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How does CBD affect dogs?

Before diving in, let’s first clear up one thing: Giving CBD oil to your dog is not the same as giving marijuana to your dog. CBD does not have the ability to get anyone, or any dog, high. Marijuana, on the other hand can be extremely harmful to your pets, and every precaution should be taken to ensure your furry buddy doesn’t snag that weed cookie or joint off the counter. You’d think this is obvious, but since emergency pet marijuana ingestion calls have increased by a disturbing amount in the past year, we feel that the warning needs to be reiterated.
“At certain dosages, THC can be toxic for dogs,” says Dr. Stephanie McGrath, a neurologist at Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital. “But CBD comes from the hemp plant, which has THC levels of .3 percent or under. Our findings tell us that such a small amount is absolutely safe for dogs.”

Now let’s touch on full-spectrum CBD oil. Along with a very small amount of THC, full-spectrum CBD contains other beneficial naturally occurring cannabinoids and terpenes found in the hemp plant. The majority of us human users prefer a full-spectrum CBD because for lack of a better term, it just works better. When all these compounds team up, they work synergistically to offer the body more relief. This phenomenon has been called the ‘entourage effect’, and it applies to dogs, too!

A lot of the pet CBD oil suppliers out there are selling full-spectrum CBD, but pet owners who aren’t comfortable about the trace amounts of THC can always opt for isolate-based CBD oil, which has been stripped of everything but CBD, making it a zero THC product.

In 2016, Dr. McGrath led a study on CBD for dogs with epilepsy and found that 89 percent of dogs who received CBD during the clinical trial had a reduction in the frequency of seizures. While the benefits of CBD in humans are still being researched, the FDA has officially approved the use of CBD for epilepsy and seizures with a drug called Epidiolex.

Cornell University did a study in 2018 and found that 2 mg of CBD, per kilogram of dog, twice daily can help increase comfort and ease of activity in dogs with osteoarthritis.

Medical experts do acknowledge that the CBD research has only just begun, and only a small portion of the possibilities have been clinically tested, but as of right now, there are no known adverse side effects for dogs taking CBD. If your dog is currently on other medications, it’s still smart to keep an eye on your dog to ensure that there are no adverse interactions between the CBD oil and your pup’s meds. (And of course, we recommend always speaking to your vet first.)

We’re still waiting for the official studies on dogs with anxiety or arthritis, but the pet owners who have tried it seem to swear by it in the form of success stories and customer reviews.

How much CBD should dogs have?

Bad news: There are no Health Canada-regulated dosages for dogs taking CBD.

Good news: Absolutely no adverse effects of giving a dog “too much” CBD have been found. While discussing dosage, Dr. McGrath mentioned that her epilepsy study uses higher dosages than other ongoing studies and that she saw no negative side effects from implementing this high dosage.

How effectively and the speed at which CBD is absorbed into the bloodstream is referred to as bioavailability, and the general opinion is that oral dosing is the quickest and best method for dogs, (hence why nearly every retailer sells theirs with a dropper). For animals with strict diets, or picky dogs who will notice the new smell and taste in their food, CBD oil can also be absorbed through the dog’s inner ear or the gums.

Dogs can also lick oil right from the dropper itself, or right off of your hand.