Researchers at Tarleton State University are studying the effects of CBD on horses.
The unique study, led by Dr. Kimberly Guay, aims to see how the hemp derivative affects stress, inflammation, and stereotypical negative behaviors in horses.
Guay and her student researchers from the university are testing different forms of CBD on horses in the trial, such as oil and pellets, to see which is most effective. From there, the researchers are measuring the effects the substances have on both the horses’ heart rate and cortisol levels.
Guay said the study has the attention of horse owners around the world who want to learn whether CBD is safe for their animals.
She said: “I have just been overwhelmed by the level of interest in this study. By now, horse owners have all heard the hype about the potential benefits of CBD oil. Here at Tarleton, we are working to give them the reliable data that’s just not there yet.”
The horses are being observed regularly to see whether they pick up any compulsive behaviors such as cribbing, which is when a horse bites down on a fence or gate. This behavior is common for horses spending long periods of time in a stall or trailer.
Guay added: “We are also tracking how long CBD stays in the horse’s system. Many people who compete with their horses are interested in using CBD products to reduce stress and inflammation, but many event organizers are still working through their CBD restrictions for horses in competition.”
Highly anticipated results from the experiment are expected sometime in 2021.
Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System John Sharp said: “Tarleton Texans know how to sort out the facts from the hype. This practical, fact-based research is exactly the kind of thing folks know they can count on from The Texas A&M University System.”
The University System is a network of 11 universities and seven state agencies, one of the largest in the nation, with a huge budget of $4.7 billion some of which is currently funding its CBD project. More than 153,000 students study within the system, and it makes more than 22 million educational contracts annually through outreach programs.
CBD, or cannabidiol, has soared in popularity since its legalization in 2018 when the Farm Bill was passed.
Now, the hemp derivative is available in oils, creams, edibles, and cosmetics used daily by over 64 million Americans to help with sleep, mental health, and pain.
One of the biggest questions surrounding the industry now, however, is: Can CBD help animals in the same way it helps humans? Many already believe it is beneficial to add the oil to their pets’ water, food, and skin. However, there is no strong science to support this view.
Giving pets CBD has been shown to bring on only mild side effects so far (e.g., diarrhea) but there simply isn’t enough research for scientists to reach a conclusive answer to determine the possible beneficial or detrimental effects for animals.
Many vets, of course, are thus currently unable to prescribe, dispense, or even recommend cannabis products to pet owners in the same way physicians can for their human patients.
So while the FDA carries out more research to see if CBD is safe for human consumption, the same is being done for cats and dogs – although it may take a little while longer to reach a definitive answer.
For now, though, pet owners are encouraged to make sure they are getting the dosage right, and are not feeding their pets CBD food that contains other toxic ingredients, such as CBD chocolate.