Many people swear by CBD to boost their wellbeing, making it one of the fastest-growing wellness trends in recent years. Now, our furry friends are getting in on the act too. With CBD products for pets popping up left and right, you might be wondering: should I give CBD to my dog?
In this article, we’ll talk about how CBD affects dogs and what you need to consider before giving CBD to your little sidekick. First, here’s a quick recap on what CBD is and how it works.
What is CBD?
CBD (short for cannabidiol) is a type of cannabinoid, a natural substance found in the hemp plant. There are lots of other cannabinoids in the plant, including THC (the one that gets you “high”), as well as other substances like fatty acids, vitamins, terpenes and flavonoids.
To make CBD products, including those for dogs, oil is extracted from the hemp plant and processed. In some cases, the CBD, THC and everything else is left in to create a “full-spectrum” CBD product. When the THC is removed, it’s known as “broad-spectrum”. And when just the CBD is extracted and used, the final product is called a “CBD isolate”.
How does CBD work for dogs?
In humans, CBD works by interacting with your endocannabinoid system (ECS). This is a complex system that’s responsible for keeping your body in a state of balance, so it regulates things like sleep, temperature, appetite, metabolism, etc.
Your ECS features your own naturally produced cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids. When you take an external cannabinoid, like CBD or THC, it works on the ECS in a similar way to your own endocannabinoids.
Your dog has an endocannabinoid system, too. That means that when your dog consumes CBD or another cannabinoid, it affects their system in a similar way to their own endocannabinoids.
It’s important to keep in mind that CBD research is still very young. We’re still not entirely sure about all the effects it can have on humans, and how exactly it works on our own ECS. We know even less about how it works in a dog’s ECS.
With that in mind, we can only really speculate on how your dog might experience CBD based on the best knowledge we have available, so you should always err on the side of caution.
Can CBD help my dog’s health condition?
Many people use CBD because they believe it helps with issues like anxiety, inflammation, chronic pain and digestive issues. Our dogs can experience these things too, especially as they get older. And because we hate to see our furry friends suffering, it makes sense that we might look at CBD as a possible solution for them, too.
Research into how CBD can benefit dogs is really lacking. However, lots of people report that their dogs have shown a big improvement after using CBD, so you may well feel that it’s worth a try to help your dog feel better. We would recommend running it by your vet first, though.
Will CBD get my dog high?
THC is the substance responsible for getting you high when you smoke cannabis, but CBD works on your ECS in a different way. For that reason, it can’t get you high. However, because the hemp used to make CBD products does naturally contain THC, this can be confusing.
To clarify, hemp and marijuana are both types of cannabis plant. Confusingly, the recreational drug made from marijuana is also referred to as cannabis. It contains high levels of THC, which is why smoking cannabis gets you high.
Hemp, on the other hand, contains higher levels of CBD and is naturally lower in THC. Any products made from hemp must use a very low-THC strain, and the final product must legally have less than a certain amount of THC – too little to get you high. You can also get zero-THC products (broad-spectrum CBD or CBD isolate).
Based on this, we can assume that CBD products aren’t going to get your dog high either, but we can assume that enough THC would.
Is CBD safe for dogs?
CBD is generally considered to be safe for humans. There’s hardly any research about safety in dogs, but there’s lots of anecdotal evidence about pet owners giving their dogs CBD products with no ill effects. Again, if you’re in any doubt at all, it’s best to ask your vet for advice, especially if your dog has a health condition or needs medication.
Some CBD products for dogs come in the form of doggie snacks or chews. If your dog has ever managed to get unsupervised access to the treats, you’ll understand why we recommend storing CBD treats out of the reach of mischievous paws! We just don’t know the effects of too much CBD in dogs, so it’s best not to risk it.
Which CBD is best for dogs?
CBD for dogs comes in four main formats.
CBD dog treats are the most popular for obvious reasons – what dog doesn’t love a scooby snack?! They come in lots of different flavours, shapes, sizes and textures so you can choose one your dog will love. And as a bonus, each treat is pre-dosed, so giving your dog the correct amount of CBD is as easy as counting out the treats.
CBD oils and tinctures are designed to be placed under your dog’s tongue. These give the quickest effects because the CBD is absorbed directly into the bloodstream, but of course not all dogs will co-operate with this delivery method!
If your dog is reluctant or doesn’t like the taste of CBD tinctures, you can also find flavoured versions. You can also can try mixing it into their food, although this means the CBD would take longer to take effect.
CBD capsules filled with CBD oil are another popular option. Again, some dogs will flat-out refuse anything that isn’t a tasty treat, but you can get around this by hiding the capsule in their food or inside a favourite snack.
Finally, topical CBD creams are ideal for rubbing directly onto sore areas, or onto inflamed skin. Your dog might try to lick the cream off, though, so choose one that’s made with safe, dog-friendly ingredients just in case!
Other considerations when buying CBD for your dog
There are lots of things to consider when choosing a CBD product for your dog. Here are some questions we recommend asking…
- Is it made especially for dogs?
If you can, we recommend choosing a CBD product specifically designed for dogs, rather than sharing your own. Here’s why…
The recommended dosage on human CBD products is calculated based on average body weight, typical metabolism, and other factors. We’re obviously much bigger than dogs, so what’s correct for us is far too much for them. There’s also a huge difference in size between, for example, a St Bernard and a teacup chihuahua.
Unless you know how to properly adjust CBD dosage, you could easily end up giving your dog too much. Products designed for dogs already have the work done for you, and will tell you how much you can safely give based on your dog’s size and breed.
- Is it THC-free?
Whether you share your CBD with your dog, or you buy them their own special doggy products, we recommend only giving them THC-free products (that’s broad-spectrum or THC isolate).
There are two things to consider here…
First, we know that the small amount of THC in a full-spectrum human CBD product isn’t enough to get us high. Dogs are much smaller, so it would theoretically take much less THC to have a psychoactive effect than it would in humans.
Second, let’s assume your dog did get high on THC. Most people find that high enjoyable, but there are plenty who react badly or just don’t like the feeling. We have no idea how it would feel for a dog, so it’s best not to risk putting your little buddy through an uncomfortable (and possibly unsafe) experience.
- Is it organic?
When we’re recommending CBD products for people, we always recommend choosing a product made from organic, non-GMO hemp. The same is true for dogs.
Going organic means that the hemp was grown with no pesticides, no heavy metals, no chemical fertilisers, and so on. It means you can rest assured your dog is getting the best – something we all want for our four-legged BFFs.
- Can I see the lab reports?
An independent, third-party lab report shows you exactly how much CBD and THC are your product, and confirms that no heavy metals and other nasties are present.
It’s important to see this information for yourself because lots of brands have misrepresented their products in the past. Some contain far less CBD than advertised, and some supposedly THC-free products have been found to contain high, even illegal, levels of THC.
If a brand doesn’t show you the lab report, assume they don’t have one, ask yourself why, and steer clear. Whether you’re buying for yourself or your dog, this is always our number-one rule!
CBD and canine medications
In humans, we know that CBD (and THC) can interact with different prescription medications. For some drugs, it can slow down metabolism and leave you with too much in your system. For others, the opposite can happen, leaving you with too little of the drug to have the desired effect.
Again, there’s not much research here, but we can assume that something similar would happen in dogs. In fact, there are lots of drugs used in both humans and dogs, so it’s a safe bet that if the drug is affected in humans, it would be affected in dogs too.
To be on the safe side, always speak to your vet before giving your dog CBD alongside their medication.