The recent emergence of cannabidiol (CBD) oil has crept into nearly every facet of daily life, from the coffee shop to the pharmacy shelves. But humans aren't the only species who can reap the potential benefits of CBD, a non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in cannabis. As it turns out, CBD may also improve the well-being of man's best friend, turning an anxious whimper into a joyous tail wag.
Pet owners have undoubtedly noticed CBD products aimed at their furry friends popping up in pet stores and online.
CBD's potential health benefits for pets mirror those touted for humans, including help for joint pain, arthritis, appetite stimulation, seizures, nausea, stress, anxiety, back pain, symptoms of cancer, and gastrointestinal problems. However, as in the case of humans, research is still limited and much of the evidence of effectiveness is anecdotal in nature.
But that hasn't stopped pet owners from reaching for the CBD oil when their dog suffers from health issues like chronic pain from arthritis or anxiety from holiday fireworks. Additionally, due to CBD's purported calming effects, some have also attempted to use CBD oil for hyperactive dogs, hoping to keep them relaxed in stressful situations.
Pet CBD oil vs. human CBD oil
Whether it's for dogs or humans, there are countless CBD oil brands available. Dog owners who use CBD oil themselves and are considering trying it out for their dog may wonder if there is a difference between pet CBD oil and human CBD oil. The short answer is no.
“There should be no difference in 'pet-quality' oils,” said holistic veterinarian Judy Morgan. “Many human oils are pretty concentrated, so dosing becomes an issue for small pets.”
What if you want to utilize the same CBD oil as your faithful companion? Can humans take pet CBD oil without experiencing any adverse side effects? Morgan explained that, if the CBD oil manufacturer is a good one, it will make oils that are human-grade – meaning this will be good enough for both you and your pet.
“Yes, dogs can use human CBD oil,” she said. “Humans could take pet CBD oil if it is human grade and not adulterated in any way.”
Importance of quality
Of course, considering the vast number of CBD oil products currently on the market – partially because of the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp production in the United States – an important aspect of giving CBD oil to your dog is finding a quality product. CBD oil can be derived from either hemp or marijuana, both of which are cannabis plants. Since marijuana is still illegal on a federal level, consumers are likely seeing many hemp-derived CBD oil products on the market. Marijuana-based CBD oil is legal in states that have legalized it for recreational or medical marijuana use.
Despite hemp's legalization, CBD oil is currently in a state of regulatory flux in the U.S. With this lack of current regulation of CBD oil, there's a need for consumers to educate themselves about CBD oil products and manufacturers they are considering. In fact, certain studies show that many of the products on the market are falsely labeled. In one November 2017 study, researchers tested 84 CBD products from 31 companies and found that only 30.95% were accurately labeled with the correct amount of CBD.
One way to make sure a CBD oil's manufacturer is reputable is by purchasing a product that includes a certificate of analysis from a third-party testing lab. You can also look for a product that was manufactured in a Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP)-compliant facility, which must follow certain Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards to qualify. When reading the bottle label, make sure it also contains other information including the amount of active CBD per serving, a full ingredients list, net weight, manufacturer or distributor name, suggested use, and batch or date code.
Morgan recommends purchasing an organic, full-spectrum CBD oil with no add-ins or additives other than the carrier oil, which is usually a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil like coconut oil.
Is CBD oil safe for dogs?
CBD oil is generally considered safe for humans and dogs, but more research is still needed. One scientific report published in the “Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association” studied the potential adverse effects of giving CBD to 30 healthy beagles.
Stephanie McGrath, a veterinary neurologist at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, worked on the study.
“Overall, the product was well tolerated clinically. However, clinically significant adverse effects, particularly diarrhea and elevations in serum ALP levels, are noteworthy and warrant further discussion and research,” McGrath told Weedmaps News.
ALP is alkaline phosphatase, which is a protein found in all body tissues.
Morgan said that while CBD oil is generally safe, there is a possibility that an exceedingly high dose could cause side effects in smaller dogs.
“Although I have had people accidentally use 10 times the recommended dose with no side effects,” Morgan said, “the side effects would be more magnified in very small dogs, especially if using a very concentrated oil.”
She said she hasn't seen many side effects of CBD oil use in dogs.
“Maybe occasional loose stool with high doses,” she said. “CBD does use an enzyme system in the liver, so dogs with impaired liver function may need lower dosing.”
According to an article on the American Kennel Club website, possible side effects of CBD use in dogs – based on human side effects – could include dry mouth (increased thirst in dogs), lower blood pressure, light-headedness, and drowsiness.
Another potential risk for dogs is the consumption of too much THC, the intoxicating cannabinoid found in marijuana. In states where marijuana is legal, CBD oil products derived from marijuana may contain much higher doses of THC than the 0.3% maximum allowed in hemp products in other states. Also, given the lack of regulation of CBD products, there is potentially more THC in CBD oil products than consumers realize.
According to Morgan animals have a low tolerance for the powerful psychoactive effects of THC. She said common symptoms of intoxication include ataxia (walking in a drunken manner), dilated or glazed eyes, dull mental activity, vomiting, dribbling urine, and rapid or slow heart rate. Some pets may become agitated while others will demonstrate stupor. The risks include coma, seizures, and even death in high doses.
Is hemp oil safe for dogs?
You should also be on the lookout for product labels that claim to contain hemp oil or other products derived from hemp seeds, as these will not include any CBD at all. Without the inclusion of this cannabinoid, hemp oil will not provide the same potentially therapeutic effects to your pooch as CBD oil. However, hemp oil has been proven to be an excellent nutritional supplement for both humans and dogs. Hemp seeds, which are pressed to create hemp oil, are rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids.
Can I give my dog human CBD oil?
Keeping in mind the issues of product quality and labeling, the answer is yes, you can give human CBD oil to your dog. However, dosing is a big part of proper administration. As yet, there is no official standardized dosing chart for pets – or humans, for that matter. But Morgan's recommendation is 1 milligram per 10 pounds of body weight. If using human CBD oil, you will need to figure out how many milligrams of CBD are in a milliliter of the oil you have. There are about 30 milliliters in 1 fluid ounce, which is a common CBD oil bottle size.
Let's say, for example, that one 30 milliliter bottle contains 500 milligrams of CBD, and a standard dropper usually holds 1 milliliter. Some quick math can help you figure out the most effective dosage. Simply divide the milligrams of CBD by the amount of oil in the bottle. In this example, each milliliter, or full dropper, should have about 16.6 milligrams of CBD. When it comes to dosing, always start on the lower side first and remember, it's one milligram per 10 pounds of body weight, not one dropper full. So, we've figured out how to measure out dosages, but you also need to know how to give CBD oil to dogs.
Jeremy Feldman, co-founder of Pet-Ness, which sells hemp-derived CBD oil and chews for pets, said CBD oil can be given to pets by mouth, with food or treats, or even in water.
“Most dogs just lick it right off the dropper,” he said.
He added that if it's a glass dropper, however, make sure your dog doesn't bite down. Feldman also recommended applying the CBD oil directly onto your dog's skin to potentially help with things like skin issues or muscle soreness.