CBD Oil for Dogs: What You Need to Know

By: Dr. Edele Grey, DVM logo

Vets are being asked more and more by clients about cannabidiol (CBD) oil and whether it may help their fur-babies. Given the recent positive publicity of CBD oil in human medicine it’s a natural progression to want to provide these same benefits for ailing pets.

So, Dr. Grey of FluentWoof put together a comprehensive guide about the use of CBD oil for dogs for all the fur-parents out there.

What Is CBD for Dogs?

The cannabis plant, Cannabis sativa, has been in documented use for millennia, however cannabidiol (CBD) was only isolated in the early twentieth century. The cannabis plant is probably best known as “marijuana”, however, “hemp” has also been used to produce rope and clothing throughout history. While most of the information about the medicinal benefits of cannabinoid products are anecdotal, there is increasing scientific evidence of these products’ efficacy in managing medical and behavioral disorders in dogs.

CBD oil is a non-intoxicating substance from the cannabis plant while tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the constituent that provides the “high” we attribute to marijuana. Strictly speaking, marijuana contains more than 0.3% THC while hemp must contain less than 0.3% THC.

Both CBD and THC are cannabinoids that work on the endogenous cannabinoid receptor system, which is responsible for helping the body to recover from stress and to regulate blood pressure, muscle tension, and other physiological processes.

CBD also has the advantage of not causing intoxication while giving relief from pain, inflammation, epileptic seizures and anxiety. Most CBD products are derived from hemp and contain little to no THC which is toxic to our fur-babies.

How Does CBD Affect Dogs?

man walking on paved red road with small to medium size beige colored dogHuman studies have shown that cannabidiol can help reduce inflammation, pain and even tumor size while also reducing seizure frequency and severity.

Cannabidiol influences many physiological and neurological processes within the central nervous system of mammals through the endocannabinoid system. This system is important in maintaining healthy processes within the body by regulating pain, inflammation and our pups’ immune systems.

While studies into how CBD affects dogs are lacking, both ourselves and our best fur-friends have the same endocannabinoid system, though dogs may have more receptors making them more sensitive to CBD than us humanoids.

Is CBD Safe For Dogs?

Nothing in the world is completely safe!

Having said that, CBD is generally considered safe in both humans and animals and pets respond in a similar way to humans. Initial veterinary studies have suggested that CBD is safe though further studies are required to firmly establish this fact.

Dogs can be more sensitive to the effects of cannabidiol so you should start with low doses and speak with your veterinarian first. As CBD is derived from hemp there is minimal or even no THC, thus your pet won’t get “buzzed”.

How Long Does It Take For CBD Oil To Work For Dogs?

It will take approximately 30 minutes for you to see the effects of CBD on your pet. If your pet is receiving CBD for painful conditions then they may need to receive CBD up to three times per day, but always start with once-a-day dosing. It may take a number of weeks to reach therapeutic doses for these pets.

What To Watch Out For When You Give Your Dog CBD

CBD is natural and in humans, high doses have been shown to be safe.  There are still some negative side effects that may affect your dog. These include:

Gastrointestinal Distress – Of course, vomiting and diarrhea are some of the most common side-effects you might expect to see. If your dog has a sensitive tummy, use a tiny dose at first to see how they cope.

Tremors – Some pets may have ‘the shakes’ or tremors after taking CBD. You should consult your vet if you see these signs especially if you are using CBD to try control your pup’s seizures.

Dry Mouth – CBD has been shown to reduce saliva production. You might find you need to top up your fur-baby’s water bowl more frequently.

Low Blood Pressure – Human CBD users have reported light-headedness so your pet may seem a little dizzy.

Lethargy Or Drowsiness – Some pet parents using CBD to sooth anxious dogs have found that at higher doses, their pooches seem sleepy.

Interactions With Other Medications – You should always speak with your veterinarian if your pet is taking other medications as CBD may interfere with their liver’s ability to metabolize some other drugs.

Risk of Using CBD Oil For Dogs

Indian woman smiling and looking into a happy dog's face to check for any CBD symptomsAs yet, there have been no studies with conclusive proof of the safety of CBD in our furry friends. However, in 2016 a study suggested that CBD may be safe enough for further research in clinical populations. In this study, CBD was given in capsules, tinctures or topical creams with the best absorption and bioavailability seen with tinctures.

Other than Epidiolex (a prescription medication form of CBD that treats human seizures), there are as yet no FDA approved CBD products so what doses are toxic is unknown.

Start out with small doses in consultation with your veterinarian and increase if no ill effects are seen.

Hemp Oil Vs Marijuana

Your dog won’t get “High” from CBD oil.

The fear on every fur-parent’s mind, will my pet get “high” if I give CBD oil? The short answer is no!

As mentioned before, CBD is derived from hemp plants that contains tiny amounts of THC. High concentrations of THC is what gives the “high” when taking marijuana and is potentially fatal to our canine friends.

Hemp contains less than 0.3% THC while most marijuana strains contain at least 15% THC. CBD acts more as a relaxant and doesn’t have the same psychotropic properties as THC, to be completely sure you can purchase CBD products that have all of the THC removed. These are hard to find though so a product’s “Certificate of Analysis” should never be over 0.3% THC.

Read the full comprehensive guide by Dr. Grey on CBD Oil for Dogs on logo
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