If your pooch hasn't been feeling themselves lately you may have considered trying CBD oil. But can you use CBD oil for dogs? And will it work? The benefits of CBD oil for dogs, what is the dosage & which one should you buy? We discuss the best CBD oil for dogs, is it safe & legal in the UK?
CBD Oil For Dogs: Can Dogs Take It Safely And Will It Work?
CBD, aka Cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid compound found in hemp.
Most people have heard of hemp but do not realise that hemp is cannabis!
The official name of hemp is Cannabis Sativa and it’s an amazing plant.
We can make clothes and rope from it. In hempcrete, we can use it as an environmentally friendly form of concrete, and it is used in the car industry to make inner panels for car doors.
It provides us with highly nutritious oil we can drink or add to cooking and delicious, protein-packed seeds, makes finer paper than that made from wood pulp, absorbs more CO2 faster than trees with a new crop being planted every 12 weeks, and cleans our soil and air of pollution!
It truly is an astounding plant that humanity should be harnessing for the good of us all.
Of course, at the moment and for a long time to come all the talk is of CBD and the other cannabinoids in hemp, such as CBG, which have interesting and very positive effects on our body.
CBD influences our endocannabinoid system (ECS) which is important for homeostasis, which is the mechanism used by our body to maintain healthy function no matter what we are doing or what our external environment is demanding from us.
An example of this is that it would make us sweat to keep us cool when it is hot, or it can increase our blood pressure when we stand up from sitting so that blood will still get to our brain. The ECS balances our healthy functions and CBD appears to encourage this balancing process to work effectively.
Is It Safe To Give CBD Oil To Dogs?
There is very little research around the use of cannabis and dogs and much of it that does exist focuses on the potentially toxic effects of using “full cannabis” with dogs.
By “full cannabis” I mean the type that contains THC at levels that make it psychoactive. In other words, the kind of cannabis that gets humans high.
There is some concern that this form of cannabis may be harmful to dogs and there were two incidences of dogs eating baked goods containing cannabis and butter that caused two deaths in dogs in Colorado.
It was also reported that as cannabis use grew in Colorado so did a similar pattern of reports of dogs having eaten cannabis which had toxic effects.
For this reason, I would not advise anyone to give their dog full cannabis extracts that contain high levels of THC.
Unfortunately, information is lacking, but is becoming more readily available as more research is done.
We do know that dogs appear to have more ECS receptors in their brain and nervous system than humans do. Are there implications for this? Probably but we do need more research to gain a greater understanding of what this might mean.
The receptors in the ECS are called CB1 and CB2 and they are present in various places in dogs, much as they are in humans.
These receptors are influenced by, and interact with, CBD and the other cannabinoids like CBG that we ingest when we use a full spectrum plant extract.
CB1 receptors are found in dogs in their digestive system, their lungs, muscles, reproductive system, vascular system and brain.
CB2 receptors are found in a dog’s skin, spleen (which is important for the immune system to function effectively), lungs, bones and even in glial cells.
Glial cells are in the nervous system and are very important in the effective function of homeostasis.
We also find CB1 and CB2 receptors together in bone marrow, the liver, pancreas, gall bladder and brain stem.
Given that there is such a widespread occurrence of these receptors throughout both a dog’s and human’s body what can we infer from this?
Firstly this can be where people think CBD products are too good to be true because they appear to help so many people with all manner of problems.
I’m pleased to say that it is not too good to be true, but that is only the case if you buy a high-quality product.
Secondly, it certainly points to the simple fact that using CBD may have a widespread effect on many areas of both our and our dog’s wellbeing.
We also know that CBD does not appear to have the toxic effects that may occur when using THC, but I have seen evidence that suggests animals can be very sensitive to CBD meaning any recommended CBD dosage is likely to be lower than advised for humans.
Because there is so little research we cannot be certain what is happening and whilst the anecdotal evidence from people who have used CBD to help their dogs appears to be very positive and exciting I would urge caution, especially when starting out.
Because dogs have so many receptors they are likely to be very sensitive to cannabinoids so please start them on a low dose and see how they do.
It is easy enough to increase the dose if you think nothing is happening.
There is also no harm in talking to your vet about this though do be aware that, much like many GPs, unless they have a particular interest in cannabis and CBD it is unlikely they have much knowledge because their training has never really touched upon cannabis or the ECS.
In fact, you may well be better informed than them!
That being said I have heard of some vets being very positive and actively encouraging people to give CBD a go for their pets.
Is It Legal To Use CBD Oil For Dogs?
The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) considers CBD to be a medicine.
They do this because it fulfils the following criteria in the Veterinary Medicines Regulations:
“any substance or combination of substances that may be used in, or administered to, animals with a view either to restoring, correcting or modifying physiological functions by exerting a pharmacological, immunological or metabolic action or to making a medical diagnosis.”
I find this interesting because the above definition could be applied to eating food.
Eating the right or wrong balance of foods most definitely modifies our physiological function and this can be applied to animals too.
Therefore, food is your medicine and be sure you are giving both you and your dog good medicine.
Sadly most people feed their dogs the equivalent of a pot noodle all the time. Highly processed dried foods that come labelled with nonsense such as ‘scientific’ to make them appear better than they actually are, or tins of trashy mush that haven’t seen a real piece of meat or whole food in a long process of removing all the goodness but adding in profit.
Please give your dog real food, not processed rubbish.
For humans, CBD is currently classed as a food supplement in the UK, which seems reasonable because hemp/cannabis has been consumed by humans as a food for millennia.
As usual in the world of cannabis, we have to read between the lines to see what is going on and the above VMR definition by the regulators is simply being used to force CBD away from being an option for animals.
The vets want you to buy their pharmaceutical drugs with their potential side effects and, more often than not, suppressant actions on a body’s normal attempts to create a healthy response to a problem.
A simple example of this is the use of anti-inflammatory medication when your dog has an injury with no acknowledgement that inflammation is an acute healing response designed to fix the injury.
I do not wish to do a disservice to the many caring vets out there who have a genuine interest in natural healing and health in general. Still, I’m afraid that the current law and definition of CBD are designed to protect profits.
By classifying CBD for animals as medicine it means there is an extremely expensive process required to get a medical license and currently there are no such licensed CBD products in the UK.
And any CBD product you come across that is labelled for pets or for animals is actually breaking the law at the moment.
Vets are allowed to prescribe legal ‘human’ CBD as part of their protocols but they consider administering unauthorised CBD an offence under the Veterinary Medicines Regulations.
In practice, you can speak with your vet and they may be interested in trying CBD with your dog. Theoretically, if you do not have your vet’s permission you could be prosecuted for giving your dog CBD.
I have yet to hear of this actually happening but it is possible so please do your best to get your vet working with you.
However, you are free to give anything you want to your dog, so above all else, you should educate yourself on cannabinoids, CBD and how they react with animals, particularly dogs.
This is especially true if your dog is already taking some form of prescribed medication.
What Conditions Can CBD Oil Treat In Dogs?
Many humans use CBD because they are looking for relief from pain and this is the same for dogs.
Anecdotally there are lots of reports of dogs being given CBD and suddenly becoming more like ‘their old selves’.
I’ve even heard it reported that an old dog came back into season after using CBD for a couple of months!
There are also research papers about CBD’s potential for treating cancer. It appears to have anti-cancer properties but it is important to note that the vast majority of this research has taken place in labs rather than in real people or dogs so much more work has to be done in this area before conclusions can be drawn.
Fortunately, for most dogs most of the time CBD has a good safety profile so is a low-risk option that may be worth trying for all manner of problems.
We know that a dog has more receptors for cannabinoids than humans so they may respond even better than humans do when taking CBD.
What Dose Of CBD Should I Give To My Dog?
A dose of 0.1 to 2mg per kilo twice a day appears to be the suggested amount, so if your dog weighs 10kg you will give it between 1 and 20mgs of CBD twice a day.
I would suggest you start with a lower dose and work upwards which is different to what I recommend for humans.
For a human dose, I generally suggest people start with a lower to middle strength dose because if you start too low and nothing happens there is a temptation to think that CBD does not work for you, when it may simply be that you need to take a little more to start with.
This also has the added benefit of giving you three directions to go in when you see changes – stay on the same dose, increase it or lower it.
However, because your dog cannot tell you how it is feeling, I would urge great caution.
Start low and slowly increase so you can keep a close eye on how it is responding. This process is also safer if you have got your vet’s consent too because you then have the safety net of an expert to help if you feel there is a problem.
At CBD One we tell you exactly how many mg of CBD are in each drop of our CBD oils so it is pretty easy to work out how much to give your dog.
IMPORTANTLY, FOR MOST DOGS MOST OF THE TIME CBD HAS A GOOD SAFETY PROFILE SO IS A LOW-RISK OPTION THAT A VET MAY DECIDE IS WORTH TRYING IN A VARIETY OF CIRCUMSTANCES.
Does CBD Interact With My Dog’s Medication?
The short answer is yes – CBD may well interact with your dog’s medication so please check this with your vet.
Information is difficult to come by but CBD appears to inhibit the action of an enzyme called cytochrome p450. This enzyme helps to remove medication from your body via the liver so if it is not working effectively there is a theoretical risk of an overdose.
In humans, it is easy to spot if CBD interacts with medication via what I call the grapefruit juice rule.
In summary, if your medication says words to the effect of “Do not drink grapefruit juice when on this medication” you can lift out the words grapefruit juice and replace them with ‘CBD’ so the rule would be “Do not drink CBD when on this medication.”
For obvious reasons we do not tend to see dogs being given grapefruit juice so you need to look carefully at the medication leaflet that comes from your vet, or better still, just ask your vet.
Whilst cases of overdose via this route are almost unheard of it can happen and can be fatal which is another reason to try to get your dog’s health professional on board if you are going to try CBD.
How To Use CBD Oil For Dogs
Administering CBD to your dog is no different to that for humans with a minor tweak.
Firstly, you are unlikely to get your dog to hold the CBD oil under its tongue for a couple of minutes which is what we have to do.
So this means using the oil will be relatively inefficient. That being said I have seen some amazing reports from customers who have given their dogs oil, so whilst it may be inefficient it does not mean it will not work. I suspect this is because dogs are so sensitive to CBD that even a small amount will help them.
We now do a wonderful new product called Hatcha which is milled cannabis and comes in a powdered form. This product is like taking a bite out of the whole plant. You can sprinkle this on your dog’s food. Half a teaspoon is plenty. Start with one dose a day and monitor progress before increasing to two or three times a day.
The fastest and most bioavailable (how much of a substance you absorb when you take it) product to use is any of our water-soluble products which can be put straight in their mouth with no worry about them having to keep it under their tongue.
The Absorb range can also be added to their drinking water so that they get a steady release of CBD across the day as they drink from their water bowl.
In summary, CBD may well be a very useful supplement for your dog but follow this basic set of rules:
CBD Oil for Dogs
You may have heard of CBD oil. It is natures little gift – an all natural substance with many benefits from pain management to anxiety relief. Not only that but side effects are few. You can buy CBD in dropper bottles, food, drinks and even in beauty products. But did you know that CBD oil can also be used for dogs.
What is CBD oil?
Cannabidiol (aka CBD) is from the cannabis plant. But don’t worry, we aren’t advocating getting you or your dog high. The psychoactive ingredient of cannabis (THC) has been removed or largely removed from CBD so you get only the health benefits. The CBD will then be suspended in a carrier oil like coconut oil, hence CBD oil.
Is CBD legal?
Yes, in fact you are probably already seeing it in numerous products. As long as the CBD contains a very low percentage of the psychoactive ingredient THC, it is legal. CBD with a higher percentage of THC may be used medically but is prescription only.
What are the benefits of CBD oil for dogs?
The benefits are similar to those of humans. Anecdotal evidence suggests it can help with pain and seizure control in dogs. Some reports have even discussed its benefits when it comes to certain skin conditions, if used topically.
Can CBD oil help my dog?
There are so many health products that some people swear by and others say don’t work for them. Many factors can be at play so sometimes it is a case of try it and see.
If you are wondering about actual studies, as far as I know, none have been done on dogs so far. Success stories are anecdotal only. However, the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation is planning a study into the Efficacy of Cannabidiol (CBD) for the Treatment of Canine Epilepsy.
Is CBD safe for dogs?
Humans may experience minor side effects like diarrhea or tiredness if they are taking too much CBD or simply not tolerating it well. Dogs would be very similar so it is best to start with a very low dose and increase from there if necessary.
Look out for signs in your dog such as panting, tiredness, a runny bottom, licking or over drinking, dry mouth, loss of balance, vomiting, or any change in behaviour other than the positive change you were after.
Remember, it is important to start with a tiny amount (a drop or two) and go from there. At the moment there is no official CBD dosage information for dogs but we will discuss that later.
CBD can also interact with medications, so check with your vet first if your dog is taking anything else.
Does my dog need a special type of CBD?
Take care when buying CBD products for dogs or humans. Many contain substances other than just CBD so you need to know exactly what you are giving your dog. Generally it is safer to buy a product made especially for dogs but in the case of CBD there are no regulated pet products as yet, so do your research and don’t worry if the one you choose is technically for humans, with some exceptions that we will discuss.
Buy organic if you can so it doesn’t contain added nasties like pesticides etc.. and buy a brand that comes with a clear analysis of the ingredients and the amount of CBD and THC in their particular product. Don’t go cheap on these. For a purer product of high quality, you will pay a higher price. If it is cheap and looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Also take care where the product was made. Different countries may have different rules about the substances allowed into their CBD products. Research a reputable brand that is transparent about what it contains. Whether you are purchasing for you or your pet, the manufacturer should be able to provide a Certificate of Analysis showing the exact analysis of the contents, the percentage of CBD and THC plus any contaminants.
It is more important to know exactly what you are buying with CBD products, rather than worrying about whether it is made especially for dogs. at this time anyway. And for dogs, definitely go for a zero THC product. Don’t forget that the UK human CBD is allowed to contain a small amount of THC, which you definitely don’t want to give to your dog. Cannabis has a toxicity rating for dogs, cats and horses.
If you were purchasing for yourself it would be a human food-grade products so make sure it is the same for your dog’s CBD oil.
With no current regulation, you need to do your research.
How long does it take to work?
It takes about 30 minutes for ingested CBD to get into the system but don’t expect immediate results for every condition. For a dog with fireworks fear you should know in 30 minutes if it helped them or not. But for something like pain management, give it a good 1-2 week trial, assuming no adverse reactions.
Dosage of CBD for dogs
As mentioned, CBD products are not yet regulated for dogs so there is no dosage information. Do we have anything to go by? Yes, but use this as a very rough guide only. A 2018 study of dogs with osteoarthritis administered 2mg of CBD oil per kg of dog weight. That seems a lot so I will say again – start very low.
By the way, they reported decreased pain in the dogs who were treated CBD rather than the placebo. You can find the study here Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs.
It is best to buy CBD oil rather than purchasing it in treats or food. That way you can be in charge of the dosage, drop by drop. As mentioned, start low (very low, like 1-2 drops) and observe. Each dog will respond differently and your dog can’t tell you how they are feeling so keep a proper eye on your dog. If you decide to give another drop to increase the dose, wait at least 6 hours. A dose lasts anywhere from 6-12 hours.
How do I give CBD oil to my dog?
You will only be giving your dog a drop or so, which can easily be added to their food, popped into a treat or dropped directly into their mouth. If their tongue or food contaminates the dropper, wash thoroughly so the product in the bottle is not contaminated next time you use it.
Can I buy hemp oil instead?
This is an easy one. You can but it is not the same thing and won’t give your dog any benefits other than maybe the oil it is suspended in. So don’t be fooled. Check that the product you are buying is CBD not hemp. They are from different parts of the plant and are not the same.
A quick online search just proved my point rather well. A product on page 1 of the search results was for CBD Oil for Dogs with “Hemp Oil” written in small letters underneath. It also contains some THC, which we consider a no-no for animals. So shop wisely.
Can my vet tell me more?
You can ask but the chances are they won’t. Why? At the time of writing, CBD products are unregulated and there are none that have been officially authorised in the UK for use with animals. There is no harm in asking though, just don’t be surprised or put off if they don’t discuss it at length. At the very least you could get advice on medication interactions, if your dog is taking other meds.
Which is the best CBD oil for dogs?
I am going to leave that one for you to research. This article has given you a lot of things to check for. If you research by reading online “best CBD oil” blogs, just be careful. Check if the writer of the article gains from a sale and therefore has an ulterior motive for their “recommendation”. A number of online news sites also have these kinds of “best of” lists for CBD which you might think are unbiased but don’t forget, papers sell advertising space. That’s all I am saying.
You’ve done all your research, purchased the best of the bunch and now you need to keep it at its best. Store at room temperature in a dark cupboard or similar to slow degradation of the oil and active ingredients.
Regarding shelf life, they all vary depending on how they were made, so read the product label. Rancid oil won’t do much harm other than smell, taste and look funky, but if the CBD itself has expired and lost its potency then your dog won’t get the benefits.
Over to you
And that my friends is everything. Hopefully that has helped. If you have any comments or have tried CBD on your dog, do comment below.