“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” – Anatole France
Pets, especially dogs and cats, have long been an important part of our families. Pets truly bring distinct positive benefits to their owners’ lives. As a result, Americans are spending more and looking for new ways to provide a better life for our furry friends. 67% of U.S. households (85 million) own a pet according to a 2019/2020 survey done by the American Pet Products Association.
This number is up by 56% since the study was first done in 1988. How many dogs and cats does that work out to be? There are 89.7 million dogs and 94.2 million cats. So obviously, many pet owners have more than one pet in the house. There are probably a few cat ladies skewing those numbers as well. Regardless, that is an average of around 2 pets per household. Spending is also up.
In 2010, the annual expenditures on all pets were $48.35 billion, this number jumped to $75.38 billion in 2019. A lot of that expense is basic needs: food visits to the vet, chew toys, and a feather on a string. However, there is a rapidly growing market for wellness products for pets. It seems pet owners are looking to go beyond just providing the basics and are looking to ensure that our four-legged friends are really enjoying their lives.
What Fluffy and Fido Do For Us
Most of us understand the emotional benefits of caring for, playing with, and snuggling up with our four-legged friends. Almost nothing makes you feel better after a bad day than being greeted by Fido at the door, tail wagging. He is happy to see you and doesn’t care how your performance review went. However, beyond just the warm fuzzy you feel, studies show that there are real physical and mental health benefits of pet ownership. Dogs and cats reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, ease loneliness, as well as encouraging exercise and playfulness. Here are a few of the studies’ findings.
- Pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets.
- People with pets have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets. One study even found that when people with borderline hypertension adopted dogs from a shelter, their blood pressure declined significantly within five months.
- Playing with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which help you to relax and feel calm.
- Pet owners over age 65 make 30 percent fewer visits to their doctors than those without pets.
But What About Non-Furry Friends?
Not necessarily surprising but check this out; this is true even when the caregivers don’t interact very much with the pets in question.
In a 2016 study, elderly people were given five crickets in a cage. OK, we don’t consider crickets as much of a pet either. However, in the name of science, researchers monitored these seniors’ mood over eight weeks while they had the crickets.
They then compared them to a control group that was not caring for any crickets. The result? Participants given crickets became less depressed after the eight weeks than those in the control group who had no crickets. Therefore, researchers concluded that caring for a living creature, even a cricket, produces mental health benefits. With all of the positive support our pets provide us, it only makes sense that we want the same for them.
CBD and Health and Wellness
Many people have begun to add CBD to their wellness routine. Whether they are adding it to their morning smoothie or applying a topical lotion, many folks feel that it is having a positive impact on them. While not enough studies have been completed to prove what exactly CBD is doing, there are some things we do know.
The main one being the discovery of a new system in the human body. The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) was discovered in 1988. The ECS serves to regulate and maintain balance within the human body. It does this by monitoring functions such as the immune response, sleep, appetite, cognitive function, energy level, metabolism, cardiovascular health as well as breathing and mood.
The main part of this system are endocannabinoids and endocannabinoid receptors. Endocannabinoids. are naturally occurring chemical compounds produced by the body to signal and communicate with the endocannabinoid receptors. These receptors are located on the surface of cells and organs throughout our bodies.
How Does Hemp Fit Into This Discovery?
Hemp as a plant has evolved over 100 different types of phytocannabinoids, CBD is one of those. Phyto means produced by a plant, while endo implies that is was produced by your body.
These phytocannabinoids work with and fit into the body’s endocannabinoid receptor system. For more detailed information on this system and how it all works, you can read more about it in our other posts on this subject.
Suffice it to say that it is the interaction of CBD with our own endocannabinoid system that is a point of continuing study. It is also the theory behind CBD’s potential wellness properties in humans.
Hemp as it is defined legally contains no more than .03% THC and varying percentages of CBD. So it won’t get you or your pet high. The big takeaway here? You guessed it. Dogs and cats have an endocannabinoid system as well. With this in mind, many people and veterinarians are now discussing the possible wellness benefits of CBD for Fluffy and Fido.
CBD and Pets What Do We Know?
If you have searched online for CBD for your pets, you may have noticed that there is much more information regarding dogs and CBD than cats using CBD. There is no evidence that CBD is more effective with dogs than cats. Both have an endocannabinoid system, so it would seem that doggy use of CBD has simply been more documented.
Veterinarians have generally been very conservative when it comes to talking about CBD with their clients. However, like our human doctors, this is changing as we all learn more about the natural benefits of CBD. A growing number of natural remedy vets are speaking out and recommending that pet owners look into CBD. It is important to note that your vet can not currently prescribe or recommend specific CBD products.
In response to increased interest in CBD, the American Kennel Club has published a What You Need to Know article on its website for dog owners. The American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Canine Health Foundation (CHF) are sponsoring a study through Colorado State University into treatment-resistant epileptic dogs.
But you might be reading this and thinking, but I am a cat person. I don’t have a dog. What about my kitty? Can CBD be a helpful part of ensuring that my cat is living her best life? Much like with dogs, the information on CBD being used with cats is still anecdotal. There are a growing number of cat owners who are reporting its benefits but there are some things to understand before deciding if CBD is right for Whiskers.
Five Signs Your Kitty Might Be Anxious
Cats can suffer from anxiety and this is an area that CBD research is being done with humans. While far from conclusive, there is accumulating evidence that the endocannabinoid system has a role in regulating stress and anxiety. Here are a few of the signs that your kitty may be suffering from some sort of mild to major anxiety. You should always check with your veterinarian as some of these symptoms may be indications of a more serious health problem. Here are five common manifestations that indicate kitty is having a hard time coping with something.
- Too much time spent hiding – While all cats need some alone time if your cat is spending a large amount of time hiding it could mean she is anxious about something.
- Lots of meows and vocalizations – We all like to hear our kitty talk to us. However, an excessive amount could mean your cat is concerned and trying to tell you something.
- Excessive grooming – Fluffy likes to keep clean. Too much could be a sign she is trying to compensate for her nerves.
- Kitty follows you everywhere – Cats can develop separation anxiety. If your kitty won’t let you out of their sight, it can be endearing, but it could mean she is anxious.
- Your cat is constantly pacing – Cats generally spend about 16 hours a day sleeping. So if Fluffy is unusually active and pacing around, it is a sign that something is up.
How You Can Help Fluffy to Chill
A common contributing factor with a cat’s anxiety is change. While change may be good for a person from time to time, it is really pretty rough on Fluffy. They don’t like it. So do your best to keep the environment consistent. Try not to rearrange the living room once a month—if this is your way of coping with stress it may be stressing out your cat. It is also important that you provide kitty with a safe space that she knows is her place and can retreat to if things get stressful for her. Here are four simple things that you can do to help your cat live more stress-free. She helps with your stress, here is how you can help her with hers. No sense in you both being stressed out.
- Provide a good hiding place for kitty – Hiding helps kitty to cope. So provide her a place, it can be a full-on fancy cat tunnel from the pet store or it can be a cardboard box.
- Ensure you spend some interactive playtime – This is the best one as it is good for you both. Find time, twice a day, to have some playtime. A stick, string, and feather can really do wonders.
- Open the curtains and let her sunbathe – Easy and cost-effective, open the shutters and let the sunshine in. Cats enjoy napping in the sun and looking out the window.
Kitty Still Isn’t Chill – Now What?
If your kitty’s behavior doesn’t respond you may want it to, discuss it with your vet. Your vet will do his best to address each cat’s individual circumstances. In some instances, they may want to provide prescription medication. However, you may want to consider discussing CBD as a natural alternative. It should be on the table as an option as PetMD and many vets routinely suggest catnip, valerian root, chamomile, and hops for nervous kitties. If you are looking at CBD, know that you are going to want an organic full-spectrum CBD. As the industry is still under-regulated, there are products that may contain synthetic chemical compounds and other additives that may be harmful to your pet.