CBD for Dogs: Everything You Need to Know
In certain states, medical marijuana is an option for people seeking relief from ailments like seizures, pain, anxiety, and cancer.
Pet parents and veterinarians alike are naturally wondering whether cbd for dogs, in the form of products such as cbd oil for dogs or cbd dog treats, can provide the same benefits.
Here’s everything you need to know about CBD for dogs.
THC vs. CBD for Dogs
CBD is one of over 80 different chemical compounds called “cannabinoids” that have been derived from the cannabis (marijuana) plant. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), perhaps the most famous cannabinoid, CBD is not psychoactive.
Instead, CBD shares important metabolic pathways with a class of drugs called NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen and Rimadyl. These pathways control many processes in the body, from inflammatory responses to blood clotting.
Do not give dogs straight marijuana or any product containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive component of marijuana. There is simply not enough research to justify the use.
CBD-based products, however, may help improve your dog’s quality of life when used in conjunction with other therapies.
Why Use CBD for Dogs?
CBD is often mentioned as a useful therapy for a variety of conditions, including pain management, arthritis, anxiety, seizures, and even cancer. Although the use of CBD in treating each of these conditions is under-researched, there are varying levels of scientific evidence for each scenario.
Because CBD shares metabolic pathways with anti-inflammatory drugs, it makes sense that it would help with certain inflammatory conditions (anything that ends with -itis is an inflammatory condition).
Osteoarthritis, often abbreviated as arthritis, is one of the most common inflammatory conditions in dogs.
One in four dogs will be diagnosed with arthritis in their lifetime, and by some estimates, as many as 60% of dogs exhibit some degree of the disease.
Research has shown that CBD can provide substantial pain relief in dogs with arthritis when given twice daily at appropriate doses.
In theory, the anti-inflammatory benefit seen in arthritic dogs could also be seen in dogs with other types of inflammatory pain, especially back pain from intervertebral disc disease (IVDD).
Preliminary studies in people have shown that combo products containing both CBD and THC are more beneficial for pain relief than when either drug is given alone. But no such research has been done on dogs, so THC should not be given to them.
Seizures are probably the most-studied application of CBD in people, but limited research exists for pets. In dogs, seizures can be caused by a vast number of underlying conditions.
With regards to idiopathic epilepsy specifically, there is some research that suggests that CBD could be useful in reducing seizure frequency in these dogs. However, these benefits are only seen with dogs that are given traditional anti-seizure medications at the same time.
Like seizures, the term “cancer” is an umbrella term that refers to an extremely diverse set of specific diseases, each with their own set of beneficial treatments.
In people, CBD has been studied for possible use in cancer patients, both to treat the tumor(s) directly, as well as to treat the secondary symptoms of cancer and chemotherapy. Very limited research has been done on the use of CBD for dogs with cancer.
However, the anti-nausea effects of CBD seen in people who undergo chemotherapy have also been documented in rats and ferrets, suggesting that dogs receiving chemotherapy may benefit from CBD treatment.
Perhaps the biggest misconception is that CBD is useful in managing a dog’s anxiety. In theory, it is possible that CBD, by reducing pain and inflammation, could indirectly reduce anxiety caused by pain or inflammation.
But because CBD is not psychoactive, it is unlikely that CBD has the ability to directly treat canine anxiety in the way that Prozac and other medications do. The use of CBD for anxiety in dogs, as with most conditions, requires substantially more research.
Potential Risks of CBD for Dogs
Overall, CBD itself seems to be incredibly safe in dogs and cats. However, numerous scientific papers have found that when given at the recommended doses, CBD does cause an elevation in an important liver value on bloodwork called alkaline phosphatase (ALP).
We are not yet sure whether the elevation of this liver value has any medical significance. It could signify that CBD causes irritation or damage to the liver. Alternatively, it could be an artificial finding in which the drug interferes with the way the lab measures the liver value.
Anecdotal reports do exist of dogs becoming somewhat sleepy or sedate if they receive extremely large doses of CBD, but those effects appear to resolve on their own with time.
CBD doesn’t appear to have any drug interactions when it’s given to a dog that’s on an anti-inflammatory drug like Rimadyl.
Because there is a theoretical risk of drug interaction, as with any medication, you should consult your veterinarian first before treating your dog with CBD.
THC Dangers for Dogs
Unlike CBD, THC ingestion can cause serious problems for your pet.
“The most significant [issue] is THC toxicity, meaning, essentially, they are high,” says Dr. Gary Richter, owner and medical director of Montclair Veterinary Hospital in Oakland, California. “Depending on how significantly a pet has been overdosed, the effects of that can be quite long-lasting, even days.”
During these episodes, a pet may not be able to stand or eat. If you suspect THC toxicity, take your pet to the veterinarian immediately. Secondary effects of THC, especially respiratory depression, should be monitored closely to avoid complications.
Overall, life-threatening risks for dogs from cannabis are “exceedingly rare,” Dr. Richter says. There is no documented lethal dose for THC in dogs. In fact, a dose of THC 1,000 times greater than the dose needed for a dog to feel “high” is still not lethal.
THC toxicity more often occurs when a pet has eaten a product that also contains chocolate, coffee, or raisins. “Even if the THC toxicity is not excessive, they can sometimes have problems due to these other ingredients,” says Dr. Richter.
How Much CBD Can You Give Dogs?
Though there are some topical treatments, CBD oil is typically administered orally to dogs, and giving the correct dosage is imperative. “As is the case with any medication, success has everything to do with dosing,” Dr. Richter says.
Studies on using CBD for dogs with arthritis or seizures generally use a dose between 2-8 mg/kg, with most papers erring on the lower side of that estimate (roughly 1-2 milligrams per pound of body weight), twice daily.
This dosage has been found to be both safe and somewhat effective for just the conditions studied (arthritis and seizures). Additional research is needed to evaluate the necessary dosages for CBD in treating other conditions.
One complication in attempting to properly dose dogs with CBD is that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found that many CBD products actually contain little, if any, CBD.
The only FDA-approved cannabinoid product, Epidiolex, could theoretically be prescribed by a veterinarian for epilepsy in dogs, although this would likely be cost-prohibitive. Because it is FDA-approved, though, the CBD content of this product would be accurate, unlike most other CBD products on the market.
Can Veterinarians Prescribe CBD for Dogs?
U.S. veterinarians are forbidden from prescribing/dispensing CBD, and cannot encourage or instruct clients to purchase CBD products.
However, they are free to talk to you about the potential risks and benefits of a treatment plan you may have devised on your own. If you are considering giving CBD to your dog, speak to your vet, and you may want to also speak with a veterinarian who has experience with CBD.
8 CBD oil benefits: cancer, anxiety, pain, acne and more
Plus, advice on recommended dosage and potential side effects.
From reducing stress and promoting a better night’s sleep to treating serious conditions and diseases such as epilepsy and rheumatoid arthritis, CBD oil – occasionally called cannabis oil – is inhabiting medicine cabinets across the world for a huge range of reasons.
CBD is an extract known as cannabidiol, and it’s one of the 113 identified cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. This naturally occurring substance is extracted and mixed with a carrier oil – often hemp seed or coconut – to create CBD oil.
We spoke with pharmacist Sultan Dajani, from Dragonfly CBD, and professional rugby player Grayson Hart, co-founder of Pure Sport CBD, to find out the science-backed benefits, recommended dosage, and potential side effects to using CBD oil:
Is CBD the same as cannabis?
CBD is one of 104 chemical compounds, known as cannabinoids, that can be found in the cannabis plant. It’s a naturally occurring substance, which can be extracted and mixed with a carrier oil – often hemp seed or coconut – to create CBD oil.
Unlike the most well-known cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC), CBD is not psychoactive, meaning that it won’t make you ‘high’ – the sensation most commonly associated with cannabis. It is, however, reported to offer a range of health and medicinal benefits – the reason behind its growing acclaim.
What does CBD oil do?
CBD oil acts on your endocannabinoid system: a network of receptors that interacts with various cannabinoids to maintain vital functions throughout the body, says Dajani, including sleep, appetite, pain and immune system response. When talking about CBD oil, there are two main receptors involved: CB1 and CB2.
‘CB1 receptors are concentrated in the nervous system and the brain, particularly in the parts of the brain responsible for mental and physiological functions such as memory, cognition, emotion and motor co-ordination,’ he explains. ‘CB2 receptors are found throughout the central nervous and immune systems.’
The use of CBD oil is being researched in various conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes complications.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive compound in marijuana that gives the sensation of being ‘high’. Since CBD and THC have slightly different chemical structures, they interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors in different ways, differentiating the effects each has on the body, Dajani continues.
Both CBD and THC interact with CB2 receptors, but only THC bonds directly with CB1 receptors. ‘When this bond between THC and CB1 receptors is formed, the reaction creates signals that are sent to the brain, resulting in the effect of ‘getting high’,’ he says. ‘Research shows that CBD does not bond with CB1 receptors, so when people take CBD for reasons such as stress, anxiety, and pain, it does not have the effect of creating a high.’
Is CBD legal in the UK?
There has been a fair amount of confusion surrounding the legality of CBD oil, because the vast majority of cannabinoids are controlled substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
However, CBD oil is completely legal in the UK, providing it has been derived from an industrial hemp strain that is EU-approved and contains little-to-no THC.
There are strict restrictions in place with regard to the THC content of CBD oil. To be legal in the UK, CBD oil must contain no more than 0.2 per cent THC, and the THC must not be easily separated from it.
8 CBD oil benefits and uses
Here are some of the CBD oil benefits as seen in science so far:
1. CBD oil can relieve chronic pain
CBD oil has an analgesic effect, meaning it reduces pain perception in the brain. ‘CBD has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, influencing biochemical inflammatory pathways in animal studies, with benefits shown in animals in chronic muscle pain, including fibromyagia,’ says Dajani. ‘A 2012 review in the Journal of Experimental Medicine concluded that CBD oil was an effective treatment for chronic pain.’
2. CBD oil alleviates cancer-related symptoms
Multiple studies have shown that CBD oil offers benefits to those receiving treatment for cancer. High-strength CBD medicinal cannabis products can help reduce nausea and improve appetite, pain and sleep disturbance in cancer patients.
3. CBD oil can ease anxiety
Laboratory studies have shown that the use of CBD oil is useful in reducing anxiety – and may help to ‘regulate learned fear, reduce conditioned fear and anxiety, and dampen down its expression,’ says Dajani – meaning it could be a beneficial natural remedy for sufferers.
‘Reductions in anxiety appear to mediated by the interaction of CBD with the 5HT1-A receptor rather than CB1 or CB2 receptors, and not dependent on the benzodiazepine receptors used by medication such as diazepam,’ he adds.
In a double-blind placebo-controlled study of people with social anxiety disorder, treatment with CBD before simulated public speaking ‘significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment and discomfort in their speech performance, and significantly reduced alert levels in their anticipatory speech,’ Dajani says.
4. CBD oil is a natural antidepressant
The antidepressant effects of CBD have been demonstrated widely in animal models. This is because CBD oil interacts with the neurotransmitter serotonin, which regulates mood and social behaviour.
It has also been shown to safely improve the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in children. ‘Because CBD is completely natural, there are no negative side effects that reliance on prescription medication may cause,’ says Hart.
5. CBD oil has neuroprotective properties
Thanks to its interaction with the endocannabinoid system, CBD oil may provide benefits for those with neurological disorders – particularly certain types of epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. ‘CBD has been shown to have a calming effect in the central nervous system, mediated by CBD’s interaction with the CBD 1 and 2 receptors, amongst others,’ says Dajani.
6. CBD oil may help treat acne
Due to the effects of CBD oil on the immune system and its ability to help reduce inflammation, it may offer relief from acne. ‘Cannabinoids are the subject of growing research interest for inflammatory skin conditions, such as acne, eczema, itching, rashes and psoriasis,’ says Dajani.
‘Although research is very preliminary, pre-clinical and laboratory work has demonstrated anti-inflammatory, antipruritic and anti-ageing properties for CBD with identification of various mechanisms including interacting with the endocannabinoid system of the skin,’ he adds.
7. CBD oil has heart-healthy benefits
CBD appears to reduce the cardiovascular response to stress, says Dajani, by influencing the survival and death of white blood cells, white blood cell migration and platelet aggregation – all of which can be linked with stress.
‘A double blind randomised controlled cross-over study in nine healthy male volunteers found that acute administration of CBD reduces resting blood pressure and the blood pressure increase to stress in humans, associated with increased heart rate,’ he says.
8. CBD oil makes your workout feel easier
CBD oil plays a vital role in decreasing glutamate build-up during strenuous activities, says Hart. ‘CBD makes this possible by connecting to CB1 and CB2 receptors and preventing the release of specific neurotransmitters,’ he explains. ‘This influences the nervous system, enabling you to handle pain and inflammation better. CBD can help with short term pain problems or long-term injuries with throbbing pain.’
How to take CBD oil
CBD oil is most readily available as a tincture. This can be taken by applying a few drops under your tongue, holding in your mouth for a few moments so it can be absorbed, before swallowing. It can also be added to water or smoothies. A tongue spray form is available, as are capsules, gummies, creams that can be applied topically, and e-liquid for vape pens.
When it comes to CBD dosage, always start small – its effects should be immediate.
When it comes to CBD dosage, always start small – its effects should be immediate, so you will be able to tell if the lower dosage is working for you. ‘A dose of around 10-20mg is a good place to start for beginners,’ says Hart. ‘See how that works with your body and decide whether to move up or down.’
‘Dosage frequency and amounts are at the user’s discretion, with a maximum daily dose of 200mg,’ adds Dajani. Remember, it’s always best to consult your doctor before trialling any new medication or remedy.
Is CBD oil safe?
The majority of CBD oil users don’t experience any negative effects. CBD oil has no harmful side effects and is not addictive. ‘According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, naturally occurring CBD is safe, well tolerated in humans and is not associated with any negative public health effects,’ says Dajani.
Where higher doses of CBD have been used in clinical studies, some side effects have been reported, including dry mouth, light-headedness and drowsiness. ‘Lower blood pressure can also be an issue for people whose blood pressure is already low,’ he continues. ‘There have been no reports to date of physical dependence effects – tolerance or withdrawal.’
What to look for in CBD oil
CBD products can vary significantly in in terms of quality ingredients, so it is important to know what to look for. In a recent analysis of CBD products on the UK market, nearly two-thirds contained less than 90 per cent of the declared amount of CBD, with one containing zero cannabinoids, says Dajani. More than half contained detectable amounts of THC and seven products contained another controlled cannabinoid, called cannabinol (CBN).
‘CBD oil must be sold as a food supplement, not as a medicine,’ he says. ‘Choose a CBD product that has a zero THC content. Choose a CBD product that has received-or is working towards Novel Food authorisation. Choose a product that will allow scrutiny of its test results – ideally independently tested on batch-by-batch basis – and is obtained from a reputable source.’