBD Pellets Dosage for Horses
*Based on 25 mg CBD per 75 g pellets
|Miniature Horse (Less than 300 lbs.)||10 mg CBD|
|Pony (350-900 lbs.)||20 mg CBD|
|Average Horse (900-1500 lbs.)||50 mg CBD|
|XL/Draft Horse (Larger than 1500 lbs.)||65 mg CBD|
CBD Oil Dosage for Horses
As a general rule, you can safely give your horse ¼ mg of CBD oil for every 1 lb. of their body weight. If your horse has never had CBD before, it’s a good idea to start them off with half of that. So, if you have a horse that is 1,200 lbs, a good starting “test dosage” would be 1/8 x 1,200 lbs, which is 150 mg of CBD oil. If your horse responds well to this dosage, you can slowly work your way up to the standard ¼ mg per lb. dosage.*Note: Oil is typically the most potent method of giving CBD to your horse, so this should be used for more serious pain/inflammatory conditions. It’s also easily buildable to higher dosages.
CBD Cookies/Treats/Gummies Dosage for Horses
Cookies, treats, and gummies are often lower dosages, so this form of CBD for horses is beneficial for conditions like anxiety to help calm the horse. Any CBD cookie or treat that you purchase will likely be a very small dosage of CBD. This means that you can probably give your horse 1-2 servings of the treat twice daily. Most cookies/treats on the market contain an average of 25 mg of CBD.
Topical CBD Dosage for Horses
There is not a real set “dosage” for topical CBD horse treatments. Topical treatments are an excellent way to alleviate symptoms that are occuring in a specific area such as joint pain, delayed shedding, or skin irritation.
Many horse owners are hesitant to give their horse CBD in fear that they will give their horse too much. The good news is, there have been no reported cases of harm in a horse by CBD use. If the dosage is too high for your horse, there are few symptoms to keep an eye out for that will signal you to lower the dose:
When shopping for CBD for horses there are 5 quick questions that you should ask yourself before you purchase.
In order for CBD to serve its intended purposes, it needs to be a high-quality product. Low-quality CBD oils tend to have a lot of extra ingredients and additives that are unnecessary and could potentially be harmful to your horse.
There are a lot of CBD products on the market that are advertised as “pet-friendly”. However, it’s no secret that there’s a big difference between a cat and a horse. Choose a product that is specifically made for equine use, not just pets in general.
Any CBD product that you give to your horse should be formulated using only organic grown hemp plants.
It goes without saying that if an educated veterinarian is endorsing the product, you can put a little more trust behind it.
At the end of the day, brands and companies can make all kinds of claims about their products. But, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re telling you the truth. Shop with brands that have had their products tested and researched by professionals.
With all the questions in mind, we have researched the equine CBD market and found some products to recommend that we fully stand behind.
Why did Canna-Pet get our most recommended spot?
Made from organic, non-GMO, pesticide-free hemp grown in the USA
100% cruelty free
Veterinarian recommended (sold in many vet offices across the US)
Studied by major universities
High bioavailability in comparison to other CBD products on the market
To give this CBD oil to your horse, Canna-Pet advises to start with 15 drops (.5 mL), 3x a day, directly into your horse's mouth.
If you want to incorporate CBD or you're brand new to CBD for horses and not ready to drop hundreds of dollars on CBD just yet, the CBD gummies from Animl Wellness are a good choice.
We chose Animl Wellness as the best choice for CBD gummies for horses for a few reasons:
Completely transparent ingredients
Passionate about improving horse health
Per the Animl Wellness website, a 1200 lb horse can have a max of 6 of these gummies a day.
CBD use in horses has been studied more and more over the years, and research has shown it to be safe and effective for a wide variety of equine ailments. However, each horse is different, and you know your horse best. If you’re considering testing out CBD for your horse and are hesitant, have a discussion with a veterinarian first.
Can CBD calm my horse?
Clinical trials and research studies have shown that CBD use can alleviate anxiety problems in horses.
How much CBD should a horse get?
The general dosage rule for giving horses CBD is to multiply their weight in pounds by 0.25. The daily dosage of CBD should not exceed this number, unless directed by a veterinarian.
Can horses get CBD oil that's made for humans?
When shopping for CBD for horses you should only purchase and administer CBD that is specifically formulated for use in horses to avoid any added ingredients that could potentially be harmful to your horse.
What can I do for my horse with anxiety?
CBD oil for horses has shown to be a solution for alleviating anxiety in horses.
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