Have you heard of CBD for dogs? CBD (cannabidiol) products - particularly CBD oils - are definitely on the rise when it comes to human consumption; plenty of people swear by it to reduce stress and anxiety and even use it for pain relief, or as an anti-inflammatory.
But is CBD oil safe for dogs? What kind of benefits does it have, is it legal, and should you try it on your dog? We’re here to help answer these burning questions and give you all the facts, so you can make your own decision on what’s best for your pooch.
CBD stands for cannabidiol and it’s one of many compounds derived from hemp or cannabis plants. The other main compound found in these plants is THC - tetrahydrocannabinol - and this is the part that can have psychoactive effects. As CBD is a different compound and contains almost zero THC, it doesn’t induce a feeling of being ‘high’ in the user. It’s worth reiterating: a good CBD product should NOT get your dog stoned.
CBD is most often available as an oil or tincture for humans, with a whole roster of products coming onto the market that are CBD-infused - such as chocolate, chewing gum, bath products and more.
There are different strengths of CBD, too; a higher strength may come from a more concentrated part of the source plant (the buds or leaves, for instance).
Though CBD for humans is increasingly accepted as a great natural remedy, there’s a growing debate around whether CBD products for pets have the same effect. The research is ongoing.
Though the research on CBD and its effects on dogs is still in the beginning stages, many people have reported positive results from feeding CBD to their dog, just the same as when they’ve taken CBD themselves. It can be used as a relaxant, as an anti-inflammatory, a sleep aid, for pain relief and more (read on for an extensive list of all the benefits and uses of CBD for dogs). It can be prescribed by a vet in certain scenarios, but CBD oil products for pets are not yet available as a commercial product.
Numerous dog owners report positive results from feeding their dogs CBD - usually by adding CBD oil to dog food as a supplement. Ideally it can have a calming, anti-anxiety effect on dogs, as well as offering pain relief. There are also reports of its anti-inflammatory properties, making it a potential natural remedy for pooches with conditions such as arthritis, or dogs who suffer allergies.
Some dog owners may worry that CBD will make their dog feel ‘stoned’. High quality CBD should contain almost zero levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol); a different compound of hemp and cannabis plants which has psychoactive effects. All CBD or hemp products for dogs should clearly state that they are THC-free. Make sure you check the label to be sure.
Though CBD products for dogs haven’t been authorised by a UK veterinary board as of yet, lots of dog owners are seeing the potential benefits of CBD as an alternative, natural supplement or sleep remedy to give their dogs.
If you feed CBD to your dog, they could experience the following benefits to their health:
There is only anecdotal evidence of the benefits of CBD to dogs - though it is sometimes prescribed by vets as an alternative remedy to usual medicines.
Whenever any new supplement or health food becomes popular that hasn’t been officially passed by a veterinary board, there are usually widespread rumours that come along, too. Here are some of the claims you may hear about CBD for dogs:
CBD does appear to have anti-inflammatory properties, so could have positive impacts on a dog that has arthritis, allergies or other painful health conditions that could cause a dog discomfort.
Nope - CBD for dogs isn’t illegal, but in the UK there are legal restrictions around how it can be given to dogs. All CBD dog products need to be THC-free, and at the moment (2023), can only be prescribed by a vet. In future, it may be that CBD-infused dog products are readily available on the commercial market - but for now there are no authorised CBD dog products for sale in the UK.
The commercial viability of CBD products for pets is somewhat ‘stuck’, for now as there are also funding concerns. The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) has authorised it for veterinary use - however, this means pet care brands who want to sell CBD commercially are required to do costly studies in order to market to the public. CBD isn’t patentable, so it’s a big decision to commit to for a company as it’s so costly.
CBD shouldn’t make your dog high, on the condition that it is given in safe, low strengths and contains no THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) - this is the compound with psychoactive properties that can be harmful to pets. All hemp or CBD products for dogs should clearly state that they’re ‘THC-free’.
There is no cure for canine arthritis; any poor pooches with arthritis can only manage the effects and slow its progression. However, there are anecdotal reports that CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties can help ease the joint pain that comes from arthritis.
Many pooch parents supplement their dog’s diet with CBD and report good results. Technically, a high-quality CBD oil should contain nothing dangerous for a dog’s consumption - but do chat with your vet first if you want to try it.
As the research on CBD’s effectiveness for dogs is still underrepresented, there is an element of risk if you use it outside of a vet’s advice. Be extra cautious if your pooch is already on prescribed medication.
As with any alternative supplement or medicine, there is always a risk of use. The risk comes from using a product outside of a vet’s advice, or a cheap product, as it could be low quality or be inaccurate in its packaging or list of ingredients. If the CBD you give your dog isn’t THC-free, then they may suffer from symptoms of intoxication.
Your pooch would ideally havea positive reaction to CBD, and you’ll notice them becoming calmer and more content. Unwanted side effects, however, could include lethargy and acting generally out of sorts. If you’ve given your dog CBD in some form, you should keep a close eye on them afterwards for any symptoms or iffy behavioural changes.
Uh oh - so you may have fed your pooch CBD and something doesn’t seem right. Dogs can become intoxicated by CBD if it’s of a low quality or contains THC, the psychoactive compound also present in the source plant. Get in touch with a vet right away if you notice the following:
There is a lack of evidence at the moment about what medicines or supplements can and can’t be combined with CBD. It’s definitely a good idea to speak to your vet if you’re concerned about any particular medications your pooch might be regularly taking, and whether you should try CBD for dogs.
In official terms, CBD products for dogs can only be prescribed by a vet. Pooch parents might consider supplementing their dog’s diet with CBD if their dog has any of the following conditions:
As CBD oil is thought to reduce anxiety, blood pressure and aid sleep, it has been known to relieve some of the uncomfortable symptoms of cancer in dogs.
Allergies often lead to itching and skin reactions. As CBD has anti-inflammatory effects, it can be used as a natural remedy for allergy symptoms such as rashes and redness. Its calming effects can also aid the discomfort that comes from itching or scratching.
One of the most discussed benefits of CBD is as a natural pain reliever. If your pooch is in pain, either due to joint issues, a health condition or an injury, CBD could provide pain relief.
Joint issues or arthritis can cause a lot of pain and discomfort in your pooch. CBD oil is known for its anti-inflammatory effects as well as a natural pain reliever, so many dog owners use CBD for dogs with joint problems.
Intriguingly, CBD is thought to have anticonvulsant properties, so could reduce the frequency and severity of seizures. This is due to its ability to regulate various physiological processes, and induce a reduction in anxiety and tension.
It could also ease damage to brain cells due to being a natural anti-inflammatory. If you choose to try CBD as a natural remedy for your dog’s seizures or epilepsy, consult with your vet and closely monitor your pooch.
CBD oil is often used for its calming properties - it’s a natural relaxant and could reduce anxiety in dogs. For this reason, it’s a potential remedy for dogs with behavioural issues; for instance if your dog is particularly sensitive around loud noises, visitors, walks or meeting other dogs, or if they have separation anxiety.
As above, CBD oil can be a useful natural remedy for dogs who suffer with anxiety or stress. The anti-anxiety effects of CBD oil in humans are well documented, though it’s still being tested with dogs and the research is still in its foundational stages. It could also be used to aid sleep in dogs if your pooch gets particularly antsy before bed times.
*In all of the above cases, remember the research around CBD for dogs is still very new and not entirely understood. You should always speak with a vet before using any alternative health remedies, especially if your dog is already taking prescribed medicine.
As CBD isn’t yet authorised by a veterinary board in the UK, there is some vagary around recommended dosage for dogs, and variations in a ‘CBD for dogs dose calculator’.
If you do choose to administer CBD to your dog after chatting to a vet, you should add a small amount of CBD oil to your dog’s food (a few drops) to slowly introduce it. If you’re trying out CBD treats, refer to the recommendations on the packaging (a high quality product should instruct accordingly). Monitor your pooch closely afterwards and note any changes in behaviour or symptoms.
There are all kinds of CBD products out there that aren’t technically authorised - even dog CBD gummies.
The best CBD products for dogs will be high quality (this means it won’t be cheap, it will be transparent about how it’s sourced/the ingredients and will likely be organic), and it should clearly state that it is THC-free.
Add any CBD oil to your dog’s food, rather than administer on an empty stomach - and chat to your vet to get their opinion on the products you’re using.
We want to give you all the information regarding CBD for dogs so you can be fully informed to make your own decision. Though it hasn’t been officially passed as a commercial product for pets, the research is still ongoing and there could be some exciting developments in future. For now, the most important things to remember are:
Get in touch with us if you have any questions around CBD for dogs, we’ll be happy to chat with you about it. Or, you could try our hemp products for dogs - such as our tasty new Hemp Chewies - which have similar calming and anti-inflammatory effects as well as a host of natural health benefits.
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