CBD For Dogs: Not Just During Fireworks

Many pet owners already administer CBD to their dogs, but is this the right choice? Read on for a look at how CBD affects dogs, and what the science says about its potential for conditions like inflammation, seizures, and nausea. More pet owners and vets alike are turning their attention toward the non-psychotropic cannabinoid CBD. Just like humans, cats, dogs, and other mammals feature an endocannabinoid system. This has influenced people from all over the world to administer CBD to ailing, elderly, and healthy pets. But, is CBD as versatile for dogs as it is for humans? And moreover, how does the cannabinoid affect the physiological functions of our furry friends? Could CBD be the alternative solution veterinarians have been searching for? Within the medical community, there’s a lack of substantial research on CBD’s safety and efficacy in animals—and humans for that matter. This has created a similar scientific standstill among both humans and pets, in which preliminary results are encouraging, but large-scale trials are lacking. Still, early evidence—alongside a boom of CBD companies catering to pets—has encouraged many to administer the substance to dogs struggling with anxiety, pain, and inflammation. Is this the right decision?


Today, CBD is an ingredient in dozens and dozens of products catered to dogs. As a non-psychotropic cannabinoid incapable of causing a high, pet owners can rest assured they are not giving their dogs an intoxicating substance like THC. Everything from CBD chews and treats, capsules, oils, topicals, and more have been given a reevaluation and a rebrand in the realm of pet care. As mentioned above, both dogs and humans feature an internal endocannabinoid system (ECS). This regulatory system plays a significant role in many physiological functions, and is one of the main molecular targets for cannabinoids in the body. With cannabinoid receptors located throughout the central and peripheral nervous system and immune system of mammals, the endocannabinoid system ultimately helps contribute to homeostasis of regular bodily functions. Due to the presence of the ECS in dogs, it stands to reason that the cannabinoid could be used to benefit dogs who need it. Although CBD is not prescribed as a treatment for the following conditions, preliminary research points to CBD’s potential in the arenas of nausea[1], pain and inflammation[2], and convulsions[3]. Anecdotal accounts on CBD for dogs can hardly be contained; some pet owners claim the cannabinoid has successfully eliminated their canine’s symptoms, while others feel it helps their dog on a more holistic level. Since veterinary science has yet to comprehensively explore CBD as a real treatment option, the onus is largely on the pet owner to decide what’s right for their dog. With that said, always consult your vet if you’re thinking about giving CBD to your pets. It’s essential to first evaluate any contraindications, existing conditions, and other factors that may affect CBD’s efficacy or viability.


Although there haven’t been any conclusive studies on CBD for dogs, several clinical trials are underway at veterinary colleges, with early results appearing promising. Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is conducting a study to evaluate the efficacy of CBD in epileptic dogs[4] with encouraging initial findings. A total of sixteen dogs were enrolled in the study, with nine receiving CBD. Early findings indicate that 89% of dogs treated with CBD experienced a decrease in seizures. Meanwhile, a recent clinical trial assessed the pharmacokinetics of CBD oil, together with its safety and analgesic efficacy in dogs with osteoarthritis[5]. The majority of dogs showed a significant decrease in pain and increase in activity during CBD oil treatment, with no side effects reported by owners. Long-term studies with larger populations are needed to identify sustained effects of CBD on canine osteoarthritis and related pain, however, short-term results appear to be positive.


Aside from dogs dealing with chronic or acute health issues, some pet owners give their dogs CBD in hopes it will reduce the anxiety associated with fireworks and other loud noises. Dogs and cats are very sensitive to noisy stimuli, and thus can become very stressed out by fireworks, sirens, and the like. Results are almost exclusively anecdotal, but some pet owners seem to feel that CBD works with their dog to improve their response to these triggering sounds. Still, without any real data to hold onto, it’s all just conjecture for the time being


Choosing to administer your dog with CBD can be a complicated procedure. Although we highly recommend talking to your vet, not every veterinarian will be comfortable recommending or monitoring a course of treatment that involves CBD. Moreover, while some vets may have experience with cannabidiol, many others don’t, and aren’t even aware of its preliminary scientific findings. As such, pet owners are largely on their own when it comes to dosage and side effects associated with CBD. CBD dog feed and treat brands tend to provide a recommended dosage based on the type of animal and their body weight, although there is no official standard here. As always, it’s best to start low and go slow, observing how your dog gets along with it. Keeping a daily journal and/or recording your dog on video over a series of weeks may help you to better ascertain their progress. As you go along, you can move from a small dose to a regular dose of CBD if need be, but don’t exceed the recommended daily dosage. And keep in mind; CBD has the potential to alter how other drugs are metabolised in the bodies of humans and other mammals, so exercise extreme caution if your dog is taking any existing medications. Both anecdotal accounts and early clinical studies show CBD’s adverse side effects in both dogs and humans to be minimal, yet some sporadic cases of dry mouth, lowered blood pressure, drowsiness, and other minor side effects have been reported. The World Health Organisation’s 2018 review[6] on cannabidiol claims that “CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile”. Although this is directed toward humans and not dogs, it goes to show CBD’s inherent lack of toxicity in mammals.
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