UPDATED October 6, 2020
CBD has burst onto the scene in recent years as an alternative remedy for a number of ailments as well as a popular addition to daily wellness routines. More recently, people have begun to wonder, “if it can work for me, what about my dog?”
And guess what? This incredibly versatile cannabinoid does indeed hold great potential for our pets as well. That’s because dogs are mammals just like us, and also have an endocannabinoid system.
Same as humans, this system affects all parts of a dog’s body – their skin, mood, brain, and overall homeostasis — which is why CBD oil for dogs (and humans) can be beneficial dogs in so many different ways.
In this post, we’re going to take a deep dive into CBD for dogs to help answer the following questions:
And several others along the way. Let’s get started.
Is CBD Safe For Dogs?
Ask most pet owners and they will agree that their dog’s health and welfare are, of course, the number one priority. With that in mind, here’s the short answer: Yes, so far, research has indicated that CBD oil is safe for dogs as long as you give them the proper dosage.
It’s unlikely that your pet will ever experience any side-effects, although it might make them a little groggy or sleepy. That’s because CBD oil is not harmful to dogs (and other pets) in itself, but as with any product there is a risk of overdose and taking the correct amount is important.
(Note: Overdosing will not be fatal, but will require treatment and give your dog a nasty few days of being unwell. For context, chocolate or raisins pose a much greater threat to your dog than a CBD overdose.)
CBD can be harmful to dogs if you give them too much, so always make sure that you’re giving your pet the right dosage. This dosage depends on factors like the strength of the CBD oil, your dog’s health condition, and their weight. CBD also will not get your dog high, which we’ll dig into further a bit later. As long as you give your dog the proper dosage, negative reactions to CBD oil are extremely unlikely.
CBD also may be harmful if your dog is taking any other medications. Of course, you should always consult with your veterinarian before giving your dog CBD. But overall, CBD is widely considered safe for your dog to consume.
Is It Legal To Give My Dog CBD?
Yes, it is legal to give your dog hemp CBD oil, “hemp” being the important part here.
It’s important to know that there’s a difference between hemp CBD oil and cannabis CBD oil.
The former obviously comes from hemp, which is legal pretty much everywhere. The latter comes from cannabis, which currently is illegal in most countries.
Therefore, if you live in a state that has legalized marijuana, beware of any cannabis CBD oil, especially since these products may contain THC – the cannabinoid in cannabis that gets you high. While there aren’t any specific laws that outlaw giving your dog cannabis oil, it might harm them. THC can intoxicate dogs, and we know that cannabis is toxic to dogs.
For this reason, it’s best to give your dog hemp CBD oil and avoid THC containing products.
Chances are that hemp CBD oil is both legal and accessible where you are.
Will CBD Get My Dog High?
This is a natural question that many people have, especially given CBD’s relationship to marijuana and the cannabis plant. The good news is that the risk of your dog getting high is virtually non-existent, especially if you purchase reputable CBD oil for dogs. This means a product that is totally natural and THC-free.
THC is the cannabinoid that causes the signature high associated with marijuana. But since it isn’t present in CBD oils, there is no buzz. The short version here is as long as your CBD for pets products is THC-free, it should not get your dog high. CBD is non-psychoactive and therefore non-intoxicating. What you should see is a calming effect in your dog.
Are There Any Potential Drug Interactions To Be Aware Of?
Cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system, which in turn interacts with a variety of other systems within your dog’s body. As a result, the drug interactions can be complex – another reason why talking to your vet before giving your dog CBD is especially important if your pet is already taking medications for another condition.
Sometimes, CBD can work together with medications to produce positive benefits. It may allow your veterinarian to prescribe fewer pharmaceuticals with more dangerous side effects, such as NSAIDs, painkillers which have a poor safety profile, particularly in geriatric dogs.
CBD may also improve the anti-tumor action of chemotherapy agents used in the treatment of some forms of cancer. Similar complementary effects have been documented between CBD and some medications used to reduce seizures in epileptic patients.
That being said, CBD may reduce or even negate the effects of other medications vital to your dog’s health. For example, drugs that are known to interact with grapefruit are likely to also interact with CBD, thanks to the fact that they both inhibit the expression of cytochrome P450 enzymes, which are vital to the metabolism of many pharmaceuticals.
Other potential drug interactions include (but are not necessarily limited to):
What Are The Potential Benefits Of CBD For Dogs?
Cannabinoids, the active ingredients in cannabis and hemp, have a profound effect on a dogs’ endocannabinoid system. This system controls or is involved in a wide variety of the dog’s body and brain functions, including its overall homeostasis. This is why CBD can provide physical, mental, and emotional benefits.
Recent research has shown that CBD can help dogs in the following ways:
- A 2012 study indicated that CBD, which is a natural anti-inflammatory, improved the skin of dogs with inflammatory skin conditions.
- A 2017 study found that dogs that took CBD oil had fewer seizures than the placebo group. It found that CBD was an effective way to treat seizure-prone dogs.
- In 2018, the research found that CBD oil reduced pain in dogs with osteoarthritis and helped them be more active than usual.
In addition to the above studies, a recent survey of US veterinarians showed that many vets felt that CBD was an effective treatment for managing pain, relieving anxiety, and decreasing the frequency and severity of seizures.
Of course, CBD oil might be able to assist with even more conditions than those mentioned above.
CBD has been shown to assist with:
- Reduces anxiety which may help dogs with phobias or separation anxiety
- Modulates Sleep
- Reduction of tumors in several types of cancer
- Treatment of a variety of skin disorders, including atopic dermatitis
- Reducing reliance on other pain medications such as NSAIDs and opiates
As you can see, there is a solid amount of both scientific and anecdotal evidence to back up these claims.
Perhaps the most promising research is CBD’s potential for treating cancer in dogs. In fact, many owners are turning to CBD products to use in conjunction with traditional cancer treatment. CBD may help in combination with other treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, to kill cancerous cells and at the very least can help your dog deal with the side effects of these treatments.
Our Recommendations for CBD Oil for Dogs
How Much CBD Should I Give My Dog?
This is a common question asked by dog owners when it comes to giving CBD to their dog.
The best thing you can do is talk to your vet.
This is because there are so many factors at play when choosing the proper dosage and no one knows your dog better than your veterinarian (except you, of course).
These factors may include your dog’s:
The truth is that if your canine companion is having health issues, only your vet can recommend the right diagnostic procedures to rule out underlying conditions that may need medical treatment with another diet, pharmaceutical, or surgical interventions.
That being said, the safety of CBD for dogs has been verified at even relatively high doses.
One study tested 75mg and 150mg doses on a twice-daily administration for 6 weeks without significant adverse effects. Note that this is far higher than the typical amount that would be recommended for effective relief from symptoms.
Another study, used as a dosage starting point for many vets, administered 2mg/kg and 8mg/kg twice daily, noting significant improvements in mobility in dogs with osteoarthritis. No side effects were noted observed by the owners.
An additional complication in dosing has to do with the fact that different manufacturers produce CBD oil at different concentrations. So, two drops of one oil may contain a vastly different concentration than two drops of another.
The product you buy should come with dosing instructions that indicate an amount per pound of your dog’s weight. This is your starting point for the most accurate dosing information.
As a general guide, start with a small amount of CBD. If there are no side effects, gradually increase the dosage of your daily CBD. If there are adverse effects, stop giving your pet CBD right away and get your furry friend to the nearest vet.
To help you determine the proper dosage, there are calculators available online.
Will My Veterinarian Recommend CBD?
Maybe, maybe not. It depends!
There is some resistance to nutraceuticals as the research and promotion efforts are heavily funded by the same companies that serve to benefit from the sale of common veterinary drugs and vaccines.
On the other hand, the emerging research for the many benefits of CBD over the last 20 years has convinced many in the medical community that there is something very important going on in the ECS and that the non-psychoactive compound cannabidiol does have verified health benefits and a very strong safety profile.
In addition, as the laws continue to progress towards a lessening of cannabis prohibition both for medical and recreational uses, the public perception of cannabis as something to be ashamed about is starting to fade away.
The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill marked another landmark in the legalization of hemp across the U.S., including products made from it such as CBD oil.
More and more vets are becoming aware of their obligation to the health of their pets, including the use of cannabis-based medicine where appropriate. In fact, veterinarians in California recently worked together to attempt to pass a new law to protect veterinarians who prescribe cannabis-based medicine for their animal patients.
If you are met with a knee-jerk negative reaction from your veterinarian about the use of CBD oil for your dog, you may want to consider consulting with a holistic veterinarian in your area.
These specially trained veterinarians have all the same med school training as your traditional vet, plus additional training and ongoing education in the use of nutraceuticals, healing herbs, and in some cases, alternative therapies such as massage and acupuncture.
They tend to be more aware of the evolving research on CBD as well as more open to prescribing it in many cases.
But no matter your situation, we recommend checking with your veterinarian and letting them know you are interested in using CBD or any other new product for your pet.
While your vet may not be able to prescribe cannabis or CBD products, it will still be good for them to be aware of your planned usage.
How Do I Know I’m Getting High-Quality CBD Oil For My Dog?
First, make sure the packaging states that the oil contains CBD. It should also tell you how much CBD oil the product contains in milligrams (mg). Remember, products labeled ‘hemp oil’ don’t always contain CBD, as not all parts of the hemp plant contain CBD.
In addition, make sure you buy your dog CBD oil from a reputable company. Unfortunately, many brands make false claims about their products when they actually contain no CBD whatsoever. Other times, they will contain far more than the label states.
Also, look for CBD products that are:
How To Give Your Dog CBD
The most common delivery method for CBD for pets is via CBD oil. If your dog is willing, you can place drops directly into their mouths under their tongue (called sublingually in industry terms). But if your dog is resistant to this method, the easiest method is to apply drops to their food.
There are also CBD treats for dogs out there but again, make sure they come from a reputable brand.
The Verdict: Should I Give My Dog CBD?
Ultimately, that’s up to you (and your veterinarian, of course). But we hope this guide at least shows you that CBD is indeed safe for your dog and can provide them with some relief for a number of different ailments.
But overall, the risks are extremely low, the price is relatively low, and the potential benefits are massive.