Updated Aug 26, 2022
CBD And Your Dog
CBD is a popular and trending topic. It's everywhere. And it's also somewhat confusing to get to the bottom of, because there are many terms and acronyms and much of the information available assumes you have some prior knowledge.
So, without further ado, let's try to de-mystify the topic, and understand what a responsible dog owner needs to know.
Each of the following bite-sized pieces of information has been written to be simple and easy to understand. Together, they build into the essential guide to CBD for you and your dog.
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(1) Why is CBD For Dogs Such A Big Deal?
For many, many years, cannabis has been known and used for medicinal purposes. In fact, 4 presidents of the United States have been associated with growing hemp.
In the first half of the 20th century, laws were passed which progressively regulated, and finally banned marijuana.
But the medicinal benefits of cannabis obviously did not change.
And, with the recent legalization of hemp production and selling, we can again use these products to genuine advantage.
And the good news for a pet owner is, our dogs (and other pets) can also enjoy many of the same benefits, according to recent studies and growing testimonial evidence.
There are a few different types of CBD product. We will see below that CBD hemp oil is the most effective in terms of getting into your dog's system. But there are other ways to administer dog CBD — dog treats are also an obvious option.
You might choose a CBD dog treat, or CBD chews for convenience and quick application. This would be a good choice for calming your dog before a visit to the vet or groomer — a quick situational remedy.
(2) What Is CBD?
CBD is an abbreviation of cannabidiol. It is a chemical compound found in marijuana and hemp. CBD is just one of many such compounds, which are known as cannabinoids.
CBD should not be confused with the other well-known compound found in marijuana, which is THC.
(3) What is THC?
THC is an abbreviation of tetrahydrocannabinol. THC is the chemical compound in marijuana which causes the pyschological effects — feeling euphoric, fuzzy-headed and generally 'high'.
CBD, by comparison, is not psychoactive. CBD actually blocks the psychoactive effects of THC.
(4) CBD And THC
It can be confusing because the terms marijuana, cannabis and hemp are often mentioned together without any real distinction. And CBD and THC can be associated with all three terms.
Let's try to provide some clarity....
Hemp and marijuana are two species of the Cannabis plant.
CBD can come from any cannabis plant, either hemp or marijuana. But hemp has a much higher percentage of CBD, and a very low percentage of THC.
In fact THC is almost non-existent in hemp, at 0.1% to 0.3%.
Marijuana, on the other hand, has a much higher percentage of THC.
Important to note for our purposes: THC is toxic for dogs.
(5) Is CBD Legal?
Hemp is legal in all 50 states of the USA, since the 2018 Farm Bill.
So, at a Federal level, CBD derived from legal hemp is also legal.
However, some individual states have not kept up with the times. You should check the situation for the state you live in, or any state you travel to.
Legal hemp must contain 0.3 percent THC or less. Therefore CBD must also contain 0.3% THC, or less, in order to be legal.
(6) The Three Forms Of CBD
There are three types of CBD:
Full-spectrum CBD has all the cannabinoids from the cannabis plant. Including THC. But bear in mind that the hemp plant contains a minute proportion of THC, so CBD extracted from hemp will also have a very small amount of THC.
Broad-spectrum CBD has multiple cannabinoids from the cannabis plant. But this is not a negative. Many other cannabinoids have been found to be beneficial, in addition to CBD. There is a term 'Entourage effect' for the heightened benefit that may occur from taking multiple cannabinoids.
Isolate CBD contains CBD only, as the name implies.
(7) Will My Dog Get High?
No. But it's a very important question because THC, which is the compound that causes 'highs' is actually toxic to dogs.
But, even with Broad-Spectrum CBD, which may contain minute quantities of THC, there is not enough to cause any reaction.
(8) Has CBD For Dogs Been Tested?
There are two aspects of testing, that you should consider — Clinical trials and third-party lab testing.
Clinical Trials Of CBD
Clinical trials relate to a class of product — such as CBD. They establish facts about the subject of the trial, such as whether or not is effective, whether it is safe, etc. (See next section below).
A trial at Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences showed CBD was effective for dogs with epilepsy. The dogs who received treatment with CBD oil showed an 89% reduction in frequency of seizures.
Clinical trials have also produced a very good outcome in dogs treated for Osteoarthritis. (See: CBD For Dogs Joint Pain below)
Third-Party Lab Testing
This is about quality assurance for a manufacturer's individual product. The manufacturer will have its own in-house quality control testing. But there is no way for you to know how rigorous that testing is, or how accurate the results.
This is where third-party testing comes in. Third-party testing, undertaken on a regular basis, demonstrates that a manufacturer's claims are true (or not), as certified by an independent test lab.
This is one of the deal-breaker points you should satisfy in selecting a CBD supplier. A good supplier should clearly provide evidence that its products are regularly tested by a third-party lab.
Why is third-party testing so highly recommended? Because CBD is not regulated by the FDA. This means that a product may differ from what was advertised.
(9) Is CBD Safe?
CBD is considered to be very safe. The FDA has approved two CBD-based drugs for treatment of epilepsy.
A trial at Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences showed that CBD is safe and well-tolerated in dogs. (It also showed that CBD is most efficiently delivered in the form of oral oil).
A report published by the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health found CBD to have very few, if any side effects
(10) What CBD Can Do For Your Dog
We mentioned earlier the potential benefits of CBD for dogs. Now that we have clarified the big questions above, let's return to what CBD can do for your dog.
A large and growing amount of testimonial evidence and a smaller amount of scientific research backs up the effectiveness of cannabis in helping with a number of conditions. From pain and anxiety to nausea and sleep disturbances, and even anorexia. From epilepsy as noted above to osteoarthritis as mentioned below. From allergies to digestive issues and even for cancer.
(11) CBD For Dogs And Joint Pain
CBD has been proven to be very effective in reducing joint pain in dogs.
Dr. Joseph Wakshlag, an associate professor of clinical nutrition at Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine, tested CBD oil produced by ElleVet as a treatment for dogs with osteoarthritis. He reported excellent results.
Wakshlag said that the research showed "a significant decrease in pain and increase in activity" with no observable side effects. He added "...When the patients were on industrial-hemp oil with enriched CBD in it, the dogs did remarkably better. The older and more decrepit they were, the more pronounced the improvement."
The overall experience of the test caused him to say that CBD will "change the face of pain management probably for years to come."
(12) CBD For Dogs And Separation Anxiety
It's widely known that cannabis can induce a feeling of calm and well-being in humans. It's not entirely surprising, them, that CBD can have the same effect on your dog.
This can be especially helpful for dogs suffering from separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety is a distressing condition — both for the dog and the owner who comes home to shredded clothes, shoes, or furniture. These things, along with various other destructive behavior, can be symptoms of separation anxiety.
Other signs can include:
Many dog owners are reporting good results from giving a daily dose of CBD to help their beloved dogs remain calm and enjoy a better life.
CBD can also be helpful for anxiety brought on by other causes, such as fireworks, thunder, strange people or foreign circumstances.
A number of studies have shown the CBD has a similar calming effect to that of many prescription medicines. The Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research undertook a study which found that "the anxiolytic and antipsychotic properties of CBD stand out. CBD’s anxiolytic effects are apparently similar to those of approved drugs to treat anxiety."
(13) CBD For Dogs With Aggression
Having seen above the potential soothing and calming effect of CBD, it's also an obvious helping hand to consider, if your dog is exhibiting aggressive behavior.
Training is necessary for all dogs, but will become particularly important for an aggressive dog. This will form the main thrust of addressing aggressive behavior.
Nevertheless, an appropriate regular dose of CBD has the potential to improve things all round, and make for an easier life — for both you and your dog.
(14) CBD For Dogs With Itchy Skin Or Allergies
It's obvious when you dog is suffering from itching. He will scratch, bite, or chew at his skin. You may notice irritated skin, or hotspots, where he has chewed and licked the skin to relieve the itch.
This may be just a passing thing, or he may be suffering from allergies or dermatitis. Allergy may also result in red or irritated eyes, or red, inflamed ears.
The anti-infammatory properties of CBD can provide relief in all these cases.
It can also promote improved calmness and good sleep patterns that will help with healing.
Unlike anti-itch medications, which can contain harsh chemicals. CBD can deliver these benefits in a natural and gentle way.
(15) CBD For Dogs And Grooming
CBD has growing support from professional groomers and salons as a way to make life easier — and safer.
Many people take their dogs to a groomer or salon because they can't face doing the job themselves. If your dog reacts badly to grooming, it makes the job a bit of a nightmare.
You've probably seen funny videos on Youtube of dogs' reactions to being taken to the vet or groomer. Some of them are hilarious, but there is an underlying issue which is not so funny. Your dog may be resisting grooming because he is frightened.
In much the same way that humans can benefit from a mild sedative before some nerve-wracking or uncomfortable medical procedure, your dog can benefit from the soothing and calming effects of CBD.
Given that it is safe and has no side effects, you can view it as doing a favor for the dog that you love. Helping him out, in the same way you would expect your medical people to help you.
(16) CBD For Dogs And Nail Trimming
Nail trimming might be considered part of grooming. But for those of us who think of it as an unwelcome regular chore, CBD can again be a lifesaver. Either when taking our dog to a groomer or vet to have nails trimmed, or gritting our teeth and doing the job ourselves.
And it's not just ourselves we should be thinking about. If your dog is showing reluctance to having his nails trimmed (sometimes extreme reluctance), it means he is suffering stress.
It's easy for us to tell ourselves that we know it's not going to hurt or harm our dog — but the dog doesn't know that. That's why he is agitated and fearful.
Now that we know CBD can have a beneficial calming effect, it is something we should seriously consider for these times that stress our dog.
(17) CBD For Dogs With Dementia
Dementia falls under the term Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD), which is also known as 'dogzeimers' or 'sundowners'.
Dementia may seem like something which cannot be treated. And it's true that we are not going to cure our dogs of this awful condition.
But you may not have thought of the anxiety and depression your dog may be suffering from being disoriented. Not only has CBD been proven to help with neurological issues including depression and anxiety, it can also help prevent dementia from setting in to begin with.
In terms of treatment, CBD has great potential. In conjunction with the natural calming and soothing we have mentioned above, CBD increases dopamine release. Prolonging dopamine release is also the basis of the prescription drug Anipryl, which is prescribed for canine cognitive dysfunction.
(18) CBD For Dogs With Upset Stomach
The first and obvious course of action when your dog has an upset stomach is to stop giving him more food.
In this situation, we pause for half a day and see if the situation improves. After that, we work our way back to normal by giving our dogs some very bland food, in small amounts. Chicken and rice has always worked well for us.
But, on top of that, CBD can be very helpful for your dog, for both nausea and upset stomachs.
Many dog owners would rather give their beloved dogs natural holistic treatments, rather than strong antibiotics. CBD fits right in here, and has shown to be effective for pain relief and as a muscle relaxant.
(19) CBD For Dogs And End Of Life
We touched on one of the main issues for senior dogs, in the section in dementia above. But there is more to consider as your beloved friend enters his sunset years.
In addition to the awful anxiety caused by neurological issues, there are also physical issues to think of.
We know from he research above that CBD is helpful for your dog for joint pain and general pain relief. But something we may not realize is that as sight and hearing become impaired by old age, a dog's natural instinct for self-protection is compromised.
A dog can thus feel very isolated, unprotected and unsafe.
Naturally, this leads to fear, anxiety and stress. All of which we know can be helped by CBD.
you can perhaps make your dog's final years more comfortable by making use of the many benefits of CBD, both physical and psychological.
(20) CBD For Dogs And Car Sickness
Car sickness in dogs is an unpleasant issue to deal with, for all concerned. It may result in nausea and vomiting and, in extreme case, loss of bowel control. It's important not to feed your dog right before you take a car trip.
Treatments and remedies fall into two camps — medication, either prescription or over-the-counter, and natural remedies.
Prescription remedies you would, of course, have to discuss with your vet.
The two main OTC options are Benadryl and Dramamine. Both are for humans but may be safely used for dogs. Both are antihistamines. These may be given every 8 hours.
Lavender can be beneficial, but you must be sure that your dog does not ingest it. Aromatherapy is a safe application for dogs. It's not as complicated as it sounds. it just involves getting the scent of lavender into the air in your car so that your dog can inhale it. Putting lavender oil on a cotton wool ball in your car a few minutes before travelling is an easy method. Be sure to dispose of the cotton wool safely before your dog gets in the car.
Bach Flower Remedies are another option. We rescued a dog which had been living out in the wild for an unknown time. She was amazingly quick to adapt to living with us indoors. We never had to teach her anything, she just fit right in, and quickly understood what she needed to do to adapt. The example of our other dogs was no doubt a big factor in how she was able to do this.
But one area where she couldn't fix things herself, was anxiety. And particularly car anxiety. That and going up and down stairs. When it came to going in the car, she would shiver and shake and drool, and her tail would go between her legs. She was obviously very scared.
Bach Flower Rescue Remedy was a tremendous help. We gave her this over a period of 2 or 3 months, and saw results very quickly.
She eventually calmed down and became comfortable with everything. It's very easy to administer. We put a few drops in her food. You can also put a few drops on pads or ears so that they can be absorbed or licked off. Drops can also be added to water. You don't have to worry about over-dosing.
CBD for dogs was not available at the time, or we would undoubtedly have wanted to try it. We know now that CBD can help in two major ways — it can relax the dog and reduce anxiety, and it can also help to reduce nausea.
(21) CBD For Dogs And Appetite
If your dog is not eating well, or even not eating at all, CBD can help. A report from the National Cancer Institute shows that CBD increases appetite.
We also saw above that it helps with nausea, which may be a contributing factor in your dog's reluctance to eat.
All around, CBD is a good choice for getting your dog to eat well.
(22) CBD For Dogs And Cancer
It seems too much to ask that CBD could help with cancer. After all, medical science does not have a cure, or even a very good success rate for treatment.
However, there is research on CBD, both as a relief for symptoms, and in terms of its potential to shrink tumors.
The potential for CBD in shrinking tumors is confirmed in the study published here:
CBD has been found to fight tumors in human breast cancer, lung cancer and colon cancer, amongst several others.
In terms of relieving symptoms, we have already covered many of those properties above. They include pain relief, anti nausea properties, improved sleep and appetite stimulation.
Humans and dogs alike have a system of cannabinoid receptors known as the endocannabinoid system.
Research has shown that that the endocannabinoid system is closely linked to the immune system. This is how CBD can have a positive effect on some significant health issues.
Examples would be how CBD can help with inflammation, and also help healthy gut function which is also related to a healthy immune system.
With all the positive potential, and the fact that the trial at Colorado State University showed CBD to be safe and well-tolerated in dogs, it would seem to be an obvious choice to both help with cancer symptoms and potentially tumor shrinkage, too.
(23) CBD For Dogs And Barking
The reasons behind excessive barking fall broadly into two camps. Either your dog wants something — he wants attention, he wants to to go out, he wants to play etc. Or, he is fearful, or worried, anxious or stressed.
If your dog wants something, or feels playful, then clearly CBD is not going to help — and neither is anything else. This kind of barking is also typically short-lived and not too much of a problem.
What is a problem is continual excessive barking. This is much more likely to fall into the other, anxiety-based camp.
And this is where CBD can help. We know now that CBD can help with anxiety.
In simple terms, the endocannabinoid system we just mentioned above tries to stabilize the body when there are other destabilizing factors present. In other words when something in worrying or bothering your dog the endocannabinoid system will work to bring calm.
We have seen that CBD has an amazing range of potential benefits. There is much to be done in the field of testing, but there is already research and testing to back up many of CBD's benefits.
There is also a large and growing body of testimonial evidence from owners who have come forward with results for their pets.
Whilst it would not be realistic to expect CBD to be a miracle cure, it does seem that there is a very large potential upside with no apparent or observed downside.
Given that a safety study undertaken at Colorado State University showed such positive results, it seems that CBD is a good choice to help you and your dog in a variety of ways.
Gamble LJ, Boesch JM, Frye CW, et al.
Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs
Enhancing the Therapeutic Efficacy of Cancer Treatment With Cannabinoidsote sources
Alhouayek, Masquelier, & Muccioli, 2014
Cannabinoids and the immune system: An overview
Cannabis and Cannabinoids (PDQ®)–Health Professional Version
Rambam Maimonides Med J. 2013 Oct
The Endocannabinoid System, Cannabinoids, and Pain