CBD has exploded in popularity not just for humans, but for dogs too! Dogs are cherished members of the family, and dog owners care deeply about the health and happiness of their furry friends. You may have questions about using CBD for your dog – read on!
What is CBD, and how does it work?
CBD (short for cannabidiol) is one of the many cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Unlike its more famous cousin THC, CBD is non-intoxicating and will not get you or your dog high.
CBD interacts with our body’s endocannabinoid system, which interfaces with multiple other body systems to maintain homeostasis or balance in the body. It is responsible for regulating a wide range of physiological processes – mood, energy level, gastrointestinal function, immune activity, inflammation, blood pressure, bone density, glucose metabolism, how we experience pain, stress, hunger, and more. Dogs, as well as all other mammals and nearly all other animals except insects, have an endocannabinoid system.
CBD acts to boost the endocannabinoid system, helping the body to maintain balance and optimal functioning.
How can CBD help dogs?
CBD can benefit dogs in many ways:
Relief from aches and stiffness
Support a relaxed and calm mood during times of stress
Support healthy joint mobility
Support a healthy neurological system
Everyday health and wellness
Is CBD safe for dogs?
In an extensive report released in 2017, the World Health Organization noted that CBD is “generally well tolerated, with a good safety profile” and does not appear to have abuse potential or cause harm. Studies have used very large amounts of CBD in dogs with no reported side effects. (see here and here).
Possible side effects to watch for that have been observed in humans and could occur in dogs include dry mouth, tremor, low blood pressure, lightheadedness, diarrhea, and drowsiness. But even if your dog ingested an entire bottle of CBD oil, all evidence suggests he would be fine after sleeping it off. CBD seems to be much safer than other treatments for pain such as NSAIDS, which can cause gastrointestinal bleeding and kidney damage. One caveat: CBD can interact with some medications, so if your dog takes prescription medication, it’s best to consult with your vet before adding CBD.
Is it safe to give CBD oil with THC to my dog?
Yes, as long as the CBD oil contains less than the legal limit of 0.3% THC. Dogs are very sensitive to THC; ingesting large amounts can make them unpleasantly high and could cause them to fall or even choke, but the amount found in even a large dose of full-spectrum CBD won’t cause harm. In fact, it’s likely to be beneficial; full-spectrum CBD products containing trace amounts of THC and other cannabinoids have been shown to be much more effective that products made with CBD isolate. But stick to products made with high-CBD hemp and avoid high-THC products!
What is the best way to give CBD to my dog?
For humans, it’s recommended to put CBD oil under the tongue and let it absorb for a minute or so. You can try this with your dog, but it could be a challenge to do it without the dog licking the dropper, and it’s best to keep the dropper clean and uncontaminated. Simply putting the drops directly on the dog’s food works well and is very easy. Dogs are not known for being picky eaters, and probably won’t notice the oil at all.
While there are plenty of CBD dog treats available, it’s much easier to adjust the dosage by giving CBD oil drops. There may be a period of experimentation while you figure out the optimal dosage for your dog, and CBD oil can be easily dosed drop by drop. Trying to break dog treats into precisely sized pieces might be more trouble than it’s worth! Additionally, CBD dog treats tend to be much more expensive than an equivalent amount of CBD oil.
Can I give CBD oil for humans to my dog?
Absolutely! The only differences between CBD oil marketed to humans and CBD oil marketed to dogs is the flavor and additives. While bacon-flavored CBD oil might sound appealing, your dog doesn’t need all those artificial ingredients. Conversely, if using CBD oil for humans, it’s important to choose one without unnecessary additives (especially xylitol, a sweetener which can be fatal to dogs).
How should I choose a quality CBD oil?
Finding a high-quality CBD oil can be confusing in this unregulated market. There is a dizzying variety of products which vary tremendously in their quality, extraction methods, potency, concentration, and formulation. There are many excellent CBD brands, many terrible ones, and, unfortunately, some fraudulent or dangerous ones. How to choose? Look for CBD oil with the following characteristics:
Unflavored with minimal ingredients
Made with hemp grown in the U.S. (much of the CBD available in the U.S. is made with hemp grown in China, and can contain dangerous levels of pesticides or heavy metals)
Certified organic or grown with organic methods
Full spectrum – not CBD isolate
Processed without solvents like butane or propane
Lab results readily available on the company’s website
Don’t be fooled by companies putting hempseed oil in a bottle and claiming it’s great for anxiety, sleep, pain, or other symptoms. These hucksters are hoping to capitalize on consumer confusion about hemp and CBD. The truth is, hemp seeds and hempseed oil contain essentially no CBD or other cannabinoids! Amazon is filled with products like this. CBD is not allowed on Amazon; the only CBD products for sale are from companies who have not yet been caught and kicked off, or are hempseed oil masquerading as CBD. Look for the milligrams of CBD listed on the label – if it’s not there, the amount of CBD is likely to be zero.
How much CBD should I give my dog?
There have been few studies to determine optimal CBD dosage for dogs, but a common recommendation is 1-5 milligrams per 10 pounds of body weight. While there have not been any significant side effects found in studies on CBD use in dogs, it’s always a good idea to start with a low dose, see how your dog tolerates it, and then slowly increase the dose until you see results. Lower doses should be used for mild symptoms and higher doses for more severe conditions. Again, studies using much larger doses did not reveal any harmful side effects.
Some experimentation may be necessary to find the optimal dose for your dog. Start low and increase gradually! CBD oil can vary greatly in concentration, so be sure to read the product label to determine the correct dose.
We’d love to hear how CBD has helped your dog. Let us know in the comments below!
Annika is a registered nurse, herbalist, and the founder of Primal Botanical CBD, where she creates certified organic, full-spectrum CBD products to help you relieve physical and mental symptoms so you can enjoy life to the fullest while minimizing your reliance on medications. When she’s not working, she can usually be found in her garden or hiking the hills and mountains of Vermont. You can download her free guide, “7 questions to ask before buying CBD: Your guide to sourcing safe & effective CBD products” at https://primalbotanical.