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Endocannabinoid System In Dogs & Cats Explained

Endocannabinoid System in Dogs & Cats Explained

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) functions the same way in people as it does in dogs, cats and other animals. In reality, all mammals have an Endocannabinoid System. This includes horses, rabbits, monkeys, dolphins, and elephants to name a few. A huge amount of research is currently being undertaken around the world to find out how exactly the ECS and cannabinoids, like CBD, work together.


The endocannabinoid system in dogs helps to maintain a healthy natural balance internally despite external factors. The ECS communicates with cannabinoid receptors using its own endocannabinoids that it produces naturally. However, the ECS can also be stimulated by phytocannabinoids (plant cannabinoids), including Cannabidiol (CBD) – the non-psychoactive compound found in Hemp. This interaction between the ECS and phytocannabinoids, like CBD, is causing some big excitement in the medical world today.


You may have read about how people are already using medicinal cannabis and other cannabinoids such as CBD. Some well-educated pet owners are also using CBD for their pets as well. In fact, there are CBD cat treats and CBD dog treats made specifically for pets.


If you have ever wondered how CBD can be effective in so many situations, here is an explanation of how it works with the Endocannabinoid system in Dogs & Cats. Let’s explore how this interaction can have a beneficial impact on so many other parts of the body.


What Is The Endocannabinoid System?

The Endocannabinoid System or ECS was first discovered by scientists who were researching why cannabis causes people to get “high”, hence the name Endocannabinoid System. “Endo” is short for endogenous, which refers to something that originates inside of the body. “Cannabinoid” is a term that describes specific compounds, such as CBD or THC, that are capable of stimulating the ECS.


The ECS is the biological system that is responsible for the effects that cannabis has, both the psychological and physical. It has also been discovered that the endocannabinoid system plays a major role in regulating many important bodily functions in dogs.


The Endocannabinoid system in dogs has recently become the subject of much scientific research, because of the many effects that it has on the body and the potential it may hold. Scientists understand the basic functioning of the ECS, but researchers are studying more new exciting therapeutic uses of this system every day.



What Are Cannabinoid Receptors?

Cannabinoid receptors are located on the surface of cells and they monitor the conditions outside of the cell. They transmit what they detect to the inside of the cell and that triggers the appropriate cellular response.


There are several types of cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system in dogs and other animals, but the two major ones are known as CB1 and CB2.




CB1 Cannabinoid Receptors

CB1 receptors are found throughout the body but are more concentrated in the spinal cord and the brain than anywhere else. CB1 receptors in the brain are found in regions that control specific behaviors. For example, CB1 receptors have been found in the hypothalamus, which is the part of the brain that is responsible for regulating appetite. There are also CB1 receptors in the amygdala region of the brain, this area relates to emotions and memory. CB1 receptors also reside in the nerve endings which control pain.


CB2 Cannabinoid Receptors

CB2 receptors are found mainly in the nervous system and in the immune system. Many of these receptors are concentrated in immune tissues pointing to the possibility that the ECS holds an immunomodulatory role. This means the ECS may help monitor and regulate the immune responses such as inflammation or allergies for example.


How Do Cannabinoids Work With My Pets Endocannabinoid System?

Phytocannabinoids are cannabinoids that occur naturally in the cannabis plant. There have been 113 cannabinoids identified in the cannabis plant to date. The two most abundant cannabinoids are THC and CBD. THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid that is responsible for the “high” feeling that marijuana users experience. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that can provide many benefits of marijuana without mental interference.


Endocannabinoids are molecules that the body produces naturally. These “cannabinoid” molecules bind to cannabinoid receptors to initiate specific actions. The body only creates endocannabinoids and when it needs to.


When introduced into the body, plant cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids) such as THC and CBD stimulate the cannabinoid receptors in the same way as the body’s own endocannabinoids do. This, in turn, triggers many natural reactions from the ECS.


The endocannabinoid system in dogs and all other animals operate in the same way. Introducing external cannabinoids into the ECS triggers the same effects that the internal endocannabinoids do.




The Functionality Of The Endocannabinoid System in Dogs

The full extent of how the Endocannabinoid System works in regulating certain functions of the body is still not fully understood. The system has been recognized for playing an important roll in modulating the brain, the immune system and the endocrine system.


It’s now believed that the Endocannabinoid system in dogs influences activity in the gastrointestinal tract and affects the areas of the central nervous system that are responsible for appetite. The ECS also appears to play an important role in regulating hormones that are related to the body’s response to stress and to the reproductive system.


Research suggests that the ECS regulates inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to damaged tissue or infection but when this response is not controlled properly it can lead to chronic inflammation. This inflammation is believed to be responsible for many chronic diseases.


Scientists now theorize that the primary function of the ECS is to control a vital function of the body we call “homeostasis”, which refers to the maintenance and stability of internal conditions. If this is true then the ECS plays a huge roll in regulating many bodily functions.


cbd-chemical-compoundThe Effects Of CBD & The Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system is there to respond to stimulation by the body’s own endocannabinoids, but the cannabinoid receptors can also be stimulated by cannabinoids from external sources, including cannabidiol (CBD).


Initial research of the benefits of medicinal cannabis focuses on the psychoactive cannabinoid THC which binds to the CBD1 receptors to trigger activity. Subsequent research has shown that the non-psychoactive CBD stimulates activity in both CB1 and CB2 receptors by triggering the release of the body’s natural endocannabinoids. This increases the effect throughout the entire body. Research by the National Institutes of Health has shown that CBD can slow the natural breakdown of endocannabinoids which acts to prolong the therapeutic effect.


Research into the effects of CBD is still ongoing, but the list of uses and benefits is continually growing. Some scientists are now even predicting that the use of CBD to simulate the endocannabinoid system in dogs and in humans could revolutionize modern practices.


Marcin Ossowski

Marcin Ossowski is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, California. He graduated from UCLA in 2007 with a major in linguistics and a minor in biology. During his time there, he undertook original research in neurolinguistics and cognitive science, specifically focusing on language disorders and dementia. Over the past decade, he has worked as a writer and researcher for several political consulting firms, taught English abroad in Poland, and ghostwritten two books. In his downtime, Marcin spends a lot of time outdoors and actively pursuing his passion for writing fiction, creative nonfiction, and satire.

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