Hemp is for Horses? Equine CBD 

Cannabis for equine ailment and veterinary medical practices dates back to ancient Greece. 

Historically, folks used cannabis for tending to horse wounds and sores. 

Cannabis plant leaves were used to help stop nosebleeds, and cannabis seeds were used to prevent tapeworms, pain, and inflammation. 

Later, in addition to traditional treatment techniques, cannabis became a staple ingredient in veterinary medications.

CBD for equine care was shelved more recently as legal and societal changes reined CBD in. 

But changes in legislation and scientific advancement are laying the ground for new trails that seem to wind back to CBD equine use. 

Saddle up for our quick equine summary if you’re considering hitching your wagon to the CBD pony express.

Is CBD Good for Horses?

Where scientific studies on CBD use in horse remains relatively limited, anecdotal evidence shows great promise. 

Cannabis products and derivatives intended for animal use are often preferred for their anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, anti-neoplastic (tumor-preventing), and pain-reducing effects – much like they are for humans. 

However, cannabis products for horses also point to symptom management that differs from human use. 

Once case illuminated the possible effects of CBD hemp on mechanical allodynia, a type of pain caused by seemingly harmless stimulants, such as touching – or petting. 

Another study discovered that cannabinoids inhibit lymphocyte proliferation, which can cause diseases such as multiple myeloma (a variety of cancer that affects white blood cells) in some species of cats, dogs, and horses. 

Cannabinoid lymphocyte obstruction may help prevent this type of cancer from developing in animals. 

CBD is also being sought to treat equine itchiness, nausea, appetite, seizures, and joint pain, such as animal arthritis, and promote appetite, digestion, and immunity. 

One of the most compelling prospective benefits of CBD for equine use is its ability to help anxiety and negative behaviors. 

An experimental report identified associations between CBD and equine CBD use. The associations displayed health and wellness improvement and pain reduction in the horses that continuously developed throughout the study. 

Anxiety was not found to improve to the same degree but improved overall. 

Where scientific evidence lacks support for anti-anxiety endeavors, anecdotal evidence consistently reports calmer demeanors and anxiety symptom reduction when CBD is given to horses. 

The anecdotal evidence behind the effect of CBD on anxiety in horses is so strong that equine owners and riders should also be aware that typically CBD use will not be prohibited by equine sports associations both inside and outside of the United States. 

The US Equestrian Federation (USEF) considers CBD use of any kind a violation of USEF Equine Drugs and Medications Rules, and a CBD positive test can have negative consequences. 

USEF CBD regulation is primarily due to CBD’s anxiolytic and behavior-modifying effects on horses. 

These rules extend to international equine governances as well. For example, the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) banned all cannabinoids, which now appear on the Equine Prohibited Substances List, along with synthetic cannabinoids and cannabimimetic. 

How much CBD do you give a horse?

You may be wondering how much CBD to give you horse and how long CBD stays in a horse’s system.

The American Veterinary Medical associated reported on a study that explored hemp administration in horses. 

The study found that CBD doses of roughly 250 milligrams displayed pharmacokinetic tendencies (the way substances move and interact inside a body) akin to that of a dog when administered to horses 400-500 kilograms (800 to 900 pounds) in size.

This study cited that peak concentration occurred after about two hours post-application but with minimal content. The way and the amount of CBD given to a horse will require much more testing before delivery can produce peak results. 

Other sources speculate that CBD stays in a horses’ system for about four times longer than a two-hour peak concentration, with an estimated half-life of about 8 hours. 

These findings are comparable to the half-life of CBD administered to dogs, which is roughly four and half hours. 

The increased half-life of CBD in horses suggests an increased sensitivity to CBD, so don’t mistake your equine for a much larger dog. 

Each animal needs to be considered independent of our other companions.  

The size of the horse and what the CBD is being used to treat (for example, anxiety verse pain) must be factored into desired dosages. 

Because equine dosing can range from 40 milligrams to 125 milligrams, it’s best to start small and increase dosages as needed. 

Continued research is needed to determine the exact effect of CBD in horses and will depend on dosage amounts. 

Popular equine CBD products include CBD oil and CBD-infused pellets. 

Is It Legal to Give CBD to a Horse? 

The federal government had come a long way from when the US Department of War recommended cannabis for equine colic. 

Today, legislation surrounding the legality of administering CBD or hemp products to animals is surprisingly scarce in the United States. 

Whereas federal and state laws for human consumption have experienced rapid, and in some cases, drastic, changes in the last decade, rules regarding animal CBD consumption have not been considered to the same degree.

There is currently no FDA approval for giving cannabis to animals at the federal level. At the state level, of course, rules and regulations may vary. 

The FDA encourages seeking veterinarian advice when considering giving cannabis products to your pet, which alludes to some level of acceptance on behalf of the federal government. 

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, California is the only state that has specifically considered veterinarian permissibility regarding cannabis conversations. 

California allows practitioners to talk with patients’ owners about using cannabis while remaining compliant with the veterinary disciplinary board. 

The FDA opinion on hemp in food products does extend to both man and animal, however. 

The FDA states that the term ‘food’ applies to consumables for both humans and animals. 

This definition of food (what the FDA considers OK for animals) prohibits THC or CBD in food and feed. 

Currently, there is no approval for cannabis substances in pet foods or feeds.

While relatively restrictive, the FDA has stated that exceptions to the rules may apply. 

Researchers hoping to explore substances for animal drugs can apply to the Center for Veterinary Medicine. Once filed and approved, research can commence. 

Some substances can then be considered for animal drugs, but they must be approved to be considered an exception. 

Other exceptions include substances intended to become an animal food ingredient that passes what the federal government calls an “approved food additive petition or generally recognized as safe (GRAS).”

However, the FDA has yet to notify any GRAS hemp animal food ingredients. Therefore, ultimately, there are no federally approved therapeutic products for animals at this time. 

While the laws on hemp product use for animals and hemp as an ingredient in animal food and feed are blurry at best, they do leave the door open to further consideration in the future. 

Increased research is needed before we can trade in hay for hemp, but the bottom line is that CBD shows excellent potential for leaving your equine feeling fine, and we’re hopeful hemp for horses is something we can bet on. 


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Jack Studebaker

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