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Can My Dog Benefit From CBD?

CBD oil for dogs

For the past few years, people have become increasingly curious about the medical potential of cannabidiol, or CBD. This is especially true as the availability of CBD products has exploded with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized the sale of hemp and hemp-based products.

What is CBD good for?

Although many of its benefits are currently unproven, that hasn’t stopped people from trying this chemical found in the marijuana plant for ailments ranging from anxiety to pain, insomnia, depression and many more. People seem to be drawn to CBD not only for its medical potential, but also its lack of side effects. The Mayo Clinic notes that the side effects of CBD oil are generally fairly mild. They include effects such as reduced appetite, drowsiness, fatigue, diarrhea and dry mouth. CBD oil also can interact negatively with certain medications, like blood thinners.

CBD oil for dogs

People have become so intrigued by the promise of CBD, in fact, that curiosity has extended beyond personal use and to their pets, specifically dogs. In fact, many CBD shops and online retailers are selling CBD pet treats, often called hemp treats, as well as CBD oils and tinctures dedicated to pets.

Much like they do for their own ailments, people who are intrigued by CBD for dogs are looking to relieve their pain or other medical issues. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) says that some reasons people might turn to CBD for their dogs include stiffness, soreness, arthritis, chronic pain, anxiety and other reasons.

Anecdotally, the American Kennel Club notes that a lot of dog owners have reported to them their success with the treatment, particularly for neuropathic pain and seizures. However, just like CBD oil for humans, the jury is still out on the true effectiveness of these treatments for our furry friends. Here’s a roundup of what the research has to say about the use of CBD oil for treating dogs.

Epilepsy: While people are interested in CBD oil for their dogs for a number of reasons, one of the most intriguing possibilities is for the treatment of dogs with seizures or epilepsy, particularly seizures that seem to be resistant to other treatments. In 2017, the American Kennel Club’s Canine Health Foundation funded more research in this area to determine the true promise of CBD oil to treat seizures in dogs. Initial studies in this area have shown promise.

Arthritis: Another area of interest for dog owners when it comes to CBD is pain related to arthritis. A 2018 study looked into this topic, treating dogs with arthritis with 2 milligrams of CBD for every kilogram of body weight every 12 hours. Though the CBD oil did not appear to be more effective than placebo at reducing symptoms when the dogs were assessed by veterinarians, what was interesting about the study is that the dogs on CBD appeared more active in the eyes of their owners.

Anxiety: High-strung dogs that deal with anxiety may also be candidates for treatment with CBD oil, notes the ASPCA. As with many of these other conditions, research in this area is lacking.

Skin Conditions: Dogs with sensitive skin are another group that anecdotally appear to benefit from CBD oil. A 2012 study of dogs with a specific hypersensitivity did determine that CBD oil was able to help them with their related skin problems. Researchers of a recent review article determined that more research was also needed in the area.

Cancer: The American Kennel Club (AKC) notes that some owners have used CBD to help their dogs with cancer fight their symptoms and alleviate their pain. Here again, this is an area that currently doesn’t have a lot of research to support it.

Risks of CBD oil for dogs

While CBD oil may be beneficial for dogs with problems ranging from arthritis to epilepsy, the ASPCA notes that dog owners will also want to be aware of the risks related to giving their dogs CBD-based treats, sprays, tinctures and other products.

For the most part, CBD side effects in dogs can be somewhat similar to what humans can experience and may include drowsiness, fatigue, reduced appetite, diarrhea and dry mouth, among others. But the ASPCA notes that other, more severe symptoms have sometimes been noted in dogs, as well. These include lowered blood pressure, urinary incontinence, vomiting, ataxia and even the inability to get up.

One reason that this might occur is if dogs ingest too much CBD. Most CBD treats for dogs contains somewhere between 2.5 and 5 milligrams per treat, so if a dog ingests too much, it could lead to unfortunate side effects. This can be especially problematic if a dog were to get into a bag of CBD-based treats on his or her own.

CBD oil versus cannabis oil for dogs

One key consideration for pet owners who are interested in CBD products for their dogs is to understand the difference between CBD oil and cannabis oil. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a chemical found within the Cannabis sativa (marijuana) plant, but it does not have the intoxicating effects that usually occur from ingesting marijuana. Cannabis oil, on the other hand, typically contains high levels of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

As a dog owner, then, you can probably understand the implications of mistakenly giving your dog a cannabis oil-based product as opposed to a CBD oil-based product. The ASPCA notes that if your dog accidentally ingests a large amount of a cannabis oil-based product that you should contact your veterinarian or an animal hospital immediately, as it could cause serious symptoms in your dog.

Another thing you’ll want to keep in mind when considering CBD for your dogs is that CBD treats may not necessarily be completely free of THC. Although most CBD-based products are supposed to have very little or no THC, the reality is that CBD products are not heavily regulated. So it’s likely that CBD products may contain at least some amount of THC.

The bottom line

Considering all of these knowns and unknowns, is CBD oil the right choice for your ailing dog? It can often be difficult for dog owners to know exactly what to do. On the one hand, there’s a chance that CBD oil may be able to provide benefit to your dog that is suffering from conditions such as epilepsy, arthritis, skin conditions and more. On the other hand, many of the impacts of CBD on dogs are even less thoroughly researched than they are for humans. Plus, CBD may pose some risks for dogs that they do not in humans, such as additional side effects like urinary incontinence, vomiting and extreme lethargy.

To help you make the right choice about CBD oil for your dog, the ASPCA has some advice. Step number one, they advise, is to discuss the potential benefits and risks of CBD oil with your veterinarian. Your vet is the right person to determine if CBD might be right for your dog, and if so, what the right product and dosage should be.

This advice is especially important if your dog is already taking other medications, notes the ASPCA. CBD oil can interact negatively with a number of medications, so consultation with your vet is the best way to avoid potentially putting your dog at risk.

Article references

  1. Cannabidiol (CBD), US National Library of Medicine, 2019, https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/1439.html
  2. What are the benefits of CBD – and is it safe to use? Mayo Clinic, 2019. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/is-cbd-safe-and-effective/faq-20446700
  3. CBD, Hemp Pet Treat Dangers & Overdose Treatments, ASPCA, 2019. https://www.aspcapro.org/resource/cbd-hemp-pet-treat-dangers-overdose-treatments
  4. CBD Oil for Dogs: What You Need to Know, AKC, 2019. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/cbd-oil-dogs/
  5. CHF Announces Funding for Clinical Trial to Study Cannabidiol to Treat Drug Resistant Epilepsy in Dogs, AKC CHF, 2017.
    http://www.akcchf.org/news-events/news/clinical-trial-to-study.html
  6. CBD Treats for Dogs, Creature Companion, 2018. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Anton_Beynen/publication/327979547_Beynen_AC_2018_CBD_treats_for_dogs/links/5bb17fc092851ca9ed331f68/Beynen-AC-2018-CBD-treats-for-dogs.pdf
  7. Are There Safety Concerns About CBD Products and My Pets? ASPCA, 2019. https://www.aspca.org/news/are-there-safety-concerns-about-cbd-products-and-my-pets