By Steven Voser

How CBD affects humans has been the focus of countless animal studies, clinical trials, and literature reviews. But, how do CBD and other cannabis compounds affect dogs and other pets?

In this article, we take an in-depth look at the relationship between CBD and canines, the benefits it may have, and some simple guidelines to follow should you be interested in giving your dog CBD as a wellness supplement.

CBD for Dogs: What We Know So Far

Very little laboratory research is conducted on companion animals like cats and dogs. As such, there’s a fairly limited body of research examining how CBD and other cannabinoids specifically affect canines.

However, the fact that dogs have an endocannabinoid system means we can look to clinical trials for a better understanding of how CBD might impact our furry friends.

Like humans and most other vertebrates, dogs have an endocannabinoid system made up of endocannabinoids, receptors (both cannabinoid-specific and non-specific), and enzymes that help synthesise, transport, and metabolise cannabinoids.

Research has shown that the endocannabinoid system plays a key role in mediating a wide variety of biological processes, including appetite, mood, sleep, stress response, metabolism, and more. In fact, many researchers now believe the ECS is responsible for promoting homeostasis; a state of equilibrium in which our body performs at its best.

CBD for Dogs: What We Know So Far

Studies are exploring the role of CBD in different areas of canine health, including:

  • Appetite and metabolism
  • Mood
  • Immune response
  • Skin health

What Do Veterinarians Say About CBD for Dogs?

More veterinarians are showing support for cannabis supplements. Unfortunately, many vets cannot prescribe or promote cannabis-derived pet products for legal reasons.

In the US, for example, federal law still considers cannabis (except hemp, with a THC percentage of <0.3%) a Schedule I controlled substance. Many states, however, have opted to legalize cannabis for recreational and/or medical use, meaning many pet owners have access to cannabis products, and naturally have questions about their safety and efficacy. Unfortunately, vets may struggle to answer these questions given the complicated legal terrain, not to mention the lack of conclusive research.

Regardless, myriad pet owners use CBD to help their dogs deal with daily challenges associated with ageing, certain conditions, or environmental stressors.

Dogs and Fireworks: Can CBD Help Chill Your Canine Out?

Dogs, like humans, can get nervous and stressed, especially during thunderstorms, while travelling in the car, on walks or trips to the park, when receiving guests, on visits to the vet, and, of course, when fireworks are blasting off in the distance. Might CBD be of benefit in this regard?

We can first look to this 2011 study[1] that tested the effects of CBD in patients with social phobia. Researchers gave CBD to a healthy control group as well as a group of patients with never-before-treated social anxiety disorder (SAD) prior to a simulated public speaking test. The study was conducted in a double-blind, placebo model, meaning the CBD was tested against a placebo and the participants didn't know what they were being given.

Final results noted that patients who received CBD prior to the test exhibited reduced levels of anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort in their speech performance compared to the placebo group.

Then there’s this 2016 case report[2] that examined the effects of CBD on the symptoms of a 10-year-old girl with pediatric anxiety and insomnia due to post-traumatic stress disorder. While pharmaceutical drugs had provided her with some short-lived relief, they also caused a wide range of negative side effects. Given CBD’s non-toxic nature and minimal side effects, researchers consider it worthy of study for PTSD treatment.

Dogs and Fireworks: Can CBD Help Chill Your Canine Out?

How Else Might CBD Benefit Your Dog?

Nonetheless, many pet owners swear by CBD as a supplement to benefit their beloved furry friend.

Below, you’ll find additional ways in which CBD may affect your dog.

  • Manages Upset Stomach

Many different conditions and situations can cause dogs to feel sick or vomit. Some common causes of nausea and vomiting in dogs include:

- Ingesting irritating substances like chocolate, food scraps, etc.
- Dietary changes
- Parasites
- Gastrointestinal issues, like gastritis or bloating
- Bacterial infections
- Old age

While nausea and vomiting may seem like pretty straightforward and common symptoms, they are both actually very complex physiological processes that involve the digestive tract and nervous system, and often come accompanied by other symptoms (such as appetite loss, anxiety, impaired concentration, and pain).

In fact, there's a solid body of research which demonstrates that the endocannabinoid system is very present in managing many aspects of nausea and vomiting. This was covered at length in a detailed review published in 2014, entitled “Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system”[3]. Furthermore, a wide variety of animal studies have probed CBD and CBDA (cannabidiol’s acidic precursor found in living cannabis) for their antiemetic potential.

  • Soothes Physical Discomfort

A multitude of ailments can cause pain and inflammation in pets, including arthritis, gastrointestinal problems, traumatic injuries, surgery, allergies, stress, and much more. In fact, some researchers and medical professionals have even gone so far as to label inflammation as the underlying cause of most common diseases[4].

Cannabis has long been speculated to affect processes that mediate inflammation and pain, though research on CBD in this regard is limited. While archaeological research[5] shows that ancient civilisations in Egypt, Greece, and China (to name just a few) used cannabis for a range of holistic purposes, modern research has since established a link between the endocannabinoid system and the physical states mentioned above.

A 2017 article from the European Journal of Rheumatology, for example, boasts a detailed review of how the endocannabinoid system is involved[6] in mediating our body's response to inflammatory disease.

Furthermore, research has started to explore how stimulating the endocannabinoid system with CBD and other cannabinoids might provide benefits specific to the treatment of a wide variety of inflammatory diseases, including pancreatitis[7], neuropathic or nerve pain[8] (often caused by trauma, neurological conditions, and viral infections), diabetes[9], and even skin conditions like acne and psoriasis.

The above represents just a few of the ways in which CBD may benefit the welfare of your dog. However, there is still a lot we don’t know about CBD’s effects on the body, so there’s no guaranteeing CBD will ease specific symptoms your dog is facing.

CBD Dosage for Dogs

CBD Oil for Dogs vs CBD Treats vs CBD Topicals

CBD pet products typically come in three main forms: CBD oils, infused-treats and edibles, and topical creams, balms, or sprays. Below, we’ll take a brief look at each and why to choose one type of CBD pet product over another.

  • CBD Oil for Dogs

CBD oil for dogs comes in various formulas and concentrations. It works great as a reliable way to dose, and it’s one of the easiest types of CBD pet products to find. Although some dogs may allow you to administer the oil directly in their mouth via the included dropper bottle, most will handle it better if added to food.

  • CBD Dog Treats

Treats make it easy to administer CBD to your pet, especially if they are fussy when it comes to taking supplements or medications. Each treat features a set amount of CBD, and usually helps to mask the taste of hemp (which can be bitter and unpleasant for dogs). CBD dog treats offer a slower release of CBD into the bloodstream with longer-lasting effects—ideal for those owners with busy lifestyles.

  • CBD Topicals for Dogs

CBD topicals (such as balms, lotions, or sprays) are the perfect solution for soothing localised areas of sensitive, red, or chapped skin. They work by delivering CBD and other compounds to endocannabinoid receptors in the skin, offering comforting effects without the cannabinoid actually entering the bloodstream.

When buying CBD oil, treats, or topicals for dogs, look for products with:

- Natural and organic ingredients
- THC-free
- Clear dosage and/or potency information
- Veterinary-endorsed formula
- Natural flavours/terpene-free formulas (for better palatability)

CBD Dosage for Dogs

Properly dosing CBD for dogs depends on the animal's size and symptoms. Keep in mind that, just like humans, every dog is different, and what works for someone else’s pet might not work as well for yours.

When giving your dog CBD, always follow the dosing instructions provided by the company you’re buying from. Most brands recommend starting with roughly 0.25mg of CBD per pound of body weight, but you can start lower than that if you wish.

We recommend starting your dog off on a small dose of CBD taken 1–2 times daily for at least one week. From there, you can gradually increase your pet’s dose according to their needs until you find that sweet spot.

The concentration of CBD in your oil will determine how much CBD there is per drop. As you'll be administering by the drop, it's important to know how much your pooch is getting! CBD content is usually measured in milligrams (mg), and this is the case with oil.

  • If the oil has a CBD concentration of 2.5%, then one drop will contain 1.25mg of CBD.
  • If it is 5%, one drop will contain 2.5mg of CBD.
  • If it is 10%, one drop will contain 5mg of CBD.
CBD for dogs - Dosing Chart per day
WEIGHT (pounds) Low dose (0,1 mg / lb) Medium dose (0,25 mg / lb) Strong dose (0,5 mg / lb)
10 - 20 lb 1 - 2 mg 2,5 - 5 mg 5 - 10 mg
30 - 40 lb 3 - 4 mg 7,5 - 10 mg 15 - 20 mg
50 - 60 lb 5 - 6 mg 12,5 - 15 mg 25 - 30 mg
70 - 80 lb 7 - 8 mg 17,5 - 20 mg 35 - 40 mg
90 - 100 lb 9 - 10 mg 22,5 - 25 mg 45 - 50 mg
110 - 120 lb 11 - 12 mg 27,5 - 30 mg 55 - 60 mg
130 - 140 lb 13 - 14 mg 32,5 - 35 mg 65 - 70 mg
150 - 160 lb 15 - 16 mg 37,5 - 40 mg 75 - 80 mg
170 - 180 lb 17 - 18 mg 42,5 - 45 mg 85 - 90 mg
190 - 200 lb 19 - 20 mg 47,5 - 50 mg 95 - 100 mg

Is CBD Safe for Dogs?

CBD is generally regarded as a very safe substance, and has never caused a lethal overdose (in humans or animals). Nonetheless, it is very important to pay close attention when giving your pet CBD, as dose plays a major role in the effects your dog may experience.

  • Can CBD Cause Side Effects in Dogs?

CBD isn’t known to cause significant side effects in pets. However, drowsiness can occur, particularly when taking very large daily doses of the cannabinoid. Keep in mind, however, that many CBD pet supplements contain secondary ingredients (such as flavouring agents, emulsifiers, and more), so make sure to read the ingredients in whatever product you buy to ensure your pet isn’t allergic to any of them.

The legality of CBD pet products will vary from one country to another. In the UK and Europe, CBD products are legal as long as they are derived from hemp (cannabis varieties with less than 0.2% THC). The same goes for the US, except, as mentioned, these products have a slightly higher THC limit of 0.3%.

Sadly, many of the CBD pet products on the market today have not been approved by regulatory authorities like the FDA (US), MHRA (UK), or EMA (EU). While this does not speak to their quality, it does affect how these products can be marketed or prescribed by vets and/or doctors.

The CBD Market Is Going to the Dogs—Literally

Since dogs have an endocannabinoid system like humans, they may benefit from CBD and other cannabis compounds in many of the same ways we do. As more research emerges from this field, pet owners and vets may soon have greater access to the cannabinoid.

In the meantime, if you’re looking to give CBD to your dog, always consult your veterinarian first. We know you want the very best for your pet, so it pays to be cautious and informed.

External Resources:
  1. Cannabidiol reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-naïve social phobia patients - PubMed
  2. Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Report - PubMed
  3. Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system - PubMed
  4. Inflammation: The Root of Common Disease | Elevate Health
  5. Weekly Dose: cannabis has been used medicinally for millennia, why is legalising it taking so long?
  6. The endocannabinoid system in pain and inflammation: Its relevance to rheumatic disease
  7. Anti-inflammatory role of cannabidiol and O-1602 in cerulein-induced acute pancreatitis in mice - PubMed
  8. Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors - PubMed
  9. Cannabidiol attenuates high glucose-induced endothelial cell inflammatory response and barrier disruption - PubMed
This content is for educational purposes only. The information provided is derived from research gathered from external sources.

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