CBD for Horses

CBD for Horses is beginning to show a promising outlook from market growth potential and from veterinarians, equine experts, horse care takers, and trainers. 

These strong four legged 1000 pounds weighing animal, on an average, have a lifespan of 25-30 years. 

But, sadly competitive horses begin racing at the age of two. Looking at the numbers of horses getting killed on track commonly for catastrophic front limb injury, cardiac issues, bleeds, pain, and a number of other reasons are quite threatening. 

Therefore the onus of keeping these beautiful animals safe and healthy is pretty challenging. Let us explore.

This article intends to provide supportive information on questions pertaining to applying CBD for horses. In addition to throwing the spotlight on safety profile, dosage, administration methods, and after-effects. 

What do Horses usually suffer from?

According to a 2019-20 survey, there are 1.6 million households that own a horse in the US. That’s quite a number is it not? 

Horses are family-oriented animals that can read subtle human emotions. This is perhaps why they have been domesticated for several thousand years. Moreover, Horses can impact the human heart, and research validates this theory. “An increase in a human’s heart rate affects the heart rate of the horse they are riding or leading.” This is why equestrians handle their horse’s health very cautiously. 

  • Need for emotional and physical nourishment
  • Need for improved horse management
  • A wholesome diet that can cater to their emotional and physical requirements

Besides the above, horses are susceptible to certain health problems. They can be briefly listed as follows:

  • Pain and Inflammation:

Reference from a study is noteworthy at this point. It reports that Horses have a built-in-pain suppression response also called ‘stress-induced analgesia’ or SIA. If a racehorse during a race suffers a leg injury, it gallops despite the jockey’s effort to pull it up.

In such cases, horse owners or caretakers need to assess their behavior and note all signs of pain on a day-to-day basis. 

For example, look out for signs such as lameness, restlessness, head-lowering. Along with teeth grinding, flaring nostrils, reluctance to be handled, kicking at the abdomen, behavior problems, flight behavior, head-turning towards the flank, etc.

  • Allodynia: According to IASP “ Allodynia is pain due to a stimulus that does not normally elicit pain.”

For example, a gentle feather touch causes pain.

  • Anxiety, stress: Changes in social behavior, biological patterns such as eating, drinking, and sleeping.
  • Soreness and stiffness: This is again related to pain due to muscle activity. Stiffness in the legs either after a race or training could lead to inflammation or pain. 
  • General health: Along with these general outcomes, keeping a diary account of all observations of your horse could go a long way in choosing a suitable CBD product for your horse. Do remember to mark visits to the Vet and their recommendations.

What is the endocannabinoid system?

Endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes together make up the ECS system. 

Endocannabinoids are molecules that are naturally produced (endogenous) in the (human/ animal) body. These are similar to the cannabinoid compounds of the cannabis plant.

The receptors are present in the nervous system and immune system, and the enzymes are the substances that regulate the rate at which chemical reactions take place in the body. 

Therefore, the primary function of the ECS is to maintain homeostasis by controlling and maintaining immune, neurological systems, and other organs. It does this by modulating its interactions with the body’s biological process through receptors and chemical reactions. They include sleep, mood, memory, learning, stress, appetite, metabolism, reproduction, etc.  

Any imbalance in this natural process leads to sickness with certain conditions. At this point in time, the ECS is unable to produce sufficient cannabinoids to keep up with the imbalance. CBD counterbalances and stimulates the ECS to produce more cannabinoids. 

Moreover, studies show that cannabinoids interact with the ECS through several pathways, stimulating the receptors in the central nervous system and the Immune system. In short, it is through the ECS that the therapeutic effects get activated. 

Is CBD safe for horses?

First things first, the use of CBD does not enhance performance, especially while in a race. Drug tests do not permit the use of cannabinoids during race or Competition. If you are hoping to use CBD to boost your horse’s performance, we will spare you the disappointment… and legal trouble. 

CBD on its own is non-psychoactive. Hence it will not give your horse a high.

CBD may interact with other drugs or feed, so consult your vet, before you give CBD to your horse.

Other aspects to keep in mind: 

  • Avoiding CBD administration during the gestational periods
  • Plasma levels on oral administration of CBD differ in human Vs animal models.
  • Observe changes in food consumption and body weight 

It is important to note that the potential of CBD effects on horses is less clear because of the small sample size in experimental surveys conducted so far.

Altogether, horses are highly adaptive animals that can survive in various environments, hence have complex anatomy. So there are no reports on the side effects of the use of CBD for horses. Anecdotal responses from owners and caregivers are highly favorable.

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Dosing guidelines: How much CBD should I give my horse?

If you are expecting to follow a fool-proof dosage chart for your horse, it is good to change your mind. Why?

Unfortunately there is no standardized CBD dosage chart available at present authorized by any regulatory authority. There are also limitations in research on the effects and routes of administration 

So here is our rule of thumb: Consult a Veterinarian before starting to use CBD. Also, evaluate the bodyweight of the horse.  Begin with small doses, observe changes over some time. Do not miss out on their physiological and emotional responses. Eventually, increase the dosage in safe increments.

 For example, 0.25 milligrams for each pound. So, a horse weighing 900 pounds could be administered with 225mg rounds of CBD daily.

Route of administration also does play a role in reaping desired results. 

 Calculating CBD oil Dosage for Horses

Calculating dosage would depend on the size of the horse. Dosage requirements for optimal effects could vary for small to full-sized horses or large breeds.

Standard quality CBD products are labeled as per regulatory requirements hence it should carry the amount of CBD per drop. 

For example, the total milligrams (mg) and the net product quantity would be mentioned clearly in the product label. Along with the availability of CBD per serving. Divide the total milligram by the net weight, you would derive at the per dosage serving.

In a 30 ml, 250 mg CBD oil, one ml would contain 8.33mg of CBD

For oral/ sublingual administration use a syringe or dropper. Good to use plastic syringes, avoid glass material.

Generally, an interval of 6-8 hours between one dosage to another is a good practice. However, for chronic conditions, consult your vet for guidance. Number of drops per serving per day depends on the potency of CBD oil that you want to choose for your horse. 

How do I give my horse CBD? 

CBD can be administered to horses in the form of 

  • CBD Oils
  • CBD Tinctures
  • CBD balms and salves
  • CBD Pellets / treats
  • CBD capsules
  • CBD pastes

These CBD products should clearly contain the quantity of CBD along with dosage instructions mentioning dosage per serving.

On the other hand, CBD oils or tinctures can be sublingually administered by placing the dropper or syringe with the CBD dose under your horse’s tongue. They can also be added in feed or treats. Or they can be rubbed on gums. 

How to make CBD horse treats?

If you are looking to give your horse a homemade CBD treat, we’ve got you covered. This way you can combine your horse’s favorite food with CBD in a tasty snack that your horse can’t resist. 

For the homemade CBD horse treats you will need:

  • 1 large apple
  • 1 shredded carrot
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • Several drops of CBD oil for horses 

Cut the apples into large chunks.

Mix the honey, sugar, and salt and CBD oil for horses  in a bowl

Mix the oats and carrots in a separate bowl.

Coat each apple chunks in the honey mixture and then in the oat mixture.

Place in a tupperware container and refrigerate for an hour.

Fine more easy CBD recipes for horses here.

Speak with your Vet before giving your horse CBD 

As a rule of thumb, it is a good practice to do sufficient homework before you begin something new for your horse. Be it CBD or any other food that you haven’t tried before.

Your vet should be an expert in the knowledge about CBD as well as your horse’s condition in particular. 

Speak to your vet, initiate the conversation on why you want to consider using CBD and what outcomes you expect in your horse. This will be very helpful in charting out a dosage graph, required potency, expected outcomes, risks if any, and most of all how to handle horses while administering CBD.