Before one can understand the benefits of CBD for pets, you have to understand the endocannabinoid system. This bodily system is complex and found in all mammals – humans, rabbits, horses, dolphins, monkeys, and of course, our furry feline and canine companions. Here’s what you need to know about how CBD for pets interacts with the endocannabinoid system in cats and dogs from our friends at Paw CBD.

Understanding the endocannabinoid system is key to understanding how your pet can benefit from CBD. The endocannabinoid system (sometimes called the ECS) is a signaling system that is present in all mammals. The purpose of the ECS is to establish balance and regulation in the body, so it influences several other bodily systems to keep you and your pets healthy.

Research has shown that the endocannabinoid system plays a role in regulating a dog or cat’s muscles, lungs, vascular system, gastrointestinal tract, skin, bones, pancreas, liver, and more. 

The ECS is made up of three major components. To understand the ECS, you’ll need to understand:

 Receptors, Endocannabinoids and Enzymes

What Are Endocannabinoid Receptors?

The ECS is made up primarily of endocannabinoid receptor cells. These cells are scattered around the body, and they fall into two subcategories: CB1 and CB2. 

While research is ongoing, scientists don’t yet know the exact location of these cells within the animal body – we only have a general idea of what systems they are connected to. The CB1 cells are part of the central nervous system and are thus found concentrated in the brain and spinal cord. We know that dogs have CB1 cells in their skin and salivary glands. CB2 cells are associated with the peripheral nervous system and the immune system and are found in organs associated with those systems, such as the spleen and liver.

These receptor cells act as a liaison or messenger, communicating messages from the brain to the rest of the body, which keeps the body in a healthy stasis and balance. The more of these messages that are communicated effectively, the more well-balanced and healthy the body will be. 

What Are Endocannabinoids? 

Three types of cannabinoids can interact with ECS receptors: phytocannabinoids, which are naturally occurring chemicals found in plants like cannabis; endocannabinoids, which are molecules made by the bodies of humans, cats, dogs, and other mammals; and synthetic cannabinoids, which are man-made chemicals that can mimic naturally occurring cannabinoids. The molecular structure of phytocannabinoids and synthetic cannabinoids sometimes imitates or mimics the signals of natural endocannabinoids, triggering the cannabinoid receptors and generating the same benefits for the body.  

“Endocannabinoid” is short for endogenous cannabinoid. There are two types of endocannabinoids made by fats in the body, and they play important roles in regulating neural processes like mood and memory. 

What Are Enzymes in the ECS? 

The final part of the triad that makes the ECS function is enzymes. Enzymes are biological molecules that break down endocannabinoids. Once an endocannabinoid has served its purpose within the system, it has to be dealt with – this is the job of the enzymes. They are a vital part of the processing of endocannabinoids within the ECS and the body. 

Now that you know the parts that make up the endocannabinoid system, it will be easier to understand how this system functions to keep your pet’s body healthy and balanced. Many pet parents, especially CBD users, are surprised to learn that they share this vital system with their pets – both dogs and cats.