Can CBD be used to treat birds?

Here at CBD Vets Australia, we are dedicated to supporting the health and wellbeing of animals. While many of the veterinarians in our network are using CBD to treat their canine patients, we have seen a rise in enquiries when it comes to avian medicine. In this blog, we take a look at what the latest research says on whether medicinal cannabis can be used to help manage the health and wellbeing of our bird friends. 

Research emerging on pets and CBD

Cannabidiol (or CBD) oil is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid derived from the cannabis plant. Due to how it interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, CBD has been found to have therapeutic properties and is being increasingly used as a treatment option for various symptoms and conditions in both humans and animals.

It’s important to note that medicinal cannabis in veterinary practice is a new and emerging research space. The majority of studies to date have focused on humans and, in veterinary medicine, research has predominantly featured dogs. Research investigating the effects of cannabidiol in birds is in its infancy, and the results of some of these studies have not yet been released. 

What we know so far about CBD and birds

Although further studies are needed to determine the effectiveness in birds, a study in budgerigars suggests that birds do have at least one type of cannabinoid receptor (CB1) which is involved in functions affecting memory, the visual system, pain perception, reproductive behaviors, and motor function. This opens up the potential of CBD as a treatment to treat a wide range of conditions affecting different species of bird. 

A recent study in Hispaniolan Amazon parrots found CBD was well tolerated by the birds at a much higher dose than commonly used in dogs – highlighting significant potential as a treatment. No adverse effects were detected in the multidose study. The researchers said their results suggested that avian species may have differences in the cannabinoid metabolic pathway when compared to mammals.  

The birds in this study received hemp extract without food administration. CBD and THC are highly lipophilic substances; therefore, coadministration of a high-lipid meal could enhance their solubility and absorption. Evidence in the rodent model suggests that the bioavailability of CBD and THC was 3 times higher when administered with a lipid vehicle than when administered with a lipid-free vehicle.

These results were encouraging enough to warrant further studies in parrots and other avian species to explore the effect of CBD and its therapeutic application in birds.

Anecdotal evidence on medicinal cannabis and birds

Despite the limited evidence base, there is a growing number of anecdotal reports from bird owners and veterinarians on the benefits of CBD treatment.

Due to the effectiveness of CBD in managing a range of symptoms and health conditions in dogs, CBD has been trialled by owners under the close guidance of a veterinarian. 

Anecdotal reports suggest that CBD may help birds who suffer from:

  • Chronic pain
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Seizures and epilepsy
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Skin conditions

However, as we’ve discussed, these benefits are yet to be clearly demonstrated in clinical studies on birds. The veterinary community is eagerly awaiting the results of new research to shed more light on the benefits, side effects, and optimal dosing of CBD oil in avian medicine. 

Pain management in birds

One of the most popular areas of CBD oil in veterinary medicine is around pain management. As a result, many bird owners are wondering whether medicinal cannabis can help improve their bird’s pain and quality of life. 

CBD has shown to have analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antispasmodic properties in other species, and this suggests that it may provide pain relief for birds without causing any psychoactive effects. 

However, due to the lack of research, it is essential to consult with a veterinarian who has experience with CBD in avian medicine to determine the appropriate dosage and method of administration. 

By working with your veterinarian and considering medicinal cannabis as a treatment option, you may be able to provide your bird with an extra avenue of pain relief and improve their overall quality of life.

Contact our friendly team at CBD Vets Australia if you are interested in exploring CBD as a potential treatment for your bird.

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