Behavioral observations, heart rate and cortisol monitoring in horses following multiple oral administrations of a cannabidiol containing paste (part 2/2)

Fabienne Eichler, Anna Ehrle, Marc Machnik, Katharina Charlotte Jensen, Sabrina Wagner, Natalie Baudisch, Julia Bolk, Magdalena Pötzsch, Mario Thevis, Wolfgang Bäumer, Christoph Lischer, Mechthild Wiegard

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungBegutachtung


As a remedy against stress and anxiety, cannabidiol (CBD) products are of increasing interest in veterinary medicine. Limited data is available describing the actual effectiveness of CBD in horses. The aim of this study (part 2 of 2) was to analyze stress parameters via behavioral observation, heart rate monitoring and assessment of blood and saliva cortisol levels in healthy horses treated repeatedly with a CBD containing paste. Twelve horses were randomly assigned to a treatment or a control group. Two pastes were orally administered in a double-blinded study design, one paste containing CBD and one paste without active ingredient. Both pastes were administered twice daily over 15 days (dose: 3 mg CBD/kg). Behavioral observations were conducted daily using a sedation score and a rating of facial expressions, based on the previously described facial sedation scale for horses (FaceSed) and the Horse Grimace Scale. Blood and saliva samples were obtained regularly to determine cortisol levels throughout the study. Cortisol levels were analyzed by means of liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS). Behavioral observations and cortisol levels were compared between groups. Prior to paste administration, a novel object test was performed and the horses' reaction to loading on a trailer was recorded. Both tests were repeated after 13 days of paste application. Movement patterns such as different gaits during the novel object test were evaluated and an ethogram was designed to assess exhibited behavioral traits. Cardiac beat-to-beat (R-R) intervals were recorded throughout and evaluated using heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV) parameters. Blood and saliva samples for cortisol analysis were taken before and after the tests. Daily behavioral observations and cortisol levels did not differ between the treatment and the control group. Similarly, analysis of movement patterns, HR, HRV and cortisol levels during the novel object test and trailer test did not identify significant differences between the groups. Regularly administered oral CBD (3 mg/kg BID over 15 days) had no statistically significant effect on behavioral observations, cortisol levels, HR and HRV in horses. Further research is required to establish adequate doses and indications for the use of CBD in horses.

ZeitschriftFrontiers in Veterinary Science
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 2023


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