In the last few years, CBD products have popped up everywhere: from skin care aisles to cocktails to pricey lattes in chi-chi coffee shops. As we start to understand just how useful CBD is in treating a variety of conditions, many dog parents might be wondering if the miracle cannabinoid is just as effective (and safe) to give to their fur babies. And the short answer is: Yes. But there are a few things you should know before dosing your pup with some cannabidiol.
CBD vs. THC
If you don't know much about cannabis, you might be wondering if cannabidiol, or CBD, will get your pooch high. The answer is: Yes and no. Your dog won't turn into Jackyl from Dude Where's My Car. But your dog does have an endocannabinoid system (ECS), the same way humans do, so they will react to CBD.
Their ECS is a little bit different than ours, however. Canines are far more sensitive to cannabis than humans because they have more CB1 and CB2 receptors, which are what cannabinoids bind to in the body, leading to us feeling high. And, although CBD won't necessarily give your furry friend couch-lock, they'll still likely feel something. So, yes, your dog may exhibit signs of being intoxicated after consuming CBD, more so than a human would.
But CBD won't harm your pup, and if you give them a small dose, it's unlikely you'll notice any effect at all. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), on the other hand, isn't as safe for animals — specifically dogs — and large doses should be avoided. A study from a prominent veterinarian science journal raised some serious red flags about the dangers of THC, as it could increase a risk of fatality in certain animals.
Why Should You Give Your Dog CBD?
Dogs can benefit from CBD in many of the same ways humans do. For instance, symptoms of doggy anxiety and stress range from loss of appetite to pacing and panting. CBD reduces nervousness in both humans and dogs, as it's one of nature's greatest anti-anxiety remedies. If your pup suffers from arthritis, CBD can help reduce pain and inflammation in the joints, allowing them to move around without being in pain thanks to the plant's anti-inflammatory properties.
Furthermore, studies have shown that CBD helps ease epilepsy and seizures in dogs. Scientists at Colorado State University’s veterinary teaching hospital led a small pilot study specifically looking at seizure frequency and CBD treatment for dogs. The study found that around 90 percent of dogs who received CBD experienced a reduced frequency of seizures. Pretty promising stats, eh?
You’ll Have to Ask Your Vet First
Asking your vet about giving your pet CBD can be tricky. Until last 2018, it was illegal for vets to even have a conversation about cannabis with their patients' owners. Now, the conversation can happen, but it is still illegal for vets to recommend cannabis for animals. California is looking to pass a first-of-its-kind bill — Assembly BIll 627 — which will allow vets to recommend medical marijuana to pets. AB 627 only applies to the Golden State, however.
Truthfully, the legal landscape — for all things cannabis, but particularly with pets — is complex and muddled. 47 states have legalized CBD for human use but most haven’t addressed the issue of CBD for animals. So, even in states where cannabis is recreationally and medicinally legal, such as Oregon and Colorado, it’s still not technically legal for vets to recommend or prescribe CBD for pets.
At the federal level, the FDA has approved Epidiolex, a CBD-based medicine, which is used to treat epilepsy in humans. Additionally, because CBD products aren’t yet regulated by the FDA, there are no accepted standards for dosage in humans or pets. The bottom line is that most vets can only talk about CBD for pets if the clients broach the topic first.
However, the American Kennel Club (AKC) wants pet owners to know that there's been no formal or definitive study in the veterinary field on how CBD affects dogs. So, any evidence from pet owners about CBD’s benefits for dogs is purely anecdotal. The AKC also stresses that side-effects are unknown but could include those seen in humans, including dry-mouth, lowered blood pressure, diarrhea, or drowsiness.
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CBD Dosing Options for Dogs
Now that vets can legally talk to pet owners, it's best to consult them before administering CBD to your dog or pet. Obviously, you want to make sure you don’t give them too much (as overdosing of any medication can lead to adverse reactions). Under your vet’s guidance, start with a low dose and work your way up — even if you have a big dog.
As for humans, there’s a wide variety of formats for CBD. Current dog-specific CBD products include:
• CBD oil
• CBD tinctures
• CBD dog treats
• CBD-infused topical treatments
Topical treatments are applied externally, while most oils, tinctures, and treats are orally consumed. Although dog treats are a convenient option, oils and tinctures offer more accurate dosing.
Use a Reputable Source for Your Dog’s CBD Products
There’s no set FDA standards for CBD products. In other words, not all CBD products are made equally. As a result, there are a number of less-than-reputable companies that have taken advantage of the fact there are no set standards. Contaminants like pesticides and heavy metals are often found in lower-quality cannabis products in general. So make sure you do your research! As a rule of thumb, give your pets the same quality products you would consume yourself.
There have been other instances of CBD products with dosages that are considerably less than what’s advertised, with some products containing barely any CBD at all. Sometimes products will claim they are selling "pure" CBD when in reality they are full of additives and potentially even THC. To avoid this, do your research and make sure you're not giving your dog some CBD tincture you copped at a random gas station.
In other words, if you're going to buy CBD for your dog (or yourself, for that matter) make sure it's from companies that can GUARANTEE safe, clean, tested, and reliable quality assurance practices.
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The TL/DR version
Increasingly, vets and pet owners alike are utilizing CBD products for their dogs. CBD impacts the nervous system of mammals, which is why it likely provides relief from pain, inflammation, and seizures without experiencing a stoned-type of “high.”
To be clear, the AKC has not endorsed CBD, and the FDA has not approved it as a treatment for dogs. So, it’s still an emerging area of medicine for people and pets alike. While there are a variety of dog-specific CBD products on the market, you need to get them from a reputable source and consult your veterinarian to ensure proper CBD dosage for your dog. Woof woof!