CBD for Dogs: What Every Pet Parent Needs to Know.
Pain, anxiety, and seizure control are the three main reasons pet owners are embracing CBD oil. As an active field of study, there is still much we do not know about cannabidiol.
When ingested, applied topically, or inhaled, research has shown CBD does not pose any health risk. However, if administered at extremely high doses, animal trials show that CBD could be damaging to the liver.
The lack of regulation and the FDA’s classification of CBD oil as a supplement -not medicine- means that there could be hidden risks. Because of that, it is necessary to consult a vet before administering CBD to a dog, and you should also get your CBD from trustworthy sources.
The purpose of this article is to update you on current studies, possible benefits CBD holds, side effects, and legalities of use in the US.
Table of Contents
In 2018, the FDA approved CBD, short for cannabidiol, as a treatment for Dravet syndrome in patients who are at least one year old. Epidiolex is a pure form of CBD. Consequently, it does not contain THC or other cannabinoids.
The hemp plant is a variety of cannabis that contains below 0.3% THC.
CBD and hemp extracts; the basics.
- CBD is legal at the federal level.
- However, states have regulations and guidelines for users, veterinarians, and medical practitioners.
- Some state laws do not allow veterinarians and medical practitioners to recommend or administer CBD as medicine.
- Clinical studies show that CBD is an effective treatment for a handful of conditions, including pain, epileptic seizures, and anxiety.
- Anecdotal evidence claims that CBD can treat an endless number of ailments.
- However, there is no research to back the majority of claims.
- A therapeutic dose of CBD oil for dogs is yet to be established.
The FDA may issue warning letters or take legal action against CBD manufacturers or sellers who do the following:
- Companies that mislabel CBD products. False claims may include the amount of CBD in the product.
- Companies that claim that their CBD products can cure, treat, or prevent ailments.
As mentioned, the FDA does not regulate the CBD market. Consequently, the CBD market is flooded with products that could be harmful to your dog’s health.
Researchers have identified contaminants, including heavy metals, fungi, bacteria, pesticides, and other harmful compounds and chemicals.
How to Protect Your Dog from Contaminated CBD Products.
The questions to ask when purchasing CBD for dogs are:
- Is the product organically grown?
- Organically grown products are unlikely to contain pesticides or other harmful chemicals.
- Was the product evaluated by third-party testers?
- In-house testing carries the risk of medical fraud and bias.
- We recommend checking for recalls on your state’s Department of Cannabis Control Website.
If you suspect that a CBD or cannabis product is contaminated, you may apply for voluntary recall via the link above. The DCC will test the product and issue recalls if need be.
In general, the DCC will recall CBD products if -they pose an immediate and serious threat to human or animal health.
The recommended CBD products are safety tested and thus fit for human and animal health.
CBD sits in the same category as other supplements, such as fish oil. Consequently, excluding Epidiolex, CBD products are not approved by the FDA.
In short, CBD laws and regulations are not clear, and there is much we are yet to learn.
On the legal front, what you need to remember is:
- The majority of veterinarians fear legal repercussions and are thus unlikely to recommend CBD for dogs or other animals.
- Medical marijuana laws do not apply to pets.
- Veterinary products that contain 0.3% THC are sold as supplements, not medicine.
- The DEA lists cannabinoids and cannabis products as Schedule 1 control substances.
Cannabidiol for Dogs: How Does it Work.
A review of thirty years of research into the safety, efficacy, and pharmacokinetics of CBD oil in dogs claims that:
- CBD oil, in veterinary medicine, is a promising treatment for canine pain, anxiety, nausea, anorexia, skin lesions, and some forms of cancer.
- CBD’s side effects are mild, but more studies into CBD’s long-term effects on canines are needed.
- Gastrointestinal absorption of CBD oil offers low bioavailability.
A review of three studies included in the cited article found that:
- Two milligrams of CBD oil and CBDA per kilogram of body weight caused a significant decrease in pain scores in four weeks.
- One milligram of CBD oil per kilogram of body weight administered twice in food daily relieved osteoarthritis pain, improved mobility, and improved quality of life.
- Between 0.3 to 4.12 milligrams per kg administered twice daily for ninety days reduced reliance on epilepsy medicine (gabapentin).
CBD for Dogs: Epilepsy Dosage.
According to the linked clinical trial. 2.5 milligrams of CBD oil per kilogram of body weight administered twice daily caused a significant reduction in seizure frequency. Additionally, between 0.51 milligrams to 5 milligrams/KG administered twice daily caused “Considerable reduction in epileptic seizures frequency and improvement of other signs (i.e., undesirable behavior) in one dog, slight improvement of seizure intensity in another, and no response to therapy in the third, as reported by the owners.”
CBD for Dogs: Behavioral Disorder Dosage.
A controlled study of twelve shelter dogs found that one drop of CBD oil per two kilograms administered orally for 45 days caused “Aggressive behavior toward humans to decrease significantly over time in the CBD treatment group. However, in the pairwise comparisons, only the T0-T2 (45th day) comparison was significant.” Additionally, another study found that CBD oil may be an effective treatment for separation anxiety.
CBD for Dogs: Skin Disease Dosage.
Based on the evidence above, the recommended dosage is between one to seven milligrams for every ten pounds of body weight administered twice daily.
The factors to consider are CBD concentration, body weight, and other constituents.
We recommend starting with low doses and working your way up to a comfortable dose.
From the studies above and anecdotal evidence, cannabidiol may offer benefits for the following conditions.
- Inflammation, allergies, and skin conditions such as dermatitis.
- Canine separation anxiety.
- Seizures and epilepsy.
- Stress, depression, and anxiety.
- Di Salvo A, Conti MB, Della Rocca G. Pharmacokinetics, efficacy, and safety of cannabidiol in dogs: an update of current knowledge. Front Vet Sci. 2023 Jun 30;10:1204526. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2023.1204526. PMID: 37456953; PMCID: PMC10347378.
Written by David. HC.