The Ultimate Guide to CBD for Dogs

In recent years, the presence of CBD products for humans and dogs alike has been on the rise. If you have noticed any of these items on store shelves or advertised online, you may have found yourself wondering what exactly CBD is, if it is safe to give your dog, and what benefits it can have. You are not alone! A lot of dog owners are unclear about what CBD can do for their dogs and how it should be handled due to the bureaucracy that can surround available information.

Fortunately, Canna-Pet® has a lot of experience with CBD products and are here to break it all down for you in a comprehensive guide. When you are done you should have a deep understanding of what CBD is, the benefits of CBD and like products for your dog, and how to use them.

What is CBD?

CBD, more formally known as cannabidiol, can be derived from either hemp (i.e. a well known fabric-like material) or cannabis, commonly recognized as a recreational drug. It can come in numerous forms from pills and oils to specialty treats making it quite easy to purchase. Most importantly, however, is the distinction between CBD and THC, also known as tetrahydrocannabinol. THC is the chemical compound which gives users the high effect most often associated with cannabis. CBD, on the other hand, does not produce this effect which is good as dogs are extremely sensitive to THC.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation available on the internet about the effectiveness and uses of CBD products for your dog. Though marijuana is a schedule 1 drug under federal law, CBD supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, leaving a lot of consumers questioning exactly what is in the product, how it was made, and whether it actually does what it claims. This is why it is incredibly important to understand the products and research the company you choose to purchase from.

Like many CBD products on the market, Canna-Pet® use industrial hemp to make our products. This is a legal substance which provides all the benefits of CBD while eliminating the risk of trace amounts of THC.

Is CBD Safe for Dogs?

The short answer is yes, CBD is safe for dogs in moderation. While THC can be toxic to canines, dogs tend to have a similar reaction to CBD as to what humans experience. This is because CBD interacts with the body through what is referred to as the endocannabinoid system, a series of neurons that run throughout the body, and have receptors for cannabinoids that the enter the body to bind to. However, humans are not the only species known to have this endocannabinoid system in place. Many species have been shown in research to have these receptors with one of the more popular researched species being dogs.

As mentioned previously, accurate research and information on this topic is limited on the internet. Unfortunately, CBD’s vague legal standing makes it difficult to conduct clinical studies, according to The Cannabist, though many veterinarians have been lobbying for access to marijuana and hemp in order to conduct research that would better understand the effects of pet CBD. Few have only recently received some funding to do so.

Fortunately, in states where cannabis has been legalized for recreational use, such as Colorado, clinical studies and research are beginning to pop up. Colorado State University’s Dr. Stephanie McGrath has taken on studying CBD’s effect on dogs, specifically as it relates to dogs with seizures. According to McGrath, early data from the study has been “promising.” Furthermore, Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine conducted a survey in 2016 of Canna-Pet® hemp products and their perceived effectiveness by owners. The results show that the majority of owners saw improvement in their dog’s various conditions or symptoms.

The Benefits of CBD for Dogs

Although the supposed benefits of CBD have not all been proven with concrete research, for reasons previously discussed, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence available on the topic. Because a lot of the effects of CBD can be watered down with hearsay, the list of benefits is quite extensive but below is a list of seven benefits which will apply to the majority of possible conditions that can be treated with CBD (more on that later).

1. Painkiller

In 1997, a study published in the European Journal of Pharmacology surfaced evidence that the endocannabinoid system was involved in the management of pain throughout the human body. This research, and other similar studies, contributed to the rise of medical marijuana and CBD in human medicine. As a result, CBD is well-known for its painkilling properties today and can help manage pain in a variety of way. Studies have also shown that CBD can temporarily halt the absorption of anandamide, a chemical which helps weaken pain signals in the brain and reduce pain sensations. Thankfully, because dogs have a similar endocannabinoid system in their bodies, CBD has similar painkilling effects for them as well.

2. Anti-Inflammatory

Closely associated with CBD’s painkilling abilities are the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD which are believed to be one of the main reasons the compound is so effective in treating a wide variety of conditions. These effects are believed to be linked to CBD’s ability to interact with receptors in immune cells, known as CB2 receptors. By activating these receptors, CBD is able to evoke a variety of immune responses, like reduced inflammation. Conditions such as arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome are characterized by chronic inflammation which in some cases is the result of a malfunctioning immune system attacking healthy cells. By lowering inflammation, CBD helps to reduce the pain and other symptoms of such conditions.

3. Anticonvulsant

As mentioned previously, recent research is showing promising results in CBD’s ability to help control or prevent seizures, tremors, tics, and spasms in dogs. Veterinary research is likely a response to the knowledge that CBD is a natural anticonvulsant as proven by the numerous studies on the human body that followed the 2013 medical case of Charlotte Figi. Figi made headlines across the globe when her care team found that she could manage her 300 weekly epileptic seizures by using a tincture made from CBD rich cannabis. Further studies have found that both CBD and THC can help manage the spasms associated with multiple sclerosis as well as the tics and tremors caused by Tourette’s Syndrome and even Parkinson’s Disease.

However, despite extensive research that CBD helps these symptoms, there is little understanding as to why this works as an anticonvulsant. Seizures and the like are generally understood to be the result of the rapid and uncontrolled firing of neurons in the brain. Preliminary research suggests the CBD might be effective in calming these neurons to restore order and allow them to fire normally, preventing the onset of a seizure.

4. Reduces Stress & Anxiety

Many dog owners fail to realize how detrimental stress and anxiety can be to their pet’s health. Much like humans, our canine friends can suffer from these emotions which elicit physical reactions in their bodies. In humans, anxiety and stress might cause us to bite our nails, pace around, or become a little shaky. While in dogs anxiety can cause similar repetitive behavior it manifests in different ways, such as:

  • Persistent or excessive barking
  • Obsessive chewing of furniture, shoes, rubbish, etc
  • Urinating and defecating, usually inside the house or crate
  • Increased aggression
  • Tremors

Some common forms of anxiety affecting dogs include separation anxiety, noise anxiety, travel anxiety, and even specific phobias. CBD has been shown to help reduce feelings of anxiety and thereby reduce these symptoms. How it does so, however, isn’t completely clear.

It is theorized that CBD functions in a similar way to typical anxiety medications which target a specific type of serotonin receptor in the body known as 5-HT1A. By targeting these receptors, anti-anxiety medications help temporarily increase serotonin levels in the brain. This boost leads to improvements in mood and helps reduce feelings of anxiety or fear.

5. Antiemetic

Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms which can be the result of a specific condition or a secondary reaction to treatments or medications such as chemotherapy. Both in humans and dogs, these symptoms often lead to a decreased appetite, rapid weight loss, dehydration, and fatigue which puts overall health at risk. While there are plenty of antiemetic medications on the market for dogs, such as acepromazine, chlorpromazine, and aminopentamide, these drugs, can cause a wide variety of side effects, including:

  • Hypotension
  • Strong sedation
  • Lowered seizure thresholds for animals with epilepsy
  • Excessive drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Diarrhea

Fortunately, there is a strong body of evidence indicating that CBD is a successful antiemetic, controlling both nausea and vomiting while also stimulating appetite. Research suggests that CBD may stimulate 5-HT1A receptors, the same which help to reduce anxiety, as well as CB1 cannabinoid receptors in the brain the compounded effects of which help to reduce feelings of nausea and suppress the subsequent vomiting reflex. Some studies even suggest that CBD may be a more effective antiemetic than some modern medications without any of the traditional side effects.

6. Slow Tumor Growth

Unfortunately, cancer and malicious tumors are becoming all too common in dogs and, in many cases, prove to be fatal. There is no known cure for cancer so treatment usually focuses on slowing the growth of tumors while reducing pain and other symptoms. Currently, the most common treatment for canine cancer and tumors is chemotherapy. However, as in humans, the side effects of chemotherapy can be extremely unpleasant and even debilitating, including:

  • Tiredness, fatigue, and lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

A growing body of research indicated that that cannabinoids like CBD may reduce these side effects of treatment. 

7. Promotes Homeostasis

Homeostasis is the body’s drive to remain in balance and ensures all biological systems function to the best of their ability. New research suggests that the endocannabinoid system may play a key role in maintaining this balance, as it is involved in such a variety of processes. It is believed that as a result, stimulating the endocannabinoid system with cannabinoids like CBD can help promote homeostasis in the body. This contributes to the decision of many pet owners to use CBD not only as a medicine to treat a specific illness but also as a regular supplement to promote the overall health and wellbeing of their pet.

Side Effects of CBD

The most notable side effect that has been observed in dogs and other household pets is drowsiness. Some owners have shared that they see a decrease in their pet’s energy and awareness after taking CBD supplements. However, as with most things, the way your dog reacts to CBD products may vary and be unique to him. While drowsiness is not a dangerous side effect, it is important to monitor your dog’s behavior whenever they have taken CBD but especially after the first few doses.

Generally speaking, CBD is a safe and natural treatment alternative to modern medicines which produces limited side effects. It can also help your dog relax and be more balanced. Regardless of how you intend to use CBD, it is best to consult a holistic vet, especially if your dog is taking other supplements or medications, before proceeding with CBD treatment.

Conditions Treated by CBD

As you can see from the variety of benefits and effects that CBD can have for your dog, there are a number of specific conditions that CBD products may help with. In reality, CBD likely does not treat the primary condition but can help reduce the effects or symptoms of other treatments or the condition itself. Let me clear, CBD will not cure any condition your pet may have. For example, as previously discussed, CBD can help treat the tremors associated with Parkinson’s Disease but, unfortunately, cannot treat or cure the underlying disease. Below is an extensive, though not complete, list of conditions which can be impacted by CBD:

  • Anxiety (including separation, noise, or travel-induced as well as phobias)
  • Allergies
  • Atopic Dermatitis
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Post-Surgical Pain & Recovery
  • Epilepsy
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Tourette’s Syndrome
  • Arthritis
  • Chronic Pain/Nerve-Related Pain
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MLS)
  • Acute Pancreatitis
  • Cancer

CBD Products: What You Need to Know

When it comes to any supplement for your pet, quality matters. With the increasing popularity of CBD for dogs, a number of products have hit the shelves that may not be healthy or safe for your pet. In order to ensure you are purchasing the best possible product, look for these elements:

  • Organic  Look for products which are organic and free from pesticides or other additives which could be harmful to your dog. All of Canna-Pet®’s products are organic, plant-based, non-GMO nutritional products that you can feed your pet with total confidence and peace of mind.
  • Independent Lab Results  Make sure whatever company you decide to purchase products from is back by veterinarian recommendation or has published lab results that verify their effectiveness and/or ingredients.
  • Pay Attention to Price  As with most things, you get what you pay for with CBD products. If a product seems unbelievably cheap compared to other products, you might not get the safest or most effective product. Lower cost usually means lower quality when it comes to these products.
  • Read the FAQs  A reputable company should have a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section on their website. Make sure you utilize this resource and carefully read the information published there. If the company has nothing to hide, they will have lots of answers posted there and resources to contact them with further questions.

Because these products are not regulated by the FDA, it is important to know the warning signs of a potential problem. Low quality, or even falsified products, may contain ingredients that are harmful to your pet. You know your pet best so take note of unusual behavior. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately: dry mouth or increased water intake, tremors, low blood pressure, muscle weakness, dizziness or disorientation, and extreme drowsiness or fatigue. These symptoms could indicate a serious problem such as overdose or poisoning which is why you should always consult with a veterinarian before giving your dog any supplements.

Types of CBD Products & Supplements

As you continue to do research, you will find that there are a number of products available on the market. Aside from keeping in mind the above qualifications for a reliable and trustworthy product, you should also be aware of the different types of CBD available in order to make a more informed decision.

CBD Oil & Tinctures  By far one of the most popular products available for human and canine consumption alike, CBD oil can come in a few different forms. CBD Isolate, like it sounds, is pure CBD with no additives or extra ingredients. Some prefer this type of oil because they want to limit the possibility of additional side effects. Oils may be slightly more difficult to administer to your pet as they frequently have to be placed directly into your pet’s mouth. Full-spectrum CBD oil is sometimes preferred for dogs due to its entourage effect. These oils have other ingredients which can enhance the CBD’s effect on anxiety, pain, and other problems. Similar to, and technically a subcategory of, oil are tinctures. These solutions are usually sold in a dropper bottle as a liquid which contains a small amount of hemp infusion and can be used as an additive to foods or drinks. This is probably the most effective solution for dogs as you can easily control the dosage and simply add it to their food or water for consumption. Tinctures, unlike oils, are specifically designed for oral consumption.

CBD Capsules  If you prefer, you can also obtain CBD in a capsule form which you can then orally administer to your dog. You could choose to place the capsule in a pill pocket or food to have your dog consume, or open the capsule and pour the powdered substance over his food. These supplements come down to a personal preference and are not usually any better or worse than a tincture.

CBD Treats  Finally, you may choose to purchase chewable CBD dog treats or biscuits for your dog that contain CBD. Depending on the brand you choose to purchase, these products may be less effective than other options but they can be a good choice if you have a particularly picky dog. Just be sure to pay close attention to the ingredients and dosage listed on the packaging.

CBD Dosage Basics

The dosage of CBD you give to your dog will depend on the type of product you are administering as well as the weight of your pup. All Canna-Pet® products have dosage instructions explicitly listed on the packaging, but here is a review.

Canna-Pet® Advanced MaxCBD Liquid

A 10ml container contains 300 drops of CBD oil. Pets under 20 pounds should start with a dose of 2-3 drops, 3-4 times per day while pets over 20 pounds can consume a dose of 3-4 drops, 3-4 times per day.

Canna-Pet® Advanced Capsules

The Advanced Small capsules are for those dogs under 20 pounds. They should be given one capsule with food no more than two times per day. Similarly, the Advanced Large capsules should be administered with the same dosage and frequency, but given to dogs over 20 pounds in weight.

Canna-Pet® Treats

Canna-Pet® has two lines of treats, Advanced and Max, with the later having a stronger dosage of CBD contained within the treats. The recommended serving size depends on the formula and size of your pet:

  • Advanced
    • under 20lbs (9kg): 1 biscuit every 12 hours
    • 21-44lbs (9.5-20kg): 2 biscuits every 12 hours
    • 45-95lbs (20-43kg): 3 biscuits, every 12 hours
    • over 95lbs (43kg): 4 biscuits every 12 hours
  • Max
    • under 20lbs (9kg): ½-1 biscuit every 12 hours
    • 21-95lbs (9.5-43kg): 1-2 biscuits every 12 hours
    • over 95lbs (43kg): 2-3 biscuits every 12 hours

Regardless of the product you choose, you can expect Canna-Pet® to start having an effect on your pet within 45 minutes. If you do not see results after a few days, let us know what you are seeing so we can provide further guidance on product selection.

Choosing to give your pet CBD can be a complicated and confusing decision. However, with the guidance of a qualified holistic veterinarian and selection of high-quality products you can implement CBD seamlessly into your dog’s daily routine and, hopefully, begin seeing results soon.

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