Just like their human companions, animals like dogs, cats, and horses have an endocannabinoid system responsible for maintaining balance and health.
You’ve likely heard about cannabinoids like CBD and how they can help support the health of your loved animals – including dogs, cats, and horses.
But how do cannabinoids like CBD work? The answer is through the endocannabinoid system.
What is the Endocannabinoid System?
Just like you, the animal members of your family — including dogs, cats, and horses — have an endocannabinoid system, a major signaling network that is responsible for influencing a wide range of functions and keeping them in balance. Your animal’s endocannabinoid system, or ECS for short, is working continuously to monitor functions and then will trigger adjustments whenever outside factors cause any of the functions to become unstable, returning them back to homeostasis.
The endocannabinoid system is tasked with regulating a large number of your pets’ functions, some of which include:
- Movement and coordination
- Immune response
A properly functioning endocannabinoid system is crucial for maintaining health and wellness in your dog, cat, or horse.
How Your Pet’s Endocannabinoid System Works
The endocannabinoid system of all mammals works the same. Your animal’s endocannabinoid system is made up of three mechanisms:
- Cannabinoid Receptors
- Enzymes that create and break down endocannabinoids
Whenever an animal’s functions get out of balance, the endocannabinoid system responds by triggering the release of enzymes designed to synthesize endocannabinoids.
These endocannabinoids – the most major of which are Anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol – bind to cannabinoid receptors that are found on cells in the brain and throughout the body.
Once the cannabinoid receptors are activated, they control the passage of proteins between cells, sending chemical messages between nerve cells explaining that adjustments need to be made. This process triggers a chemical response specifically designed to bring the function that had become unbalanced back into balance, or homeostasis.
Cannabinoid Receptors in Your Animal
It’s through cannabinoid receptors that endocannabinoids are able to help coordinate and regulate most of how your pet feels, thinks, and functions. Like a key fits into a lock, endocannabinoids are designed to link with cannabinoid receptors.
While there are several types of cannabinoid receptors found on the surface of cells in your pet’s endocannabinoid system, the two major ones are known as CB1 and CB2.
CB1 receptors are located primarily in their brain and central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are mostly found on cells in their peripheral organs and throughout their immune system.
major endocannabinoids interact with these cannabinoid receptors differently. 2-arachidonoylglycerol is considered a full agonist of both CB1 and CB2 receptors, which means that it binds with, and fits well inside, both receptors to active them.
Anandamide, however, is considered a partial agonist of the two receptors. This is because while it binds with and activates them, it doesn’t fit as well inside them. As a result, it doesn’t trigger such a powerful chemical response.
Supplementing the Endocannabinoid System with CBD
Over the years, more pet owners are discovering the natural benefits of supporting the endocannabinoid systems of their dogs, cats, and horses with supplements containing plant-derived cannabinoids like CBD.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a naturally occurring, non-psychoactive, and non-toxic cannabinoid found in cannabis plants like hemp. It is one of the most abundant of the over 100 cannabinoids in cannabis.
Plant-derived cannabinoids like CBD share a molecular structure to your animal’s own endocannabinoids, which means that they can interact with their cannabinoid receptors.
When you give your dog, cat, or horse hemp-derived CBD, the cannabinoid is absorbed into their bloodstream where it naturally stimulates the endocannabinoid system and encourages its efforts to keep your pet’s many functions in balance.
Cannabinoids like CBD can also build up in their body, which causes an increase in the number of cannabinoid receptors. This makes their endocannabinoid system’s more active and more sensitive to stimulation by cannabinoids, further supporting its efforts to maintain homeostasis.
Animal owners appreciate that CBD is non-psychoactive and well tolerated. This means you can provide your dog, cat, and horse with the benefits of supplementing their endocannabinoid systems without the animal experiencing any euphoric or other adverse side effects.