Guide: CBD for horses

Guide: CBD for horses

Horse owners bear a great responsibility to ensure that their faithful companion really feels well. CBD, the active ingredient from the hemp plant, can help to alleviate the horses' complaints and at the same time contribute to the animals being balanced and stress-free. It doesn't matter whether the CBD product is used for specific complaints or is administered as prophylaxis. Cannabidiol increases the quality of life, relaxes and supports the immune system of the animals.

Studies on CBD in horses

Like humans, horses have an endocannabinoid system that interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors distributed throughout the body. In this context, the endocannabinoid system can be seen as a kind of subsystem of the nervous system, as the endocannabinoids produced by the body also ensure the maintenance of the organism. Unfortunately, the endocannabinoid system can also get out of balance and the production of endocannabinoids no longer functions to its full extent. Then CBD can be supplied from the outside to restore the balance.
In some scientific studies, the effect of CBD on horses has also been investigated. As early as 1899 [1], the first study examined the use of CBD in animals, as it became known that even the ancient Greeks used cannabis to treat colic in horses.
In a later study it was also proven that CBD can positively influence the well-being of animals. [2] CBD was administered orally to 41 horses. Over a period of two weeks, the horses received CBD daily and it turned out that not only the physical, but also the emotional well-being could be increased. This was also proven in further studies.

How CBD can be used in horses

More and more veterinarians trust in CBD and recommend it to horse owners when the animals show the following symptoms:

  • Nervousness and inner restlessness
  • Emotional stress
  • Fear and panic
  • When the musculoskeletal system is restricted
  • When the skin and coat are sensitive
  • When there are muscular problems
  • When there are problems with the intestines and digestion

But CBD is also often recommended to improve the horse's quality of life.

Is CBD oil for humans harmful for horses? 

No, absolutely not. You can basically use the same oil as we humans do. However, the horse needs a different dosage due to its size and weight, which is why a high-dosage oil is more suitable. We humans usually have a CBD oil with a concentration of 5 or 10 % at home. This concentration is of course much too low for horses, which is why you should resort to a concentration of 20% for the CBD oil to have the desired effect. Special CBD oils for animals are also recommended, as they have a particularly mild taste.

How is CBD oil for horses dosed?

We humans should start slowly with the intake of CBD drops. This also applies to horses and animals in general. It should be started with a low dosage of one drop twice a day so that the animal can slowly get used to the active substance. The oil should be divided into two doses per day. Experts advise 0.1 to 0.5 m CBD per kilogram body weight. The dosage should be maintained for the first four days to see how the animal reacts. After four days, the dose can then be increased by one drop each. There should always be a few days between the increases, as this allows you to see whether the dosage has the desired effect or not.
Furthermore, not only the weight but also the nature and character of the horse should be taken into account when determining the dosage. Every horse owner usually knows what is good for his horse. Horse owners also report that a concentration of 20 to 24 % is completely sufficient. In addition, many reports on CBD oil for horses state that the animals only need a few drops to increase their well-being, despite their size and body weight. There is also talk of the animals being significantly more energetic after just a few days. Even the weather sensitivity could be reduced with the cannabidiol drops. At the same time, the owners noticed that the animals were much more resistant.

How are CBD drops administered? 

The CBD drops can be simply and easily dripped into the horse's mouth. This way, the active ingredient can be absorbed through the oral mucosa. Of course, there will be horses that do not tolerate this administration. In that case, it is also possible to add the oil to the feed. There are also treats on the market that are gladly taken by the animals.
TIP: No horse can resist a piece of sugar. Therefore, you can simply drip one or two drops onto a piece of sugar and give it to the animal.

What to look for when buying CBD oil

When buying cannabidiol oil, it is important to make sure that the CBD oil does not contain THC, as animals are very sensitive to it [3]. Even if the THC in CBD oil has no intoxicating effect, animals are generally much more sensitive to this substance. Therefore, CBD oils containing THC should be avoided. 

Hemp oil vs. CBD oil

Hemp oil is much cheaper, as most people have already noticed. No wonder, it does not contain CBD extract. Hemp oil is made from the seeds of the hemp plant and although it also has benefits for the body, it cannot compete with CBD oil. Nevertheless, it can be a help for very sensitive animals that do not tolerate CBD oil to alleviate discomfort somewhat. 

CBD in pregnant animals?

Pregnant horses should not be given cannabidiol oil. Even though there are no studies on this yet, pregnant and breastfeeding women are also advised not to take CBD oil. It is not yet certain whether the active ingredient affects the unborn child. Therefore, CBD oil should also not be administered to foals. 

Use for horses without appetite

Caution is also advised for bad "eaters". CBD oil can further inhibit appetite, which is why it is often recommended for diets. The use in horses that are not very hungry is therefore not an advantage. 

CBD oil at tournaments

The World Doping Agency WADA has already removed CBD from the list of banned substances for athletes. Unfortunately, this is not yet the case for horses. Therefore, the administration of CBD oil should be interrupted before tournaments and competitions. Of course, everyone can inform themselves again in advance. The World Equestrian Federation (FEI) as well as the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) have banned cannabinoids, although CBD has no psychoactive effect.

What are the side effects of CBD oil in horses? 

Basically, CBD has no side effects worth mentioning. However, if the dosage is too high, fatigue, nausea and diarrhoea can occur. As a result, it is important to start with only one drop when dosing to reduce the risk of side effects.
Particularly if the horse has to take other medications, caution is advised as interactions may occur. Therefore, the intake of cannabidiol oil should definitely be clarified with the attending veterinarian so that interactions can be excluded.
CBD oil is not only an important aid for humans. The oil can also support horses in maintaining their health. As horses are flight animals, even the smallest changes can cause them stress or anxiety. CBD oil can maintain emotional balance and thus contribute to a feeling of well-being. CBD oil can also be used as a supportive therapy for joint, coat or hoof problems.

Studies and sources

[1] LEINOW, L. B., J. Heilen mit CBD. Das wissenschaftlich fundierte Handbuch zur medizinischen Anwendung von Cannabidiol. BIRNBAUM, J. München: Riva Verlag 1: 384 p. 2019.

[2] Hofmann, S. & Ehrmann, A. (2020). CBD, die Wiederentdeckte Naturmedizin. Mankau Verlag.

[3] Baumgartner, J. & Dukes, L. (o.J.). Equine Research on the Short-Term Effects of Cannabidiol for the Treatment of Chronic Pain and/or Anxiety.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

You may also like View all