If you're a pet owner, you probably have a mental image of your pup getting all excited and alert after having his CBD treat for the day. If you’re wondering which pet parent in their right mind would want to get their pooch high, we should tell you that’s not what Cannabinoid (cannabidiol) does. Once you get past the initial doubts of how in the world we expect you to share some pot with your pup, you may be surprised to know that research suggests a CBD treat may actually be good for dogs.
Should you be giving your dog CBD?
The whole discussion of CBD oil for dogs boils down to you and your pup having something in common: an endocannabinoid system. This system affects your brain, skin, heart, eyes, stomach - and even your mood. Similarly, your dog’s endocannabinoid system affects their whole body. Cannabinoids, found in cannabis, affect this system in both animals and humans and that is exactly why cannabis has such a wide range of effects on the body. CBD or cannabidiol is one of the most prevalent cannabinoids in cannabis.
Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is non-psychoactive, which means it won’t produce a “high” and thus making it a potential cure for health issues in dogs. Is a CBD treat good for dogs? You can decide for yourselves once you've reached the end of this piece. But research does indicate some positives in that direction.
Research studies on CBD and dogs
Research in its early stages indicates that CBD extract or a CBD product like CBD oil, hemp oil, may be helpful in treating conditions like anxiety, pain, cancer, and arthritis in humans. Thus, people began questioning if the case was the same for pets too.
While there are no CBD dog treats that have been approved by the FDA yet, there are 2 studies which delved into this matter. A study from 2018 sought to assess safety, anti-inflammatory properties, and anti-pain properties of a CBD oil in dogs with osteoarthritis. The results were startling! Eighty per cent of the dogs showed improvement in their pain and mobility. In another study published in 2019, epileptic dogs were given CBD along with seizure medication. The pups showed significantly fewer seizures. These studies thus pointed to the fact that a CBD dog does fairly better than a dog which hasn't been given the CBD dosage. While these studies gave impetus to theories of CBD oil or hemp oil being good for a dog; substantial research still has to be done in this area.
How does CBD affect dogs?
If you’re a pet parent expecting sudden outbursts of energy or maybe mood swings in your dog, after him having some CBD dog treats, you may not be entirely wrong. While there’s no scientific data on the side effects of CBD oil or any CBD product and its usage for dogs, there are potential side effects based on how hemp affects humans. On the basis of this, you can expect your pooch to have a dry mouth, an increased thirst, light-headedness, drowsiness and more.
While the side-effects of a CBD product may be similar to that found in humans, the treatment options too are along similar lines and may be capable of treating separation anxiety, depression, seizures, inflammation, skin conditions, appetite loss, glaucoma, sleeplessness, and more.
"I do think it's beneficial with chronic pain, but it's not going to be effective for acute severe pain," said Dr Jeffery Judkins at the Animalkind Holistic Vet Clinic in Jacksonville. "It's not a panacea. It's not curing cancer, and even with epilepsy it's only marginally effective, and it's not really a good appetite stimulant. But it has been useful for anxiety. Really, it's just another herb. The whole thing about hemp is overblown. It's a fad now that will settle down over time."
However, many countries don’t still approve of dogs taking CBD product.
What vets say about CBD for dogs
Is CBD oil for dogs, an approved medical option? Veterinarians say they frequently get asked by pet parents if their pup can have a dog treat or a CBD product, like hemp oil.
"It's kind of hard to gauge how a dog feels after having the CBD because you can't ask them, but a lot of people report that their pets are less skittish, less anxious, less painful," said Stacy Page, owner of Market Street Wellness in Medford. "Plus they sleep better, and that helps them heal. CBD is definitely becoming more mainstream. It really helps older dogs with arthritis. They can get up and go outside on their own or go up the stairs again."
However, many countries aren't open to CBD oil for dogs. California recently passed a law that prevents state regulators from penalizing veterinarians for talking with clients about using cannabis for their pets, including potential side effects and toxicities.
Even in states where medicinal cannabis is legal, the existing laws only allow for a human healthcare provider to prescribe cannabis to people. They don’t authorize veterinarians to administer, dispense, prescribe, or recommend such products for use in animal patients.
That being said here's a little insight into how your pooch might like his dog treat best, incase you decide to give him some.
How to choose a CBD product
A good rule of thumb when selecting pet CBD is to look on the product's website for "certificates of analysis" and other evidence of third-party testing. These certificates tell you if products are pesticide and heavy metal-free and if the quality is as advertised.
If you are uncertain about the differences between pet CBD and regular CBD oil, there are not many. The extraction process for both animal and human CBD is the same, as both are derived from cannabis. When you're looking for the right kind of CBD, make sure it is THC free. It's common for pets to end up at the vet as a result of marijuana toxicosis after consuming the marijuana stash of their owners. On the other hand, pets with health issues such as arthritis, cancer, and other chronic conditions often use a controlled dose of medical cannabis to relieve symptoms.
Dr Gail Colbern, who owns and operates the mobile Green Springs Veterinary Service says "Animals metabolize oils and products differently than humans, so without more research, we won't know if a given CBD dose is efficacious - or safe. We do know that dogs are exquisitely more sensitive to THC than humans are. We're seeing dogs coming into clinics that ate somebody's stash, and they're urinating all over themselves, have really slow heart rates, and they're really stoned. We've seen an uptick in that since marijuana was legalized."
While CBD for pets comes in many forms, like CBD dog treats, CBD oil, and creams, research on the efficacy of each method is sparse.
Ways to give CBD to dogs
A study on dogs with epilepsy found that CBD oil, given orally, was more effective than a CBD tincture or gel capsule. However, there are fun options too. Pet CBD is available as an oil or in gummies, tablets, powders, and chews. You can even find CBD-infused toys! While these options may seem attractive, CBD tincture or oil is widely accepted as the best way to consume CBD for both dogs and humans because the compound is typically in its purest form.
Now a bit of caution: your dog might really not have an appetite for tincture, so you may want to add a few drops of it to his dog biscuits, in order to mask the strong flavour. If he's a little on the picky side, you may want to try infusing his food with CBD oil. If your dog is sensitive to even the slightest change of taste in their food, it might be best to apply CBD directly in your dog's mouth via the soft gel. This is the most effective since it is absorbed into the bloodstream.
How much CBD to give a dog
A 2018 study on dogs with osteoarthritis showed that the most effective CBD dosage for increasing the dog's comfort and activity levels was 2 mg per kg of weight. CBD oil with less than 0.3 per cent THC is generally safe, it won't harm your pet. But a high CBD dosage could cause side-effects in smaller animals. However, it should be kept in mind that every dog will respond differently. Since pet CBD isn't regulated, there's no way to tell the safe dosage to give a dog.
Last-minute tips before giving your dog CBD
If you're a pet parent, you may be frustrated by the ambiguity surrounding CBD and dogs. This, especially if you think existing medication isn't working or you'd rather go for more 'natural alternatives'. But while you’re all for trying ‘natural’, these tips should be kept in mind.
Do Your Research
If you are buying the CBD product online, do not fall prey to any marketing gimmicks or unsubstantiated claims. Instead, reach out to other dog owners to know if they resort to CBD and also if their pooch takes it well. Every dog is different and you know your pooch best!
Before selecting the company for the CBD product, conduct a little background research to know if they've been sued or penalized by the FDA and why, whether they have a veterinarian onboard and other important facts like this.
Natural Doesn't Mean Better
You should be warned that no marijuana or CBD product you might give your dog is natural. Only raw and unprocessed marijuana is, and there's no way you should be giving your pooch that. While you may be tempted to opt for natural, these can be dangerous, too. For example, xylitol is a "natural" sugar-free sweetener, derived from sources like birch bark, but it is highly toxic to dogs.
When your vet prescribes certain medications for your pooch, this is with reason. These have been studied, vetted, regulated, and well-documented. Your vet can also answer your questions about proper dosages, side effects, and when it might be time to go off medication or try another.
If It sounds too good to Be true...
Well, online CBD products do seem all fancy and attractive. But you should know if they aren't from only the most trusted sources, they can harm your pup. The CBD you get online comes from industrial (or "agricultural") hemp that might have originated in your home state, or it might have come from overseas or another processing facility where the CBD was extracted through less-than-ideal processes.
While there are several ways to extract CBD from hemp, one of the quickest and cheapest involves using solvents such as butane and hexane. These can leave a toxic residue if not properly handled. Research well on the company, how they make their product, their claims, and what unbiased reviewers are saying.
A pup journal
In order to get a clearer picture of how your pup is reacting to the CBD, keep a diary. Note down his behaviour, his temperature etc. before you give him his pot, and after him having it. Over time, you will see for yourself the changes he undergoes. If these are stark remarkable changes, you should contact your vet.
CBD without sugar, please!
Pure CBD oil will leave an earthy, bitter taste in your mouth. To disguise this, there are certain companies that add artificial flavours or sugars like dextrose to their products.
Animal products also come with flavouring to make them taste more manageable for your animal, like beef, or fish. Although this isn't going to be harmful in small amounts, taking CBD supplements loaded with artificial sweeteners and sugar can lead to long term health problems for your animal.
It's best you keep to the CBD without additives, as this could pose problems to your dog. Just like in humans, excessive sugar can lead to health issues such as diabetes, upset stomach, cavities, and weight gain in pets. Some artificial sweeteners found in sugar-free CBD oil, such as xylitol or grapeseed oil, can be harmful in other ways as well.
CBD for dogs is a tricky bet, and an informed decision should be made before venturing into that zone.