CBD Side Effects in Dogs
More and more people are discovering the potential benefits of CBD, from soothing frazzled nerves to helping with discomfort after exercise and everyday activity. Likewise, CBD users are learning that pet CBD may extend these same benefits to their canine companions.
But before you give your dog CBD, you likely have questions about its safety and effectiveness.
CBD is generally regarded as safe for pets, and side effects are rare. However, it’s important to be on the lookout for any negative responses. In this short guide, we’ll address your burning queries about CBD side effects in dogs.
How CBD Affects Dogs
In 2018, the World Health Organization concluded that CBD is generally safe for humans since there are so few reports of adverse side effects. Following this finding, there’s been more research into the way that CBD affects other animals.
- In the human body, CBD generates its benefits through interactions with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This network of endocannabinoid receptors extends throughout the nervous system.
- The ECS is thought to help regulate functions including sleep, mood, memory, stress response and management of physical discomfort. By interacting with the ECS, CBD helps promote homeostasis and healthy balance.
- All animals have an ECS. That means that CBD could potentially have similar beneficial effects in dogs.
- While there have not been many large-scale studies on CBD for pets, the early research is promising. A 2019 study on dogs who received CBD twice daily found that CBD was well-tolerated and caused no side effects.
Potential CBD Benefits for Dogs
Researchers at the AKC Canine Health Organization and other organizations are currently working to better understand the potential benefits of CBD for dogs.
However, based on the current understanding of the ECS, we know that CBD might help with the following:
- Soothe nerves – Does your pup have trouble adjusting to new situations? If you’re anticipating a visitor or a bout of blustery weather, there’s a chance that canine CBD can help them keep their cool. If stress keeps your pooch up at night, it might also help with sleep.
- Bounce back after everyday activity – We all feel a little achy after a big day on the trail. CBD can help ease joint stiffness due to normal daily exercise and activity.
- Promote overall health – Since CBD assists balance and homeostasis, your pup may be able to store up more energy to enjoy an old-fashioned romp in the park.
Does CBD Get Dogs High?
When it comes to CBD pet products, many dog owners are concerned about one specific side effect: getting their dog “high.”
We know our furry friends can get stressed in unfamiliar situations. Therefore, the last thing we want is to risk getting our dogs high, which can result in unwanted effects like excessive hunger, nervousness or gaps in memory.
CBD should not get dogs high, but there are some caveats.
Legal CBD is derived from hemp plants. By definition, hemp contains less than 0.3% THC, which means it should not have psychoactive effects. However, keep in mind that not all pet CBD is created equal.
- Make sure your CBD brand specifically states that it is hemp derived.
- Some CBD brands may not be able to make their label claims. Others may not include information about CBD concentration at all! Look for clear packaging that states the amount of CBD per package.
- Keep in mind that the amount of THC you would need to feel an effect may be much greater than what a small dog would need.
Kinds of CBD for Dogs
Because smaller animals are more sensitive to THC, many pet CBD products are specifically formulated without any detectable THC. Broad-spectrum CBD has the THC removed and is safe for all dogs.
When shopping for pet CBD, choose brands that clearly explain their extraction technique, since this can affect the THC concentration.
There are three major techniques for legal, hemp derived CBD:
- Full-spectrum – Full-spectrum CBD is extracted to preserve the full range of beneficial compounds found within the hemp plant. These include cannabinoids like CBD, CBG, CBN and THC as well as terpenes and flavonoids. This kind of CBD produces the beneficial “entourage effect” in which the compounds work better together. It’s ideal for topical use on dogs, as long as the product contains deterrents to licking.
- Broad-spectrum – Similar to full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD contains all of the hemp plant’s beneficial extracts, but without any detectable THC. That way, your pupper can experience the entourage effect with a lowered risk of any effects from THC.
- CBD isolate – Advanced extraction techniques extract only pure CBD. The resulting substance won’t have the scent of hemp and should not have any detectable THC.
Potential Side Effects
Now that you understand the general effects of CBD, let’s review the potential unwanted side effects.
The most common side effects for CBD in people include dry mouth, diarrhea and drowsiness. While there’s very little risk of your pooch developing these symptoms, the similarities between the human and canine ECS suggest there’s a chance.
While these side effects are mild, keep your individual dog’s constitution in mind.
- Dry mouth – Some dogs eat or drink until they throw up. If your pet lacks self-control under regular circumstances, a bad case of dry mouth could potentially exacerbate the problem.
- Diarrhea – If your dog already has a sensitive tummy and occasionally bouts of loose stool, check to see if CBD seems to worsen or help the issue. Some people find that CBD promotes gut health, but others find just the opposite!
- Drowsiness – High amounts of CBD can cause sleepiness. This is one reason why it’s so important to give your pet the right amount of CBD based on their weight.
- Lightheadedness – In some cases, CBD can cause changes in blood pressure. This can be an issue in very small dogs, which might feel lightheaded if given too much CBD.
Find the Right Amount to Mitigate the Risk of Side Effects
The right amount of CBD for your pup depends on their weight and size.
Many individual veterinarians and pet owners report good results when administering 1 mg of CBD per pound of their dog’s weight.
Besides weight, take into consideration your dog’s age and energy levels, both of which affect how quickly they metabolize CBD.
However, sources like Canine Journal recommend starting more conservatively at 0.2 mg per pound of body weight.
At Zebra CBD, we factor the strength of our products and our expert scientists’ advice into the equation. We recommend using our Zebra CBD canine products at:
- 0.25 mg/lb (regular use)
- 0.50 mg/lb (extra strength)
Choose Your CBD Product
What’s the best way for your dog to experience CBD?
If you use CBD yourself, you’re probably familiar with a wide range of methods for administration, from CBD gummies to oils to breath mints and beyond.
There are several good options for pet CBD.
- CBD Oil – Using a syringe to administer pet CBD oil gives you the most control over how many milligrams of CBD your dog consumes. Because CBD oil is readily absorbed across the mouth’s mucous membranes, this is also an incredibly efficient way to help your dog enjoy the benefits of CBD.
- CBD Chews – If your dog tends to squirm, CBD oil may not be an option. In this case, CBD chews are a fun, tasty way to give your pet the appropriate amount of CBD At Zebra CBD, for example, we provide guides for how to break our chews into the right size for your dog. Put down the scooby snack and pick up a CBD dog chew!
- CBD Balm – CBD can also be absorbed transdermally (through the skin). If your pup has a particular area that could use some extra TLC, give them a doggy massage with the added benefits of CBD. Our balm includes bitter ravensara oil to discourage licking.
Read the Label and Work Your Way Up
As you begin your CBD journey alongside your canine companion, keep in mind that he won’t be able to give you verbal feedback about its effects.
That’s why we recommend starting with less than the suggested amount by your dog’s weight to see how they respond. Besides weight, take into consideration your dog’s age and energy levels, both of which can affect how quickly they metabolize CBD.
If there are no negative side effects at a half amount, you can work your way up to the regular amount (or the extra strength amount).
If you notice any of the following, try a lower amount next time:
- excessive thirst
Zebra CBD: The Only Pet CBD with a Label Accuracy Guarantee
If you’re worried about side effects, it’s extra-important to do your due diligence when researching pet CBD brands. After all, our canine friends are smaller than us, which can make them more sensitive to THC, not to mention harmful additives and trace pesticides.
At Zebra CBD, we take the extra steps to make sure our CBD is safe for dogs. We third-party test our products to verify they contain no detectable THC, heavy metals or pesticides.
On top of that, we’re the only brand to offer a Label Accuracy Guarantee™. That’s how confident we are about what’s inside our CBD oil products. We hope it provides the confidence you deserve as you and your pup start a brand-new wellness journey!
Dangerous Effects of Cannabis and Marijuana in Dogs
Marijuana is the dried part of the cannabis plant (cannabis sativa). It has been used for over 2000 years as herbal medicine and to make products such as rope and paper products. Today it’s mainly used recreationally or medicinally whereas people inhale it (smoke or vapour products) or take edibles that contain cannabis oil for medical reasons.
Cannabis is made up of many chemicals called cannabinoids. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a cannabinoid that has psychoactive effects. Cannabidiol (CBD oil) does not have any psychoactive effects. THC can be used to help people with appetite problems or nausea such as with chemotherapy treatments. Compounds called CBD can also help with medical conditions without being psychotropic.
Although cannabis use is not new, recreational marijuana use is up. Until recently, marijuana was legal in Canada and some states in the US, but there were strict controls over who could buy it and why. Legalizing drugs such as marijuana widely has led to an increase in accidental exposure in pets. As veterinarians, we expect to see a rise in pets accidentally ingesting cannabis or marijuana. In many of these cases, dogs have been exposed; this has been known to happen when the owners are not careful with the placement of their supplies.
How do Dogs and Cats Become Poisoned or Intoxicated?
Cats and dogs can be intoxicated or poisoned by cannabis in various ways. This usually happens when they are left alone with someone who is smoking marijuana, eating edibles containing it, or if their curious nature leads them to eat something that contains the drug. Because of the number of cannabinoid receptors in dogs, marijuana affects them differently than people. A small amount of cannabis or marijuana can lead to toxicity for both dogs and cats.
It is very important that you provide as much information as possible to your veterinarian. Different types of exposure require different treatments. Dogs that have cannabis intoxication because of second-hand smoke and treated very differently than those dogs that have ingested a cannabis product orally.
What are the effects of Cannabis on dogs and cats?
Cannabis is just one of several drugs that have a specific effect on the brain. Cannabis enters your pet’s body when they inhale (second-hand) or ingest it and will bind with certain receptors in your brain, altering normal neurotransmitter function. There are a few routes that THC takes when it enters your body. As THC is fat-soluble, it is easily stored in fatty tissue, like the liver, brain and kidneys before being excreted from the body. The majority of THC is eliminated through feces while a small percentage exits via urine – so for effects to wear off, it has to be metabolized and excreted out.
What is the difference between CBD and Marijuana in Regards to Toxicity for Pets?
The two main cannabinoids within the cannabis plant are THC and cannabidiol (CBD). CBD and hemp products without THC appear to be well tolerated by dogs and cats and have a place for their use. More studies will need to be performed to determine appropriate therapeutic dosing and safety margins. Marijuana however contains THC which can be dangerous and toxic to pets when exposed. While rarely fatal, prompt treatment is beneficial and this is why we feel it is important for you to understand some of the symptoms your dog or cat may show after ingesting THC or marijuana.
What are the clinical signs of cannabis poisoning or intoxication?
Clinical signs or symptoms of cannabis intoxication in dogs and cats can vary based on how much and when the THC was ingested, but the most common and predictable side effects are related to the neurological system:
- Mental dullness/depression
- Increased urination
- Ataxia (imbalance)
- Dilated pupils
How is cannabis intoxication treated in dogs and cats?
If you witness your pet ingesting a product containing THC or marijuana, call your veterinarian immediately for instructions on how to induce vomiting. Vomiting can be induced within an hour or two after ingestion. If symptoms are already noticed, contact your veterinarian for advice as they will likely recommend supportive care within the animal hospital. As there is no antidote available, this would include intravenous fluids, anti-vomiting medication and activated charcoal to help bind any residual toxins within the gastrointestinal tract that have yet to be absorbed. Fortunately, with proper supportive care, most dogs can make a full, complete recovery within a couple of days.
It is important to be aware of cannabis intoxication in dogs and cannabis poisoning in dogs. Second-hand cannabis smoke can make it difficult for your dog’s lungs, while an ingested cannabis product may affect their neurological system. If you see signs that your dog has been exposed to marijuana, contact a veterinarian immediately or induce vomiting if possible within one or two hours after ingestion. Cannabis toxicity is rarely fatal but because there is no antidote available, supportive care will need to be administered until the toxin leaves the body naturally through feces and other bodily fluids such as urine. With proper treatment from your veterinarian, most dogs can recover completely within just a few days!