CBD Oil For Dogs: What You Need To Know

CBD Oil For Dogs

I’ve got good news and bad news about CBD oil for dogs …

The good news is that it can help with many of your dog’s health issues from allergies to cancer. The bad news is that the CBD industry for pets is still unregulated. That means the majority of pet owners might be getting ripped off.

So today I want to talk about all the good things CBD oil can do for your dogs. Then I’ll show you how to find the best product for your dog and talk about how to give it.

How Does CBD Oil Work? 

There’s a messenger system in your dog’s body called the endocannabinoid system. It helps regulate sleep, appetite, pain, the immune system and more. CBD impacts the activity of the messengers in this system and stimulates the nervous, digestive and immune systems, as well as the brain. And it can do this because the endocannabinoids in CBD are very similar to the ones found in your dog’s body. 

That’s why the benefits of CBD can be deep and significant. And why CBD oil is the fastest-growing healthy plant in the world

6 Ways CBD Oil Can Help Your Dog

Let’s take a look at common conditions where CBD can help dogs. And after I’ll talk about which CBD oil you should buy and general dosing information. 

1. Dogs With Joint Problems

If your dog has joint pain, your vet might prescribe NSAIDs or other pain meds like Gabapentin. But NSAIDs can cause deterioration in joints and soft tissues … and they can damage your dog’s liver.

Gabapentin can also cause kidney damage. Plus, it’s not all that effective.

CBD is a natural anti-inflammatory that doesn’t carry the same risk of side effects as drugs. It works by binding to CB1 receptors in the brain. These receptors stimulate the immune system to reduce inflammation. CB1 receptors also change the way the brain responds to pain.

CBD also binds to CB2 receptors found in the nervous and immune systems. When this happens, the body may produce more cannabinoids naturally. This helps reduce inflammation even more and reduce the pain associated with it. 

In fact, researchers at Cornell University found that dogs taking CBD for arthritis were more active and showed a decrease in pain.

Some of the common uses for CBD as an anti-inflammatory for joint problems in dogs include:

2. Dogs With Cancer

Sadly, 50% of adult dogs will get cancer. Cancer is a massive health challenge for dogs, especially if they undergo chemotherapy or radiation.

Cancer researchers are always looking for new ways to treat cancer and release the pain and nausea that can go with it. And CBD has been extensively researched as a cancer-fighting substance.

A study in mice showed that CBD slowed the growth of mammary cancer cells. And in 2018, researchers found that CBD increased survival time in mice with pancreatic cancer. Other animal studies show CBD oil has cancer-fighting abilities and can slow the growth of tumors

In another study, cancer cells became more sensitive to treatment with CBD. That means CBD can increase the effectiveness of conventional cancer treatments.

CBD also kills cancer cells by blocking their ability to produce energy. And it can stimulate the immune system to produce killer cells that cause death in cancer cells.

Researchers also found that CBD blocks a cannabinoid receptor called GPR55. This is important because GPR55 increased the growth rate of cancer cells in mice.

CBD oil can also help with nausea associated with many cancer treatments. And studies have shown CBD can significantly reduce cancer-related pain.

3. Dogs With Seizures And Epilepsy

It’s estimated that about 5% of dogs suffer from seizures. They can be terrifying for both dogs and their humans … and they can cause anxiety.

Most vets treat epilepsy and seizures with antiepileptic drugs. Common options are phenobarbital or potassium bromide. But these drugs are extremely harmful to your dog’s liver and other organs. And even if the drugs don’t cause unmanageable side effects, they don’t always work …

So researchers at Colorado State University got excited when they studied CBD as a treatment for epilepsy in dogs. A whopping 89% of dogs that received the CBD had a reduction in seizures.

In human trials, CBD even worked in patients with drug-resistant epilepsy. In one study, 7 out of 8 patients saw a marked improvement within 4 to 5 months.

CBD reduces the frequency and severity of seizures because of how it interacts with the endocannabinoid system. It’s believed that abnormal electric charges of the neurons in the nervous system cause seizures. But CBD can bind to receptors in the brain … researchers speculate this can improve the functioning of the nervous system. 

4. Dogs With Anxiety

Anxiety is a common reason dog owners turn to CBD. Anxiety can appear in different forms, including:

Of course, there are anti-anxiety drugs available … but CBD is being studied for anxiety because it doesn’t carry dangerous side effects.

Most human users of CBD take it for pain, anxiety and depression. Over a third of these users report that CBD worked “very well by itself.” CBD has even helped manage anxiety and insomnia in children with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And animal studies show its antidepressant effects aren’t just for humans.

CBD can work quickly if given directly by mouth when your dog gets stressed. It usually only takes 5 to 20 minutes to work. But, CBD appears to be most beneficial for anxiety when given over a period of time. So if your dog is prone to stress, a daily dose might be best.

A 2012 study looked at stress in rats exposed to cats. The rats given repeated doses of CBD had less anxiety than those given a single dose.

Researchers aren’t certain how CBD relieves stress and anxiety, but it’s thought that it can help regulate serotonin. Serotonin is a hormone that regulates mood, social behavior, digestion, sleep and appetite.

RELATED: Learn more about CBD oil for anxiety …

5. Dogs In Pain

Probably the most promising research on CBD is that done on pain. From nerve pain to arthritis, it works well … without the harmful side effects of pain medications.

CBD binds to both CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain and nervous system and this helps change the way your dog’s brain perceives pain. Plus, CBD can help manage the other symptoms that accompany pain, such as sleeplessness and nausea.

CBD can also help manage acute pain from injuries.

6. Dogs With Allergies

Allergies and skin conditions are on the rise in dogs. And they’re difficult to treat.

The endocannabinoid system is also found in the skin … and that’s good news for dogs with allergies. It means CBD can help relieve dry and itchy skin. And it can promote the growth of new healthy skin cells.

You can give CBD internally for allergies, or use it externally for hot spots or interdigital cysts. 

Now that you know a bit more about WHY you would give your dog CBD oil to your dog, let’s about HOW to choose a good quality product.

How To Choose The Best CBD Oil For Your Dog

CBD (Cannabidiol) is a naturally found substance in cannabis and hemp. Both deliver amazing health benefits … but there are differences.

Cannabis (marijuana) contains a relatively large amount of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is what causes the psychoactive activities of cannabis. It’s why marijuana can give a “high” or “buzz.”

Hemp contains much lower amounts of THC. To sell hemp legally, it must contain less than 0.3% THC. So while your dog can still enjoy the calmness and reduction in anxiety that CBD provides, he won’t get high. And that’s important … because you might enjoy the high, but your dog definitely doesn’t!

Your dog will also get the same pain-relieving and immune-supporting benefits from hemp CBD.

But not all hemp products are the same …

1. Look For A Full Or Broad Spectrum Hemp

Check the label of your CBD product to make sure it’s full spectrum or broad spectrum.

This means your dog’s CBD oil contains not just CBD, but other important cannabinoids that occur naturally in full-spectrum hemp. This includes CBC (Cannabichromene) and CBG (Cannabigerol).

Researchers have looked at CBC for its …

  • Cancer-fighting activities
  • Ability to block pain and inflammation
  • Positive effect on brain cells

CBG is also studied for its medicinal use. It can decrease inflammation in the digestive tract and it can protect nerve cells and the eyes. It also supports healthy bladder function and fights cancer cells. 

A full-spectrum CBD will also contain terpenes such as limonene, alpha-pinene, and beta-pinene. These are also naturally occurring medicinal substances found in all hemp.

Together, cannabinoids and terpenes create the entourage effect. This happens when compounds in hemp oil work synergistically to boost the medicinal properties of hemp oil. 

CBD extracted with CO2 (I’ll talk about this in a moment) pulverizes the terpenes. This will make them hard to detect in testing and they won’t show up on the Certificate Of Analysis … 

… but they’ll still be there and will contribute to the CBD oil’s medicinal effects. 

CBD extracted with solvents will better preserve the terpenes. So you will find them noted on the Certificate Of Analysis. 

But I don’t recommend solvent extracted products, which leads me to my next point …

2. Make Sure Your Dog’s CBD Uses CO2 Extraction

There are two common ways to extract the CBD oil from the hemp plant:

CO2 Extraction

As you’ve probably guessed, CO2 extraction uses carbon dioxide to extract oil from the plant. Using a high-pressure chamber, CO2 puts pressure on the hemp. This breaks down the hemp and releases the oil. 

This method of extraction creates oils with a higher concentration of CBD. That means your dog will get more from his supplement. Of course, that also makes the product more expensive … but it’s better than the alternative.

Solvent Extraction

The cheapest way to extract oil from the hemp plant is with solvents, such as …

  • Propane
  • Butane
  • Petroleum products

But residue from these solvents will be in the product and they can be toxic to your dog.

Some CBD extraction uses natural solvents, such as ethanol or olive oil. This is much safer for your dog but these oils can destroy the hemp plant’s waxes and the resulting oil isn’t as beneficial.

3. Look For A Certificate Of Analysis

If your dog’s CBD oil doesn’t have a certificate of analysis (COA), run away!

A certificate of analysis is a document that shows the amount and type of cannabinoids in the CBD product. And it usually comes from a third-party laboratory, 

COAs protect your dog from poor quality products and the manufacturer should have one for each batch of hemp. If there isn’t a COA on the company’s website, you’ll want to ask for one before you buy any CBD oil

When looking at the COA, there are 5 important things to look for. 

CBD Is The Same As Advertised

This is more common than you would think … in fact, we were once tricked by this! 

What you might see is something like “500 mg CBD” on the product label. But don’t take the label at face value! Make sure the COA says the same amount as the label does.

Some lab tests express the CBD content in mg/g. So to calculate the amount of CBD, you need to know how many grams are in the bottle of CBD. 

For example, let’s say the COA shows 16.9 mg/g CBD. To calculate how much CBD is in the product, multiply the number of mg/g by the number of grams the bottle weighs. (A typical 1-ounce dropper bottle of CBD will weigh 30 grams.) This will give you the total mg of CBD in the bottle. In this example, it’s 507 mg (16.9 mg/g x 30 gram bottle).

CBD Is Really Full Spectrum

Again, never take the label at face value! Some CBD is from isolate, which means it won’t have other important cannabinoids and terpenes. 

Remember the entourage effect? You won’t get this extra boost with CBD isolate. So how do you find out if your dog’s CBD is from isolate? The COA will show that the product only contains CBD and no other cannabinoids. Stay away from these products.

There’s Not Too Much (Or Too Little) THC

If your dog’s CBD contains more than 0.03% THC, it’s probably marijuana and not hemp. It’s not legal and your dog won’t enjoy the psychoactive effects. 

You also want to avoid products with NO THC. If there’s none, then your dog’s CBD is from isolate … and the health benefits will be fewer.

A Third-Party Did The Tests

Once again, never take the manufacturer’s word that the product is of high quality. Make sure the product was properly tested by a third party lab. Unfortunately, the CBD industry isn’t regulated, which leaves you vulnerable to poor products. 

There’s No Contaminants

You need to know where and how the hemp that’s used to make the CBD oil is grown. This plays a huge role in those test results you see in the COA. 

Always look for an organic product to reduce any environmental toxin risks. You want to know that the soil and water it’s grown in is as clean as possible. That’s because hemp plants are really good sponges and can absorb contaminants as they grow. And it’s why heavy metal toxicity can be a concern when looking at CBD oils. 

So be sure that you check the COA for any contaminants such as pesticides, heavy metals and solvent residues. 

RELATED: Are CBD dog treats worth the money? 

Cost Shouldn’t Be A Priority 

It can be hard to compare products and some people give up and look at costs only …

… but this is not the best approach!

You want a high-quality and safe product for your dog. Extracting CBD from hemp requires a lot of plant material as well as careful monitoring.

If the product you’re considering has a price that’s significantly lower than the competition, there’s probably a reason for that … 

But the most expensive doesn’t mean it’s the best CBD oil for dogs …

Instead, consider what we’ve reviewed …

  • How was the CBD oil extracted? (CO2 is best.)
  • Is the CBD concentration different than advertised? (CBD on COA should match the bottle.)
  • Is it full-spectrum? (The product should have other cannabinoids, not just CBD.)
  • Is the THC content worrisome? (THC should be less than 0.3% but higher than 0%.)
  • Is it organic? (Hemp is a sponge for contaminants.)
  • Was it third party tested? (If you can’t find a COA online, ask the manufacturer for one.)

These variables are what you need to look for when determining the quality of a product. The cost is never a sure sign of a product’s quality. 

Side Effects Of CBD Oil For Dogs

The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association surveyed dog owners. They wanted to see what, if any, side effects they noticed. And the great news is that there weren’t any major effects reported.

The most consistent side effects noticed were: 

  • Sedation 19%
  • Overactive appetite 5%
  • Lack of energy 4%
  • Panic reactions 2.7%
  • Dry mouth/excessive drinking 2.3% 
  • Nausea 1.7%
  • Vomiting 1.7%
  • Increased seizures 0.69%
  • Impaired mental functioning 0.68% 

This means the most likely side effect you may see is that your dog gets sleepy. And that isn’t a bad thing. Especially if your dog suffers from seizures, anxiety, or has any pain, and you’d like to give CBD oil a try …

… but some CBD oils will have other additives and may not be safe.

Caution With CBD Oil Additives

You want to be sure there are no chemical additives or preservatives in the product you buy. These will cancel out the health benefits, even if the hemp is grown organically.

Also be aware of companies who have added essential oils (EOs) to their CBD oil. Even if they say, “natural”,  EOs can affect animals profoundly

If your holistic vet has recommended using a CBD oil with an EO, then follow their dosing recommendations. They’ll know what’s best for your dog’s unique health needs.  

Some will recommend using CBD with frankincense as it’s good for tumor reduction in cancer patients. But always check with your holistic vet or herbalist first.

Dogs Taking Other Medications Or Supplements

If your dog is taking any other medications or supplements you will want to check with your holistic vet as well. CBD oil has many health benefits but it can change how your dog is able to metabolize some medications or supplements.

Researchers have looked at how CBD oil changes metabolism in humans. It can be similar to grapefruit, which causes significant reactions. So if your dog is taking any of the following medications you’ll need to ask your vet about dose changes:

  • Steroids
  • Allergy medications
  • Liver or kidney medications
  • NSAIDs
  • Heart medications
  • Anxiety medications

Hopefully, your holistic vet has helped you find alternatives to the medications above. But even then … CBD can affect herbs and natural supplements. 

This doesn’t mean you can’t give your CBD oil if he uses other supplements or medications. You may just need to make adjustments. CBD changes the metabolism of other things but sometimes for the better! Meaning you can use less of another product or skip on the medications altogether.

And less is often more.

CBD Dosage For Dogs

Each bottle of CBD has a specific concentration expressed in milligrams (mg). Most dogs are okay with the taste, so you can just put it on your dog’s food. 

Dr Robert Silver recommends giving your dog 0.05 to 0.25 mg/pound of body weight, twice daily. He also suggests starting with a lower dose and working your way up. If 0.05 mg/pound is enough, stay at that dose. There’s no need to increase unless the lower dose stops working. If that happens, increase the dose to 0.125 mg/pound, twice daily and only continue to increase if your dog needs it. 

For anxiety or health prevention, you’ll usually find that the lower doses work well. But if your dog is dealing with pain or immune issues, you’ll probably need a larger amount. 

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Bíró T, Tóth BI, Haskó G, Paus R, Pacher P. The endocannabinoid system of the skin in health and disease: novel perspectives and therapeutic opportunities. Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2009;30(8):411-420. 

Campos AC, Ferreira FR, Guimarães FS. Cannabidiol blocks long-lasting behavioral consequences of predator threat stress: Possible involvement of 5HT1A receptors. J Psychiatr Res. 2012 Nov;46(11):1501-10. 

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Corroon J, Phillips JA. A cross-sectional study of cannabidiol users. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. 2018;3(1).

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Ferro R et al. GPR55 signalling promotes proliferation of pancreatic cancer cells and tumour growth in mice, and its inhibition increases effects of gemcitabine. Oncogene. 2018;37:6368-82.

Johnson JR, Burnell-Nugent M, Lossignol D, Ganae-Motan ED, Potts R, Fallon MT. Multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of THC:CBD extract and THC extract in patients with intractable cancer-related pain. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2010 Feb;39(2):167-79. 

Rock EM, Bolognini D, Limebeer CL, et al. Cannabidiol, a non-psychotropic component of cannabis, attenuates vomiting and nausea-like behaviour via indirect agonism of 5-HT(1A) somatodendritic autoreceptors in the dorsal raphe nucleus. Br J Pharmacol. 2012;165(8):2620-2634. 

Haustein M, Ramer R, Linnebacher M, Manda K, Hinz B. Cannabinoids increase lung cancer cell lysis by lymphokine-activated killer cells via upregulation of ICAM-1. Biochem Pharmacol. 2014 Nov 15;92(2):312-25. 

Aviello G, Romano B, Borrelli F, Capasso R, Gallo L, Piscitelli F, Di Marzo V, Izzo AA. Chemopreventive effect of the non-psychotropic phytocannabinoid cannabidiol on experimental colon cancer. J Mol Med (Berl). 2012 Aug;90(8):925-34. 

Lynch T et al. The effect of cytochrome p450 metabolism on drug response, interactions, and adverse effects. Am Fam Physician. 2007;76(3):391-6. 

Gamble L et al. Pharmacokinetics, safety, and clinical efficacy of cannabidiol treatment in osteoarthritic dogs. Frontiers in Veterinary Science. 2018. 

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