As cannabis-based products become legal and accessible across the United States, an increasing number of veterinarians have begun to recommend CBD oil for a variety of canine ailments. You’ll see CBD supplements for dogs popping up for sale online and even in your local pet supply centers and health food stores.
But what is CBD oil? Is it safe? Will it make your dog high? And what conditions can it be used to treat? We’ll answer all of these questions and more in our concise and informative guide to the best CBD oil for dogs.
What is CBD Oil?
Let’s start with the simple stuff: What does CBD stand for? CBD is short for “cannabidiol,” and it occurs naturally in the plant known as hemp, or cannabis. But don’t worry—CBD isn’t the stuff that gives you a buzz. THC is responsible for the “high” people get from ingesting cannabis products, but CBD oils for dogs do not contain THC—or they contain such small trace amounts that they have no effect. So you don’t have to be concerned that you’ll be intoxicating your pup by treating his or her ailments with CBD oil for dogs.
In fact, CBD is not even typically extracted from the same plant as THC. You see, there are many different varieties of cannabis. The one most commonly referred to as marijuana is rich in THC. However, the variety of cannabis known as hemp already has very, very low amounts of THC, and what THC it contains is reduced to trace amounts when CBD oil goes through the refinement process. This factin particular removes any ambiguity regarding the legality of CBD oil for dogs. Due to the low THC content in hemp, it can be legally grown in all 50 US states—even in states where marijuana is not yet legalized. Hemp based CBD products are, therefore, legal throughout the United States, for animals and humans alike.
Okay—so now you know that CBD stands for cannabidiol, and that it doesn’t make your dog high. That’s all well and good, but what isit going to do?
Our bodies actually produce cannabinoids naturally—we even have things called cannabinoid receptors in our bodies. That means that when we ingest CBD products, the cannabidiol targets these receptors, which respond by making us feel calmer and more relaxed. This process also stimulates various physical effects, which we’ll discuss the benefits of below.
Here’s a fun fact: Dogs have these same cannabinoid receptors in their bodies. So, while humans and dogs are very different in some ways, medically speaking, when it comes to CBD oil, our four-footed pals can enjoy many of the same benefits that we do. And those benefits can be immense. CBD oil can transform a sick pet’s quality of life.
In today’s world, prescription medication has become ever more ubiquitous in both human medical treatment and veterinary treatment. Reaching for the prescription pad for diagnosed conditions has become second nature for many medical professionals in both human and animal health care. However, the increasing use of pharmaceutical medications has also made us far more aware of the often severe, sometimes dangerous side effects they cause. And that’s without even considering the fact that many of these medications foster chemical dependence.
While there have not yet been extensive studies of the effects that CBD oil has on dogs, we do know that the recorded side effects are very mild, and that CBD does not cause physical dependency. Some of the possible side effects of CBD include:
- Dry mouth: CBD can reduce the production of saliva. Just make sure you keep that water bowl filled up so your furry friend can quench their thirst!
- Lower blood pressure: This effect has only been noted in large doses and is temporary.
- Sleepiness: This sedative effect is likely a result of CBD oil’s calming, relaxing qualities, and can even be a desirable effect in pups who are having difficulty resting due to anxiety or pain.
In comparison, take a quick glance at the list of side effects that most prescription pain relievers, anti-anxiety medications, or other prescription medications have. You’ll see that their lists of side effects are much longer and contain far more frightening possibilities.
That’s probably one reason that organizations like the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation are working to fund more studies so that we can better understand how CBD can help your dog.
When you take all of this into consideration, it’s no wonder that concerned pet parents and veterinarians alike are turning to CBD oil over prescription medications for certain health concerns. And you might just be surprised at how many benefits these unassuming little bottles of oil can have.
The Benefits of CBD Oil for Dogs
CBD has a crazy-long list of benefits, and symptoms or conditions that it can be used to treat. We’re going to go into some of these benefits and treatments in greater detail below, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t clue you in on some of the other amazing things CBD can do.
Cannabidiol for Anxiety in Dogs
Human research on CBD has shown, again and again, that CBD oil is an excellent, low-risk anti-anxiety treatment. It’s been shown to reduce anxiety, whether caused by organic situations or anxiety disorders, in humans. It’s also an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and even panic disorders.
It seems to have similar effects on pups who suffer from anxiety due to noise phobias, travel anxiety, and separation anxiety. Some pup parents have even been able to reduce their dog’s dependence on anti-anxiety medications and sedatives thanks to CBD.
Hemp oil as Part of Cancer Treatment for Dogs
Here’s something even more amazing: Preliminary studies indicate that CBD can actually inhibit the growth of cancer cells. But even if it can’t literally cure cancer, it has other effects that make it ideal for dogs that are undergoing traditional cancer treatments. It can decrease nausea, increase appetite, and help relieve pain, which can truly improve your dog’s quality of life.
Another very serious illness which affects both dogs and humans is epilepsy. In epilepsy patients and patients suffering from other seizure disorders, CBD has been shown to reduce the frequency of seizures. This is particularly good news as many of the current treatments for seizure disorders, like potassium bromide and phenobarbital, can damage your pup’s liver or other organs. It also offers hope to many owners of dogs that have medication-resistant seizure disorders.
CBD oil for Arthritis in Dogs
It can be heart-wrenching to see your dog lose mobility over time to arthritis, to say nothing of how upsetting it is to see them struggle with pain. There’s good news for pet parents who have dogs suffering with arthritis, however. You guessed it! CBD oil.
CBD oil for arthritis in dogs can reduce joint pain and inflammation. It can also address the anxiety that often accompanies arthritis, making your pup more willing to exercise, which can itself have a positive effect on their arthritis.
There are many studies that indicate that CBD has a positive effect on gut motility. Gut motility is a term that describes the contractions and stretching of the muscles throughout the gastrointestinal tract. Abnormal gut motility can be a contributing factor in symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).
Hemp oil for Dogs with Inflammation
Inflammation is a problem for humans and dogs in a variety of conditions, and chronic inflammation can itself be classified as a medical condition in its own right. One of the most powerful properties of CBD, when it comes to health, is its ability to decrease inflammation. It does this by decreasing the number of inflammatory cytokines in the body. Some cytokines, which are a type of protein, have important roles in our body. However, overproduction of inflammatory cytokines brings our bodies out of balance. CBD also decreases the production of inflammatory macrophages, which are another contributor to inflammatory conditions.
Inflammatory conditions are also often associated with autoimmune diseases, and CBD can even directly combat this by suppressing Th17 dominance. Th17 dominance refers to an overabundance of inflammatory T cells. CBD for dogs with inflammation is an incredibly promising innovation.
Cannabidiol for Dogs with Skin Problems
It can be nerve-wracking when your pup suffers from an itchy issue. Dogs don’t know that they can harm themselves by scratching too much, or by nibbling at an itch, so it can be extremely difficult to treat their skin conditions. There are a number of allergies and environmental factors which can contribute to your dog’s itchiness, but sometimes, even determining the cause and removing it doesn’t solve the problem, because the skin is already so irritated.
There are also chronic conditions, like atopic dermatitis, that make it more difficult to identify any one specific cause. Add to that the fact that many dogs that suffer from atopic dermatitis have multiple allergies that affect the condition of their skin and you’ve got a real tricky situation on your hands.
But not to fear! CBD for dogs with skin problems is a promising treatment, and can often provide a significant improvement in symptoms. Remember those cannabinoid receptors we mentioned earlier? Well, scientists are studying this system, which is actually called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). They’ve discovered that, in addition to helping regulate numerous other bodily processes, the endocannabinoid system is also directly related to the health of our skin.
In short, it seems that the ECS contributes to healthy skin by regulating cell development and proliferation.
In addition to being a promising oral medication for skin problems, CBD oil relieves itchiness and dryness better than other comparable oils. In a human study, participants also lowered their usage of other traditional medication choices, which suggests that CBD oil was more effective than some of the other traditional options available to them.
CBD oil for Dogs with Allergies
Just like their human companions, dogs can suffer from all types of allergies. That’s right, dogs can have reactions to allergens in food, suffer from seasonal allergies, or have reactions to other allergens in their environment. CBD can be an excellent addition to or replacement for traditional allergy medications for your furry friend. As usual, it typically has far fewer adverse side effects than the usual drugs prescribed to help your dog cope with his or her allergies.
Choosing the Right CBD Oil for Your Dog
Asking your vet if they have a recommendation is always a good idea. If they don’t, or if you decide to do some comparison shopping, we’ve compiled a few tips to get you off to a good start on your hunt for the perfect CBD oil for your pet.
- Organic is best: We always recommend organic CBD oil products. However, if you do find a CBD oil that you like, but it isn’t organic, ascertain that they’ve done third party lab testing to ensure that their oil products don’t contain any solvents, pesticides, or fungicides. These are serious threats to your dog’s health and shouldn’t be taken lightly. CBD oil is often highly concentrated, and the last thing you want to do is dose your friend with a highly concentrated mix of chemicals, when all you wanted was to help them heal with a natural remedy.
- Shop within your budget…but remember that cheapest doesn’t always mean best: You’ll want to compare products based on purity and concentration. Higher concentrations of CBD in the most pure and unadulterated oils are, by necessity, going to be a little pricier. They’ll also require that you use less of the product, however, and are much safer for Fido.
- Ask for the analysis of the product if it’s not provided: In fact, not providing an analysis to begin with is a bit of a red flag, but absolutely every reputable seller of CBD products will have an analysis on hand and will be enthusiastic about providing it to you. The lab analysis will let you know just how much CBD is in the product and will provide you with proof that the product does not contain THC.
- CBD oil tinctures are often the best, most flexible way to dose your pup: There are many different types of CBD products, including CBD infused treats. However, when you’re just starting out with CBD, a tincture is typically the best option. That’s because you can very carefully control and monitor the amount of CBD your dog is ingesting. CBD tinctures can be measured by the drop, so you can start with a very low dose and increase it gradually, as most vets recommend. That’s much easier than attempting to evenly divide treats. Also, if for some reason your preferred brand is no longer made, you can easily switch to a similar product with a similar concentration and maintain your pup’s routine.
- Be certain to choose a CBD oil intended for dogs: While CBD itself is safe for dogs, you want to be absolutely certain that there are no other ingredients in your CBD oil of choice that might not be good for your dog. Make sure that the product you choose explicitly states that it is dog-friendly.
The Best CBD Oil for Your Dog: The Bottom Line
Who knew one little herbal remedy could do so much! CBD oil is natural, it’s legal, and it’s extremely safe. It has far fewer severe side effects than many prescription remedies, and it doesn’t damage your dog’s liver, kidneys, or other organs. In fact, it has all sorts of additional therapeutic benefits.
It’s also useful for treating a vast number of conditions and symptoms, including:
- Anxiety disorders, panic disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, separation anxiety, and phobias
- Environmental and food allergies
- Skin conditions
- Arthritis and other types of joint pain
- Bowel conditions
- Inflammation and autoimmune diseases
- Cancer, and the side effects of cancer treatments
- Epilepsy and other seizure disorders
You’ve also picked up some helpful tips on choosing a high-quality, safe, dog-friendly CBD oil for your pet. Remember to consult with your vet. If your veterinarian is unfamiliar with the use of CBD oil as a treatment for your dog’s condition, it’s worthwhile to seek out a vet who is familiar with CBD for a consultation.
CBD oil dosing for dogs is still being researched, so there aren’t any hard and fast rules yet—another good reason to talk to your vet first. There will also likely be a range of recommendations from the manufacturer of the CBD product you purchase. The easiest way to determine the correct dosage for your dog is to start at the lower end of the recommendation; observe the effects for a few days, increase it slightly if necessary, and observe for a few more days. Repeat until your dog experiences relief from their symptoms. You can directly dose the dog if you choose to do so, but it’s usually easier to simply add the oil to their food.