CBD Oil for Dogs
CBD (cannabidiol) is a substance that naturally occurs inside cannabis plants and is thought to have a lot of potential as a therapeutic or medicinal aid for a great many conditions and symptoms. As more people explore the possibilities of CBD for themselves, it’s not surprising that some individuals may want to extend those same benefits to their dogs.
Dogs and CBD Oil
There is good reason to believe CBD has the same medical value for dogs as for humans—but dogs and humans are different. They each have unique biological systems and physiology that may impact the way CBD is processed and utilized by the body.
Getting the best care possible for our furry friends and family means understanding the health needs particular to their species. This guide will help you explore some of those differences so that you can make a more informed decision to use (or not use) CBD for your dog.
As always, be sure to discuss the addition of any supplement with your veterinarian before beginning a new regimen.
THC vs. CBD
CBD is part of a group of natural chemical compounds found in cannabis plants called the cannabinoids. THC, known for causing the “high” that recreational users prize, is another cannabinoid.
These substances interact with the human body because they chemically resemble the natural endocannabinoids we produce in our own bodies. The endocannabinoid system is involved in many different aspects of our health, from mood regulation and pain control to apatite regulation and even reproduction. By activating certain parts of the endocannabinoid system, cannabinoids could treat a wide variety of health concerns.
Dogs have endocannabinoid systems very similar to ours, but there are some differences. Specifically, they have more endocannabinoid receptors in the brain—as a result, they are much more sensitive to THC, and can be poisoned by it. CBD activates a type of endocannabinoid receptor that does not occur in the brain at all, so it carries much less risk.
Some people claim that “full spectrum” cannabis products, those that contain both CBD and THC as well as the other chemical constituents of cannabis, have health benefits beyond that of CBD by itself. They may be right—for humans. For dogs, it is very important to stick to CBD alone.
Giving CBD to Your Dog
There are CBD products specifically sold for use in dogs, but many CBD products made for humans are fine, too. Choose a high-quality product without additives and without flavorings that dogs might not like (such as peppermint). Of course, avoid any product that contains chocolate. The plain oil has a very mild taste and many dogs will happily lick a few drops off a plate or a human hand. Alternatively, mix it in with food; the dog won’t notice. Avoid CBD-infused dog treats, and never give a dog a product that could contain THC.
Dosing, unfortunately, is a matter of guesswork. There has been very little research into CBD yet, for humans or dogs. Ask for guidance from a vet with experience giving CBD to dogs, and always start with a low dose. If necessary, you can increase the dose later. CBD is generally safe for dogs, but all medical treatments must be handled carefully.
Benefits of CBD for Dogs
The lack of research doesn’t just make dosing a bit of a guess, it also makes it difficult to be sure what CBD can really do. So far, there have been no actual clinical studies of CBD use in dogs. But what we know about the canine endocannabinoid system, the few studies (mostly of humans or non-canine test animals) available, and the testimonies of users (or their owners) all suggest that CBD could be a powerful tool in many aspects of both canine and human health.
What Can CBD Treat?
The list of potential benefits of taking CBD is long:
- Pain management
- Inflammation reduction
- Calming anxiety
- Appetite support
- Treating seizure disorders
- Slowing nerve and brain degeneration
- Promoting cardiovascular health
- Treating cancer
Common canine problems being treated with CBD include arthritis, anxiety-related behavior problems, and epilepsy. Given the current uncertainty due to the lack of research, it’s best to use CBD as a supplement to other forms of treatment or after exploring other treatment options. For example, CBD does kill certain kinds of cancer cells in a Petri dish, but that doesn’t mean CBD is ready to replace chemotherapy.
That being said, human use of CBD suggests that it may be able to treat problems that other medications cannot, such as treatment-resistant types of epilepsy and forms of pain that opiates don’t adequately control.
It’s best to have the guidance of a vet when making any kind of treatment decisions for your dog, but especially with something as new and untested as CBD. Choose a vet with experience using CBD in dogs. If you must make the decision alone, be sure to check for possible interactions with any other medications your dog may receive, and watch for any unexpected side effects.
Be sure to choose a high-quality brand. Because CBD is not regulated, it can be difficult to be sure exactly what you’re getting; some products contain very little CBD, or have significant amounts of THC. Your vet may be able to recommend a product that is both locally available and has the quality you need. In general, do not choose the lowest-cost option.
The bottom line is that CBD has potential as an important part of the picture for your dog’s health, but that doesn’t mean it’s wise to give the stuff out thoughtlessly like the latest kind of doggy treat: CBD is medicine, and best results depend on using quality products, ideally under the guidance of a vet. Used well, it’s possible that CBD could help your dog in ways no other treatment can.