Dogs, like people, are affected by a wide range of ailments and diseases that sometimes require special care. Many human conditions like arthritis pain, anxiety, and rabies, may also affect dogs. The thing is that while people have many treatment options available to them, dogs are not as fortunate.
However, there is a natural supplement that promises to level the playing field – CBD.
CBD is obtained from the cannabis plant. It is one of the over 100 cannabinoids that exist naturally in cannabis. It may not be as famous as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) because it's non-psychoactive, but its range of health benefits could easily outmatch THC's.
Research on CBD's health-impacting properties is still ongoing, but so far, existing findings suggest this cannabinoid could be the real deal. But could it be so good as to be used in dogs?
Let's find out!
Why use CBD oil for dogs?
CBD has increasingly gained traction as a potential way to manage symptoms associated with conditions like pain, inflammation, and anxiety.
Even though regulatory agencies haven't officially approved CBD use in pets, clinical experiments suggest pets stand to gain more.
Here are some reasons why you can use CBD oil for dogs.
CBD benefits for dogs
For joint problems
Like people, dogs develop joint pain that may be reduced with CBD. Joint pain in dogs could be caused by tendon injuries, overuse, or wearing out of cartilage due to old age. In most cases, the veterinarian will prescribe NSAIDs to reduce the pain.
However, these medications often have adverse side effects like liver injury and may further deteriorate tissues and joints. A drug like gabapentin can cause kidney damage besides not being quite effective.
But with CBD, the story changes drastically. Perhaps the most endearing quality of CBD is it has almost no side effects and is highly effective. It taps into the body's natural healing processes by activating the endocannabinoid system. Once activated, the endocannabinoid system stimulates your immune system to reduce pain and inflammation.
CBD is also believed to promote the production of more endocannabinoids. These are cannabinoids produced by the body. More cannabinoids translate into more binding between the CB receptors and the cannabinoids. The effect is a significant reduction in pain and inflammation.
For epilepsy and seizures
Isn't it eye-opening how dogs and humans share similar problems? Well, it turns out that about 5% of dogs have seizures. Obviously, this is as terrifying for dogs as for people.
Veterinarians often prescribe antiepileptic medication for seizures and epilepsy. But as with many synthetic drugs, they can cause serious side effects, mainly to the liver and kidneys. Moreover, you also have to contend that sometimes these medicines may not work.
So, scientists at Colorado University investigated the effect of CBD on dogs with seizures. 89% of dogs on CBD therapy recorded reduced seizures.
CBD's potential ability to reduce the severity and frequency of seizures is attributed to its interaction with the endocannabinoid system.
Even though it has a weak affinity for CBD receptors, it's believed that CBD may bind with other yet-to-be-known receptors to activate various physiological processes. In the case of seizures, researchers contend CBD may improve nervous system functioning.
Dogs easily get worked up. It could be because of a stranger (animal or human), loud noises, abandonment, or fear. Regardless of the cause, anxiety in dogs is quite common.
Most people use CBD to get relief from symptoms related with anxiety, pain, and even depression. They report, anecdotally, that CBD works quite well. Indeed, human studies indicate that CBD is quite effective in managing insomnia caused by PTSD.
However, opinion is still divided on whether CBD can directly reduce anxiety in dogs. For the most part, people argue that by reducing inflammation and pain, CBD indirectly minimizes the anxiety caused by the pain and discomfort.
A 2012 animal study showed that rats exposed to cats had less anxiety after repeated CBD doses. The same effect was not evident in rats given a single dose.
It's unclear how CBD fights off anxiety and stress, but researchers think it could be related to its influence on serotonin activity. Serotonin is one of the "feel-good" hormones that regulate vital bodily processes like sleep, social behavior, digestion, and mood.
There's still some skepticism regarding CBD's ability to cure anxiety, especially in dogs. So, more research is required to determine whether CBD can be used in place of effective medications.
This is probably the area where most CBD studies are concentrated. A growing body of CBD research shows it may effectively reduce pain with minimal side effects.
Most of these studies have been conducted in humans and show that a CBD-THC combination is usually more effective than either CBD or THC alone. Of course, such a combination would not be given to dogs due to how they react to THC.
In humans, CBD's interaction with the endocannabinoid system alters pain perception. It's not clear whether a similar mechanism happens in dogs. Research findings show that CBD can offer substantial pain relief in dogs when given twice daily.
Dog allergies are on the rise, and sadly, they are quite stubborn to manage. Dogs are often euthanized when they start developing allergies. It also happens that skin conditions are behind most dog visits to the veterinarian.
Because the endocannabinoid system traverses the entire body, its receptors are found in the skin. CBD has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can help with some skin conditions like itchiness.
Topical CBD may be ideal for dog skin conditions, but you can also use oral CBD for a more holistic treatment. For best results, combine both types of CBD.
How does CBD affect dogs?
Unlike THC, which can cause serious side effects in dogs, including death, CBD's safety profile is quite good. The worst documented side effects of CBD in animals are diarrhea and changes in enzymatic action after weeks of use.
Be that as it may, a major worry with CBD is that it may hinder the production of cytochrome P450 – a chemical that metabolizes drugs in the body. This implies that CBD could potentially affect the action of a drug whose effectiveness depends on its metabolized version.
It's also argued that CBD could cause certain substances to build up in the body. Therefore, it could be a problem with medications whose safety is dependent on being released from the body within a given time.
All in all, CBD's ability to affect your dog comes down to its engagement with the endocannabinoid system. All mammals have an endocannabinoid system whose actions are determined by the binding action of cannabinoids with receptors.
CBD is a cannabinoid— a phytocannabinoid, to be exact—hence its ability to affect the endocannabinoid system and bring about wide-ranging changes in the body.
Is CBD safe for pets?
CBD research is in its infancy, so little is known about its much-touted health benefits.
However, a growing body of studies has yielded insights that show much promise, especially on CBD's pain and inflammation-relieving properties. It's also being studied for its ability to combat symptoms associated with anxiety, insomnia, an even skin conditions.
Here are some arguments for and against CBD use in pets.
- A majority of veterinarians (79%) with cannabis experience contend that CBD is "somewhat or very helpful" in managing chronic pain and anxiety (62%). Over 80% of vets report no adverse side effects besides sedation.
- Most clinical studies on the effects of CBD on dogs have largely yielded positive results. For example, a study by researchers at Cornell University found that treatment with CBD oil significantly reduced pain and increased activity in 89% of the test dogs.
- Anecdotal evidence from pet owners suggests considerable success in treating pets with CBD. The growing confidence in CBD is reflected by the growing demand for CBD pet products. From a market value of $125 million in 2020, the CBD pet products market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 58.9% to hit $1.7 billion by 2023.
- CBD is unregulated, meaning the safety and potency of its products is unguaranteed. This is why the CBD industry is referred to as the "Wild West." Indeed, many studies have shown that up to 70% of CBD products may not contain the ingredients advertised. Further, nearly 21% contain THC despite the label stating otherwise.
- Research on CBD is relatively new, so its long-term effects remain unknown. Equally vital information like dosing is mainly left to trial-and-error. This is why some veterinarians don't recommend CBD use in pets.
- CBD's effectiveness is sometimes attributed to the placebo effect. Pet owners are obviously invested in their animals, so they may misread their pets' reactions to CBD. Worst case scenario – the animals may continue suffering when they could have been helped with conventional tried-and-proven medications.
Clearly, CBD use in pets is an area where opinion is greatly divided. Pet organizations like Small Door don't vouch for CBD use in pets until research is more conclusive. Others maintain that CBD is okay, especially in low doses.
Suggested canine dosage guidelines
There is no precise dosage with CBD. In humans, the correct CBD dose is determined by various factors, including body weight, age, the severity of the condition, and the strength of the CBD product. It would seem like this is also the case with dogs.
The rule of thumb is to start with 2mg of CBD per 10lbs of weight. However, remember that the potency of CBD products varies across the board. The potency of CBD oils for small dogs ranges between 75 and 150mg.
For large dogs, the potency could be over 300mg. Generally, the key to successful CBD use is consistency. Severe conditions often require higher doses, but remember that with CBD, more is not always better.
Nonetheless, the three major determinants of dosage in dogs are:
- Weight and size
- CBD potency
- The severity of the ailment
Why quality of CBD oil matters
Because CBD is unregulated, its quality and safety are usually loaded with controversy. Numerous surveys have shown that most CBD products are untested. Therefore, the possibility of ingesting toxic substances like heavy metals, bacteria, fungus, and pesticide residue is high.
For a product so loved yet shrouded with lots of skepticism and doubt, there's no doubt that the quality of the CBD oil matters. From the consumers' point of view, high quality means you are assured of its potency. So you may want to find out about the extraction method used.
At the top end of the spectrum is CBD isolate – the strongest and purest form of CBD. This type of CBD is extracted using supercritical gases and can be 99% pure.
At the other end are broad spectrum and full spectrum CBD oils. These contain all the naturally-occurring cannabis compounds like cannabinoids, fatty acids, terpenes, flavonoids, vitamins, and other nutrients.
Where a CBD product has caused serious side effects, it's often the unwanted impurities that are the culprits, not the CBD.
And as lab analyses show that up to 25% of CBD brands do not test their CBD products, being sure of the quality of your CBD oil is hugely important.
Keep in mind that CBD is only helpful if taken in correct amounts. This may be a challenge if the potency and strength of the oil are not as advertised.
High-quality CBD oil ensures you do not consume toxic substances that can harm your health.
How to add CBD oil to your dog's diet
If you're seriously contemplating giving your dog CBD oil, here is how to go about it.
Place the CBD oil directly in the dog's mouth
This is probably the easiest way to give your dog CBD. Once you've calculated the correct amount of CBD, use a dropper to put it in the dog's mouth.
This method is ideal because it ensures your dog gets the exact amount of CBD.
Infuse in food
Dogs love food, so you can mix their food with CBD oil. However, ensure that they consume everything in the bowl; otherwise, they may not get the correct dose of CBD. This method works when the oil is flavored or has no scent.
Dry foods are usually the best because they mask the taste and texture of the CBD oil quite well. Give it a few minutes to soak well before feeding the dog.
Mix the CBD oil with a treat
You cannot always use dry food when giving your dog CBD oil. Therefore, mixing the oil with treats like peanut butter also works.
Avoid treats with sweeteners like xylitol because they can cause harmful side effects.
Mix in water
Dogs need to drink water to quench their thirst, right? So, you can mix CBD oil in drinking water. This can be effective when the dog is thirsty, so you could first engage it in some running games before giving it water.
CBD is odorless and tasteless, so your dog won't easily detect it.
Best CBD for dogs
The only way to get the best CBD for your furry friend is by buying it from approved vendors. FOCL manufactures high-quality CBD products that are third-party tested and medically formulated.
All FOCL CBD products are made from locally-grown premium hemp combined with potent botanicals that enhance CBD's all-curing properties.