5 min read
Does CBD Oil Help Dogs with Car Sickness?
By Kim Rain
Published: 09/30/2020, edited: 08/10/2021
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A road trip with your dog can be an exciting adventure! Whether running errands around town, or exploring a new place, most dogs would love to join you on the ride. But there are some dogs who are sensitive to the constant motion in the car, and may begin to feel queasy along the way. Car sickness in dogs can hamper all the fun, and make your happy pup dislike going on car rides with you.
While there are several medications that can help with motion sickness in dogs, there’s been a lot of buzz around CBD oil. This new “miracle” cure derived from the hemp plant has exploded in the U.S. where you can find it in edible oils, baked goods, candies, and creams that are reported to help several medical issues. From pain management and seizures, to anxiety, nausea and even cancer, CBD oil seems to be a phenomenally beneficial discovery. And with studies showing low to no side effects with use in humans, it’s natural that pet pawrents are asking if CBD oil can help their fur-babies feel better too.
What Causes Car Sickness?
Car sickness is just another name for motion sickness, a condition which can occur in mammals when traveling by boat, car, or plane. The vestibular system in the inner ear works together with the visual system, which includes the eyes, optic nerves and brain, to give us a sense of balance and orientation. When the vestibular system senses movement, but the visual system is sending info that doesn’t match that movement, which often happens to dogs in the backseat of a moving vehicle, these contradictory signals create a neural mismatch that confuses the brain. This mismatch can trigger histamines, or messenger neurotransmitters, to send messages to the emetic center of the brain to take action.
The result are symptoms of nausea, vomiting, disorientation, panting, drooling and other signs of distress. While many of us humans have learned to keep an eye on the road ahead to reduce the feelings of motion sickness, most dogs are relegated to the backseat where they are either too small to see out the windows, or are staring out the side windows which can make the situation worse. Age can factor in the equation too, as young, growing puppies haven’t fully developed their inner ear which can make them more susceptible to car sickness.
Many anti-nausea medications for humans and dogs are antihistamines which work by blocking the histamines from delivering their messages, which stops the body’s response to the contradictory signals. But how can CBD oil help dogs to stop the nausea and dizzying effects of motion sickness?
How can CBD Oil Help Motion Sickness?
CBD is short for cannabidiol, and is one of the two most prevalent active components of marijuana, the other being THC. CBD oil is primarily derived from the hemp plant, a cousin of the marijuana plant. By itself, CBD does not cause the high feeling humans get when smoking or ingesting marijuana, that’s mostly from the THC. But CBD does seem to carry all the medical benefits.
Since marijuana has been illegal for so long in the U.S., research about its benefits has been hindered. Today though, studies are ongoing for CBD use in both humans and other animals, but there are still a lot of questions about how it works. One thing research has uncovered is how CBD can affect the immune system. Remember those histamines that sent messages to the emetic center? Well, histamines are produced by mast cells, and CBD can inhibit the activity of mast cells, thereby stopping them from sending out those histamines.
In fact, two studies have shown the effectiveness of CBD against nausea. A 2002 study with rats concluded that CBD suppressed nausea induced by chemotherapy, which also causes nausea through messenger neurotransmitters. Another study conducted with chemotherapy patients in 2006 found that CBD could even suppress anticipatory nausea. That means that if your older dog has outgrown the motion sickness they had as a puppy, but now experiences a conditioned nausea whenever they travel based on those first experiences, CBD could help that too!
Is CBD Oil Right for Your Dog?
While CBD oil can be purchased in many stores nationwide in a variety of formulations for both humans and pets, veterinarians are still hesitant to discuss its use for their canine and feline patients. Part of the reason is that marijuana is still illegal in the U.S., and veterinarians are not allowed to prescribe or even talk about its use in most places throughout the country. And so far, there haven’t been enough studies that show how CBD affects dogs, if there are any long-term side effects, or levels of toxicity. Due to the lack of research, there are no official guidelines on CBD oil use in dogs.
Even so, a quick internet search can yield hundreds of CBD products marketed to Pet Parents toting the benefits and claiming there are no side effects. If you are planning a trip with your dog and want to use a formulation of CBD oil for motion sickness, there are certain factors you should consider.
First, ask your veterinarian. While many vets will tell you, they can’t talk about it, some may have an opinion or experience using CBD oil that could prove valuable in your search for help with motion sickness in dogs.
Next, be discerning with your product choice, as there is no regulation in the market. Each product could vary in the quality, purity and amounts of CBD they contain. Some may even contain THC, the psychoactive part of marijuana that makes the high feeling. Don’t always believe the label, as the product could vary in amounts of CBD, or contain other chemicals or minerals that could adversely affect your dog, such as metals and pesticides. When you can, always choose organic products that regulate how they are grown and processed.
CBD oil for humans shouldn’t be used in dogs, as they contain greater levels of CBD. While formulations of CBD oil for dogs that contain lesser amounts of CBD often claim no side effects, there have been reports of lowered blood pressure, dry mouth and drowsiness. There can also be interactions with other medications your dog may be on, so always factor those into your decision. And while there are several types of products on the market, CBD in oil form is the best way to regulate dosing.
CBD oil may be a furbulous way to safely treat your dog’s car sickness, but as with any unregulated supplement, you should always use some caution. As research continues, our knowledge of CBD oil and its benefits are growing, and will be able to give us a more complete picture in the future.
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