The use of CBD oil for dogs, otherwise known as cannabidiol oil, has become a hot button topic lately as the legalization of marijuana has taken hold. As more and more people become aware of the medicinal benefits of cannabis products in humans, it's only natural that pet owners would seek those same benefits for their dogs. As a result, the AKC has begun sponsoring studies1 to determine the safety and effectiveness of this particular treatment.
So what exactly is CBD oil? It is a compound found in cannabis that can be used to treat a number of physical and psychological symptoms. Because most CBD products are derived from hemp and not marijuana, they don't contain delta-9-tetrahydrocannibiol (THC), the substance that is responsible for the psychoactive properties of marijuana.
What CBD does do is help to ease a number of troubling symptoms of various illnesses, which is why it is being looked at so closely as a possible treatment for dogs.
Photos: Sabrina Senk / stock.adobe.com, EpicStockMedia / stock.adobe.com
CBD oil (cannabidiol oil) could prove to be beneficial to the health and well-being of your dog.
At this time there is no scientific proof of the therapeutic benefits of CBD oil for dogs, however there is quite a bit of anecdotal evidence that suggests it can be successfully used to treat both seizures and neuropathic pain.
It also has a number of other beneficial properties, including fighting inflammation, improving cardiac health, easing nausea, stimulating the appetite, lessening anxiety symptoms, and possibly even fighting cancer.
Let's back up a bit and take a look at the different kinds of CBD oil. There is a lot of misinformation and confusion about where CBD oil comes from and which is best for medicinal purposes. There are many varieties of these plants with many different uses. Additionally, different parts of the plant are used for different things.
Industrial hemp can be used for all kinds of products like paper, rope, and textiles which are made from the fiber in the stalks. The seeds are pressed to provide cooking oil and can be used in the manufacture of plastics, cosmetics, bio-fuel, and many other products. This type of hemp has been cultivated for this purpose and contains very low levels of THC (the psycoactive cannabinoid) and CBD relative to cannabis sativa grown for medicinal or recreational use.
So, one of the primary things one needs to know is the source of the CBD oil. Is it hemp CBD oil or cannabis CBD oil? These are completely different sources for CBD oil—made from different plants, using different parts of the plant, using different extraction processes.
Hemp oil is pressed from seeds and has a very low CBD and THC levels. Even if you wanted to use other parts of the plant, hemp only has 3–5% CBD. That means you'd need a lot of plant material which has been grown on questionable quality soil exposing you or your dog to the pesticides and toxins in that soil. This is because regulations for growing industrial hemp are far less stringent than for licenced growers of cannabis for medicinal purposes.
You don't want hemp oil for medicinal purposes for you or your dog.
Ideally, you want cannabis CBD oil from licenced growers under known soil conditions if you are looking for any health benefits. While hemp oil contains little, if any, CBD or THC, cannabis oil contains 18–20% CBD and includes THC.
Why would I want THC at all... won't that just get my dog high? While you don't want the very high levels of THC found in recreational products, there is reason to want some THC in medicinal products. While further study is needed, there is a hypothesis that CBD and THC as well as other components found in the cannabis plant, like terpinoids, work synergistically and provide greater medicinal benefits than when used separately. This is known as the "entourage effect"2.
It remains to be seen if CBD oil for dogs is best with or without THC and at what levels.
sumnersgraphicsinc / stock.adobe.com
Unfortunately, unscrupulous marketers and lax labeling requirements don't make it easy for consumers to make informed decisions about the quality and efficacy of what they give themselves, let alone their pets. Don't be misled by terms like "organic", "non-GMO", and "natural". You may be getting a product that is little better than a homeopathic remedy whose only benefit is from the placebo effect while doing nothing to help your dog.
In fact, some companies will proclaim bad things about their product as if they are virtues! Like "cold pressed from 100% organic hemp seeds, and completely THC free". All of those are red flags to avoid this product! But, instead of trying to hide those facts, clever marketers simply loudly proclaim them as if they were selling points and thereby deceive uninformed consumers into thinking they are helping their pets—who often do have serious medical issues for which real CBD oil might help. Instead, they are sold snake oil. And no one wants to buy snake oil—even if it is 100% organic, non-GMO, cold pressed, and made in the USA.
The real give-away is that many don't even claim to have CBD as an ingredient, no doubt due to legal constraints. Currently, consumers are faced with a bewildering array of products of highly questionable value.
Usually, I like to find great products that I'd be happy to recommend to family and friends and then let you know about them here. Unfortunately, I haven't yet found a brand of CBD oil for dogs that I'm comfortable recommending. If that changes I'll update this page and post a link to it here.
At the time of this writing, the AKC Canine Health Foundation is sponsoring a study1 to determine the usefulness of CBD oil in treating epileptic dogs that don't respond well to any other form of treatment. The hope is that this study will provide the first real scientific proof of the effectiveness of CBD oil for dogs, opening the door for further use of this powerful natural treatment option.
Though there is little scientific backing for the use of CBD oil for dogs, veterinarians are aware of several potential side effects including dry mouth, drowsiness and a temporary drop in blood pressure. While none of these effects are severe, they can still be a cause for concern and should be taken into consideration before administering CBD oil to your dog.
Since the safety of using CBD oil has not been proven, the FDA has not yet approved it and as such there is no recommended dosage chart in place.
Veterinarians suggest being very cautious when administering CBD oil to your dog, starting with a small amount and increasing gradually while being on the lookout for potential side effects. While there are some treats on the market that contain CBD, it can be more difficult to monitor the dosage that way, so it is recommended that you use a tincture instead.
All manufacturers should provide a certificate clearly indicating the exact amount of CBD in their product so that you can determine the proper dosage. And remember, a higher price usually indicates a better quality product so don't try to save money by going with the cheaper brand.
Whether you've got a lap dog or a working Australian Shepherd, maintaining your dog's health is important. If you want a gentler, natural alternative to prescription medications then it may be worth your while to look into CBD oil for dogs.
Talk to your vet about the possibility of using CBD and remember to proceed carefully so that your dog can safely get the help he needs.
1. AKC Canine Health Foundation: Efficacy of Cannabidiol (CBD) for the Treatment of Canine Epilepsy
Consumer Reports: Farm Bill Sets the Stage for Legal CBD Across the Country
Have Dog Training Questions?
Check out these introductory dog training videos...