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CBD Oil for Dogs: Can Cannabis Benefit Your Furry Friend?
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If you have been keeping up with The Universal Plant for some time, then you know CBD is a safe and natural remedy for most ailments under the sun. Various scientific literature has backed CBD as a viable solution for treating pain, anxiety, epileptic seizures, opiate addictions, and more. Of course, the vast majority of these studies are performed on rats or humans. What about CBD oil for dogs? Canine owners know all too well that their four-legged best friend is subject to the same ailments as people. Is CBD a legitimate form of treatment for domestic pets?
How Can Dogs Benefit from CBD?
Can dogs benefit from CBD the same way as humans? There is actually a growing market of CBD-infused edibles and treats for canines. You can even get them bacon-flavored. After all, it’s not like you can teach your pup to use a vape pen. For the most part, all the benefits that apply to humans also apply to pets, according to a small but growing body of research. Like people, dogs also experience joint pain, anxiety, seizures, and depression.
Of course, we’ll be the first to admit that research on CBD oil for dogs is still in its infancy.1 We don’t have a whole lot of studies to go by, especially when there is still much we don’t know about CBD effects on people. Most of the studies involving dogs currently available are in regards to its toxic effects (more on this later). However, a few studies do show promise and warrant further clinical trials.
What the Studies Show
In humans, CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). We also have CB1 and CB2 receptor sites throughout the body. The CBD binds with these receptor sites, in turn activating the ECS and unlocking the various benefits that range from pain reduction to anxiety relief.
We recommend visiting our introductory post on CBD to learn more about CBD’s influence on the CB receptor sites and greater ECS.
Studies2 show that dogs have a very similar ECS with the same CB1 and CB2 receptor sites located in their skin, follicles, and sebaceous glands. In fact, their CB receptors outnumber those found in people.
If canines possess a near similar ECS, then one can logically deduce that they may have a similar response to the effects of CBD administration.
In fact, a recent 2018 study at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine showed that CBD improved the comfort of canines diagnosed with osteoarthritis and multi-joint pain. The results showed that 80% of dogs given CBD soft-chew tablets showed dramatic improvement in their condition.
CBD for Treating Dog Seizures
An estimated 5% of canines across all species suffer from epileptic seizures. Vets typically prescribe anticonvulsants like potassium bromide or phenobarbital. However, these prescriptions aren’t always effective and can also be toxic to a dog’s liver. CBD may reduce seizure frequency and severity. We say “may” because there is no solid independent research on CBD for seizure-prone canines.3
There is, however, plenty of research on CBD for seizures as it pertains to human adults and children. We did an entire article on it.
CBD for Treating Dog Anxiety
Dogs experience anxiety just like people do. While various anxiety disorders exist, an especially common one is separation anxiety, which an estimated 17% of dogs experience. Dogs may also face anxiety when abruptly placed in a new environment, which may include unfamiliar faces (both people and/or other animals). Older dogs are more prone to anxiety, which is a common symptom associated with cognitive dysfunction syndrome.
Regardless of the type of anxiety or the manifested symptoms, CBD shows early promise. Again, we can’t make any definitive claims as there is no research done specifically on dogs. However, there is plenty of research done on humans and lab rats that show good results with minimal side effects. (We recommend seeing our post on CBD for anxiety if you’re a human needing relief from anxiousness.)
One of our team members had an anxiety issue with one of his dogs, Minnie (see photo on left). She is positively terrified of thunderstorms, fireworks, and other startling loud noises she doesn’t understand. After just a few drops of CBD, she calmed right down. No more shaking, excessive shedding, or panting.
CBD may be a natural alternative to common anxiety medications like benzodiazepines or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. These are known to induce the same side effects that they do in humans, such as upset stomach, brain fog, lethargy, and increased urination.
Do the Same Marijuana Laws Apply?
While pet owners can freely administer CBD to their dogs, veterinarians at this point in time cannot legally prescribe cannabis or any of its derivatives. This applies to ALL states, including the cannabis-friendly Colorado. Veterinarians may potentially land in legal hot water just by even recommending it offhand. State laws that permit medical marijuana use only apply to physicians, as in doctors that treat people.
At this point, there is also no CBD oil for dogs that are approved by the FDA. Under current federal statute, the Drug Enforcement Administration still classifies cannabis as a Schedule I Controlled Substance, hence the illegality for veterinarians to prescribe them.
If you are giving your dog CBD, though, you should disclose that to the vet. CBD may interfere with medication.
What About THC for Dogs?
As you may know, THC is the psychoactive compound in cannabis. If you’re wondering if this cannabinoid has any benefits for your dog, it doesn’t, at least not according to the latest research. In fact, evidence indicates that THC may be hazardous.4
As we said, canines have a greater number of CB receptors. While this means they may be more responsive to the benefits, they may equally be responsive to the side effects. Much of the existing medical literature on the effects of marijuana toxicosis on dogs involve THC. One study5 documented two instances of canine death after consuming medical grade THC.
Your dog doesn’t need to get high or go into mind-altering states. It has no use whatsoever for THC. All this cannabinoid will do is overstimulate their ECS and create unwanted side effects. Stick to hemp or CBD oil for dogs, which have zero to minimal THC traces.
There are many cases of owners either purposely giving dogs THC, or the dog accidently ingesting their master’s THC-infused treat. The owners have reported their pup facing a host of negative reactions, including vomiting, drowsiness, and static ataxia (loss in equilibrium).
Recommend CBD Dosage for Dogs
Never go by the recommended CBD dose for people. Remember, canines have greater and more sensitive CB receptor sites. They will reap the same effects (and potentially side effects) from a smaller dose.
The number of CB receptor sites also differ depending on factors like breed, size, and genetics. Since you don’t know exactly how your dog will respond, the general rule is 1-5 mg of CBD for every 10-pounds of bodyweight.6 To ere on the side of caution, we recommend starting on that lower end (1-2 mg) of the spectrum.
After administration, observe your dog for 30-60 minutes for any signs of adverse reactions. If there is no change for better or worse, then up the dosage.
For treating pain, administer every eight hours. To treat any other problems, such as social anxiety or seizures, administer once to twice a day.
How to Give Your Dog CBD
Getting your dog to consume CBD is actually not difficult. Some people pour the drops in their water bowl. We don’t think this is the best idea since your dog may not drink it right away or may only drink a small amount. You want the dog to consume the dose in its entirety.
The easiest way is to pour the drops into your pup’s favorite doggy treat that you know they’ll lap up at once. Alternatively, if your dog is cooperative enough, you can gently pry its mouth open and use a tincture to squeeze the drops into their tongue.
If your dog won’t cooperate, you can try a CBD oil specifically formulated for dogs. A product like Medix CBD oil have an infused bacon flavor that your dog will surely appreciate. Other options include pre-made CBD dog biscuits or meat-flavored bite-sized chews. Reputable manufacturers only use pure CBD or hemp extract, so no need to worry about high THC content.
We must reiterate, if you use a CBD oil intended for human consumption, go by the dosage we outlined and NOT by the dosage on the bottle.
CBD Oil for Dogs: A Promising Pathway for Canine Health
Since the studies are sparse, we can’t say with absolute conviction that CBD benefits dogs the same way as humans. However, countless dog owners swear by CBD as a natural and holistic alternative to doggie pharmaceuticals. We believe it’s worth an open mind and experimentation if your four-legged friend is exhibiting signs of less-than-optimal health.