With the Hemp Farming Act included in the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, the FDA approving the first CBD product, and several veterinarian studies starting to take place, if people didn’t have questions about giving their dogs CBD they do now.
But unlike with humans, more care must be undertaken to ensure your dog is getting the right CBD product as they are not all safe.
Is CBD Safe for Dogs?
“When discussing CBD, we are using poor terminology when referring to the oil or product you think of when you hear the term CBD.”
CBD or cannabidiol is one of the hundreds of molecules in cannabis plants that promote relief from several medical conditions and are all in CBD oil*.
Within the cannabis genus exists two main varieties: hemp (Cannabis sativa) and marijuana (Cannabis indica). While, well-tolerated (for the most part) in humans, THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid, is not by dogs.
“THC binds to CB1 receptors — of which dogs have more of in their hindbrains than humans.” High amounts of THC is toxic to dogs and even deadly.
This is why it’s crucial that you always give your dog CBD oil derived from hemp.
Hemp plants naturally contain low amounts of THC, and by using common farming techniques (selective breeding, cutting/cloning), hemp can contain legal and near non-existent levels.
**There are pure 99% CBD isolate products that in rare cases work better for some people. Pet CBD is always the full spectrum, however — meaning it contains all the cannabinoids & terpenes.
“This is because when isolated, CBD is poorly absorbed in the bloodstream,” “ and as a result, it’s around 4 times less effective.” It will require a larger and precise dose that you can overshoot, unlike with full spectrum CBD.” It may require a precise dose, but it does not require a larger dose. Where is the research that shows that pure CBD is one quarter as effective as the full spectrum?
The Most Common Reasons Pet Owners Use CBD For
Besides the issue with THC, CBD products work essentially the same way in both humans and dogs. Everyone — “and thing”— with a backbone produce their own endocannabinoids that attach to various receptors for regulatory purposes.
In particular, for dogs, the majority of owners are giving them CBD for:
- Anxiety — separation from owners, aggressive behavior, and fear of loud noises (fireworks, thunder)
- Inflammation — arthritis
- Pain – recovery
- Cancer treatment — CBD can help with many of the side effects of both cancer and chemotherapy.
CBD will not cure your dog’s epilepsy nor will it cure their chronic behavioral issues e.g. separation anxiety. But it has helped many owners make these conditions much more manageable for their pets. In cases of epilepsy, CBD has been successfully used to reduce both seizure rates and lower anticonvulsant use.
For behavioral issues, training is the ultimate cure, but that takes a while, and if you’re coming home to a house torn asunder every day, you can’t afford that.
CBD can help relieve stress and anxiety for 6-8 hours, and this can keep the dog calm enough where they won’t have a panic attack.
What Do Veterinarians Think?
Up until the past year, the only vets you could find openly backing CBD, or even know what it was, are those who practice holistic medicine. Now, while more veterinarians know about CBD today, they are reluctant to bring it into their office or even recommend it. This will change as the Colorado veterinarian studies start coming in — along with the other aforementioned reasons up top.
“This is unfortunate as CBD only real side effect seen so far is its potential to interact with other drugs by raising their potency.”
With a vet’s help, this interaction appears to be avoidable — plasma blood tests are often recommended when an interaction is a concern.
On the bright side of things, it’s not like vets dislike CBD or are necessarily against bringing it into their office.
They are held back for two main reasons:
- First, vets are held accountable if they prescribe CBD to pets and it could be defined as marijuana. This is even the case in states that have legalized marijuana. And if you thought that is strange, wait to you hear that human physicians don’t have to worry as they are legally protected.
- Second, there aren’t a lot of clinical trials yet, and even though there is a plethora of anecdotal and preclinical research, with “the above liability issue,” it’s simply a chance vets aren’t willing to take. This will come to an end, however, as the provisions in the Hemp Farming Act and in the US Farm Bill will officially define CBD, and the other molecules in hemp, as separate from marijuana and THC.
Are Treats, Tinctures, or Capsules Better?
Like marijuana products, there are numerous ways to consume CBD, and that goes the same for pet CBD products. When comparing a 4 mg treat to a 4 mg capsule, etc. there isn’t going to be a real difference in the effects or potency.
When a company is producing multiple CBD products, they are likely using the same hemp exact for all. Instead, the biggest difference is the oil and tinctures are able to more easily pass into the bloodstream.
“The longer the CBD oil spray can stay on,” and preferably under the tongue, the quicker, the onset of effects as the mucous membrane will absorb the compounds.
With tinctures relief can happen within 30 minutes — treats and capsules can take twice as long as they have to pass through the digestive system first. Since tinctures come with a dropper, you have a lot of dosage options available as well. This is great if you need a precise CBD for dog dosage to avoid a drug interaction.
The advantage of treats is they are easy and inconspicuous to give. And while edibles are notorious for their quality control and their ever-changing dosage, you want to always check out the Certificate of Analysis (COA) regardless of the CBD product. The COA will show you the lab tested results on the products contents, and you just need to match the numbers on there to the label. Any company worth their salt should have their COA easily findable on their site.
The best CBD product for your dog will be your call. However, many start with the tincture and if your dog is cool with taking it in this form — you can drop it in their food it needed — it offers the most advantages.