Watching your horse experience chronic pain, struggle with inflammation, or suffer from related medical conditions can be excruciating. In the heat of the moment, using a different medication, like CBD oil for horses, seems worth a try.
The truth is that many equestrians give CBD oil to their horses, and several studies show that it is safe, legal, and non-addictive to horses.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about equine CBD, including how to administer it in the right dosage.
What are CBD and CBD oil?
CBD stands for cannabidiol, and it is one of the 80 compounds in Cannabis Sativa, a flowering plant. Its oil is an extract from Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) and neither CBD nor CBD oil cause psychoactive effects, that is, make you or your horse high.
That’s because hemp-derived CBD contains just a small trace amount of Tetrahydrocannabinol (the substance that gets us high).
Products that are labeled ‘CBD isolate’ only contain CBD. Other terms relating to this compound include:
- Full-spectrum: This contains CBD and other substances. However, its THC content is less than 0.3%.
- Broad-spectrum: This contains the entire compounds found in cannabis except for THC.
How does CBD work in horses?
CBD activates the endocannabinoid system (ECS) of both plants and animals. This system watches the body and ensures that it is balanced.
Interestingly, humans and horses produce cannabinoids (endogenous cannabinoids, to be precise). They are able to stimulate:
- CB1 receptors: These are found in the brain and nervous system. They affect pain, emotions, and appetite regulation.
- CB2 receptors: These are in body nerve cells except those in the brain and central nervous system. They reduce inflammation.
Bodily cannabidiols are produced when required. On the other hand, CBD helps to keep the ECS more productive.
Although there are only a few horse-specific CBD studies, research on humans and other animals show that it is non-toxic and safe.
Why do people give their horses CBD oil?
CBD oil is used to improve your horse’s well-being. That means the substance isn’t a substitute for medications that cure medical conditions in horses.
Due to its anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory effects, CBD can help to manage:
- Anxiety, especially during stall confinement
- Chronic stress
- Soreness and stiffness (Arthritis)
It is also known to help:
- Irritated skin
- Moody feelings
- Immune deficiencies
CBD Dosage Guidelines for Horses
Horses need a lower dosage of CBD than other animals because they are more sensitive to the compound. For example, a dog can take 1 or 2 mg per kg of CBD oil, but that would be too much for a baby horse.
A horse’s CBD sensitivity is partly because they are hindgut fermenters. This means that they get the bulk of their energy from fermentation. Furthermore, simple things like improper forage-grin ration and feeding your horse too much affect their digestive system.
In practice, it’s best to start small and gradually increase the dosage. However, here generally accepted guidelines for horses:
|S/N||Horse type||Weight (pounds)||Recommended Dosage (mg)|
|1||Minis||400 – 660||25 – 50|
|2||Full-sized||660 – 1100||75 -170|
|3||Large breeds||1100 – 1800||120 – 200|
How to calculate the amount of CBD in each dosage from the bottle or tincture size
The amount of CBD in each dose should be on the label. However, some manufacturers might provide the CBD content only when the dropper is full.
Generally, CBD tinctures have a 30ml capacity, and a full dropper provides your horse with 1ml. Twenty drops of the oil make a full dropper.
To calculate the required CBD dosage:
- First, divide the CBD content by the bottle size. This gives the amount of CBD in a milliliter. For example, imagine a 30ml bottle that has a 3000 mg CBD content. Dividing the CBD content by the bottle or tincture size gives you 100mg of CBD per ml.
- Next, multiply the standard CBD/bottle content by the recommended dosage. For example, picture a dark mini horse. The minimum CBD dosage for this horse is 25mg. But how can you spot 25 mg on a dropper? Luckily, you know that your dropper has 100 mg/ml of CBD. To get the 25mg dosage, keep the dropper 25% full.
This calculation also applies to CBD concentrates. Capsules and pellets usually have accurate mg contents in their labels.
How to administer CBD to your horse
CBD comes in pastes, oils, sprays, topical balms, and salves. The administering options available include:
- Sublingual administration: This involves placing drops of CBD under your horse’s tongue for a few seconds. It is one of the most popular ways to give horses CBD because it kicks into effect almost immediately (within 30 minutes). That’s because it reaches the bloodstream quickly after being absorbed.
Sublingual administration is particularly advisable if your horse has a sensitive gut. However, you have to be careful so that your horse doesn’t bite the dropper. CBD oils and pastes are usually given to horses this way.
- Oral administration: This method is used for pellets and capsules, and it depends mainly on the dosage. Oral administration lasts longer than sublingual CBD administration because it is digested.
- Pulmonary administration: This involves using vapes and has the shortest action period.
- Topical administration: It involves rubbing the oil on the skin of target areas.
4 Tips for giving CBD oil to your horse
- Don’t use glass droppers: Your horse can bite them, or they can break in their mouths. Instead, opt for plastic droppers.
- Meet with your vets before giving your horse CBD: Self-medicating your horse with CBD oil can cause more harm than good. Your vet is in the best position to tell you how to treat your horse.
- Build up the CBD dosage but start small: As we stated earlier, finding the right dosage of CBD oil for horses requires trial and error. The best practice is to start small.
- Use quality CBD oil products: Only pick:
- CBD supplements that are specifically for horses (see the chart below)
- CBD oil that is extracted organically from hemp and not marijuana. Look at the THC content and ensure it is in trace amounts
- Reputable manufacturers that can provide you with a Certificate of Analysis (CoA) and tell you the CBD extraction method used
- Checking the product’s label is also a good practice
Side effects of CBD
CBD oil for horses is effective, and you should start seeing improvements within a short period (30 minutes to one hour for sublingual and oral administration).
However, reduce the dosage if your horse experiences any of the following symptoms:
- Reduced blood pressure
Also, pregnant horses should not take CBD oil because it may cause some issues.
Q1. Can you use CBD oil for horses as a last resort?
Yes. Studies show that this substance can help when nothing else seems to work.
Q2. Should you increase the dosage indefinitely?
No. When you find a formula that improves the well-being of your horse, stick to it. Over-dosage could also be a problem.
Q3. Is CBD oil legal in the UK?
While almost all cannabinoids are controlled substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act, CBD – or cannabidiol as it is also known – is not.
For example, industrial hemp may be grown under license in the United Kingdom. It is a strain of the cannabis plant that contains little or no Tetrahydrocannabinol but does contain CBD.
CBD oil for horses is safe and non-addictive. When used correctly, following the guidelines of a vet, it can help and manage several conditions.
Use the tips we’ve listed above to help you get the right CBD oil for horses.