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We've heard tales about how humans are using cannabidiol (CBD) for therapeutic purposes, but what can this non-intoxicating cannabinoid offer to man's best friend?

CBD is being used to help alleviate ailments suffered by humans and their canine companions.

Dogs — just like humans, cats, horses, and all other mammals — have an endocannabinoid system (ECS), a system of receptors and endocannabinoids that help to maintain the health of an animal. Studies show that when cannabis molecules interact with the receptors in the ECS, cannabinoids such as CBD can provide therapeutic effects for a variety of medical conditions, such as pain, arthritis, anxiety, inflammation, nausea, seizures, and cancer.

“CBD has all of the same medical benefits in animals as it does in people. It's an anti-inflammatory, it can be helpful for pain, it has some anti-cancer properties, it can be helpful from an anxiety perspective, it can have anti-seizure properties,” said Gary Richter, veterinarian, author, and owner and of Holistic Veterinary Care in Oakland, California. “All of those same things that a person might use CBD for, it can also potentially be used similarly for animals.”

Potential Benefits of CBD Oil and CBD Treats for Dogs

There are a number of purported benefits to giving CBD to dogs, and some pet owners swear by the remedial qualities of this non-intoxicating cannabinoid. One study, published in the journal Pet Behaviour Science in April 2019, found that CBD oil reduced the frequency of seizures for some canines' suffering from epilepsy.

Dogs, like all mammals, have an endocannabinoid system (ECS). They would be receptive to cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating cannabinoid, to treat medical conditions similar to those in humans. (Photo by Jonathan Daniels/Unsplash)

Due to the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD, it has also shown promise as a treatment for older dogs with arthritis and chronic pain. Because dogs have an ECS that functions similarly to other mammals, including humans, the anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, and other beneficial properties of CBD provide the same potential therapeutic benefits to canines as it does to humans.

Owners may prefer to make their own treats in order to better control the amount of CBD oil administered to their dogs. They might also want to know the source of the CBD oil that is being infused into their dog treats. This is something that homemade treats infused with CBD oil from a reputable, pet-friendly brand would allow.

Pet owners should not, under any circumstances, give a dog CBD products that contain over 0.3 percent THC, which is the legal limit that industrial hemp is permitted to have in the United States. Owners should try, if possible, to avoid administering any kind of CBD that is made for human use, especially if it's derived from marijuana instead of hemp. Sticking to hemp-derived CBD manufactured for the sole purpose of canine consumption will help pet owners avoid the risk of having their dog get stoned sick.

Look for producers that make high-grade CBD oil specifically for dogs. These companies ensure optimal pet safety by using hemp-derived CBD that contains no or very small traces of THC. To be extra cautious, find a CBD oil producer that provides a testing analysis, preferably through a third party if possible. This way, pet owners can be certain that their CBD oil doesn't contain potentially intoxicating levels of THC or other ingredients that could be harmful for dogs to consume. For those who prefer to give their dogs CBD treats without making a mess in the kitchen, purchasing pre-made CBD treats for dogs is another option.

“When giving your animal a cannabis product, it is important to ensure that the product has been specifically formulated for pets to ensure the safety and efficacy. The ratio of CBD to THC is an important factor, as well as the total number of milligrams per dose,” said Kate Scott, registered veterinary technician and chief operating officer of VETCBD, a pet-friendly CBD oil producer.  

It's highly unlikely that a dog would experience any negative side effects from CBD oil with no traces of THC, according to Richter. The important part is finding a reputable CBD source that provides accurate testing results.

“The CBD market being what it is these days, it can be very difficult for the consumer to be sure that what they're buying is actually what it says on the label,” Richter said. “There are a lot of products out there that are not necessarily exactly what they're labeled to be. It's important the people are buying from reputable companies, that people are checking certificate of analysis, and so on.”

Are Dog Treats the Most Effective Way to Administer CBD?

There's no denying that the presence of dog treats will make any eager pooch wag its tail with excitement, but is this edible format the most effective method of treating dogs with CBD? While dog treats may be the most happiness-inducing way to give a dog CBD, Richter believes that the best procedure is directly administering CBD oil into the dog's mouth.

The most effective way to give cannabidiol (CBD) to a dog is to administer it in oil form directly into the canine's mouth, says Oakland, California, veterinarian Gary Richter. Edible treats are also available, but humans should check to make sure the treats don't contain THC and the companies run their products through lab testing. (Weedmaps file photo by Gina Coleman)

“I think it's worth saying that CBD administered as an oil that's given directly orally is probably better absorbed than it is when it's eaten and has to be absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract,” he said. “In order to get the most bang for your buck out of the CBD, it's probably better off giving it directly in the mouth as an oil.”

Nonetheless, hemp-derived, pet-friendly CBD oil presents pet owners with an opportunity to bring joy and comfort to their dog's lives. Any pet owner who is considering CBD oil for their pup should consult with a veterinarian. While most veterinarians in the United States are not allowed to recommend or sell CBD to clients, they are technically allowed to discuss it.

“My primary recommendation for people would be to talk to your veterinarian,” Richter said. “As of January 1st of this year [2019], veterinarians are allowed to “discuss” the use of cannabis with their client. For example, if someone came into see me and wanted to talk about CBD for their pet, I'm legally allowed to discuss it. That would be my best recommendation.”


Find the top CBD brands on Weedmaps with self-care products ranging from CBD oils, vapes, edibles to topicals, flower, and more.

Feature image: Cannabidiol (CBD) made from hemp can be used as a remedy for dogs. (Photo by Matthew Henry/Unsplash)


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