Is CBD a solution for horses with tics ?

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Is CBD a solution for horses with tics ?

A new study, published in Veterinary and Animal Science, reveals that the effect of CBD (Cannabidiol), could help horses with stereotypies feel better.

A 22-year-old quarter horse mare, suffering from bear and lean tics, was treated with CBD (cannabidiol), a non-psychotropic molecule found in cannabis. This information, first reported by the online journal Horsetalk, is at the origin of a report published at the beginning of 2023, in the journal Veterinary and Animal Science. The latter considers this use of CBD as a first success concerning behavioral disorders in equids.

This molecule, available over the counter for major humans in France, is known and consumed for its anxiolytic, antidepressant, antipsychotic, antiepileptic and anti-inflammatory effects. But what about for equids?

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About fifteen years to tick

Formerly a sport mare, with a sustained training, she retired at the age of ten. But she had already started to tic from the age of seven. Her symptoms worsened year after year. Her owner tried to alleviate her mare’s symptoms, including putting wooden collars and anti-tick collars on her, improving her environment, changing her diet and using chemical tranquilizers such as acepromazine. None of these were successful.

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Those years of ticking took a heavy toll on the mare’s health. Namely: “uneven wear of the teeth of the upper and lower incisors”, “a depressed posture and severe muscle hypotrophy”, “the coat appeared dull and brittle”, “a lack of interest in the available food”, as revealed in the article published in the scientific journal. The heart rate, respiratory rate, as well as the blood balance were normal.

Appetite recovered after one hour

Given this diagnosis, the veterinary teams decided to administer CBD for four weeks. Throughout the experiment, her owner did not change her feeding routine or her daily outings to the paddock. The mare was weighed every week. On day 0, before the first treatment, the mare weighed 400 kg. After four weeks of treatment she weighed 452 kg. There was also a noticeable improvement in her tic habits. While she was ticking for 15 hours a day on the first day, she spent only 0.5 hours ticking at the end of the fourth week.

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One hour after the first intake, the mare began to forage and feed. The tics decreased between the first and second week of treatment. The mare was monitored for colic, diarrhea, hyperthermia, and cardiorespiratory problems, among other things, throughout the experiment to ensure her health. Nothing to report on this side. Three weeks after treatment, the veterinary team was on the phone with the owner twice a week.

CBD is nothing else works

Although CBD would appear to have improved her tic-related condition, the mare also had a fractured metacarpal/tarso-phalangeal joint, better known as a fetlock. The mare had to be euthanized due to the severity of her injury four weeks after CBD treatment. The study reveals that “the fracture was traumatic in nature and unlikely to be related to CBD treatment.”

This case highlighted the potential use of CBD in cases where traditional therapies for behavioral disorders have not been successful,” the study states. It concludes, “Further research and clinical trials are needed to establish dosing and interactions with other drug molecules, as well as its potential use for other specific conditions.”

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