CBD is an abbreviation for cannabidiol, one of many cannabinoids found naturally in hemp plants. According to various sources, CBD-rich hemp oil may have a positive impact on the health of both humans and pets. But what exactly is CBD? How does it work? And can I give it to my dog?
Let's start with the basics. CBD is one of more than 80 compounds found in cannabis plants, referred to as cannabinoids. Like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another well-known cannabinoid, CBD interacts with our own body's endocannabinoid system; a group of specialized cell receptors and molecules that work together to maintain homeostasis. CBD influences the way we feel by interacting with our endocannabinoid system, but it does not produce a "high."
CBD and dogs are becoming more common in discussions of alternative treatments for ailments such as arthritis, anxiety disorders, epilepsy, and more. Pet owners may be particularly interested in learning about CBD's potential treatment of arthritis, anxiety, and seizure disorders in dogs. According to Pet Poison Helpline, a non-profit animal poison control center, "These receptors (CB1R and CB2R) work hand-in-hand with the body's naturally produced cannabinoids (endocannabinoids), which are part of our immune system. They appear to be involved in processes such as inflammation, pain-sensation, and mood."
Studies are currently underway to determine what effects a chemical in marijuana might have on dogs, but many dog owners are already turning to CBD oil for their pets. In this post, we'll discuss whether or not it's safe and effective for your dog, and share some tips for CBD use.
How Much CBD Should I Give My Dog For Pain?
As a general rule, start with the smallest amount possible and work your way up slowly. CBD is non-addictive and safe for dogs in small quantities, but you don't want to take any chances with such an important organ as your dog's brain. Experiment with different amounts until you find what works for your dog. If the CBD causes drowsiness or excessive sedation, it means you're giving too much and should try a smaller dose. You can give it to them orally, but make sure they don't have access to your entire bottle of oil since that could be dangerous. The effects of CBD are dose-dependent, meaning the higher the amount you give your dog, the stronger its effects will be. As a general rule, an initial dosage of 5 mg/pound is a good place to start if you're using oil tinctures. This is a rough estimate; click here for some more specific guidelines. If you're treating your dog for pain, dosing should be determined by the size and weight of your pet. For example, if you have a 30-pound labrador retriever mix and give them 10 mg/pound orally twice per day, this amounts to 600 mg per day. Take time to observe your pet carefully after administering CBD oil, and look for behavioral changes such as excessive sedation or signs of increased anxiety in response to stimuli. If you suspect the dosage is too high for your dog, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Here are some general guidelines for dosing:
Small dogs (under 10 lbs): 5 mg/pound, orally, twice daily
Medium dogs (10-50 lbs): 10 mg/pound, orally, twice daily Large dogs (over 50 lbs): 20 mg/pound, orally, twice daily
For epilepsy: Start with a low dosage (5 to 10 mg per pound); increase slowly until seizures stop or side effects become apparent.
Evaluate how CBD is affecting your pet after a week or two before deciding whether to continue treatment. If the oil seems to be helping, gradually increase the dosage to find the right balance of pain relief and alertness for your dog. Some dogs may tolerate higher doses than others without showing side effects. If you notice any behavioral changes, stop giving CBD and contact your vet.
Is CBD Good for Dogs? What to Know Before Trying It
Fortunately, experts agree that CBD is not dangerous to dogs. The most common side effect of using it is drowsiness: if you notice this in your dog after administering a dose of CBD oil, you should lower the dosage or stop administering it altogether.
Why Dogs Might Benefit From CBD Oil Research indicates that cannabinoids like CBD have a wide range of potential medical uses in humans, including treating pain and inflammation, reducing anxiety, and even preventing the growth of tumors. It's possible these effects may carry over to our canine companions as well. "The endocannabinoid system is found in all mammals, but its activation plays a role in lots of physiological processes," explains Dr. Barbara Royal, DVM, and spokesperson for the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). "How dogs' endocannabinoid systems differ from ours, what we know about their endocannabinoids, and what the effects are of CBD on dogs, are all very much up for grabs," she says. "I'd say it's still emerging." The research that does exist indicates CBD could potentially be an effective treatment for pain and inflammation in dogs. Because it works differently in humans and animals, we can't predict exactly how much your dog will benefit from it, but it's definitely worth a try if your dog has chronic pain caused by arthritis or another condition.
Hemp-derived CBD oil is legal in all 50 states because it contains nearly no THC—the psychoactive compound responsible for the "high" associated with marijuana. (If you're interested in using medical cannabis for your dog, be sure to check out our pet products. Even if your dog has no serious health issues, CBD may still improve their quality of life. Dr. Royal says she recommends it for dogs suffering from anxiety or aggression and behaviors that often stem from fear and can be difficult to manage. "I think it would work great on a leash-aggressive dog," she explains. "One of the reasons a dog pulls on a leash is because they're frightened of something—people, other dogs, loud noises. A lot of times CBD will calm that anxiety."