CBD for Dogs – A Definitive Cannabidiol Guide For Pet Owners

Table Of Contents

In late April of 2016, Larry Gabriel received a diagnosis that no pet parent could be ready
for. His dog, Kai, had a small lump on his leg and had been having trouble walking up and down the stairs of his front porch. After a trip to the vet to have the lump examined, he learned that Kai had cancer.

The vet informed Larry that Kai had a tumor around his carotid artery that would be too risky to surgically remove. He announced that Kai probably had two or three months of life left in him. Like any pet parent, Larry was devastated.

Kai’s condition continued to worsen through the coming weeks. Then, Larry remembered hearing the story of a man who had “cured his dog’s cancer” with Rick Simpson Oil (RSO), a product derived from cannabis. Larry decided to give it a shot and set out to purchase some cannabis oil for himself.

He started with two rice sized doses a day of a cannabis extract that contained high THC. After a few weeks, Larry noticed that Kai’s condition seemed to be improving. He seemed to have less trouble walking, but Larry noted that he did seem “high” all the time. The high THC oil Larry had been using became unavailable, forcing him to switch to a more balanced oil with a 1:1 CBD:THC ratio. Considering Kai’s improvements, Larry continued the trend, eventually switching to an oil that was more than two-thirds CBD.

Soon, Larry noticed that Kai was more energetic and the lumps, although still present, had decreased in size. In January of 2018, more than 18 months after the vet said Kai would die, Kai was energetic and generally happy to participate in the day’s events. He has a healthy appetite and appears to be in no pain. Larry still gives Kai his daily dose of CBD and hopes to see him finish out his golden years in comfort.

Larry isn’t the only pet parent that has turned to CBD oil in trying times. Cannabidiol has become a popular treatment option for dog owners. Many people prefer using the natural supplement to prescription medications. Others claim that it is safer and more cost-effective than the surgeries required for treating their pet’s chronic conditions. Either way, there is some science to back up these claims, and more reasons than ever that you might turn to CBD for treating your furry friends.

CBD vs Marijuana: Could THC Be Harmful to Dogs?

Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the most popular naturally occurring cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. However, the two have very different effects on animals (as well as humans). THC is responsible for the psychoactive effects related to cannabis use.

There is some evidence that THC may be useful for a range of medicinal applications. There is also some evidence that dogs experience an increased sensitivity to THC, causing them to have more intense psychoactive effects than humans. Larry suggested that the high THC oil did help Kai to some extent, but that his main concern was Kai seeming “high” all the time, which generally results in fatigue or tiredness.

Luckily, cannabidiol products are available that contain only trace amounts of THC, which gives you the option of treating your dog without the risk of psychoactive effects.

Benefits of CBD for Dogs

There are many reasons to opt for CBD oil to help manage your dog’s conditions as opposed to traditional medicine. CBD comes in many forms (like oil or treats) and is often easier to give to your dog than pills or other forms of medications.

Aside from treating common ailments, there is evidence that cannabidiol promotes overall wellness. Cannabidiol is able to easily bind with CB-1 receptors in your dog’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system is at least partially responsible for maintaining homeostasis and has receptors located all over the body. CBD oil may help to balance the ECS to promote general wellness and prevent future illness.

Some types of hemp oil contain CBD as well as a variety of other fatty acids and nutrients that can make them a wholesome part of your dog’s regular diet.

Conditions Owners Are Using CBD To Treat Dogs

Cannabidiol is potentially useful for a range of conditions that are common in dogs of all ages. In some cases, cannabidiol may be an alternative to prescription medications. Cannabidiol often works as a great co-treatment alongside prescription medications to help ease pain, discomfort, and a selection of other undesirable symptoms. Some conditions and symptoms that have seen improvements with regular doses of CBD oil include:

    • Inflammation and Pain: Pain and inflammation are both common ailments for dogs, affecting them more as they age. Arthritis and hip dysplasia both involve inflammation of the muscles and ligaments that results in pain and reduced mobility. Pain may also be a result of an injury or surgery. Multiple studies show that CBD is able to reduce inflammation, which also helps to reduce pain and suffering due to inflammatory conditions.
    • Loss of Appetite: Certain conditions, along with the effects of aging, often causes dogs to have a decreased appetite. This loss of appetite can result in low weight, malnutrition, and the worsening of existing conditions. For some dogs, a loss in appetite occurs after surgery or during common illnesses, which greatly impairs the immune system and prolongs the healing process. Cannabidiol products have helped stimulate hunger, as well as reduce nausea or vomiting, which can help improve your dog’s appetite.
    • Anxiety: Social anxiety and separation anxiety are both common in canines and can result in poor behavior, fright, or aggression. Luckily, evidence shows cannabidiol’s ability to help reduce anxiety, which can help your pet feel calm even when presented with an unfamiliar situation. For dogs who don’t experience anxiety all the time, CBD oil can be useful as a “when needed” treatment. For instance, CBD may be given on before holidays to reduce anxiety related to social events or fireworks.
    • Cancer: There is evidence to back up Larry’s experience with Kai. While CBD cannot be confirmed as a cure for cancer, multiple studies have identified a beneficial link between CBD and cancer therapy. These studies explain that cannabidiol has a variety of potential benefits that could help treat cancer in dogs, like reducing the size of tumors, slowing the reproduction of cancer cells, and reducing the negative symptoms associated with cancer, like nausea, fatigue, and loss of appetite.
    • Skin Irritation: Because of its ability to reduce inflammation and pain and promote healing, CBD oil may be an effective treatment for many skin conditions. Hemp oil is often full of fatty acids that work to moisturize the skin. There are several forms of skin irritations common in dogs. Some appear seasonally or are due to an allergic reaction, while others may affect your dog all year long. There are multiple topical CBD solutions that may help relieve discomfort, itchiness, or dryness related to these common conditions.
    • Epilepsy and Seizures: There has been evidence that low doses of CBD oil can be used to treat epilepsy. Regular small doses of cannabidiol may help treat conditions that cause seizures and prevent future seizures from happening. Researchers have not pinpointed the exact reason for this reaction, but most agree that it has something to do with the way CBD interacts with the brain. Studies suggest that cannabidiol changes the brain chemistry in a way that reduces the chance or frequency of seizures.
    • Obesity and Diabetes: While it is important to understand that CBD is not a fat burner, there is some evidence that it may be useful for controlling weight and managing diabetes. One study shows that cannabidiol may help slow the damage to cells in type-1 diabetes. There is other evidence that suggests that CBD may help indirectly increase the bodies ability to burn fat.

Is CBD Safe for Dogs?

Due to various legal restrictions, research on CBD use for dogs has been limited. Several studies have concluded that cannabidiol is non-toxic, even in large doses. There is no evidence of deaths related to CBD use in dogs, and the potential side effects of CBD oil are mild. Generally, the potential side effects are less serious than most side effects associated with prescription medications.

CBD is a naturally derived cannabinoid found in the Cannabis plant. Most CBD products contain no synthetic additives that could pose other side effects. Always check the ingredients of your pet’s cannabidiol products before purchase to research any unfamiliar ingredients.

Your best tool for protecting your pet is your own research. Certain legalities make it difficult to find a definitive answer concerning the safety of CBD for dogs, but researching on your own may help ease your mind.

Possible Side Effects of CBD for Dogs

If you decide to start using CBD products for your dog, there are a number of side effects you should watch out for. Adverse side effects are rare and usually mild, but they could be an indication that you need to lower your dose or stop CBD oil completely and consider other options. Some of these potential side effects include:

  • Dry Mouth
  • Unusual Bowel Movements (like Diarrhea)
  • Rapid Weight Loss or Gain
  • Chronic Fatigue or Drowsiness
  • Dizziness or Impaired Balance

Generally, these side effects indicate that your dog’s CBD dose is too high. However, it is important to note that the majority of CBD research has been done on mice or humans. CBD interacts similarly in the bodies of humans and animals, but the effects can vary for each species.

Is CBD Right For My Dog?

Cannabidiol affects every dog differently, and what works for one dog may not have the same effects on the other. The best way to decide if CBD is best for your dog is to do your own research and take every detail into considerations. Some questions you might ask when considering CBD oil for your dog include:

  • What conditions am I trying to treat? Is there evidence that cannabidiol may help?
  • Does my dog have other underlying health conditions that may react negatively to cannabidiol?
  • Will cannabidiol react negatively to my dog’s existing medication?
  • Is cannabidiol affordable in the doses my dog needs?
  • Do the benefits of cannabidiol outweigh the risks for my dog?
  • Is a more natural treatment like CBD going to benefit my dog more than prescription medications?

You should always discuss your options with your vet, especially if you are considering stopping and prescription medications. While many vets are in support of using CBD for animals, in some areas they are still legally prohibited from prescribing the products. In some places, a veterinarian cannot legally discuss the use of CBD products on animals. Most of these restrictions are due to the lack of research specifically concerning the impact of cannabidiol on dogs.

If you are unable to get information from your vet and decide to try CBD anyways, you should start slow and monitor the effects that CBD oil has on your dog. Generally, you will be able to notice any adverse effects so that you can react accordingly.

What’s the Best Way to Give My Dog CBD?

Larry opted for an oil distribution based on what he could get his hands on at the time. That was a few years ago, though, and since then many new products have come to the market to introduce a variety of methods for treating your dog with cannabidiol.

The variety of treatments available has made it easier than ever for pet parents to obtain the best possible method for dosing their dog. Some of the most popular CBD products for dogs include:

    • Concentrates: Concentrates are a liquid form of cannabidiol that often contains a high concentration of the cannabinoid. This is a great way to administer high doses of CBD to your dog. Concentrates may be best suited for treating chronic health conditions and aggressive forms of cancer, which is why Larry chose them for treating Kai. Concentrates can be administered in small doses (like the rice-sized drops given to Kai) by mouth or added to your dog’s food. They absorb almost instantly to give quick relief.
    • Tinctures: CBD Tinctures are oil based extracts used to distribute a liquid dose of cannabidiol by mouth. They are often a convenient method because they allow you to obtain highly concentrated doses that can be dropped directly into your dog’s mouth or added to their food. Tinctures absorb into the bloodstream quickly, making them useful for chronic or painful conditions that require immediate relief. For dogs who don’t take kindly to pills or have a limited appetite, tinctures may be the best option.
    • Treats: Treats are like CBD edibles, except in the form of a tasty treat your dog will love. CBD dog treats are just like regular treats, except they are available in varying doses of cannabidiol. This is a great dosing method for dogs who take low to moderate doses and require a dose every day. The pre-portioned treats take the guesswork out of measuring a dose, and for dogs with a healthy appetite, they should be no problem to get down. Treats may be a great method for treating regularly occurring, mild to moderate conditions, like arthritis or gastrointestinal issues. Treats do take a little longer to kick in than concentrates and tinctures because they have to be processed by the digestive tract.
    • Capsules: Capsules offer another quick method for delivering a pre-portioned dose of cannabidiol to your dog. Like treats, this is a great method for dogs who require a small daily dose. However, it may not be the best method for dogs who are stubborn or otherwise have difficulty taking pills. Capsules also take a little longer to kick in than some methods since, like the treats, they have to go through the digestion process.
    • Topicals: Cannabidiol infused topicals are usually the best option for treating skin conditions. They are available in different forms, ranging from oils to lotions and salves. These topicals may include other terpenes and essential oils that give them targeted benefits, add healing properties, and produce a pleasant aroma. If you choose a CBD topical product for your dog, check the ingredients carefully. Topical products can be ingested if the dog licks the area of application. While CBD may be safe for them to ingest, some of the additives may not be.
    • Suppositories: It may not be the most glamorous way to dose, but suppositories offer a much-needed dosing method for dogs who have gastrointestinal issues or otherwise have trouble holding medicine down. CBD suppositories are usually gel capsules that are pre-measured, making it easy to give your dog his regular dose. They generally take effect pretty quickly and should start to give your dog relief within half an hour.

How Much CBD Should You Give Your Dog?

Choosing the right dose of CBD for your dog requires some experimenting. Due to the lack of research concerning dogs and CBD oil, there is no hard guideline to follow when finding the best dose for your dog. Instead, start slow and build your way to higher doses until you notice that your dog is experiencing some relief.

As a general guideline, many vets recommend giving between 1-5mg of CBD for every 10 pounds of body weight. The severity and type of condition may also affect the dose your dog needs. Talk with your veterinarian about using CBD for your dog, and he or she will be able to guide you through choosing a specific dose.

The best way to ease into a CBD routine is to start slow. Starting with your vet’s lowest recommended dose, administer cannabidiol regularly for a week. Consider keeping a notebook with information about the time and size of each dose as well as any changes in your dog’s behavior. If you think the dose should be adjusted, carry your notes to your veterinarian for reference.

It may be helpful to break up your dog’s dose throughout the day. For instance, if your dog’s current dose is 20mg/day, try giving 10mg in the morning and 10mg at night.

Sometimes a little experimenting is required since stronger doses may be necessary for severe conditions. With a little patience and a close watch on your dog’s behavior, you and your vet will be able to determine a dose that works for you.

How to Get the Most Value Out of CBD

While there is a range of options for administering CBD to your dog, some of these options are the most cost-effective than others. Treats, pills, and other pre-measured doses are usually more expensive than concentrated methods.

Concentrates offer one very cost-efficient way to dose your dog. Concentrates are very potent, meaning that very small amounts carry a large concentration of cannabidiol. For most dogs, a regular dose of CBD concentrate is somewhere between 1-4 rice sized strips. These concentrates can come in a syringe and when buying in bulk can hold around 10 grams. For the most potent version of concentrates, a 10-gram syringe can hold up to 7,500mg of CBD. At an average of 10mg/day, you can dose your dog for 750 days with one syringe.

Another cost-effective option are tinctures. This is often the most popular option because they are more readily available. They are often less expensive than concentrates but can be quite potent as well. Tinctures can be bought in bulk sized bottles that contain large amounts of cannabidiol, like 3,000mg. The tincture is distributed by drops to get the desired dose, and at an average of 10mg/day, will dose your dog for 300 days.

You can also look for CBD coupons that may help cut the costs of the cannabidiol products your dog needs.

CBD May Help Your Dog Get Relief

Cannabidiol is a natural option with a good foundation of scientific backing concerning its medicinal use. CBD products cannot be labeled as a miracle cure, but many people and their pets, like Larry and Kai, have experienced the benefits of the supplement firsthand. Many pet owners and veterinarians would agree that cannabidiol has many benefits that make it useful for treating common ailments in dogs, and it may be worth a shot before resulting to other treatments. If you are considering CBD oil, try talking to your veterinarian about how it may affect your dog’s health.

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