Can CBD Provide Your Dog the Relief It Needs?

Cute dog taking CBD from an eye dropper

Is your dog anxious? Have you and your vet tried Prozac, but it just doesn’t seem to be working any longer? Does your best friend suffer from pain, seizures, skin ailments, or inflammation? CDB oil for dogs may relieve these and many other treatable problems such as depression, loss of appetite, glaucoma, and sleeplessness. Unfortunately, as with many health trends, there’s a fair bit of misinformation floating out there. And it can be challenging to determine what’s true and what’s just an overblown marketing gimmick. To better understand how CBD can best serve your dog’s needs, let’s look at what CBD is.

CBD oil has been gaining popularity and wide usage in the United States during the past few years as restrictions have lessened regarding marijuana, medical marijuana, and marijuana-derived products. Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is a popular, natural remedy obtained from the cannabis plant, typically hemp. There are over 100 compounds found in cannabis. The most known is THC, which is the molecule responsible for the feeling of euphoria obtained by smoking or ingesting the drug. CBD, however, won’t give you the sensation of being ‘high’ and is a chemical oil made by extracting CBD molecules from hemp plants.

CBD can dramatically reduce pain, promote restfulness, and provide a sense of personal wellness in people. Scientists conducting human trials have confirmed that CBD has pain-relieving attributes. Published results indicate that postoperative pain was much diminished using CBD in individuals recuperating from surgery, for example. Likewise, studies have similarly stated that CBD effectively treats sciatica, nerve pain, multiple sclerosis, and arthritis in humans.

Cannabinoid receptors in Canines and CB1 and CB2 canine diagram
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CBD works because the human body has an endocannabinoid system (ECS), a set of receptors through which CBD can bind to the brain’s receptors and block the pain from transmitting to the brain, thus giving patients relief from some debilitating illnesses. However, humans aren’t the only ones with an endocannabinoid system. An ECS is also present in dogs, meaning they can potentially benefit from CBD oil. Research obtained from small pilot studies in dogs indicates that they may get similar relief from their ailments just as readily as we do using CBD. This research is excellent news for dog owners looking for a more natural solution to their furry best friend’s suffering.

It’s important to note that as of February 2021, there hasn’t been a definitive study done on the effects of CBD in dogs, according to American Kennel Club’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Jerry Klein. However, the AKC, through its Canine Health Foundation, is conducting an in-depth study into the effects of Cannabidiol on drug-resistant epilepsy in dogs, which is likely to reveal new insights and understanding into CBD and dogs. That said, Dr. Klein says he’s received numerous anecdotal reports on the benefits of CBD in dogs from their owners and small pilot studies. If you choose to use CBD on your dog, be aware that you should always consult your vet first.

Be aware that not all CBD is equal. There are some unscrupulous vendors out there looking to make a quick buck. Don’t let your desire to help your canine friend blind you to that fact. Look for organic first to avoid pesticides, fungicides, and other unnatural solvents. These are all very bad for dogs, and you’ll want to avoid them. Such organically sourced products will often be more expensive than the other competitors, who may not have your dog’s best interest at heart, so be willing to spend accordingly for the health of your pet. Look for products made from whole-plant extracts. Get an analysis from the producer, certifying how much CBD is actually in the bottle. Many CBD products only contain a small amount of CBD. Finally, find out what the carrier oil is. Often the wrong carrier oil can harm a dog long-term. You’ll want to be sure that the carrier oil is hemp oil. 

There are, of course, several different products, some better than others. Use a maker who has an accurate method for determining dosage. Often these come in an eye-dropper form so that you can provide a consistent dose to your dog. Indeed, you could buy food or treats with CBD in them, but the best way to administer CBD is in its liquid form. Rub the CBD on the gums or drop it in sublingually. This is best because proper absorption of the CBD is impeded by the digestion of the food, as opposed to oral administration that directly enters the dog’s bloodstream. 

The liver metabolizes CBD, and the correct dosage is 1 mg/10 lbs of body weight, according to Dr. Andrew Jones. Given that all dogs react differently and that CBD isn’t FDA approved for use in pets, you will want to watch out for signs of either positive or adverse reactions. While a toxic response is low, it’s not zero, and your inexperience in administering the correct dosage could be the determining factor. So be attentive to the warning signs! You’ll want to be on the lookout for vomiting, excessive drooling, lethargy, loss of bladder control, or loss of balance. However, such reactions should be rare. If not nearly all, most will experience a calmer demeanor, running, jumping, and other typical signs of happy daily doggie activities.

You want what’s best for your dog. And your dog just wants to love you and to be your best friend forever. So, if you notice that your dog is experiencing anxiety, pain, seizures, skin ailments, or inflammation and you choose to use CBD—be aware of the health benefits and drawbacks. You owe it to your friend to talk to your vet and to research CBD. Don’t be swayed by marketing gimmicks, and be sure to understand how to source the best CBD products and how to administer them correctly. Know the warning signs and keep your eye out for further research conducted by reputable sources. The scientific consensus of CBD is still evolving.

View this article in the September 2021 issue of MP.