The Definitive Guide to CBD for Dogs

You might use cannabidiol, or CBD, to manage pain, reduce anxiety, help you relax or improve your sleep quality. Did you know that you can administer CBD to your dog for many of the same purposes? CBD is a holistic remedy that has therapeutic benefits for many of your four-legged friends.

Can You Give Cannabis to Your Dog?

With the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana spreading across the U.S., you may read scary stories about marijuana intoxication in pets. Consuming marijuana is rarely fatal for dogs. However, it can produce adverse effects, such as poor balance, hyperactivity and strange vocalizations.

Cannabis for dogs is a controversial topic. More than ever, dogs are being poisoned by THC. However, THC is only one of the cannabinoids found in marijuana. When most people refer to dosing their dogs with cannabis, they’re referring to low-THC strains or CBD oil.

The type of CBD oil that’s legal across the nation is made from industrial hemp. It may contain trace amounts of THC, but many companies remove all of the THC from the products. CBD is prohibited for sale in many states if it contains more than 0.3 percent THC.

This makes a difference because THC is the cannabinoid that intoxicates you. It produces the mind-altering effects that make you feel euphoric or high.

CBD will not make you high. Although it is similar to THC, it works differently in the body. Therefore, it can positively impact your dog’s health without making Fido feel funny.

In other words, you don’t have to worry about poisoning or negative consequences when you use CBD oil for your dog. It doesn’t contain enough THC to produce adverse effects.

Why Your Vet Can’t Prescribe CBD

Although you’re probably tempted to check with your veterinarian before giving CBD to your dog, you might be met with a blank stare. Many veterinary professionals aren’t familiar with CBD and don’t understand how it’s different from marijuana. Those that understand that CBD can be a beneficial treatment tend to use holistic and alternative approaches to pet care.

This doesn’t mean that you should avoid talking to your veterinarian about CBD oil. It’s ideal if your veterinarian can help you explore the topic. Unfortunately, veterinarians are prohibited by law from prescribing, administering, dispensing, recommending or approving cannabis for their patients. This refers to medical marijuana that contains THC as well as its derivatives, which include CBD.

As scientists discover more about the safety and efficacy of CBD, more veterinarians are on board with using it as a remedy for dogs. They just can’t prescribe it. They can discuss treatment with you, though, and they can point you to helpful resources. If your dog takes other medications, it’s worth it to ask your vet before giving it CBD.

Why You Might Want to Give Your Dog CBD

If your dog suffers from a chronic illness, your vet might have prescribed a medication. Most medications for anxiety, pain and digestive distress are associated with adverse side effects. CBD is not.

A 2016 study collected responses from 632 pet owners who had given hemp products to their companion animals. More than 93 percent of the respondents claimed that the CBD products were at least as effective as other medications or remedies that they had tried. Over two-thirds of dog owners gave the CBD product for an ailment that was diagnosed by a veterinarian.

The most common conditions for which respondents used CBD included:

• Seizures

• Cancer

• Anxiety

• Arthritis

When side effects were noted, they were typically limited to fatigue, increased thirst and appetite changes.

You might want to give CBD to your dog because it may help relieve distressing symptoms without side effects. Some pet owners give the product to their canines regularly. Others use CBD for acute ailments, such as wound healing or anxiety attacks.

In this article, we’ll explain in detail how CBD can help your pet. We’ll describe the conditions that CBD can help with and how to administer the product to your dog.

Do You Have An Anxious Dog?

Dogs can experience anxiety when they’re separated from their owners, riding in a car or exposed to loud noises. Some animals have obvious symptoms when they’re feeling nervous. Others respond to stress triggers more subtly. Certain breeds are more likely to develop anxiety than others.

Some signs that your dog may have anxiety include:

• Premature muzzle grayness

• Reduced activity

• Soiling inside the house

• Hiding

• Trembling

• Destroying objects

• Panting

• Drooling

• Pacing

• Vocalizing

Many of the studies on CBD and anxiety use animals as their subjects. A 2017 review looked at a wide range of human and animal studies that explore the effects of CBD on panic behaviors. The authors concluded that CBD has evident anti-anxiety properties.

What if Your Dog Is Depressed?

While many dog owners realize that their pets can develop anxiety, they may not realize that their pooch can also get the blues. Depression in dogs is similar to the mental health condition in humans.

When something changes in a dog’s life, such as the introduction or loss of another pet, a baby coming home, a move or a shift in the owner’s availability, the animal can become listless. It might stop eating, refuse to go on walks or hide from you. These could be signs of a physical ailment, and it’s always important to have your pet undergo a medical examination.

If the problem is psychological, however, CBD could help. One study looked at the effects of CBD on a mouse model of depression. The researchers found that CBD works quickly and produces long-lasting anti-depressant effects.

CBD may work in a similar manner as Clomicalm, a medication that is FDA-approved for relieving separation anxiety in dogs. Both may work on serotonin receptors to enhance the levels of the mood-boosting neurotransmitter in the nervous system. This medication should not be used in dogs with history of seizures, whereas CBD has been used to treat seizures. CBD may also produce fewer side effects than Clomicalm.

Can CBD Relieve Pain in Dogs?

Dogs can experience pain for a number of reasons. CBD can be administered acutely to manage pain associated with wounds and lesions. It can also be given regularly to reduce chronic pain.

CBD and Canine Wound Care

If your dog has gotten in a fight or scratched itself with something, it might have a laceration. Cuts can be painful and may lead to excessive licking. CBD can improve healing in surface wounds.

Ancient societies used cannabis for wound healing. Modern researchers aren’t sure how cannabinoids help, but they have found that cannabinoids contribute to wound closure in the intestines. This may be due to the fact that cannabinoid receptors exist in the colon.

CBD may help with dermal wounds because it influences the cannabinoid receptors in the skin. It helps the skin maintain homeostasis, which is important when dogs are affected by disease or injury. CBD may also regulate pain sensations, modulating pain and itch. It diminishes skin inflammation by working on cannabinoid receptors and immune cells.

CBD also has antibacterial properties. Applying it directly to a wound may ward off infection.

CBD and Inflammatory Pain in Dogs

Arthritis is an inflammatory condition that is associated with joint pain and cartilage damage. Approximately 20 percent of dogs develop arthritis at some point in their lives.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of this disease. It usually affects more than one joint and may be induced by structural problems with the joint. The joints that are commonly affected by arthritis are the:

• Hips

• Elbows

• Lower back

• Knees

• Wrists

Other inflammatory conditions can cause degeneration in the joints. These include:

• Diabetes

• Fungal or bacterial infections

• Increased activity levels

• Obesity

• Cushing’s disease

Research has consistently demonstrated that CBD can relieve inflammation. It may inhibit the activity of certain enzymes that are linked with inflammatory processes. Caprofen, an NSAID anti-inflammatory medication that’s often used for canine arthritis, works by inhibiting the same enzymes.

Therefore, treating an arthritic dog with CBD can improve the condition by protecting the joints. It may even prevent the arthritis from getting worse. CBD may be preferable to NSAIDs because it is associated with fewer adverse effects.

While many dogs tolerate NSAIDs, some experience digestive, kidney and liver problems when they consume these drugs. Large doses of these medications can cause overdose.

Natural CBD oil has not been associated with any overdoses. Some synthetic CBD products have caused health problems. Stories about the adverse effects of synthetic CBD highlight the importance of buying high-quality CBD from reputable suppliers.

In addition to NSAIDs, some dogs are regularly dosed with opioids to relieve pain. These don’t have anti-inflammatory effects at all. Narcotics work by altering pain signals and working with the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. They don’t address inflammation and joint damage.

CBD may be more effective and safer to use than other medications for long-term pain. It has been found to be more powerful than certain narcotics. CBD can also be used along with traditional drugs for pain.

Although CBD has not been extensively studied for use in dogs, researchers are trying to learn more about it. A veterinary researcher at Colorado State University recently completed a trial that used CBD to treat dogs with arthritis symptoms.

Researchers at Cornell University also studied hemp-based CBD supplements to get an idea of proper dosing requirements. They found that administering 2 milligrams per kilogram of body weight twice a day was effective for increasing mobility and enhancing comfort in dogs with osteoarthritis.

CBD May Relieve Cancer Pain

Dogs with cancer may experience pain from tumors, surgeries and other treatments. CBD has been extensively studied for its effects on cancer.

Cannabinoids interfere with tumor growth. CBD may also recruit the body’s own “killer cells” to destroy malignancies and abnormalities.

Therefore, they show promise for treating cancer. Reducing the size of tumors can make them stop pressing on nerves that send pain signals to the brain. This may also diminish the need for invasive surgery to remove tumors.

Most of the studies of CBD for cancer pain use human participants and involve a combination of THC and CBD. More research needs to be conducted to learn about CBD for cancer in dogs. However, the current research indicates that CBD may be useful because it has anti-inflammatory effects.

CBD May Treat Inflammatory Central Nervous System Diseases

Researchers have found that dogs with inflammatory central nervous system diseases have more activity in their endocannabinoid system. They have higher numbers of CB2 receptors, which are affected by neurotransmitters that CBD oil modulates. Therefore, treatment methods for canine inflammation that work with the endocannabinoid system may be effective.

Some inflammatory central nervous system conditions that affect canines include:

• Distemper

• Toxoplasmosis

• Rocky Mountain spotted fever

• Granulomatous meningoencephalomyelitis

These conditions often cause seizures and other neurological deficits. If CBD can reduce inflammation, it may be helpful for reducing the number of symptoms associated with these diseases.

CBD can also reduce seizures. Most of the research into CBD and seizures involves human epileptic patients, but dog owners list seizures as the primary reason for giving CBD to their pets.

Inflammation can contribute to autoimmune disease. There is evidence that CBD can inhibit certain processes that worsen autoimmune conditions.

Does Your Dog Have Hot Spots?

Cancer and arthritis may be more likely to affect older dogs than younger ones. Canines of any age can develop allergies and skin conditions, though. Sometimes, dogs lick their skin raw when it’s itchy and uncomfortable. The hot spots that develop are notoriously hard to treat.

CBD can help by killing bacteria at the site and possibly reducing pain signals that tell your dog to lick. It’s also safe for your animal to consume, making it preferable to some other medicated ointments.

When researchers have investigated the endocannabinoid system’s role in allergic skin diseases in canines, they have found increased endocannabinoid reactivity in animals with skin allergies. This indicates that using CBD to influence the endocannabinoid system may improve symptoms.

CBD Can Improve Digestive Health

Has your dog ever refused to eat or had an unexplained bout of nausea or diarrhea? Digestive issues in dogs should be checked out by a veterinarian if they persist, but sometimes they’re hard to pinpoint. As long as your dog doesn’t need urgent care for a digestive problem, CBD may help.

CBD can reduce nausea and vomiting. It may also boost the appetite.

CBD acts on the body by increasing anandamide, a neurotransmitter that helps improve mood and increase appetite. If your dog hasn’t been eating well, you might want to try using CBD.

Products that contain CBD may also help improve inflammatory digestive diseases, such as colitis. In one animal study, researchers found that CBD reduced inflammation that was already present. Giving the subjects CBD before introducing inflammatory agents prevented inflammation from occurring.

Some dogs have recurring diarrhea from these types of medical conditions. In these cases, regular administration of CBD may improve their digestive distress.

If your dog got into the garbage or ate something that it wasn’t supposed to consume, it might have acute inflammation that makes it sick. Giving CBD immediately can soothe its stomach.

Can CBD Be Used for Preventive Treatment?

You might wonder if you should use CBD on a dog that doesn’t have any observable health problems. If the breed is prone to developing certain cancers or inflammatory ailments, CBD may work as a preventive therapy for the reasons that we have already discussed.

CBD is also a potent antioxidant. It can protect cells from oxidative stress, which can cause a wide variety of diseases.

Oxidative stress damages the DNA. It has been linked to cancer, inflammation and age-related degeneration. It is also associated with the cognitive decline that affects many aging dogs. Some experts believe that dietary changes and supplements can help your dog stay sharp as it gets older.

In humans, CBD has been studied for its ability to protect the brain from the neurodegeneration that occurs in patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

If your dog is developing confusion or losing its mental agility as it gets older, CBD may help with these symptoms. Offering it as a daily supplement while your pet is young may prevent these signs of aging from occurring.

How Should You Dose Your Dog With CBD?

CBD is most commonly available in the form of an oil, tincture or extract. You can use a dropper to administer this to your dog if it’s willing to open its mouth and swallow the liquid. Some pet owners may have better luck mixing CBD oil with food or treats. A dab of peanut butter mixed with CBD oil usually goes down quite smoothly.

When you’re giving CBD with food, it can take some time to exert its effects. The CBD has to make its way through the digestive system before it’s absorbed. The fact that the dog has to metabolize the food can make this process take longer.

Therefore, some dog owners find that giving CBD regularly works better than offering it for acute symptoms. This is especially true if you combine the CBD with food.

Using CBD topically delivers rapid results if it’s applied directly to a wound. You can use CBD oil directly on the skin as long as it is not a tincture that’s produced with alcohol, which can sting.

Start with a small amount to make sure that your dog tolerates the CBD with no adverse reactions. Most experts consider a low dosage of 0.1 milligrams per kilogram of body weight to be a good starting point. A medium dosage of 0.25 milligrams per kilogram of body weight can be used if the low dose doesn’t produce results. A high dosage is considered to be 0.5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight.

As with CBD for humans, you want to be sure you are using only the highest quality CBD oil for your dog. Check out our reviews of the best CBD oils to find one that’s right for you and your best friend.