It can be hard to see your furry friend suffer pain, experience chronic disease or any other ailment. Dogs are prone to many of the same diseases as humans and are affected by anxiety, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, epilepsy and general pain and discomfort. Many pets struggle to sleep or continue basic activities like walking up and down the stairs. If you’ve ever felt like there is little you can do when your canine is suffering, you must consider looking at CBD oil as a potential reliever.
Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is a type of compound naturally found in the cannabis plant. Unlike Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it is non-psychoactive, which means that ingesting it won’t get you ‘high’. Research on CBD is still in its early stages, but some studies and anecdotal evidence have found that it may be helpful in treating conditions like anxiety, pain, cancer and arthritis. CBD pet products are marketed as a natural way to treat these conditions in dogs, making pet owners curious.
It is important to understand that just because these products are for sale doesn’t necessarily mean they’re considered safe or beneficial for pets. Currently, there are no CBD products approved by the FDA for use in animals – as a drug or as food.
This article will cover current research into CBD use for dogs, as well as explain the possible risks and benefits to help you make an informed decision.
A recent survey of 2,131 participants conducted by the VIN news Service found that 63% of veterinarians reported that they were asked about CBD oil for dogs at least once a month. But veterinarians aren’t always willing to discuss it. Those who advise clients on using CBD for their pets can risk penalties and license suspension in some states.
In other states, veterinarians have a little more freedom. Recently, California 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. There are other bills like this in the pipeline, but for now, don’t expect your veterinarian to recommend you any CBD products, and definitely don’t expect a prescription.
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.
For these reasons, we’d like to warn you against the use of such products and recommend that you talk with your veterinarian about appropriate treatment options for your pet.
CBD for Dog Anxiety
Research done on CBD and humans has shown that it may be effective in treating epilepsy, anxiety, irritable bowel disease (IBD), and chronic pain. But only a few reliable studies have been done on the effects of CBD in dogs.
One study from 2018 sought to assess safety, anti-inflammatory properties, and anti-pain properties of CBD oil in dogs with osteoarthritis. Researchers gave dogs doses of 2 to 8 milligrams (mg) per kilogram (kg) of body weight. 80% of the dogs showed improvement in their pain and mobility, as measured by two veterinary resources – the canine brief pain inventory and the Hudson activity scale. However, it’s important to note that this study was funded by a CBD producer, so the results may be biased.
Another small study published in 2019 found that epileptic dogs given CBD in addition to seizure medication had significantly fewer seizures than those that received seizure medication and a placebo. However, similar numbers of dogs in both the CBD group and the placebo group responded to treatment and had decreased seizure activity. The authors recommended further testing before reaching any definitive conclusions.
While these studies and others like them could give a window into CBD’s medicinal potential for dogs, more studies are needed to confirm this research.
How can you give CBD to your dog?
CBD for pets comes in many forms, like treats, oils, and creams. But research on the efficacy of each method is sparse. One Colorado State University study from 2018 on dogs with epilepsy found that CBD oil, given orally, was more effective than a cream or a gel capsule. However, more research is needed before any conclusions can be made.
Dosage for dogs
The previously referenced 2018 study on dogs with osteoarthritis showed that the most effective dose for increasing the dog’s comfort and activity levels was 2 mg per kg of weight. However, because this study may be biased, and because other data on CBD dosage for dogs is sparse, this shouldn’t be considered a dosing recommendation.
Every dog will respond differently, which is why it’s important to start with a small dose, monitor your pet’s results and go from there. Most products will offer dosing suggestions, but keep in mind that these are developed by the manufacturer for humans.
Since CBD isn’t regulated, there’s no way to tell how much is safe and effective to give a dog.
Which CBD product should you choose?
Because the FDA doesn’t currently regulate CBD, there’s a lot of variability in products on the market. That means that certain CBD products for humans and pets are more effective than others. A good rule of thumb when selecting CBD products is to look on the product’s website for a ‘certificate of analysis’ and other evidence of third-party lab testing. These certificates tell you things like if products are pesticide and heavy metal-free and if the quality is as advertised.
How does CBD affect dogs?
If you give your dog CBD, you might want to watch out for both positive and negative reactions. For instance, if you give your dog its CBD dosage 20 minutes before a firework show and find them lying comfortable during it, where otherwise they’d be cowering under a bed, the CBD has probably worked. Negative effects include excessive panting, lethargy, vomiting, dribbling urine and loss of balance.
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