CBD for dogs: A practical guide for animal owners
CBD is a cannabinoid, a chemical compound found inside the cannabis plant. It’s non-psychoactive in nature and has a number of healing properties. Photo by AP Photo/Oscar Anaya, Vet Guru.. Inc.
Turns out, dogs seem to respond very well to one specific chemical in cannabis—cannabidiol. However, when it comes to using Cannabis sativa products for dogs, pet parents have to be extra careful. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the most well-known cannabis compound, is toxic and dangerous, and dogs are very sensitive to it.
On the other hand, CBD seems to bring forth a feeling of calmness and balance. It’s not psychoactive like THC, and it works in the pets’ bodies through a positive interaction with an endocannabinoid system that very much resembles our own.
CBD for dogs: A practical guide for animal owners Back to video
What is CBD and what does it do for dogs?
CBD is a cannabinoid, a chemical compound found inside the cannabis plant. It’s non-psychoactive in nature and has a number of healing properties. It is mostly derived from industrial hemp, which means it’s legal in many countries across the world.
Our dogs (like all other mammals) have an endocannabinoid system (ECS), a network of cellular receptors and activators that plays an important role in regulating body functions such as mood, sleep, pain, memory, appetite, inflammation, nausea, and stress levels. This system operates through compounds produced by the body called endocannabinoids.
Unfortunately, our furry friends sometimes don’t produce enough of these chemicals on their own, which throws their ECS system out of balance. Supplementing with cannabinoids such as CBD balances the endocannabinoid system and helps put an end to many painful conditions that are associated with endocannabinoids misfiring.
CBD acts mainly by interacting with several receptors: TRPV1, 5-HT1A, and GPR55. Shortly after consumption, CBD activates TRPV-1 receptors and helps regulate body temperature, and reduces chronic or acute pain and inflammation. When 5-HT1A receptors are stimulated, there is a significant increase in dopamine secretion, which produces antidepressant and anxiolytic effects. CBD also blocks GPR55 signaling, which has shown a great potential to decrease reproduction of cancer cells.
The science behind CBD for dogs
Although CBD has great promise as a medical treatment, most researchers and veterinarians warn that we still lack in-vitro clinical trials. Most of the studies regarding cannabis are conducted on rats, fewer on humans and even fewer on dogs.
Fortunately, there is one study currently in progress, but we still have to wait to see the full results. Colorado State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital started the research on CBD for dog’s arthritis and epilepsy. The positive effects of CBD for dogs are backed by studies done on other mammals and real-life stories from dog owners.
What are the health benefits of CBD for dogs?
CBD has been shown to have positive effects on dog’s overall health in addition to being effective in treating specific medical conditions. CBD can be used alone or combined with other medications. Let’s break this down in more detail.
1. CBD helps with allergies and skin issues in dogs
Itching, scratching, licking, chewing…skin issues can be very irritating. Just like humans, substances like pollen, food, insect venom (or flea saliva), dust, or even some types of pet shampoo can irritate dogs.
Itching usually affects a dog’s belly, armpits, ears, paws, and cheeks. It can go on for months and even years in some extreme cases. CBD is a possible solution—it has anti-inflammatory properties and relieves the inflammation that causes itching, hives, and blisters. You can treat skin issues by adding CBD to the daily diet of your pet or even by applying some CBD oil on their skin.
2. CBD reduces anxiety in dogs
CBD is known to reduce anxiety levels in people so it’s not a surprise it works for dogs as well. Dogs suffering from anxiety tend to show symptoms and reactions such as urination, excessive barking, and even destructive behavior, and often develop separation anxiety or show excessive distress behavior. By first consulting your vet and then adding CBD to your dog’s life, you can help your fluffy friend feel much more relaxed.
3. CBD reduces learned fears and phobias in dogs
Fear of fireworks and thunderstorms are very common in dogs. Unfortunately, on a summer-long weekend or during a major storm, there is little you can do to calm a nervous dog. CBD can help calm your dog and stop the problem from getting worse.
4. CBD reduces aggressive behavior in dogs
There are a number of factors that can cause canine aggression, such as medical problems, behavior issues, and trauma. It is usually triggered by a specific situation. Aggression is often managed by taking behavioral classes with your dog. Using CBD can also help your pet feel calm and relaxed. It reduces the likelihood of your dog being triggered by specific situations and generally diminishes aggressive behavior.
5. CBD boosts appetite and relieves digestive problems in dogs
Some dogs are just easy to feed and will eat almost everything, but problems can arise with dogs that are picky eaters. There can be a number of reasons why your dog might be picky. If your dog usually has a good appetite and you notice some changes, it could be one of many digestive problems.
It’s important to keep in mind and just accept that some dogs (sometimes depending on a breed or age) don’t have that much of an appetite. But, if you think there is something wrong with your dog or if they are constantly being picky about food, consult your vet who can recommend the best CBD food supplement. In fact, CBD treats can reduce nausea and boost appetite, as well as calm an upset stomach.
6. CBD helps with arthritis, joint and mobility issues in dogs
Arthritis is an umbrella term for abnormal changes and degenerative conditions caused by inflammation in joints, and it is one of the most common orthopedic issues in dogs. Arthritis is very common in large breeds, but it also affects smaller dogs. The main cause of arthritis is tissue damage caused by joint physical trauma, stress, infection, and even an immune system disorder. The most common joint disorder is hip dysplasia.
With arthritis, cartilage can’t be regenerated as fast as it’s wearing off. Because of that, the bony layer becomes more exposed to inflammation. This leads to thickening of the protective layer around the joint making it less elastic and mobile. The blood vessels surrounding the inflamed joints becomes swollen and inflamed, leading to the accumulation of calcium deposits, all of which makes the condition very painful.
Because CBD is known for its anti-inflammatory and pain-killing effects, it has caught the attention of vets treating orthopedic illnesses. Studies and pet owners’ experiences indicate there are no serious side effects, so getting to a right dose for your dog will be a safe journey. By taking CBD orally, your dog will be relieved of the two most annoying symptoms related to inflammation: swelling and pain.
7. CBD helps dogs with cancer
Cancer is one of the most common causes of death in dogs over the age of 10. Statistics say that half of the dogs over the age of 10 could suffer from some form of cancer. But, if the cancer is caught on time, there’s still hope.
If you ever find a lump or swelling anywhere on your dog’s body, or a wound that won’t heal, contact your vet immediately. Decreased mobility, lethargy, inability to urinate or any changes in appetite can also indicate cancer.
Dogs with cancers and tumours undergoing therapy can suffer from pain, appetite loss, seizures, and convulsions. The most common conventional therapies for cancer in dogs are chemotherapy, surgery or (more recently) antibody therapy. Sometimes therapies are used in combination. Like in humans, these therapies are very intense and hard on the body. That’s why more and more vets are recommending CBD to ease the dog’s way to recovery. Cannabidiol has what it takes to relieve fatigue, improve appetite, reduce inflammation as well as relieve pain.
8. CBD helps heal glaucoma in dogs
Glaucoma is a very common eye condition in some dog breeds. It’s manifested as high ocular pressure that causes inadequate draining of fluids in the eye. If the condition is chronic, it can lead to partial sight loss, even to complete blindness. About 40 percent of dogs diagnosed with glaucoma lose their sight completely, despite the early diagnosis or treatment. High ocular pressure can also be reduced to normal with CBD treatment.
9. CBD relieves seizures and epilepsy in dogs
Epilepsy is a medical condition that causes repeated seizures. One minute your dog is fine, the next he’s on the floor, drooling, uncontrollably shaking and twitching. This usually means one thing—epileptic seizure, which can last from one to several minutes.
During a seizure, there is an abnormal electrical activity burst into the dog’s brain that makes them lose control over their body. Seizures affect between 1 and 5 percent of dogs.
Veterinarians usually prescribe phenobarbital to stop seizures in dogs, however, this drug can have numerous side effects in both dogs and humans. So, more and more vets are willing to give pet owners another option—CBD.
Which CBD product is the best for my dog?
Since CBD has become popular for both human and animal use, there are a variety of products on the market. You can get your dog CBD dog products at your local pet store, online or through your vet, if he has a holistic approach to his practice. However, the FDA issued a warning to veterinary professionals and pet parents about products claiming to contain CBD.
FDA tested several products and found that some of them nearly didn’t contain any CBD at all. So before buying any product read the labels carefully, check all the information about the product and consult your vet.
When buying a CBD product, ideally you’d want it to have a lab result with it, just so you can be sure what you’re buying. CBD comes in different forms. Every dog is different, so it could take some time to find out which one is your dog’s favorite. CBD pet treats could be the easiest way to give your dog a daily dose of this medicine. You can buy the treats or make them on your own.
If your dog is not interested in CBD treats, you can simply try dropping CBD oil onto his gums. Also, there are CBD dog tinctures that are not as potent as the oil – you can put them directly into your dog’s mouth or add it to his meal. For external use, the best results are accomplished with topicals, which can be applied directly to painful joints or irritated skin. Also, some companies make their products as capsules, which can be easier to use if your dog doesn’t mind pills.
Some good and reputable brands that you should check out are Canna-Pet, The CBDistillery, and Green Mountain CBD.
How much CBD should I give to my dog?
Every dog is different but CBD dosage largely depends on the size and weight of the animal. You can’t poison (or overdose) your dog with CBD, but it’s recommended to start with the smallest amount and gradually increase the dosage until you see positive results.
As seen in the infographic, calculating the dosage is simple and is usually done in 3 tiers. Starting with Tier 1, if your dog weighs 15 lb then the dose to use is 0.05 × 15, which is 0.75 mg of oil twice a day. Stick to that dose for some time. If your dog responds well but you still don’t see enough improvement, you can go to the next tier.
If your dog is in need of a natural way out of a medical condition, try finding some organic CBD hemp, but stick to trustworthy and established products. If you have tried using CBD products for your dog, please share your experience with us in the comment section.