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Home » A Guide to CBD for Horses

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

By now most of us are well aware of the benefits that CBD products can have for people. But did you know that many of the same benefits can be experienced by horses as well? 

In this month’s blogs, we have covered some of the benefits of taking CBD for both dogs and cats, so if you’ve been following them, it should come as no surprise to hear that CBD can have a wealth of incredible benefits for your horses as well!

The Basics – What is CBD?

CBD is the short name for Cannabidiol, a chemical compound that reacts positively with your (and your horse’s) endocannabinoid system. We won’t get into all the sciencey stuff in too much detail in this guide, but if you are interested in exactly how it all works check out our dedicated article here!

CBD is one of many cannabinoids found within the hemp and cannabis plants. Its range of potential health benefits are both vast and potent in their effect. People regularly report experiencing life-changing benefits for both themselves and their animals after starting to take CBD – which is why we love it so much!

How Can CBD Benefit Horses?

Horses, especially worked and competing horses, can suffer from a wide range of health problems (like all of us really). Some of the most common include:

  • Chronic joint pain
  • Inflammation
  • Laminitis
  • Arthritis
  • Gastric Problems such as Stomach Ulcers
  • Anxiety/ Skittishness
  • Weight Gain and Obesity 

CBD works with horses in very much the same way that it works on us humans. Cannabidiol (CBD) interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) found in all mammal species. CBD works in the body at many different levels, which is why the effects can be so vast. 

We will break it down into a couple of key sections particular to the common problems experienced by horses below.

CBD for Inflammation in Horses

Lots of the most experienced medical problems experienced by horses can be traced back to inflammation of one kind or another. Joint pain can arise from muscular, inflammation, tendon inflammation or even symptomatic of a more serious arthritic health concern. Laminitis, another common problem with horses of any age, is an inflammation of the laminae of the foot.

Inflammation in horses can manifest itself in visible pain, lameness and through behavioural or personality changes. 

Prescription Drugs VS CBD for Inflammation

While there are pharmaceutically prescribed anti-inflammation drugs available for horses, many come with undesirable side effects, which can exacerbate an already bad situation. They are also only used as a relief once the problems have already manifested themselves in your horse. 

Full-spectrum CBD, on the other hand, is well acknowledged for its anti-inflammatory properties with almost no visible side effects. Any side effects that may be experienced from taking CBD are generally only experienced when taking high doses of high strength CBD as an inexperienced user. This is why we would usually always suggest a tapered dosing approach. This helps find a balance of strength and volume suitable to your horse’s (or your) needs. 

Download free infographic: Endocannabinoid system and CBD benefits

Preventative Effects of CBD

The other major benefit of supplementing your horse’s diet with CBD is that it can act as an entirely preventative measure, helping to reduce the risk of inflammation before it becomes painful and problematic in the first place.

CBD can almost always be supplemented alongside any existing medications that your horse may be taking as well – although this should be checked with your veterinarian beforehand. 

This means, for more serious problems you can potentially increase the pain relief and recovery time for your horse, without having to choose either CBD OR a pharmaceutical option that worked in the past. 

You can get the best of both worlds.

CBD for Anxiety in Horses

Anxiety or skittishness in horses can be a real problem. Not only can it pose a real physical danger for you when you’re around them, but your horse can also hurt themselves if they spook. We are sure we don’t have to tell you that a calm horse is a happy horse.  

CBD binds to the receptors in the endocannabinoid system that causes a release of serotonin. Serotonin is one of the ‘feel good’ chemicals found in the mammalian brain – including both yours and your horses. Serotonin is naturally produced by the brain and helps to regulate mood and anxiety levels. 

Stress in Horses

Full-spectrum CBD products also encourage healthy regulation of cortisol levels in the brain. Cortisol is known as a ‘stress hormone’ and while this sounds like it can only be a bad thing, it is essential in creating a healthy mood set. At a basic level, cortisol increases glucose metabolism which provides fast and efficient energy to muscles when your horse’s body (and yours) is placed under stress.

As we’re sure you can imagine when it is time to perform (particularly at a competitive level) both humans and horses need to feel a bit of stress to remain focused and energised. However, when cortisol levels become too high in daily life, the effects can range from anxiety and skittishness to weight gain and obesity which can be a cause of the inflammation problems mentioned above. 

Helping to regulate your horse’s cortisol levels through the supplementation of CBD can encourage less stress and a healthy mind. 

How to Give Your Horse CBD

While there are no exact guidelines on exactly how much CBD to give a horse, there are rough guidelines based on size and weight.

As we mentioned previously, it is generally better to start with a smaller dose of lower strength and taper upwards until you find the sweet spot that works for your horse. Bear in mind also, that the positive effects of CBD can take a couple of weeks to materialise, much like any medication or food supplement. 

As a rough guide dosing could be as follows:

  • Minis: 25 to 50mg
  • Full-sized (1100lbs): 75 to 170mg
  • Large breeds: 120 to 200mg

CBD can be introduced to your horse’s life in several different ways:

  • Sublingually: Full-spectrum CBD oil can be pipetted directly under your horse’s tongue. This method has great bioavailability and helps to ensure quick and efficient absorption of the CBD.
  • Orally: Full-spectrum CBD oil can be placed in your horse’s water or feed for oral consumption. 
  • Topical Treatment: There is now a range of topic skin treatments packed with CBD. These can be rubbed directly onto the affected area, but with a lesser degree of bioavailability than if administered sublingually or orally. Also, your horse will be less likely to experience the ‘entourage effect’ and associated full-body wellbeing with topical treatment compared with the others. 

Thank you for reading – A Guide to CBD for Horses

Hopefully, you have found this short guide informative and helpful. If you are still unsure about anything CBD related or anything that wasn’t answered, please feel free to contact us at info@therealcbd.com with questions or for clarification.

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