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CBD for Dogs: Is It Right for My Pet?

If you've heard about the healing powers of cannabidiol (CBD), you should know that your dog can also benefit from this substance.

March 23, 2023 4 min read
CBD for Dogs: Is It Right for My Pet?

As a devoted dog owner, you hate to see your pet suffering from pain, anxiety, or illness. During your next visit to the veterinarian, ask about the potential and suitability of CBD products. CBD has taken the human world by storm for its health and wellness potential, but dogs may also benefit from its effects.

Let’s take a high-level look at CBD for dogs.

An Introduction to CBD

CBD stands for cannabidiol, a substance that occurs naturally in plants belonging to the cannabis family. The cannabidiol used to make CBD products comes from hemp. Dogs should never ingest cannabis or any product containing THC, which is highly toxic to them. However, because cannabidiol doesn't contain the THC that gives marijuana its psychoactive punch, cannabidiol has been shown to be safe for dogs. You need not worry about making your dog high! Instead, CBD products focus on easing discomfort while supporting the body's normal processes.

CBD achieves its effects thanks to the way it interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system, which plays many crucial roles in regulating the health of both humans and pets. CBD attaches to endocannabinoid receptors known as CB1 and CB2 receptors, which helps the endocannabinoid system regulate physical processes more effectively. Some researchers think it might even trigger the body to produce more endocannabinoids.

How CBD Can Help Dogs

To date, the FDA hasn't officially approved the medical applications of CBD for pets. Even so, both scientific studies and anecdotal evidence strongly reinforce CBD’s medicinal value for animals. CBD appears to help dogs cope with a variety of health conditions, including:

  • Chronic pain conditions & arthritis - Dogs can suffer from many chronic pain conditions, especially as they age and problems such as arthritis set in. A study of 22 dogs suffering from arthritis-related lameness found that two doses of CBD over a period of two months aided their mobility and eased their joint pain.
  • Seizure disorders - Dogs can suffer from seizure disorders, with certain breeds such as Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Australian Shepherds running an elevated inherited risk. Research on epileptic dogs indicates that CBD may reduce the frequency of seizures in up to 89 percent of vulnerable animals.
  • Anxiety - While some dogs suffer from generalized, chronic anxiety, others may become anxious when surrounded by stress triggers such as firework noises or thunderclaps. Pet owners who give anxious dogs CBD often report that their pets' anxiety recedes dramatically. 
  • Cancer - You don't want to rely solely on any do-it-yourself natural treatment for something as potentially deadly as cancer. However, early research on rats suggests that cannabinoids may have the power to target and destroy cancer cells. If your dog undergoes chemotherapy, CBD may also help relieve nausea and other side effects.

Choosing the Best CBD for Your Dog

If the FDA doesn't supervise CBD products for pets and vets don't prescribe them as drugs, how should you go about choosing the right product for your best friend? First, decide right now that you won't skimp on quality just to save a couple of dollars. Cheaper CBD products may contain less cannabidiol and therefore prove less effective than pricier brands. You should also insist on a product that can demonstrate some proof of its purity. A high-quality brand should be able to present lab results showing that their products are free of pesticides and pollutants.

You must also decide what form of CBD product to give your dog. Manufacturers produce CBD products in pet-friendly forms such as meat-flavored CBD chews. But since these chews may contain varying amounts of CBD, you can regulate your pet's dosage more precisely by selecting an oil-based tincture instead. (You can always add the CBD oil to your dog's favorite treat.)

Don't assume that you have to start your dog on the dosage level listed on the product's label. Err on the side of caution by giving your dog a fraction of the recommended dose, increasing the amount gradually to see how well your pet tolerates it.

CBD Safety Versus Side Effects

CBD appears safe for the vast majority of dogs. However, some animals show abnormal elevated liver enzymes in their wellness exams. If your dog takes CBD on a regular basis, schedule regular exams that include blood tests to make sure all is well. If you or your vet feel concerned about the results, simply discontinue the CBD.

Even when your dog tolerates CBD relatively well, mild side effects can and do occur. Watch for the following side effects:

  • Sedation - Your dog might appear slightly drowsy after taking CBD.
  • Thirst - CBD can make your dog's mouth produce less saliva, which may prompt him to hit the water bowl more frequently.
  • Light-headedness - If your dog seems a bit light-headed, she may be experiencing CBD's ability to reduce blood pressure.

Ask Your Veterinarian About CBD for Your Dog

However benign and potentially helpful CBD might prove for your canine friend, you should always consult your veterinarian before administering this or any other pet supplement. With luck, you'll find that CBD helps your dog enjoy a happier, more comfortable life and a higher state of overall health.

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