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CBD Oil for Dogs: What You Need to Know

As with any pet wellness trend, when it comes to CBD oil for dogs, there’s a lot of information floating around online. Of course, you want to do what’s best for your pup, which leads to the question: What do I need to know about CBD oil?

The AKC’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Jerry Klein, explains what CBD oil is, what it does, and its safety concerns and side effects.

What Is CBD Oil?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound found in cannabis and hemp. Dr. Klein says it is essential to note that in most cases, CBD oil does not contain delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound that gives marijuana its psychoactive properties. In fact, most CBD products are derived from hemp and not from marijuana.

How Does CBD Affect Dogs?

Currently, there has been no formal study on how CBD affects dogs. What scientists do know is that cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid receptors located in the central and peripheral nervous systems, which help maintain balance in the body and keep it in a normal healthy state.

What Dog Health Problems Can CBD Oil Treat?

While there’s no definitive scientific data on using CBD to treat dogs, there’s anecdotal evidence from dog owners suggesting it can treat pain, especially neuropathic pain, as well as helping to control seizures.

According to Dr. Klein, CBD is also used because of its anti-inflammatory properties, cardiac benefits, anti-nausea effects, appetite stimulation, anti-anxiety impact, and for possible anti-cancer benefits, although there’s no conclusive data on this use.

The AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) is sponsoring a study, through the Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, that will evaluate the use of CBD in treatment-resistant epileptic dogs. The CHF hopes that this will be the first study to gain scientific data on the use of CBD in dogs with this condition.

Possible Side Effects of CBD in Dogs

While there’s no scientific data on the side effects of CBD usage for dogs, there are potential side effects based on how CBD affects humans. To minimize any potential side effects, make sure you are following the proper dosage.

  • Dry mouth: Research has shown that CBD can decrease the production of saliva. For dogs, this would manifest as an increased thirst.
  • Lowered blood pressure: High doses of CBD have been known to cause a temporary drop in blood pressure. Even though the drop is small, it might create a brief feeling of light-headedness.
  • Drowsiness: Dog owners have used CBD to treat anxiety. The calming effect of CBD can also cause slight drowsiness, especially when using higher doses.

Risks of Using CBD Oil for Dogs

The safety and risks of using CBD for dogs have not yet been researched. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved CBD and has not issued a dosing chart. Therefore, we do not know what size dosage would be toxic. Any medication or supplement carries the risk of a reaction. It is always advisable, when giving your dog something new, to start out with small amounts and then closely monitor the effects. And always check with your veterinarian first.

CBD Products on the Market

If you and your veterinarian decide that you should try CBD as a treatment for your dog, there are a few things to keep in mind when purchasing CBD oil. Not all oils are the same; you’ll want high-quality CBD oil to have a better chance of it working.

  • Look for organic. If the CBD oil is not organic, it at least should not contain pesticides, fungicides, or solvents.
  • Don’t only shop based on price. Higher quality and purity are usually associated with a higher cost. A cheaper option could contain toxic substances such as pesticides, herbicides, or heavy metals. Make sure your CBD oil is free of additives.
  • Get the analysis. The manufacturer should provide a certificate that certifies the amount of CBD that is in the product. Many CBD products contain only small amounts of CBD. You’ll also want to make sure there is little or no THC in the product.
  • Buy CBD as a liquid. You can buy dog treats containing CBD, but the best form to administer is an oil or tincture. This way, you can adjust your dog’s dose drop by drop.

The CBD Wellness Trend

Why are we hearing so much about CBD oil now? Dr. Klein points to the legalization of marijuana in many places, which has triggered interest in potential health benefits of marijuana-related products. “We are likely to see continued interest in CBD and an increase in research about its uses and efficacy in the coming years,” he says.

Learn more about the CBD study funded by the Canine Health Foundation.

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Dr. Jerry Klein gives the need-to-know information about using CBD oil to treat dogs. Learn what CBD oil is, what it does, side effects, and more.

Think your pet needs CBD oil? Ask your veterinarian first

AUSTIN, TEXAS—Just like with humans, the advertising to use CBD oil for pets is everywhere. But how do you know how much to give, or if it even works?

Respected pet brands have been doing a lot of studies and research to see what the safe dosing levels should be and whether it actually works.

Dr. Stacy Mozisek of Firehouse Animal Health Center in Austin, Texas, has been recommending CBD treats and oils for dogs and cats with mobility issues or anxiety.

For her, CBD products have been more effective for dogs with arthritis than the traditional joint supplements that have glucosamine as a beginning treatment before using a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug or a prescription medication. Omega fatty acids also can be a good first step.

She likes to get blood work done on a dog or cat before starting a CBD product to get a baseline, then test again a month or two later to make sure nothing has changed. A vet also will make sure your animal doesn’t have any condition or take any other medication that would make CBD not the right choice. Certain breeds, like toy breeds or breeds that have smushy faces like pugs, also are more sensitive to CBD products.

You should not use CBD oil products that are meant for humans on your pets. Those can have ingredients that are safe for humans but are toxic for pets, like the xylitol in chewing gum. Currently in Canada, no drugs containing cannabis are approved by Health Canada for animal use. Current Canadian laws prevent vets from prescribing the substance to animals.

Mozisek says you want to use only pet-approved CBD products because they have dosing information based on the pet’s weight, which is very important. A pet cannot tell you how it makes them feel, such as whether it makes them feel too loopy or nauseated, or how much is too much.

Look for veterinary CBD products that have had third-party clinical trials.

The product Mozisek uses most is from ElleVet, which has had many clinical trials for mobility issues in dogs. It has not had as many trials for treating behaviour such as anxiety. Those trials were put on pause because of COVID-19.

Mozisek still recommends trying a CBD product before going to something like a Prozac for dogs who are anxious about going to the groomer or in storms.

She is especially excited about CBD products for cats because cats don’t tolerate non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and there aren’t a lot of other medicines for cats with arthritis.

Instead of the CBD treats that work great for dogs, she uses an oil for cats that can go onto their food or directly into their mouth, if the cat will allow it.

Mozisek says a lot of arthritis in cats gets missed because we don’t walk them, but if you notice your cat isn’t jumping around as much that might be a sign he or she is hurting.

Still, CBD treats or oil might not be the solution a pet needs, which is why it’s important to see a vet before giving these products to pets. Sometimes doing things like helping the animal lose weight can help with arthritis better than the treats or oil would. Proper training for the pet (and the human) also could improve behaviour more effectively than CBD or medication.

If you decide that CBD is the right choice, know that these products are not cheap. It’s about $100 (U.S.) a month for the dog treats and about $100 for the oil for cats, which will last one to two months.

CBD is “not a miracle drug,” Mozisek says. You shouldn’t expect that all their anxiety will go away or the arthritis will be fixed, but she has had clients who have stopped their dog’s other arthritis treatments after using CBD treats.

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You won’t know if it will work on your pet until you field test it, she says.

Clarification – July 6, 2020: This article was edited from a previous version to make clear that currently in Canada no drugs containing cannabis are approved by Health Canada for animal use.

Respected pet brands have been doing a lot of studies and research to see what the safe dosing levels should be and whether it actually works.