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CBD Oil for dogs – What are the benefits?
So people are using CBD oil for dogs now? That’s right! And, if your ears just perked up, you are not alone. Dog lovers have discovered CBD and learned that it can be a natural way to help their beloved pets live longer, healthier, happier lives. Reported benefits include helping arthritic pets regain mobility, helping anxious pets calm down, reducing pain and inflammation, improving overall health and mood as well as the health of skin and fur.
What’s behind the popularity of CBD for Pets? It may have something to do with the fact that close to 74% of humans that use CBD have pets. In many cases, humans have tried the product on themselves first. Then, realizing it has worked for them and is safe for their pets, have administered it to their dogs and cats. Zoos have even administered CBD to their elephants!
But is CBD oil for dogs safe?
According to the WHO, CBD is safe and well-tolerated by animals. However, dog parents need to be aware that CBD interacts with animal medications in the same way that it does for humans. Like grapefruit, CBD can inhibit the uptake of certain prescription medications. If you’re thinking of giving CBD to your dog, check with your veterinarian to make sure CBD won’t interfere with any medications your dog is on.
Additionally, CBD is non-toxic, non-addictive and only produces relatively mild side-effects even if consumed in very large doses. These include changes in appetite, drowsiness, diarrhea and nausea.
The other factor dog parents should consider is product quality. The CBD market isn’t well regulated yet. Some brands use cheap ingredients, or don’t contain any CBD. Some don’t use CBD isolate and may include THC—which is potentially harmful to pets as it only takes a tiny amount of THC to get them “high”. When buying new products, look for 3rd party lab tests that show whether the pet products have been made with CBD isolate or something else.
Another thing to consider are the non-medicinal ingredients. Always check to make sure there isn’t anything there your dog may be allergic to. CBD oil for dogs and tinctures are usually made with MCT oil as the carrier oil. MCT oil is refined from coconut oil. It’s generally safe for dogs, but some dogs may be allergic to it.
Read more about MCT oil and dogs on PetMD here.
What is CBD?
CBD is an abbreviation for cannabidiol, which is a cannabinoid produced by hemp and cannabis plants. THC is a cannabinoid too, but CBD is different in that it won’t get you “high.” CBD’s effects are therapeutic in nature. Cannabinoids like CBD and THC can interact with our physical systems (and those of pets) because they mimic compounds produced by our own bodies called endocannabinoids.
CBD oil for dogs? How does that work?
The way CBD is able to reduce inflammation, anxiety, immune system stress and everything else comes down to CBD’s interactions with our endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS includes a widespread web of specialized CB1 and CB2 receptors which help to regulate metabolism, memory, inflammation, immunity, sleep, stress and more. The ECS is considered a “homeostatic regulator,” whose job it is to help promote homeostasis—a state of balance in our internal systems in which our bodies function optimally. Interestingly, all vertebrates have endocannabinoid systems of their own, including dogs, cats, fish, reptiles—even amphibians!
The reason CBD works to alleviate so many ills is because, as a plant-based cannabinoid, it is very similar to the endocannabinoids produced by our own bodies. As leading endocannabinoid scientist Bradley E. Alger, (PhD, Harvard) explains, “…Endocannabinoids are literally a bridge between body and mind.” Endocannabinoids work with the ECS to affect a vast number of internal systems. This is why CBD can have therapeutic effects for so many conditions from anxiety to cancer. Like our own endocannabinoids, CBD is a cannabinoid that can interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors throughout the body and affect a great number of internal states and health conditions.
Speaking very generally, CBD usually acts as an inhibitor that dials down responses. It helps prevent the body from engaging in unhealthy overactive responses, like chronic inflammation and immune system overactivity.
Why are people using CBD oil for dogs?
Even though there isnt’ that much scientific evidence CBD works for dogs, people have begun administering CBD to their pets, so there is quite a bit of anecdotal evidence out there. Do a quick web search and you’ll find large numbers of pet parents have tried CBD for dogs and testified to its positive effects. There are quite a few reasons people are trying CBD oil for dogs, here are a few:
- Joint pain, inflammation, mobility issues
- Lack of appetite
- Separation anxiety
- Excessive barking
- Stress induced by car rides
- Seizures, muscle spasms
- To help recover from surgery or illness
- Fear of loud noises
- Chronic itching
Medical experts believe CBD can be beneficial to dogs and other pets. American Kennel Club (AKC) Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Jerry Klein, believes CBD has many healthy attributes including anti-inflammatory properties, anti-nausea effects, cardiac benefits, anti-anxiety, appetite stimulation and more. The science has yet to catch up, so evidence supporting these ideas is somewhat limited—but hopefully more useful information is revealed as current and future studies conclude.
What are the benefits of CBD oil for dogs?
Fortunately, more research is on the way. For example, a study sponsored by The AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) at Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences evaluating CBD for treating epilepsy in treatment-resistant dogs.
A 2018 study in Frontiers in Veterinary Science, showed that CBD oil made dogs with osteoarthritis more comfortable and active at home. In fact, 80 percent of the dogs in the study saw significant decrease in pain and improved mobility.
A 2019 study also showed CBD may help epileptic dogs by reducing the number of seizures they experience. The studies, despite being well-designed and peer-reviewed, were still somewhat small in scale and are considered preliminary.
Stephanie McGrath, a researcher on the AKC study has high hopes for CBD. Currently, veterinarians don’t have many tools for treating conditions like osteoarthritis and epilepsy. Many of the drugs we currently prescribe come with harsh side effects. “If CBD works, then I think it would hit the mark of being both effective and not carrying a lot of side effects,” she said. “So that’s kind of what we’re hoping for.”
What kind of CBD product should I use for my dog?
There are so many pet lovers out there, and as you’d expect, the market has responded by offering a wide variety of products. Generally, if you follow the guidelines that follow the CBD oil for dogs or cbd for pets you purchase should be safe:
- Look for allergens / bad ingredients. Make sure both the medicinal and non-medicinal ingredients are appropriate for your pet. THC is a no-no except in very small amounts. Try to make sure the treat is healthy and not filled with preservatives and low-quality carbs.
- Don’t buy the cheapest. Products of high quality cost more to produce and will generally be of higher quality than the cheap stuff. Real smoked meat is more expensive than filler for example. Unscrupulous companies will use cheap ingredients that could be contaminated with pesticides, herbicides, or heavy metals.
- Get 3rd party lab tests. The brand should be able to verify that their products have the stated amount of CBD in them and aren’t contaminated.
Now you know how to get safe, reliable products, how do we find out which kinds work best?
CBD oil for dogs
There hasn’t been too much research done, but generally what we find is that CBD administered in oil form will deliver the most CBD into the blood stream. It can be quite easy to administer by putting drops onto your puppy’s favorite treat or kibble, and some oils come with natural flavoring that increase the appeal further.
CBD treats and capsules
Research shows that this method of delivery is also quite effective, but somewhat less so than the CBD oil method. The liver and digestive tract can filter out some CBD, and the process of digestion delays the onset of effects by about an hour. However, the benefits of this method are that treats and capsules make it easy to know how much CBD you are administering. It takes longer to start working, but lasts longer overall. Don’t forget that pets love treats, good way to make sure they take their medicine!
CBD creams and topicals for pets
Generally speaking, not as much CBD makes it to receptors using this method as skin doesn’t let CBD through very easily. CBD has to be absorbed through pores. On the plus side, the skin is the organ with the most endocannabinoid receptors of all, so there are plenty there to receive the CBD that gets through. CBD does appear to help with numerous skin conditions, but it’s likely you need a stronger cream with a higher amount of CBD for it to work well.
CBD for Dogs - A few tips before you buy
Here are a few of the do’s and don’ts
Consult a veterinarian! If your pet is on any medications, your vet will want to know. CBD, much like grapefruit, can interfere with other medications. In addition, many vets are getting familiar with CBD and may have sound advice for dosage, and provide product recommendations. Due to laws in some states, some veterinarians may not be allowed to discuss CBD as a treatment. Ask for vet if they can discuss it first.
Purchase products from stores and brands you trust. There are a few sub-standard products out there. The best way to find the good ones is to check customer reviews to see if anyone has had any adverse effects, check the ingredients to make sure they are healthy for your pet, and ask for 3rd party lab tests that show the products are safe and contain the stated amount of CBD. Some brands try to sell hemp oil—which is nutrient rich but lacks CBD—as CBD oil.
Take care that your personal CBD products are stored safely and out of reach of your pets. If a dog were to find some CBD gummies, they’d be tempted to try the gummies for themselves. Sounds innocent enough, but some artificial sweeteners like Xylitol can be toxic to animals.
Give dogs human CBD treats—they may be toxic to your pets! Human foods we shouldn’t share with our pets include:
For a full list see here.
What’s the right dose of CBD for my dog?
There isn’t enough research on CBD yet. We don’t know how to prescribe CBD with the accuracy medical science demands. However, the general guidelines that follow below and in the chart on the right are safe:
Mild dose is 0.022 mg/lb. or 0.05mg/kg
Medium dose is 0.068 mg/lb. or 0.15 mg/kg
Strong dose is 0.136 mg/lb. or 0.30 mg/kg
Some of these dosages look like they could be difficult to meet out accurately. No big deal, CBD is harmless, so a little bit more or less won’t put your dog in any danger.
To start experimenting with dosage for your pet, determine the whether you think a strong, medium or mild dose is best and then multiply the numbers above by your pet’s weight.
Finding the dose that works best for your pet will entail some experimentation. Start with a low dose and increase it by 5-10% every week or so. Keep a journal and observe your pet.
Try to determine if they feel better and record everything. Are they in less pain, are they more relaxed, do they want to play more, eat more or less, wake up from sleep groggy or refreshed?.. anything you notice. If you notice something interesting or significant one week, look out for it the next week, so you can compare results. After a month or two, look back through your journal to see what period looked like it was the best for your pet, and use the dose they were on during that period consistently.
So now you know a little more about CBD, how CBD works for dogs, and about how to shop!
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