These days, it can seem as though there’s a new health trend popping up every day. One of the latest hot topics is that of CBD - otherwise known as cannabidiol.
From oils to edibles to lotions, CBD comes in many forms. This product is used to impart a feeling of relaxation and calm without the “high” felt from THC, which is the psychoactive compound found in marijuana.
You may be wondering - if I can receive these benefits, can the same be said for my pet? In this article, we’ll cover what CBD is, the benefits for dogs, and how to safely give CBD to your dog if you choose.
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring compound found in the hemp (cannabis) plant.
Dating back to the 3rd century, cannabis was known for its healing properties and was used to treat a variety of illnesses and ailments like gout, malaria and cognition troubles.
Fast forward to modern day, the two most studied compounds of the cannabis plant are CBD (cannabidiol), and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). These two compounds are similar, with one key difference. THC is responsible for the ‘high’ that many people associate with marijuana. CBD on the other hand, can provide many benefits for the person (or pup) using it - without the intoxicating feeling.
Why Give Your Dog CBD?
Many dog-parents out there swear by CBD. And there are plenty of reasons for it. The most common being that as dogs age, many will develop aches, pains and anxiety (as humans do). There are plenty of medications that can be prescribed for these conditions, but many people find that they lose their effectiveness over time.
This is where CBD oil starts to become a larger, stand-out player.
CBD oil can help reduce anxiety in dogs - especially separation anxiety or a noise phobia (think thunderstorms or fireworks). It can also help reduce pain and inflammation - giving a dog suffering from arthritis a better quality of life.
If you choose to give your dog CBD in an edible oil form, it can begin to work in as quickly as 5-20 minutes after it’s administered. For anxious pooches, research has suggested that its efficacy improves if given over a period of time rather than all at once.
Benefits of CBD
Like we do, our pets have an endocannabinoid system that allows CBD to have an effect. This system allows the CBD compound of the cannabis plant to work its magic for our furry friends, just like it would for us.
Because of our similar endocannabinoid systems, many researchers are led to believe that dogs can experience most (if not all) of the same benefits that CBD provides for humans.
Some of the benefits of CBD for dogs are said to be:
- Decreases stress and helps with anxiety: It has been reported that giving your pet CBD oil can reduce stress associated with social/separation anxiety.
Help to improve appetite: CBD triggers receptors in the brain that stimulate your pup’s appetite; it can help to decrease symptoms of nausea and can relax the central nervous system, making eating easier on your pup’s digestive tract if they’re feeling unwell.
Decrease pain: Especially when it comes to inflammation and pain caused by auto-immune diseases like arthritis.
Can prevent epilepsy or seizure episodes: In a recent study, 89% of dogs had fewer seizures when given CBD oil.
- Can help soothe skin conditions: CBD helps to repair the skin barrier, so that bacteria and allergens have less of an effect on your pooch.
- Helps with noise phobias: CBD products can help keep your pup calm during a thunderstorm or a night of fireworks.
Though there isn’t enough research to support being safer than traditional medicine, one key selling point for many people is that CBD has little to no negative side effects for dogs. Many show improvement with their conditions in as little as a few weeks.
Is CBD Safe for Dogs?
Yes, CBD is safe for dogs. Research from the WHO shows there is no abuse or dependence potential for animals using CBD, and determined that CBD may be a useful treatment for a number of medical conditions from anxiety to nausea.
However, it’s important to note that there still isn’t a high amount of scientific evidence yet to support its exact benefits for your furry friend. The few recent studies that have been conducted returned encouraging results - but it’s not yet a definitive answer.
As for veterinarians, you might find that many that are split in their recommendations. The primary reason for this is that it's simply too early to tell whether or not CBD is an effective supplement for your pup.
"We haven't found anything that's super alarming about CBD. But on the flip side, we still know very little about it and it's really important for owners to know that and use it with caution until we have more information."
- Stephanie McGrath, neurologist and assistant professor at Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences
One word of caution: because it appears to be metabolized in the liver - similarly to humans - some vets caution against giving CBD to dogs with known liver issues.
If you decide to give your dog CBD, it’s important to know how much you should give. Like any new health supplement, food or medication, introduce it slowly. If needed, you can carefully increase the dosage.
See below for a handy CBD serving size chart for your dog:
It’s certainly up to you to choose how frequently to dose your dog with CBD. There are some recommendations out there advocating for once per day, others push for every 8 hours. A large part of the dosage decision depends on the symptoms that your pup is dealing with and their severity.
A good rule to follow is that your dog should experience some relief from their symptoms. Start small, and work up to a larger dose if needed.
Best CBD Products for Your Pup
Before looking at the specific forms of CBD products, it’s important to look for a few key things from a CBD supplier:
- Third-party testing. Since CBD products are not currently regulated by the FDA, you should look for information revealing the products have been tested by a third party. This means that a lab has verified the claims made on the packaging. You should find this information on the company’s website. For instance, you may see a seal of approval from the U.S. Hemp Authority, which means that company’s products meet its stringent standards of have passed a third-party audit.
- What ingredients are in it? On the product packaging and/or website, you should find a full list of ingredients in the CBD product. Make sure to consider all the ingredients in the product, and check with your vet before giving to your dog.
- Is it organic? Consuming organic helps you avoid the use of most synthetic pesticides found in conventional agriculture. Look at the ingredient list to see if they’re using organic.
- Where is the cannabis grown? Look for products grown in the U.S. since they are subject to industrial hemp regulations.
Now that you know what to look for in a supplier, you can choose the medium you want to give your dog CBD.
CBD comes in many of the same forms for pets as they do for humans. For example, you can feed:
- Oils that can be taken orally or mixed in with food
- CBD edibles in the form of chewable treats or filled capsules
- Topical creams or ointments used on the skin
It’s a good idea to speak with your vet or trusted pet-care provider to see if they have recommendations for products that may work for your pup.
Finally, if you can, try and find a local provider or pet supply shop that carries CBD products that are within your budget. You should always do your research to determine the right product type or amount administered for your pet. It may take a few tries to find what works best - but your pup will certainly thank you for it.
And we all know, a happy dog is the ulti-mutt treat!