Within the sphere of alternative wellness, cannabidiol, or CBD, has ascended in popularity so fast that the tons of information about it online have led to a lot more confusion than clarity. Concerning pet wellness, data on CBD benefits for dogs contain a mix of science-backed discoveries and incredible anecdotal evidence – with the latter piling up so high that discounting and rejecting the evidence are no longer an option.
Read on to learn why CBD may benefit dogs with cancer, pain, anxiety, and more and why it is not just just a passing wellness trend.
Facts About CBD Benefits for Dogs
CBD vs THC
When people hear the word “CBD,” they immediately think of “marijuana,” “weed,” “pot,” and getting “high.”
Its association with the high-inducing marijuana is not incorrect. Marijuana contains both THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) – which is the chemical compound responsible for the plant’s psychoactive effects – and CBD. THC and CBD are the most widely studied phytocannabinoids – compounds abundantly present in the cannabis plant (both marijuana and hemp), but which have also been recently found in other plants, including clove, black pepper, echinacea, broccoli, ginseng, and carrots.
Marijuana contains a lot more THC than CBD; in comparison, hemp contains more CBD and not enough THC to cause euphoric effects. Marijuana and hemp both belong to the Cannabis sativa species — their main difference is that hemp contains less than 0.3% THC. Similarly, THC and CBD are structurally the same at the molecular level, but their atoms are arranged differently.
Both chemical compounds offer the same potential health benefits; but due to the difference in their atomic arrangement, CBD does not cause the euphoria of THC. Those who wish to harness the medicinal potential of CBD but do not want to become intoxicated may choose hemp-derived CBD. Because THC is toxic to animals, having CBD from hemp as an option for many pet owners is a great source of relief.
How does CBD work?
According to initial findings, CBD’s potential benefits may be attributed to its possible interaction with the body’s major signalling and regulatory system, the endocannabinoid system (ECS). All mammals have an ECS, which is primarily found in the central and peripheral nervous system. CBD’s chemical structure is similar to that of the body’s endocannabinoids and may, therefore, directly interact with the ECS.
Scientific studies are still attempting to fully understand the exact mechanism by which CBD may impact health via the ECS, but what they have established so far is that the introduction of CBD into the ECS may produce a number of desirable effects which mostly help the body maintain balance and health.
CBD Benefits for Dogs
Due to its overwhelming popularity in the world of holistic animal wellness, CBD oils, tinctures, creams, ointments, and capsules specially formulated for dogs are now widely available online and at holistic pet stores. CBD is also now commonly used as an added or the main ingredient in a lot of basic dog products, such as formula, dog treats, shampoos, and even toys.
The effects of CBD on human health has been the focus of a number of studies, which have discovered that the plant compound may have a therapeutic impact and help treat anxiety, chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, and epileptic seizures. Similar studies involving dogs are severely lacking, but there’s some initial evidence that shows a lot of promise.
A 2018 study, for one, revealed that CBD oil can significantly improve mobility and pain in dogs with osteoarthritis; the result points to the potential anti-inflammatory and anti-pain properties of CBD.
Another study last 2019 found that combining CBD with anti-seizure medication may lead to significantly fewer seizures in dogs with epilepsy.
More studies are still needed before scientists can fully understand and establish the effectiveness and safety of CBD as an alternative treatment for certain conditions in dogs. Results from early studies are far from definitive, but anecdotal evidence from numerous dog owners strongly suggest that CBD can be an effective remedy for pain, especially pain associated with arthritis and cancer, and may provide relief from stress and anxiety, may promote calmness and relaxation, and may help control, and even prevent, seizures, especially in dogs who do not respond to anti-seizure medications.
With its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD may also provide cardiovascular, immune, and gastrointestinal benefits. Administering CBD to your dog can help ease nausea and vomiting associated with a stomach upset, for example. Again, conclusive scientific evidence is still lacking, but all the odds are in favor of CBD.
CBD for dogs: Usage and Risks
The potential effectiveness of CBD relies a lot on proper dosage. And dosages vary depending on what form of CBD you choose to give your dog and how much CBD is contained in the product. CBD oils have the highest concentration of CBD, for example, while CBD treats contain low amounts which may be further degraded by the baking process. How much CBD your dog needs will also be determined by two major factors: his weight and the specific condition you hope to improve.
Your vet is the best resource you have regarding proper dosing and precautions you need to taket; good-quality products should also have reliable dosage instructions either printed on the product label or product insert. The general recommendation when using CBD to help manage pain from osteoarthritis is 2 mg per kg of weight, but remember that every dog will respond differently to CBD.
For anxiety, it usually takes 20-30 minutes before your pet becomes relaxed; for osteoarthritis, it may take a week of continuous administration before you notice any signs of improvement. Again, it’s important to recognize that while CBD may have soothing and calming therapeutic effects, nothing is guaranteed.
Always start with the smallest recommended dosage, observe how your dog responds, and then gradually increase the amount until you see the desired result. If you notice any adverse reactions, stop the treatment and take your dog to the vet.
While CBD does not produce the “high” of THC, what it actually causes is the opposite – which is sedation. This is the most common side effect of using CBD, particularly in high doses; or it can also be the desired effect you’re looking for, especially if you want to give your dog relief from stress or pain.
Other potential side effects you should watch out for are as follows:
- Dry mouth from decreased saliva production. If your dog shows increased thirst, then he’s most likely experiencing dry mouth.
- Lowered blood pressure, especially with a high dose of CBD. The drop in blood pressure is small and temporary, but your dog may experience mild light-headedness.
If you notice excessive panting, vomiting, loss of balance, dribbling urine, and lethargy after giving your dog CBD, the dosage may have been too much for his weight and you should take him to the vet immediately.
As of yet, there has been no research on the risks of using CBD to treat dogs. And keep in mind that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved CBD for veterinary use, nor has the agency established dosing recommendations. There are always risks associated with any type of medication, supplement, or alternative remedies; even with the incredible track record of CBD, it’s extremely important that you seek your vet’s guidance and to start with a minimal dosage.
Choosing the right CBD product/s for your dog
Veterinarians are not allowed to prescribe CBD for pets, but they can give their professional advice if they are consulted about using CBD as an alternative remedy. Your vet may also be able to recommend a CBD product, but if you will be shopping on your own, here are some reminders:
- Find high-quality CBD oil. Your best option is CBD oil extracted from US-grown organic hemp; if the product is not organic, you can check the product’s certificate of analysis which will show the exact CBD content, the presence of other cannabinoids, beneficial plant compounds, and additional ingredients and how much, and the absence of chemicals from fungicides, herbicides, pesticides, and additives, as well as solvents and heavy metals.
- Choose a trusted company. If you’re not familiar with the company, spend some time doing your own research. Find out where they source their hemp and how they process their oil – this applies to all types of CBD products, from oils to capsules and dog treats.
- Make sure the product contains zero or less than 0.3% THC. This should be indicated on the product label, but you should also verify the claim by checking the product’s COA.
- Choose a CBD product whose hemp source was sustainably and organically grown in the U.S. or Europe.
- Make sure the company can provide a certificate of analysis from a third-party laboratory.
- Opt for CBD oil or tincture to get the full benefits of the product, especially if the condition you want to address is chronic or severe. But if you simply want to relieve mild stress or anxiety or want to help your dog relax, dog treats or toys with CBD may be okay. Your dog’s dosage requirements will also determine the best type of CBD product to use.
CBD for Dogs - Final Thoughts
Should you decide to take advantage of the potential benefits of CBD for dogs, it’s important that you choose a CBD product that is especially made for pets so you can make sure that the compound is derived from hemp and that the product does not contain more than 0.3% THC. at the same time, always check the product information to be doubly safe.
Scientific studies looking into how CBD affects dogs and other animals, both positively and negatively, are still lacking; and the few studies that have already begun are still in their early stages. It’s safe enough to rely on studies that involve humans, but remember that not everything that’s beneficial to humans is safe and beneficial to dogs.
There’s no question that CBD may have amazing potential in promoting overall wellness and providing some relief from specific ailments. The mountain of anecdotal evidence has, after all, finally prompted scientists to study this chemical compound more closely. Even modern drugs that had passed multiple trials and are now widely used also have associated risks and side effects. So, as a responsible dog owner, it’s important that you find out all the pros and cons of using CBD for your dog’s health. Even better, seek your vet’s advice.