CBD for Dogs: What It Does & How It Can Help

Your guide to using CBD oil to help your dog with all sorts of conditions, from anxiety to pain management.

Published July 22, 2023
Happy dog taking CBD hemp oil

You have probably seen all the ads for CBD supplements for your pets. If it seems like they're popping up everywhere, you are not dreaming. Pet parents and veterinarians alike are exploring products that use cannabidiol (CBD) to help with various dog health conditions, everything from anxiety to arthritis. Before you jump on the bandwagon, it's important to understand what CBD does (and doesn't) do, and how it might help.

CBD Benefits for Dogs

Research has shown full-spectrum hemp extract - meaning it contains all of the compounds present in the cannabis plant - can have many benefits for our dogs, and anecdotal reports abound of owners seeing improvements in their dogs when given CBD oil. Pet parents have used CBD to address a variety of problems in their dog's health, including:

  • Pain and inflammation relief: CBD may help manage chronic pain associated with arthritis or joint issues, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Anxiety reduction: It may help to alleviate anxiety and stress in dogs, including separation anxiety or anxiety triggered by loud noises like fireworks.
  • Improved sleep: By reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation, full-spectrum CBD may improve your dog's sleep quality - though the evidence for this isn't clear yet.
  • Appetite stimulation: If your dog has a reduced appetite due to illness or side effects from medication they're taking, such as those for cancer treatment, CBD may help stimulate their appetite.
  • Nausea and vomiting reduction: CBD oil may aid in controlling nausea and vomiting, especially when these symptoms are related to treatments like chemotherapy.
  • Neuroprotective properties: CBD has shown promise in humans for protecting neurons and supporting brain health. While research is still limited in dogs, there may be similar neuroprotective benefits.
  • Immune system support: The "entourage effect" of CBD may potentially enhance the immune system, helping your dog to better fight off illness.

While CBD appears to have potential to help canines with a lot of issues, it's important to always check with your vet before you give your dog a new supplement.

Fast Fact

The United States government has a patent on CBD as a neuroprotectant and cardioprotectant. In other words, this suggets the federal government believes CBD can protect the heart and brain.

Managing Conditions in Your Dog

The amount of time it takes for you to see benefits from CBD depends on what you're using it for, but there is research available regarding specific conditions, like seizure, anxiety, and pain.

  • Seizure: Research has shown the frequency of seizures to be cut in half within 12 weeks of beginning administration.
  • Anxiety: If you provide your dog with CBD two hours prior to a stressful event, they are more likely to remain calm.
  • Pain and inflammation: Pain and inflammation take a little longer. Generally, you should begin to see effects within 4 to 6 hours after taking full-spectrum hemp extract. At Cornell University, over 80% of dogs with osteoarthritis experienced a reduction in pain over time.

"Every dog is different," said Angela Ardolino, Founder of CBD Dog Health. "What works for one dog may not work for another. So, even though a small amount works for your Cane Corso, that doesn't mean your smaller dog needs less. They may actually need more for the same effect."

Quick Tip

It's kind of like with us; some people only need a small amount of medicine to get rid of a headache, for example. Maybe 200 mg of ibuprofen would work for our friend, but we need to 400 mg.

Full-Spectrum Vs. Broad-Spectrum CBD

Full-spectrum CBD oil contains all compounds naturally occurring in the cannabis plant, including CBD, minor cannabinoids, terpenes, and trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Yes, THC is the chemical that is known for producing the "high" in marijuana, but it is only present in very small amounts in CBD products.

All of these compounds work together in what is known as the "entourage effect." The entourage effect is what some researchers believe produces many of the health benefits associated with CBD oil. Don't worry, your dog won't get the "high" associated with marijuana. The amount of THC in a full-spectrum product is very low, but it's still enough to work with the compounds to make your dog healthier.

Broad-spectrum CBD oil is slightly different. It also contains a range of cannabis plant compounds, but it has undergone a special process to remove all traces of THC. Something that's important to note here is that broad-spectrum hemp oil is more heavily processed than full-spectrum products.

Also, while broad-spectrum CBD oils contain less THC, they also contain lower amounts of the other compounds, too. Without THC and other important compounds, evidence shows the entourage effect may not occur (or, at least, it may not be as effective).

CBD Dosage for Dogs

Dosing isn't always straightforward when it comes to CBD and dogs. To start, plan to give your dog between 1 and 2 mg for every 10 pounds of their body weight. Every pup is different, and their body weight, metabolism, overall health, and a variety of other factors all impact how much they CBD they should take.

"Finding the dose that works for your dog takes some trial and error," Ardolino said. "My 60-pound doberman needed 6 milligrams to calm down, when my 9-pound Schnauzer needed 24 milligrams of a full spectrum hemp extract to calm down."

It boils down to how your dog's body reacts, Ardolino stated, and what works for one dog may not work for another.

Quick Tip

Typically, it's best to follow the dosage guidelines of the product you are using. Also, always check with your veterinarian first before giving any new supplements to your dog.

Choosing the Right CBD Product for Your Dog

There are numerous CBD products available in the market, but they're not all created equal. Here are some tips for choosing a quality CBD product for your dog:

  • Certificate of Analysis (COA): Choose a product that provides a COA. This certificate ensures the product has been tested for content accuracy and contaminants. CBD Dog Health has a Certificate of Analysis for every product to let all customers know exactly what's inside.
  • Source: Look for products made from organically grown hemp.
  • Type of CBD: Full- or broad-spectrum CBD products are preferred as they contain multiple beneficial cannabinoids and compounds from the hemp plant.
Quick Tip

Low-quality CBD products aren't likely to work due to their lack of purity and heavy level of processing. Look for companies that put effort into their product.

Can Dogs Overdose on CBD?

Research has found CBD is safe for long-term use in most cases. There are no known cases of dogs overdosing on CBD. According to Ardolino, "CBD is completely natural, but you should look for the lowest effective dose to make sure your dog's body is getting just the right amount."

The guideline to follow is "Start low and go slow." Start at a low dose to determine what works best for your individual dog. Don't worry if this takes some time. Some dog lovers find the right dose within a few days, whereas others take a few weeks to get the dose right.

Canine licking cannabis dropper for anxiety treatmen

What About Side Effects?

Although there aren't many side effects from this supplement, as your dog's body becomes accustomed to CBD oil, you may notice a bout of diarrhea. Ardolino said she's never had a case where a dog had diarrhea from taking it, but in the event that your dog does, she recommends Dr. Harvey's Runs B Done, Diagel, or pumpkin.

Quick Tip

Place the tincture on your dog's gums, with food, Ardolino stated, to make sure it's absorbed quickly. This will help reduce the risk of your dog getting diarrhea.

How Long Can Dogs Use CBD?

Unlike NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, full-spectrum hemp extract can be used for your dog's lifetime. If you give your dog NSAIDs for long periods of time, it can be devastating to their body.

On the other hand, if you provide them with full-spectrum hemp extract, it will ensure their body stays in a constant state of balance. In simple terms, your dog's body is more likely to remain healthy while being provided with full-spectrum hemp oil.

Research Is Ongoing

Although there is a decent amount of research out there regarding CBD, it's an ongoing process to determine what other benefits this plant has to offer. Scientists believe we have just scratched the surface. The health benefits for our dogs, and us, can be more extensive than what we know right now.

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CBD for Dogs: What It Does & How It Can Help