Published October 30th, 2020 by Jeev Trika

CBD for Horses: Benefits, Side Effects, Dosage, & More


If you were to do a quick Google search on CBD, you’ll likely see a ton of information on CBD for pets and humans. You’ll also see advertisements for various CBD products for anxious dogs, cats with kidney issues, and people struggling with insomnia. 

But did you know that our majestic Equine friends can also benefit from the therapeutic benefits of CBD? That’s right, we’re talking about CBD for horses!

Now, we know what you might be wondering: “Is CBD safe for horses?” 

“Are there any side effects of CBD for horses?”

“What exactly are the benefits of CBD for horses?”

“And how much CBD oil should I give to my horses?”

We hear you loud and clear! As horse parents, these are incredibly important questions to ask, and we want to help. 

You see, unfortunately, there just isn’t enough information regarding CBD and horses. Yet, we know that like our canine and feline friends, horses also have an Endocannabinoid System (ECS). And according to anecdotal data, it seems some horse owners have seen pretty amazing results in their beloved Equine friends after giving them CBD. 

But, like most natural supplements, it’s normal to feel a bit apprehensive when it comes to giving CBD to your horse. So before we move on, we'd like to reiterate a fews things… 

First, it’s important to know that CBD is in no way a miracle “cure all” medicine. While multiple studies confirm that CBD is anti-inflammatory, it is not designed to diagnose, treat, or prevent unwanted symptoms or diseases. 

Second, more studies involving CBD are desperately needed.

Third, this article is intended to provide information and education. That said, the information found throughout this article should not be taken as medical advice. In fact, we recommend you consult with your horse veterinarian when it comes to treating injuries, diseases, or any other medical related problems.

Finally, we believe that CBD holds tremendous therapeutic value, and we feel that horse owners should explore natural, less invasive approaches for their horses’ unwanted symptoms. So without further ado, let’s explore all the nooks and crannies of CBD for horses


Will CBD get my horse high? 


Despite what you may have heard, CBD is completely non-psychoactive. So it won’t get your horse high. 

What’s so amazing about hemp is that it only contains trace amounts of THC, the phytocannabinoid responsible for getting its users high. So it’s not nearly enough to cause any unwanted euphoric effects. This means your horse won’t be spaced out, staring into the sky thinking he or she can fly. Marijuana contains much higher ratios of THC and is still considered a Schedule I substance. 

Additionally, CBD on its own is not psychoactive and studies show that higher ratios of CBD actually prevent the unwanted psychoactive effects of THC—which is why hemp-derived products are federally legal and marijuana-derived products are not. 

However, it’s important that you research your own state laws regarding hemp. Not all states are on board about hemp-derived products. 


Can horses have CBD oil?


As we mentioned earlier, horses also have an Endocannabinoid System (ECS), which is a major signaling system found in all mammals. And according to researchers, this system helps maintain balance and homeostasis throughout the body. 

So our horses' ECS plays a huge role in regulating their: 

  • Sleep

  • Appetite

  • Digestion

  • Body temperature

  • Mood

  • Memory

  • Pain

  • Immunity

  • Cellular health

  • And much, much more...

But when their ECS isn’t working properly, health conditions and unwanted symptoms like pain, anxiety, fear, stress, and depression can potentially arise. 

However, according to researchers, when balance is restored to our horses’ ECS, then it can properly regulate and stimulate their endogenous cannabinoids to help bring their overall health back to a homeostatic state. 

Now there are several ways we can help improve the health of our horses’ ECS: 

  • Diet (high-quality food)

  • Exercise 

  • Safe environment 

  • High-quality supplements 

  • Etc. 

And speaking of high-quality supplements, here’s where CBD may help… 

According to studies, CBD helps stimulate endogenous endorphins and preserve endogenous cannabinoids like Anandamide (also known as the “bliss molecule”). 

But that’s not all… 


CBD benefits for horses


While there are multiple studies involving CBD and a mix of test tubes, humans and small animals like mice, dogs, cats, etc… There are no government studies involving horses.  But that doesn’t mean studies aren’t underway. 

In fact, two renowned veterinarians at Oklahoma State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Todd Holbrook and Megan Williams, are nearing their completion of their study involving horses and pelleted CBD products. 

According to Dr. Todd Holbrook, “We gave horses a pelleted CBD product daily for a specified time period and then subjectively and objectively evaluated the horses for lameness… The horses were also evaluated for lameness after receiving phenylbutazone (“Bute”), a well-established analgesic medication used in horses, as well as with no treatment.”

And according to Megan Williams, “There is still so much that we don’t know about the potential benefits of CBD for our equine patients... We are hopeful this objective data will be beneficial to owners who are considering CBD supplements for their horses with lameness issues.”

Thankfully these two veterinarians are helping pave the way for our equine friends to have better options for addressing an array of unwanted aliments.  

But that doesn’t mean horse owners haven’t seen their horses benefit from CBD. 

In fact, according to anecdotal data, horse owners have noticed that their sweet equine friends have experienced pain relief, improved mobility, and less nervousness when owners are riding them. That said, let’s look at a few other benefits of CBD and horses


CBD for nervous horses

According to a recent case study, Liz G, a veterinarian in Arkansas, found that CBD really helped improve her horse’s overall demeanor. “I’ve used CBD twice before riding, and within one or two minutes I noticed a change… She’s more relaxed and not as reactive. She thinks about what I’m asking and doesn’t get so nervous about everything. I am so pleased already!” 

After just 6 weeks, Liz noticed even more improvements, “I give my show horse 30mg of CBD before I train at home. It works well to just relax her but she is still responsive. My mare tends to get nervous because she wants to do things right and hates to be corrected. The CBD has made a world of difference in her training. We have made huge improvements since I started using it.” 


CBD for pain and colic in horses 


According to CuChullaine O’Reilly, an author who published a three-volume Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration, cannabis was a standard treatment for many health conditions. And before cannabis was outlawed in the late 1930s across America, most, if not all American veterinarians prescribed medications that contained cannabis to help treat equine colic. 

In fact, a 1915 Manual for Farriers, Horseshoers, Saddlers and Waggoners suggested that horse owners give their equine friends who suffer from colic “one teaspoon of liquid Cannabis Americana mixed with one tablespoon of olive oil.” 

And according to General William Giles Harding Carter, a US Cavalry officer and author of Horses, Saddles and Bridles, Cannabis indica is antispasmodic and anodyne. Carter stated, “It is recommended in colic, acute indigestion, impaction and constipation. It relieves pain and irritability without interfering with the secretions of the stomach and intestines; dose, one half to one dram.”

Cannabis has also been praised and recommended by Parke Davis & Co… In fact, they believe it “may be often used in place of opium with the best results, especially in spasmodic disorders and in genito-urinary irritation: also in persistent cough and in hysteria, as well as in such painful affections as flatulent and spasmodic colic, pruritus and neuralgia, and to relieve spasms of chorea: also to quiet refractory animals for standing operations.”

Now we know, other studies have shown CBD to reduce the frequency of seizures, decrease excessive inflammation in the joints, and improve overall mood. But none of these studies involve horses; instead they involve dogs, mice, and humans. And because we know that all mammals have an ECS, it’s safe to say that CBD potentially works well with our equine friends. 

So does this mean that CBD is safe to consume?


Is CBD safe for horses?


This is perhaps one of the most popular questions we see from horse owners who are considering giving CBD to their equine friends. From what we know, multiple studies confirm that CBD is well tolerated among its users. But it’s important to note that everyone and every animal responds differently to CBD. 

According to Equine Wellness Magazine, “The only side effect seen from using CBD in pets has been mildly-elevated liver enzymes.” The study they are referring to is one that used extremely high doses of CBD “eight to 16 times the levels that knowledgeable vets would prescribe for dogs.”

Other mild side effects may include: 

  • Drowsiness

  • Decreased blood pressure 

  • Dizziness 

  • Fatigue 

  • Diarrhea 

Of course, we recommend to always consult with your veterinarian before adding CBD to your horse's daily regimen. If you do decide to move forward without consulting with your vet, be sure to start slow and with low doses and always observe how your horse responds to CBD as you increase overtime. 

Finally, it’s imperative that you not give CBD to a horse who is pregnant. Studies are still underway to determine if it’s safe for pregnant females to consume CBD. 

Now that we know that CBD is relatively safe for horses to consume, the next question is: How much CBD should I give to my horse?


CBD dosage for horses


The best way to determine how much CBD you should give your horse is by following the instructions or recommendations on the label of your CBD bottle. If the bottle does not have dosing instructions, you may want to steer clear. Reputable CBD companies will have dosing suggestions on their CBD labels. 

Another way to properly dose your horse with CBD is by their weight. Pet CBD companies usually recommend pets who are under 25 lbs should only take 10mg of CBD. But pets who are over 75 lbs can take up to 20-40mg of CBD. 

Dosing CBD to horses is a bit different… 

  • Minis can take up to 25 to 50mg of CBD

  • Full sized horses who are over 1,000 lbs can take up to 75 - 170mg of CBD 

  • Larger breeds can take 120 to 200mg of CBD

However, we recommend starting with a lower dose and then gradually increasing it after you see that your horse is responding well to it. 

So where do you find the best and safest CBD products for horses


CBD products for horses


Reputable CBD companies online are the best places to find high-quality CBD products for horses. Always look for the following key factors when looking for safe CBD for your horses to consume:

  • The CBD company utilizes organic ingredients and steers clear of any artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives  

  • The CBD company will source their hemp from organic farmers in the USA

  • The CBD company will do thorough third-party testing on all their products before they hit the market

  • The CBD company provides up to date COAs (Certificate of Analysis) on their website to ensure their products are safe for your horse to consume

  • The CBD company lists the potency of CBD on the label

  • The CBD company lists dosing instructions, suggestions, or recommendations on the label of each of their products

  • The CBD company offers outstanding and knowledgeable customer service 

Lastly, only purchase CBD products that are created and designed for horses. You can definitely use human CBD oil, but the issue is the dosage. You might end up buying more CBD oil for your horse if you’re using human or pet CBD. So stick with CBD oils that have been specifically formulated for your horse. 

Remember, consult with your vet before adding CBD to your horse’s daily regimen, especially if they’re currently on any medications. And know that CBD is not a “cure all”, instead it’s a natural, less invasive approach to some of the harsher medications on the market today. Everywhere!

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