CBD for Dogs: The Complete Guide to Giving Your Dog CBD+ Frequently Asked Questions

It was in late 2017 when my vet recommended CBD oil for my dog Julius. Julius was an older Alaskan Malamute and had just turned 12, and at a hefty 120lbs he was beginning to get arthritis, which is relatively common for the breed.

He was having trouble walking, and he no longer seemed to have the same joy when the snow would blanket our large yard. I noticed the stiffness in his joints, and I was determined to find a way to bring some joy back into his life.

Enter CBD. I began giving Julius CBD in December 2017, at first with pills I had him swallow. I later switched over to water-soluble CBD which I put in his food/water bowl.

Admittedly, I didn’t have high hopes. Malamutes usually only live between 12-15 years. However, about a month after I started giving Julius water-soluble CBD oil, he completely changed.

He began to run like he had as a puppy and was happy to resume the 3-4-mile daily walks he was used to before his arthritis began.

Today, as I write this, Julius is curled up on the floor with his tail over his nose. I’ve since become a vocal advocate for giving your dog CBD.

Besides arthritis, there are several other benefits I will cover in this guide and will answer the big questions regarding dogs and CBD.

CBD Oil for Dogs: What is CBD oil, and how does CBD affect dogs?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is 1 of over 100 cannabinoids found in the cannabis, or hemp plant. A close cousin of the more notorious THC, CBD does NOT produce a “high” like THC does.

That is because CBD is a completely different compound, and because it's made from the Hemp plant which has very low THC despite being part of the same family as the marijuana plant.

Now, as previously mentioned, CBD will not get your dog high. I admit, I was particularly worried about my 120-pound bruiser getting high and crashing into things. Luckily, CBD has no psychoactive effects, so you won’t have to worry. Your dog will still feel the same!

An interesting side note, both dogs and humans produce cannabinoids in our bodies naturally. It’s this system, called the endocannabinoid system which CBD interacts with to produce results in our bodies. 

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) has receptors in the brain, organs, central and peripheral nervous system, and throughout many of the body’s cells.

The ECS helps regulate multiple systems in the body, and this interaction is what helps confer the many benefits of CBD. If you wish to learn more, check out our article on how CBD works. 

The Benefits of CBD Oil for Dogs

There are some incredible benefits that your dog can realize from using CBD. As a natural remedy, CBD has been gaining traction with vets across the country, which is leading to more research being done in CBD for dogs.

CBD can help dogs with seizures and epilepsy:

A 2017 study at Colorado State University ran an experiment to treat dogs with epilepsy and seizures. The researcher, Dr. Stephanie McGrath, a neurologist at Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital initially decided upon her research in response to frequent questions from clients and other vets about CBD.

The study found that 90% of dogs in the treatment group experienced a reduction in seizures, including one dog with daily seizures who went a month and a half (the duration of the study) without any seizures, which his owner called incredible. McGrath is currently enrolling dogs for a larger follow up study.

You can read more about the study here! 

CBD can help dogs with pain and arthritis

Unfortunately  even our furry friends can’t escape arthritis, which is an inflammation of the joints that can cause pain, aches, and cause a general reduction in your dog’s health.

The beauty of CBD for dogs with arthritis, is it can treat both the immediate pain, and help prevent the condition from getting worse. I noticed this with Julius, who still uses CBD to this day. For example:

Two different studies, one in 2015, and another in 2017 examined the ability of CBD to treat osteoarthritis in rats. Both studies used a topical application of CBD and found that the application of CBD helped relieve the arthritic pain and found that proactively applying CBD may prevent future occurrences. Both studies also concluded that CBD was well tolerated and prevented inflammation with minimal side effects.

Perhaps important to note, topically applied CBD has extremely low bioavailability, which means it’s not very effective at delivering the CBD into the bloodstream. Topically applied CBD may not even be absorbed into the bloodstream, while CBD taken orally has a bioavailability of between 12-20%, even for non-water-soluble CBD. The higher the bioavailability percentage is, the more CBD is present to work in your pooch, which is extremely important when you’re estimating the correct dose to give your dog.

CBD oil can help dogs with anxiety:

If you’ve ever had an anxious dog, you know how awful it is for your pet, and for you as an owner.

Dogs can become stressed from separation anxiety, lack of exercise, a poor diet, abuse as a puppy. Stress generally manifests as your pup chewing things they shouldn’t, peeing in the house, pacing, and barking/growling frequently.

CBD is an anxiolytic (used to reduce anxiety) compound in scientific literature. The ability of CBD to help reduce anxiety has been the subject of several scientific studies both on animals and humans where CBD has been found to reduce anxiety in both humans and animals, especially in terms of situational anxiety. For example if your dog is stressed about a recent move, CBD could work wonderfully for him.

I’ve seen some owners complain that CBD doesn’t work to relieve your anxious dog. While there are extreme cases that need to be treated by a behaviorist, I have noticed that these owners usually aren’t giving their dog an appropriate dose of CBD, nor are they giving it to their dog regularly.

We’ll talk more about this later, but two of the best practices for CBD include taking the correct dose and using it on a regular schedule.

CBD can help boost your dog’s appetite

While we always recommend talking to your vet if your dog stops eating, CBD does have the potential to help alleviate some of the underlying conditions of a dog not wanting to eat.

CBD won’t directly boost the appetite of your dog like THC will, as it doesn’t bind to the CB1 receptor which can influence hunger. We have seen this fact repeated and reported on erroneously.

CBD instead, works to alleviate underlying factors that contribute to reduced appetite in dogs.

CBD’s interaction with of the 5-HT1A receptor for instance, has been shown to relieve nausea, which is a major contributor of reduced appetite.

Think back to the last time you felt a little pukey, you probably didn’t want to wolf down any food. Your pooch feels the same way, and CBD can help with that. Just watch out for that sandwich you left on the counter.

CBD also can relieve pain and inflammation, as we previously mentioned. Your dog is pre-disposed to eat less when it’s in pain. Reducing inflammation of the bowels can also contribute to an increased appetite.

The same is true of anxiety. An anxious dog will eat less, so by treating their anxiety, you can help return their appetite to normal.

CBD could help dogs prevent and fight cancer

Unfortunately, your dog can get cancer too. Cancer tends to come with chronic pain and loss of appetite, which CBD can help with.

CBD can help your pet feel better during the tough times and help to mitigate some of the nasty effects of cancer and continue to keep your pet functional at a high level.

However, there has also been some research into CBD as a complementary therapy alongside traditional medication. A 2010 study found that CBD extract could potentially provide relief for cancer patients, some of whom experienced a pain reduction of more than 30% with CBD. 

A 2014 study also found that CBD was able to kill cancer cells by puncturing their cell walls, which the study’s authors called “proof for a novel antitumorigenic mechanism of cannabinoids”. 

A more recent study conducting in 2016, also found that it was the CBD specifically that helped fight cancerous cells, not the whole plant extract of cannabis sativa. 

While we can’t recommend CBD as a primary treatment for cancer, the potential to help fight prevent cancer is just another reason why CBD could be a great choice for your dog.

How do I give CBD to my dog?

If your dog is a good boy, you can just give them CBD oil drops orally with a tincture. This will ensure the correct dose every time, with no guesswork.

However, I’ve found there are a couple of limitations to this method. Firstly, if your dog is a biter (luckily my Julius isn’t), you’re placing yourself close to those big chompers!

With larger dogs that require more CBD, it can also be cumbersome to dose them repeatedly with this method, and let’s be honest, do you really want to have to force your dog to take CBD every day?

While dosing them orally is great, in my opinion the best way to give your dog CBD is to use water-soluble CBD in their water bowl. Here’s how:

  1. Get a water-soluble tincture. The reason you want water soluble, is it easily blends with water. Regular CBD oils use MCT oil, which will sit on the surface of the water you put it in, and your dog may refuse to drink it.
  2. Fill your dog’s bowl with the amount of water they’ll drink daily. You don’t want to give them more than what they’ll drink in a day as they won’t get all the CBD. You also don’t want to give them too little, as high concentrations of CBD as your dog might be able to taste the CBD.
  3. Dispense your dog’s daily dose in the water bowl and stir.
  4. Make sure to change the water daily!

If you feed your dog wet food, you can also mix the CBD into their food. This method also works with regular food. You can experiment and find what works best for your dog. I found water to be the best bet, because the dose would be spread out over the course of the day, which seemed to provide more lasting relief.

The one thing I don’t recommend changing is the oil, however. Stick with water-soluble CBD products. They offer between 30-40% bioavailability, which is nearly double a standard oil tincture. More bioavailability = more CBD to help your dog.

How should I start giving CBD to my dog? How long will it take to work?

Once you’ve decided on what type of CBD you want to give your dog, and how you want to give it to them, you’ll need to monitor the results. When I was first giving CBD to Julius, I made a checklist of what I was looking for in terms of results.

For dogs that are new to CBD, I recommend giving them CBD for two weeks straight and then observing the results. With Julius, he started showing signs almost immediately, but by the end of week 2 he had completely changed.

What about CBD dog treats? Which CBD dog treat is best?

I know these are popular right now, but I don’t recommend them, and they aren’t anywhere near as effective as they are claimed to be.  

I tried using CBD dog treats on Julius, but I found them to be ineffective. He liked them, but it didn’t seem to do anything for his arthritis. The problem is twofold: low CBD doses, and low bioavailability.

For instance, Honest Paws recommendation for dogs of over 50lbs is 4 treats daily, which contains 20 mg of CBD. A 1988 study where dogs were administered CBD oil orally only showed 19% bioavailability at the best case. 

19% bioavailability means your dog is only getting 19% of the CBD dose on the label. You’re paying for additional CBD that you aren’t getting. I didn’t believe that it was enough CBD, and scientists seem to agree.

Neuroscientist Kent Hutchinson of the University of Colorado Boulder puts it best “You see it marketed in doses like 10 milligrams…well, 10 milligrams probably does nothing” Neurobiologist Margaret Haney, who directs the Marijuana Research Laboratory at Columbia University agrees.

“You’re not getting anything resembling an effective dose…”

In fact, a 2018 study examined exactly how much CBD you’d want to give your dog, and the results don’t paint dog treats in a particularly flattering light.

How much CBD oil should I give my dog?

A 2018 study performed by Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in partnership with Colorado State University, attempted to answer this very question. 

Their pharmacokinetic and clinical study showed a significant decrease in pain and increase in activity with a 2mg/kg dose of CBD oil taken orally twice daily.

With, our science backed recommendation for CBD taken with an approximate bioavailability of 19%:

Weight (lbs)

Dosage (Miligrams/day)

10

18

20

36

30

54

40

73

50

91

60

109

70

127

80

145

90

163

100

181

As you can see, the Honest Paws CBD treats aren’t even coming close to the amount of CBD needed to be effective.

When I first did this calculation myself, I was shocked. I had been giving Julius less than ½ of the CBD he actually needed!

When I corrected his dose, I noticed immediate results. He was a different dog only a few days later. However, giving him nearly 220 grams of CBD a day was getting quite expensive, and I needed a better solution.

Enter water-soluble CBD. While studies are still ongoing, the most conservative estimates suggest that water-soluble CBD is 2x as bioavailable as standard CBD oil. Let’s take a look at what that means in terms of what you’ll need to give your dog daily:

 

Weight (lbs)

Dosage

(Miligrams/day)

10

9

20

18

30

27

40

36

50

45

60

54

70

63

80

73

90

82

100

91

 

As you can see, the dosages become much more manageable and cost effective. Plus, it seems to work faster, too. All in all, I believe water-soluble CBD is the best CBD oil for your pet – but feel free to try both and see which type works best for your pooch. I still recommend avoiding dog treats, they are not a good value for the money.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Which CBD is best for dogs? What is the best CBD product for dogs?

A: As previously discussed, the best CBD oil for your pet is a water-soluble one. The advantages are numerous. It’s absorbed faster, and you can give your dog the relief he or she needs without the cost. Plus, water-soluble CBD easily blends into your dog’s water bowl, which is one of the best ways to ensure your dog is reliably being dosed with CBD.

The best CBD product for dogs will vary based on the dog. While of course I personally recommend Envy Hemp’s Water-Soluble CBD Oil, you will have to compare different doses and see how each work for your dog.

Q: Will CBD oil hurt dogs? Are there side effects to giving your dog CBD?

A: Absolutely not! CBD is safe for your dog to take and is very well tolerated by most all dogs. It’s important to note however, that you’ll want to stick to CBD oils that are CBD isolate. Non-CBD isolate oils can contain THC, which can make your dog feel high. Plus, with CBD not being regulated by the federal government, cannabinoid profiles can vary from brand to brand. We recommend that you ONLY shop with a manufacturer that provides testing on their products to show that they are 100% CBD with no THC.

Q: Will CBD help my dog’s allergies?

A: Allergies are caused by an auto-immune reaction to foreign pollen particles in the body. While CBD does work with the immune system, there is currently no evidence to suggest that CBD can help with allergies directly, but as an anti-inflammatory agent CBD can help treat the effects of allergies, like inflammation. CBD can also ease some of the pain associated with allergies.

Q: Are CBD treats safe for dogs? Are they good for dogs?

A: They are, but the majority of CBD treats on the market are not effective for the cost. If you are dead set on using them, you should only use them as a supplemental source of CBD. It’s also important to note that the FDA currently forbids the use of CBD in food for humans, so it’s unclear how this relates to pet food.

Q: Can CBD make dogs sick?

A: I evaluated the studies presented in this article, and none mentioned CBD making any of the dogs’ sick. However, it is important to take note of what’s in each CBD oil before giving it to your dog. Some flavorings and ingredients may not be tolerated as well by our canine friends. You can identify these by speaking with your vet, but CBD on its own is unlikely to make your dog sick!

Q: Can CBD oil give dogs diarrhea?

A: Introducing anything new to a dog’s diet can cause stomach upsets, and CBD is no exception. However, CBD on its own is not likely to upset your dog’s stomach or cause diarrhea. Usually the culprit is the flavorings or some of the other ingredients in the final product. Before picking out a CBD oil for your furry friend, discuss this with a vet!

Q: Can CBD make dogs more aggressive?

A: CBD oil is non-psychotropic, meaning that it won’t change the demeanor of your dog at all. However, as CBD can help fight pain, and is anti-anxiety, it is possible that CBD will have the opposite effect and reduce the aggression of a dog that is in pain! However, I can’t personally recommend CBD as a means for treating your dog’s aggression. A certified behavioralist is what I’d recommend for extreme aggression.

Q: Can CBD oil for dogs be used for humans?

A: Yes! In fact, except for dog treats, the only difference between most “human” CBD oils, and “dog” CBD oils is the amount of CBD in the bottle! Provided that none of the ingredients in any given CBD tincture are harmful to either species, you can use the same bottle for yourself and your dog, as long as you adjust the dosage for your symptoms and body weight.

Q: Does CBD help dogs with hip dysplasia?

A: It certainly can! By reducing the inflammation associated with hip dysplasia, it’s possible that CBD can help reduce the overall pain level that’s common with this condition.

Q: Does CBD help with glaucoma in dogs?

A: It can! Considering cannabis is frequently used to treat the pressure of the eye associated with glaucoma, it’s reasonable to suggest that CBD could do the same thing. It’s important to evaluate the severity of the condition, and CBD should not be the only type of therapy used.

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