Research on CBD for Dogs
There's not a lot of published research on CBD's effect on dogs, though there are a lot of anecdotal reports from dog owners who've seen the benefits. As the CBD industry is exploding, more research is being done and we'll share it when it's published.
There's a study that was published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science that focused on dogs with osteoarthritis. The researchers found that there was a significant decrease in pain and an increase in activity in dogs that were given 2 mg/kg of CBD oil for 4 weeks.
Dr Stephanie McGrath of Colorado State University's James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital conducted a small study with 16 dogs that suffered from idiopathic epilepsy, which is the most common canine neurological condition. McGrath found that 89% of the dogs who received CBD had a reduction in the frequency of seizures. McGrath also found a correlation between the levels of CBD and the reduction of seizures. This study was funded by the AKC Canine Health Foundation, of which McGrath has a 5% ownership.
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How Does CBD Work?
CBD is derived from the cannabis plant which contains 113 active cannabinoids. CBD is short for cannabidiol, and unlike one of the other cannabinoids in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD doesn't cause a high. CBD actually is used by some to dampen the high caused by THC.
CBD interacts with your endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS's main function is to maintain homeostasis in the body. The ECS is a complex network of cell receptors and neurotransmitters that are spread throughout the body, including the central nervous system, peripheral nervous system, and immune system. Whenever you are unwell, the ECS will release its natural cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids, to restore balance in your system. When your ECS can't keep up, it can lead to more issues. Ingesting CBD doesn't interact directly with your cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), but it stimulates your ECS to produce cannabinoids. It also slows their breakdown by inhibiting the FAAH enzyme.
The ECS is present in any animal that has vertebrae, including fish, birds, reptiles, and mammals. Researchers still don't understand exactly how CBD works with ECS receptors, but the ECS plays roles in many systems in the body, including sleep, mood, immunity, temperature, appetite, memory, reproduction, and fertility. Robert Silver, DVM and veterinary herbalist in Boulder, Co., explains in Bark: "Receptors are like locks, and cannabinoids are like keys. They fit together perfectly. Once the cannabinoid connects to the receptor and turns that lock, a series of actions occur in the cell membrane; these actions are responsible for some of the cannabinoid’s effects."
Dog owners have reported their pets getting relief from seizures, joint pain, irritable bowel disease, pain from cancer, and anxiety. Some dog owners also report reduced aggression and a boost of appetite. CBD may also have other benefits for dogs including benefiting the heart.
Will CBD Make Your Dog High?
CBD doesn't cause a high in humans and dogs. There's a bit of confusion on this topic, so it's good to understand that there are two types of CBD products: full-spectrum and isolate. Full-spectrum CBD products can have up to 0.3% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the cannabinoid that makes people high), which means you would have to give your dog very large quantities to cause even a slightly altered state. Isolates have only CBD and zero THC. The drawback of isolates is that you don't get the benefits of the natural oils, terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids. These other components work together to produce what is called an entourage effect, which gives the user more benefits.
CBD has also been shown to counteract some of the effects of THC, with some marijuana growers producing strains with higher levels of CBD that reduce the mind-altering effect.
The side effects for dogs and humans can include drowsiness, diarrhea, itching, vomiting, dizziness, and dry mouth. If you start your dog on CBD, start with a low dose and look for changes in behavior such as eating patterns, energy levels, and sleep habits to make sure that there are no negative effects.
Speaking to Your Veterinarian
Your veterinarian may or may not discuss giving CBD to your dog because currently, the federal and state laws aren't clear. Laws vary from state to state, and those differ from federal laws, so some vets don't want to take a chance with disciplinary or legal action. Even in California (where medical marijuana is legal for humans), Assembly Bill #2215 passed that allows veterinarians to discuss cannabis for pets but they're not allowed to recommend or prescribe it. It's unfortunate as CBD is showing promise for many conditions in dogs and the best person to see if your dog can benefit is your vet.
We recommend having a conversation with your vet, especially if your dog is on other medications or has any health conditions. If they won't speak with you, your next best bet is to find a vet who will. If you can't find a vet to help you, you can do research online, but it's no replacement for a vet who can assess your dog's health.
What's the Best Form of CBD for Your Dog?
The most common forms of CBD for dogs are tinctures, capsules, chews, and biscuits. If your dog likes the flavor, chews and biscuits can be the easiest way to get them to ingest CBD. Tinctures usually aren't too difficult, but some owners have reported that hiding capsules in their food doesn't always work, the dog will eat around the capsules or even spit them out!
If you're giving CBD to your dog to stop a seizure while it's happening, or to calm them during a thunderstorm, fireworks, or any stressful event, the fastest delivery method is going to be liquid. If you give them a chew or biscuit, it has to go through the stomach and be processed by the liver so the CBD may not affect their system for 30 minutes or more. If you're giving your dog a CBD product for any reason other than to immediately calm them down, you have a lot more flexibility for the delivery method. You can then try different products and flavors to see what they like the best.
The first thing to do is to speak to your vet about your dog's situation. If they're willing to talk with you about CBD for your pet, and they're not aware they'll ask what medications you're giving them, their medical history, and what conditions and symptoms they have. But in general, the recommended dosages for dogs are listed in the table below.
|Weight||Starting Dose||Middle Dose||High Dose|
|2 lbs||0.1 mg||0.25 mg||0.5 mg|
|5 lbs||0.25 mg||0.625 mg||1.25 mg|
|10 lbs||0.5 mg||1.25 mg||2.5 mg|
|15 lbs||0.75 mg||1.875 mg||3.75 mg|
|20 lbs||1 mg||2.5 mg||5.0 mg|
|25 lbs||1.25 mg||3.125 mg||6.25 mg|
|30 lbs||1.5 mg||3.75 mg||7.5 mg|
|35 lbs||1.75 mg||4.375 mg||8.75 mg|
|40 lbs||2 mg||5 mg||10 mg|
|50 lbs||2.5 mg||6.25 mg||12.5 mg|
|60 lbs||3 mg||7.5 mg||15 mg|
|70 lbs||3.5 mg||8.75 mg||17.5 mg|
|80 lbs||4 mg||10 mg||20 mg|
|90 lbs||4.5 mg||11.25 mg||22.5 mg|
|100 lbs||5 mg||12.5 mg||25 mg|
|110 lbs||5.5 mg||13.75 mg||27.5 mg|
|120 lbs||6 mg||15 mg||30 mg|
|130 lbs||6.5 mg||16.25 mg||32.5 mg|
Best CBD Products for Dogs
As the CBD industry has been referred to as the "wild west," it's important that you find high quality products. A study published in Pediatric Neurology Briefs found that many CBD products are mislabeled. They found that 26% contained less CBD, and 43% contained more than they claimed!
Hemp has been used in soil remediation, such as after the Chernobyl nuclear accident that occurred in 1986. It's information like this that makes us have high standards when it comes to taking care of our furry family, so we're not giving them a product that may have traces of nuclear waste, dangerous toxins from a poor extraction process, or mold or other chemicals. We've evaluated a lot of CBD products for dogs to find products that meet all of our criteria, which includes:
- accurate labeling
- extraction method
- third-party tested with a certificate of analysis (COA)
- soil where it's grown
- company reputation
Our top choices are full-spectrum CBD products because they contain all of the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids naturally found in the plant that's stripped away in CBD isolates.
Sleep CBD Hemp Extract
- Includes PharmaGaba, a more natural form of the amino acid GABA, which helps people calm down before sleep.
- High level of terpenes and plan-based omegas added via hemp oil, black pepper, and clove oil.
- EU-certified organic hemp grown in unique microclimates in nutrient-dense soil in Poland, Lithuania, and Croatia, producing hemp with unique cannabinoid and terpene profiles.
- Presoil validation to ensure there are no harmful levels of heavy metals, herbicides, residual solvents, or pesticide residuals (including glyphosate).
- Whole food full-spectrum hemp extract.
- Manufactured in FDA-registered facilities, and the primary facility is ISO 9001 certified (the international standard for a quality management system). Facilities are also certified as cGMP (current good manufacturing practices).
- Unique One-Pass™ extraction method that doesn't over refine the CBD oil.
- US Hemp Authority certified.
- 3rd party tested to have less than .3% THC and for its cannabinoid profile, as well for any dangerous compounds. Every product can be tracked via their website by entering the batch number or scanning a QR code.
- The company was co-founded by Naturopathic Doctor Jason Mitchell, a passionate leader in the health and wellness industry.
- Full-spectrum extract.
- 100% organic and non-GMO.
- Third-party tested.
- CO2 extraction method to help preserve the terpenes, essential oils, vitamins, trace minerals, omega fatty acids, and cannabinoids.
- Grown in the USA on licensed farms in Colorado.
- NuLeaf is passionate about CBD and has been in the industry for over 5 years. They're members of the Hemp Industries Association and the National Hemp Association.
Best Calming Dog Chews
- Grown in the USA.
- Full-spectrum hemp extract that includes beneficial phytocannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and essential fatty acids.
- Contains a botanical blend of naturally occurring CBD, valerian root, passionflower extract and chamomile to help calm excitable dogs.
- Available in chicken flavor.
- Third-party testing/COA (certificate of analysis) is available on their website.
- One of the CBD industry leaders. The founders were featured in Dr Sanjay Gupta's TV special on CBD.
- Gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO, and containers have no BPA. No additives or preservatives.
- FDA registered facilities following the GMP (good manufacturing practices) protocols.
- They follow the American Herbal Products Association's (AHPA) contaminant guidelines and specifications for Good Quality.
- National Animal Supplement Council Certified.
- Dogs under 25 lbs use up to 1/2 chew daily, 26-50 lbs: 1 chew daily, 51-75 lbs: 2 chews daily, 76-100 lbs: 3 chews daily, 100+ lbs: up to 4 chews daily.
Hip & Joint Chews
- Grown in the USA
- Each chew has 2.5 mg of CBD along with glucosamine, chondroitin, and turmeric
- Available in 30 or 60 count
- National Animal Supplement Council Certified