CBD For Rabbits – Benefits, Side Effects & Is It Safe?

We love our pets. After all, a pet is definitely part of the family. We all want to care for our pets in the best possible way, and that includes health care, diet and exercise, and finding the safest treatments when the pet has a health issue or illness.

Pet owners are increasingly using CBD to help their pets. While CBD isn’t a cure-all, it acts on the body’s endocannabinoid system, which serves to keep the body in balance by regulating functions like inflammation, sleep, stress, anxiety and pain. Humans have an endocannabinoid system and so do animals.

The remarkable rabbit endocannabinoid system

Plant phytocannabinoids like CBD “fit” the mammalian endocannabinoid system, which all mammals have. The rabbit’s endocannabinoid system helps both neurological and immune function. While humans and other mammals’ bodies produce their own endocannabinoids, scientists are discovering that many illnesses stem from a deficiency in these natural endocannabinoids, and in these situations, the plant cannabinoids like CBD can come to the rescue to supplement the body. Incredibly, the plant CBD binds with the mammal’s endocannabinoid receptors, thus restoring body balance.

Rabbits can use CBD. Currently, most pet products are geared toward dogs and cats, but more and more pet products aimed at small animals like rabbits are being developed.

Conquer these rabbit conditions with CBD

Rabbits frequently suffer from a condition called gastrointestinal (GI) stasis, a serious and often fatal condition. Symptoms are hard to see, but the digestive system comes to a complete halt. Food is no longer processed and the metabolism simply shuts down.

Symptoms to look for are reduced fecal matter, bloating, loss of appetite and general lethargy. Emergency surgery is usually the result. Pet owners can keep the rabbit’s GI tract moving with optimal motility, and CBD might help.

Researchers at England’s University of Nottingham demonstrated that CBD reduces gut permeability, meaning that CBD keeps the gut functioning normally to correctly absorb water and nutrients from food. Prevention is the key to preventing this GI stasis. Always make sure your bunny has lots of fresh water and hay to keep a high fiber diet which helps keep the digestive system active.

In Canada, medical and adult use recreational cannabis have both been legalized. As many pet owners realize the benefits of CBD for humans, they are also turning to CBD to help their ailing pets. For example, Michelle LeMoignan of the Vancouver Rabbit Rescue and Advocacy Group regularly uses CBD on rescue rabbits as well as her own pet rabbits.

LeMoignan explains that rabbits often suffer from tremors, seizures and arthritis. One of her pet rabbits had repeated seizures. Having heard about the wonders of CBD for helping people with seizures, she turned to CBD as a last resort. The bunny’s seizures were so bad, and they had tried everything. She felt that she needed to try CBD because the veterinarian had already suggested euthanizing the pet.

It worked. Her bunny Jingles is having fewer seizures and has even become stronger. In fact, a drug called Epidiolex, by British pharmaceutical company GW Pharmaceuticals, is the only FDA-approved CBD plant-derived medication on the market today for treatment of seizures in humans. CBD for animals works in much the same way, interacting with the endocannabinoid system to control the seizure.

CBD is not extensively used by veterinarians in Canada; at this point it is experimental, so many pet owners are trying it on their own. Once unorthodox, more and more pet owners are turning to CBD, which LeMoignan describes as “amazing”.

Rabbits are prone to a condition called sore hocks which affects the rear legs. Known by its more official name of ulcerative pododermatitis, the rear legs and feet become infected and inflamed. There are multiple causes, including the rabbit walking on a hard floor or excessive moisture on the feet. The infection and inflammation become severe if left untreated. CBD is well-known for its inflammation-fighting abilities, so giving your rabbit a little bit each day for prevention is a smart idea. Also ensure that your rabbit hutch has a soft, dry floor surface, and keep urine and feces out of the area. Look for early signs of infection before sore hocks gets out of hand.

Is CBD safe for rabbits?

CBD is safe for rabbits, as well as chinchillas, hamsters and hedgehogs. Human and rabbit endocannabinoid systems are very different from each other, so your pet should only take CBD specially formulated for a small pet. Don’t give your pet human-formulated CBD, and of course, humans should never take CBD formulated for pets.

With all CBD, dosing is key and done by weight. For every 50 pounds in your pet, a typical dose is 5mg CBD. However, always consult with your veterinarian before starting CBD or any other medication for that matter. Start out slow at first, limiting your pet’s CBD to twice per day until you understand how the pet is reacting to it.

CBD has no major side effects; it is safe, non-toxic, non-hallucinogenic, and won’t make your pet high. The most common side effect is drowsiness; higher CBD doses are known to have a sedative effect.

In this example, one pet owner puts a drop of CBD on a Cheerio each morning and each night. Many pets are not going to allow you to get anywhere near them with a medicine dropper, so mixing CBD with their food is a great, stress-free way to give the rabbit a daily dose. The Cheerio is a treat for them, and the pet owner can rest assured that they’ve taken the CBD.

Many pet owners find it convenient to use a dropper bottle to give CBD to smaller pets, but topical CBD in a cream form can also be used, particularly for injuries like infections, cuts, rashes or burns.

Conclusion

CBD oil may help your rabbit, but be sure to choose an oil or product that is specially formulated for pets. Look for products that are pure CBD with no added THC, organic and that have transparent labeling and lab testing. Make sure the product has been tested for high absorbability, so that you can make sure your rabbit’s body is using the CBD.

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