CBD for Dogs

Why is it so popular and is it safe?

November 19, 2021
3 min read

CBD is a product made from the marijuana family of plants, but it does not contain THC, which is the component of marijuana that produces a psychoactive effect. CBD has grown in popularity due to its therapeutic benefits. Some pet owners are giving CBD to their dogs to reduce anxiety, boost appetite, and alleviate pain. CBD has not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in humans or animals, so veterinarians cannot prescribe it.

What is CBD?

CBD is short for cannabidiol, a compound found in cannabis and its cousin hemp. It does not have the same mind-altering effects as the main component in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which can be very dangerous for dogs. Most CBD sold commercially is harvested from the hemp plant, where THC is found in trace amounts (<0.3%).

How does CBD get in the bottles?

CBD oil is found in hemp and cannabis flowers. In order to separate it and get it into a bottle in its concentrated form, a chemical process called extraction is used. The flowers are mixed with a solvent like water and then alcohol is introduced that dissolves the oil from the flower and pulls it out into a separate stream. The alcohol is usually removed by boiling and filtering any remaining solids to yield a pure oil. More advanced methods in extraction involve carbon dioxide at extremely high pressures and low temperatures instead of alcohol. The carbon dioxide method often has a higher yield of oil.

cbd oil and dropper next to flower
cbd oil and dropper next to flower

How is CBD used now?

Most doctors and psychiatrists who recommend CBD do so because it can have similar therapeutic properties to THC without the high. It has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, inflammation, and pain. It is being used for chronic conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, and post-traumatic stress. A drug derived from the cannabis plant, called Epidiolex, was recently approved by the FDA to help with epileptic seizures. CBD’s anticancer effects are also being studied and CBD has been recommended for dogs with cancer.

Human and dog bodies process CBD and other cannabis derivatives in the endocannabinoid system, which connects to the nervous system, the immune system, and nearly all organs. This system affects mood and brain activity. A 2018 study in California on brain cancer showed that CBD makes THC more active as an anticancer agent than THC alone, which could provide significant data for advancements in medicine with cannabis in the future.

Why would I want to give CBD to my dog?

Dogs process drugs and other compounds very similarly to humans. This is why extra-label use is legal in the United States. Since CBD has shown positive effects on humans in the past few years, some veterinarians are encouraging study into CBD use for pets suffering with chronic pain, anxiety, and inflammation.

Many dog owners have introduced CBD into their dog’s cancer treatment, as it may help with loss in appetite, loss in energy, and anxiety. It may even work as an anticancer agent. Some dog owners have seen positive effects in old dogs with arthritis and joint pain, crediting the CBD for helping them to be more mobile and energized.

Does it work?

There hasn’t been a formal published study on how CBD affects dogs, so the information we have so far is anecdotal. People use it to reduce their dog’s anxiety before fireworks or a veterinarian trip and claim it relaxes them. More data and formal studies are required before drawing conclusions on CBD efficacy.

What do veterinarians think about CBD for dogs?

CBD is becoming increasingly popular with celebrities like Martha Stewart, Mike Tyson, and Cesar Milan developing their own lines of CBD products for dogs. Some companies are even making CBD-infused treats for dogs. However, these treats have not yet been approved by the FDA, so veterinarians are not allowed to prescribe them for patients. CBD may be perfectly safe, but until the approval is complete and more trials on safety and efficacy are completed, your veterinarian cannot prescribe CBD for your dog. You can ask for an opinion, and you should, but the final decision rests with you.

CBD may help your dog with anxiety and loss of appetite.
CBD may help your dog with anxiety and loss of appetite.

Are there any side effects?

As with any substance you introduce into your dog’s body, there may be side effects. CBD has been known to sometimes cause dry mouth in dogs. A proper dosage hasn’t been determined for dogs yet because studies are ongoing. Your veterinarian should be consulted regarding dosage.

But if potency isn’t regulated, how can you know for sure what dosage your dog is getting? New CBD products are showing up everywhere, but not all CBD is created equal. Inexpensive brands that aren’t well known may not be produced in the best conditions and could have toxic chemical additives. You should always talk to your veterinarian before giving your dog something new, and when shopping for CBD, look for a company with a reputation for producing organic, high quality, pure CBD.

Current Thinking on CBD for Dogs

If you’re looking for an answer for your dog’s pain or anxiety, CBD might be for you. Check with your veterinarian before you proceed and buy a product from a reputable company.