This content was reviewed by veterinarian Dr. Elizabeth Racine, DVM.
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Perhaps you’ve heard about CBD oil, an all-natural treatment that’s trending big-time for humans — and now for pets as well. Can your dog benefit from CBD oil or treats? Here’s everything you need to know about CBD for dogs.
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Cannabidiol (CBD) is extracted from the flowers and buds of cannabis (marijuana or hemp plants). CBD, however, doesn’t produce the “high” associated with marijuana because it doesn’t contain the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
For further clarification, hemp and marijuana both come from the cannabis plant but contain different levels of THC. Marijuana can contain as much as 30% THC, while the hemp plant has a max of only 0.3% THC. So, while marijuana-derived CBD oil is still illegal in most states, hemp-derived oil is legal in all 50 U.S. states.
Many people think CBD oil and hemp oil are essentially the same, but they’re not.
CBD is an active cannabinoid compound that comes from the leaves, flowers, and sometimes stems from mature cannabis plants. It’s this compound that provides the medical and therapeutic benefits you get from CBD oil.
In contrast, hemp oils are made from cannabis seeds, which contain little to no CBD (or THC, for that matter). While hemp seeds don’t share the same therapeutic characteristics as CBD, hemp oils have their own unique nutritional benefits. Many pet owners use hemp oil as a nutritional supplement because it’s vitamin and mineral-rich.
Human use of CBD oil is growing in popularity, but can you give CBD oil to dogs? Is it safe for our canine friends and other pets? Many vets have started recommending CBD oil for dogs, even as veterinary scientific research into this new treatment is in its infancy.
One small study from Colorado State University found that healthy dogs overall tolerated CBD well, with reports of some mild diarrhea and slightly elevated serum ALP (liver enzyme) levels. Researchers say that more extensive studies are necessary to determine any long-term effects of CBD on dogs’ livers but found no immediate threat of liver toxicity.
Many studies in humans show that cannabinoids have anti-inflammatory effects and can help with anxiety, aggression, pain, seizures, muscle spasms, and neurological disorders.
There’s also a ton of anecdotal evidence from pet parents on online forums, social media, and other channels about the benefits they’ve seen in their dogs from CBD use. It’s also important to note that we haven’t seen any reports of major side effects or negative health concerns from pet parents (or veterinarians, for that matter) using CBD oils or treats.
Expert’s Take On If CBD Is Safe For Dogs
Dr. Erin Chu, a veterinary geneticist at Embark Veterinary, studied veterinary medicine and weighs in on her thoughts on CBD’s side effects and safety.
“CBD is not for every pet. Side effects potentially due to CBD treatment have been reported (McGrath et al, 2018). Further, CBD might be just one part of a comprehensive care plan that you build with your veterinarian! Talk with your veterinarian about all the possible options to manage your pet’s ailment, be it chronic pain, behavioral issues, or other. And give your vet some time to do their research! CBD is as new to pet health as it is to humans, and we as a profession are still learning (albeit very quickly!).”
Like humans, dogs and cats have an endocannabinoid system that allows them to benefit from CBD oil. This system allows the active ingredients in hemp to help relieve many symptoms. Learn more about the canine endocannabinoid system.
CBD drops for dogs, or CBD dog treats can ease several conditions your pup may suffer from, either occasionally or chronically, including:
- Anxiety and stress
- Moderate to severe pain
- Chronic inflammation
- Arthritis & joint pain
- Digestion problems (also see information about dog probiotics and tips to cure a dog’s upset stomach)
- Symptoms from cancer
Some dog owners report it also can help treat epileptic seizures but scientific studies are still underway to confirm this benefit. We recommend talking to your vet before starting treatment for this or any other of the claimed benefits to make sure CBD is safe for your pup.
Several research studies are currently underway to study the efficacy of CBD in treating different conditions in dogs. Watch this Denver news coverage to learn more about one study being conducted at Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
Since CBD oil for pets isn’t yet regulated, there are some vital factors to consider when searching for the most effective and safe products, according to Dogs Naturally.
- Is it organic? High-quality CBD oils are made from organically-grown hemp that is free of toxins.
- How is it processed? Safe methods include carbon dioxide and cold press extraction. Some companies, however, use cheap methods and potentially toxic solvents, like propane, hexane, and butane, to extract THC from the plant.
- Is it independently tested? Look for companies that independently test their products and provide a certificate of analysis (COA). Testing can include microbiology, pesticide, mycotoxin, residual solvent, heavy metals, and more.
- What’s the THC level? Check every product for its THC potency. Some products contain higher levels of THC, which could be harmful to your pet. Look for products with less than 0.3% THC. All of the products we recommend are derived from hemp and, thus, should always fall below this level.
There are a lot of CBD products on the market for pets, so we weeded through them all to find the highest quality CBD products for your pup. Be sure to read our reviews of the best CBD oil for dogs and the best CBD treats, which include extensive pros and cons, ingredients, pricing, and more. If you have questions about how much CBD to give, check out our dosage guide.Tagged With: CBD, Reviewed By Dr. Racine, DVM