For how quickly the world fell in love with CBD, it seemed like we automatically made it okay for our dogs to take it too.
(Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)
Perhaps one of the first instances where a new medical craze was brought along to our furry friends as well, there’s been a growing trend of people giving their dogs CBD Oil for an array of issues including everything from socializing problems to digestive issues. Yes, for as much as we hear about CBD being a miracle drug for humans, we have heard just as much about it being amazing for our dogs as well. Granted, we understand the skepticism (which we’ve felt too), which is why we wanted to learn more too.
Although we’re still in the infancy of studying CBD, early signs have pointed that it’s not only great for humans but other animals with an endocannabinoid (the receptors of CBD) too, (including man’s best friend). And if you’ve been considering taking the leap to give your dog CBD oil soon, then there are a few things you should consider beforehand. Luckily for you, we’ve put together the lowdown on what you need to know about your dog taking CBD and how to get them into it proper. Check it out below:
The Best Products
I’ve compiled the best CBD dog products here. It’s important you pick products that are not only healthy for your dog but also taste good. If you can get your pup on the habit of taking CBD consistently, the products on the list above should be able to help a variety of ailments including anxiety, crate training, new environment, arthritis, natural aging, and agitation.
The Big Boom
The passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, industrial hemp became federally legal for the first time since the early 1900s. This legalized a large portion of the CBD industry nationally, primarily the plants that don’t contain THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) which usually is derived from female plants (which contain THC and CBD). Instead, industrial hemp is primarily grown as male plants, which only contains CBD, and thus, giving us an entirely new industry all across the United States that’s estimated to hit $22 billion by 2022, according to Rolling Stone. Yes, we’re entering a new ‘Green Rush’, one where a lot of entrepreneurs across the spectrum (including in the pet industry) have wanted to get their hands on.
Despite CBD still being in its early stages, the lineup of products we’ve seen has had a serious boom over the years. According to Consumer Reports, an estimated 64 million people have tried CBD, which is anticipated to rise even further as word-of-mouth over the products spread. Furthermore, the plant isn’t just used by young people, with Baby Boomers becoming one of the fastest-growing segments of users out, increasing at 25 percent over the past year alone, as noted by AARP. And for something to spread so quickly, we have to pause and ask: what value do people (let alone our pets) take from this?
What Do We Use CBD For?
Perhaps the most complicated aspect of learning about CBD is understanding why exactly people take it. If you were to ask any current CBD user the exact question of “what do you use CBD for?”, you’ll be given a different each time, with some people reporting that it heals everything from aches and pain to others stating it alleviates anxiety. While a lot of these reports have been unproven, there’s been not only a strong word-of-mouth presence in support that has a solid amount of action to stand behind it; in fact, in 2017, we reported that nearly half of people who use CBD stopped taking traditional medicine. Phenomenons like that don’t happen often, which begs the question: Does this really work?
Granted, the effectiveness of CBD depends on quite a few factors, including the source, strength, medium of ingestion, or even if it’s really CBD (according to a 2017 survey by U Penn, over 70 percent of CBD sold online was mislabeled). While the industry has made strides since federal legalization, there’s also a fair amount of bad actors who are out to sell whatever they can. However, this is why before you buy for yourself (or your pets) there are a few things you should consider about sourcing.
With CBD, there are a few different extraction processes, which are commonly referred to as CBD isolate (no THC), broad-spectrum (might contain THC), and full-spectrum (contains all aspects of the plant, including THC). The majority of products you’ll see in states where recreational and medical marijuana are illegal will contain isolate, as it has the least amount of THC in it, however, that’s not to say there aren’t evangelists for broad or full spectrum.
A big reason that people are more into broad or full spectrums is they argue that the effects are better. Additionally, as it goes with many other health crazes, a lot of the CBD industry tries to keep as much of the product as natural as possible, which is why so many focus on having vegan or organic lines. While it’s heavily contested and disputed, the juries still out on how exactly the strength compares in each spectrum. This is why it’s an interesting time to look into not only the different uses of CBD but which patients find their version of the medicine effective.
The most common reasons people take CBD include pain relief, anxiety (which includes PTSD, general anxiety, stress, depression, and social anxiety), epilepsy, and now with legalization, other uses like athletic performance enhancement/recovery have sprung up as well.
Finally, CBD is often labeled as a ‘miracle drug’ because it naturally fits with our Human Endocannabinoid System, which UCLA Health’s Cannabis Lab refers to as “arguably one of the most widespread and versatile signaling molecules known to man.” This is essentially how our body takes in CBD, which is why so many people have found different uses for its effectiveness. However, that still doesn’t answer why did we start giving it to our dogs.
Why We Started Giving CBD Oil To Our Dogs
The odd thing about giving CBD to our pets is that it’s probably one of the only substances we started taking and immediately found it okay for animals to do as well. Part of the reason we found acceptance so quickly is that not only is CBD natural, but natural for dogs to take as well; in fact, as noted by Canine Journal, both humans and dogs have an endocannabinoid system…the same as we mentioned above for ourselves. And for that, we started experimenting with how CBD could possibly help our furry friends with the same issues we face too.
The popularity of CBD for dogs started out because there was a genuine belief that what it did for us could also be done for dogs. In many ways, the same social phenomenon we saw in humans started to reflect in pet owners as well, with claims that it helped older dogs with joints pains to skittish dogs with anxiety from fireworks. Although the research is still in its infancy, this has blown up as an industry, which CNBC notes that research estimates for pet CBD alone could be worth $1.16 billion by 2022. Despite its popularity though, we’re still working through how exactly CBD works for our pooches.
While there have been some studies conducted, the overarching research is limited. In light of these setbacks, early quantitative research that examines the effects of CBD on dogs has been promising. Especially as many of these use cases are the same we’ve found in humans, the parallels have been outstanding, and provide promise into what the future could hold between our dog’s relationship with CBD as well as how it correlates with our own. Here are a few of the categories on what we’ve found:
One of the first early uses of CBD for dogs has been pain management. While we often hear about older pet owners using CBD for their dog’s joint pains, the usage has become much more extensive than that, with research to back it up as well. According to a study by Cornell University published by the Frontiers in Veterinary Science, CBD was shown to be helpful in a sample size of older dogs with arthritis pain. We’ll note that the study, while conducted properly, still showcases a good point in how we look at researching subjects like pain management and CBD for dogs: it’s hard to gauge just how effective the management actually is.
As we’ve already seen different CBD companies offering dog treats in different dosages, the general assumption is that the owners are giving these recommended amounts based upon the dog’s weight and size. While that’s the conservative norm, there already have been early cases of owners giving their dog too much CBD, which can pose greater health risks within itself. Yet, it’s difficult for us to understand how much pain our dog might be in beyond them outright screaming, which is why it’s best to bring your dog to the vet if you feel as though they might be experiencing any aches or pains before administering them CBD.
When talking with your vet, it’s important to get a good gauge on how much pain your dog might be in, as well as what dosage of CBD might be right for them. Although there’s a grey area in regards to veterinarians actually giving CBD as a recommendation, a lot of them agree that they’ve had patients who’ve claimed that it can help. The most common use that’s been seen is recurring aches (particularly, joint pains in taller or bigger dogs), which often come with old age regardless. Even still, talking with your vet will help in understanding if CBD is right for your pooch, as well as what type of CBD product might be best for them (such as infusions with fish oil or Omega-3s for inflammation).
As we’ve seen CBD being used for human seizures and epilepsy, the treatment might remarkably be the same for pets as well. The American Kennell Club is noted for trying to test this theory, particularly in early clinical trials that involve 12-week sprints of using CBD versus a placebo. Although the research is still early, this could become a pretty interesting development, because while canine epilepsy only impacts less than 1 percent of dogs, it opens the door to exploring just how CBD can be used in impacting common ailments between our pets and ourselves as well.
As noted by Lola Hemp, one area of high ECS (endocannabinoid systems) is in the gut, which is why many pet owners have noted CBD to be helpful in easing gut health. The particular places it’s been helpful have included digestion problems such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), constipation, acid reflux, and nausea. Furthermore, CBD has also been helpful in easing food allergies or gluten sensitivity. Although still an early candidate, early studies have suggested that CBD can help quite a bit in our dog’s digestive health (as well as with humans too!).
Anxiety is always most visible in dogs, with many dealing with certain instances of anxiousness (such as separation anxiety) or holding onto a specific learned behavior from their past (such as lashing out at someone that resembles an abuser). What makes a dog’s anxiety so difficult to deal with is the frequency and severity of it; for example, a dog that might get scared of fireworks on the 4th of July may or may not need CBD, while trying to treat separation anxiety with only CBD might be more of a challenge. For this reason, it’s important to take a step back and look at what exactly it means to be responsible administrators of CBD for anxiety in our pets.
One of the dangers people face when treating their dog’s anxiety with CBD is becoming reliant on it as a crutch. Quite simply, there are certain behaviors we need to train out of our dogs, such as learning how to stay calm when we’re not home or not lunging at other dogs or people. This can be a challenge communication-wise because once a dog has been administered the CBD, it’s hard to get a gauge on when it weens off. However, that’s why (like with pain management), it’s best to consult with an expert to truly get a diagnosis and action plan.
When speaking with your vet, be mindful that the focal point of your conversation shouldn’t be “should I give my dog CBD?” but rather “what’s the best plan for alleviating my dog’s anxiety, and how can CBD possibly help?” Ultimately, your vet will probably want to go over what your dog has been doing, any behavioral things you can begin teaching in your day-to-day, and how you plan on implementing CBD into this routine. Try to establish checkpoints of how your dog’s treatment has been going, as well as how you can start weening them off of their dosage or CBD entirely. Remember, this is a catalyst to helping your dog into a better life, not the end solution.
As one of the most exciting developments in CBD for dogs, treating anxiety with it could be an absolute gamechanger. An incredibly popular option amongst pet owners, it’s going to be interesting to see how the market develops, particularly in what products might be infused with CBD to further help pets in other things going on as well. However, even with all the hype, the traditional veterinary world still has its concerns, which has opened a whole can of worms over what comes next.
For the best CBD products aimed at anxiety, there’s a great list of products here.
How Has The Veterinary World Responded?
While the veterinary industry isn’t exactly against CBD, there’s still some concern in regards to coming up with a consensus opinion. As noted by CNBC, neither the FDA nor the American Veterinary Medical Association has yet to make a public statement in support or against our pets taking CBD, which makes sense given how the industry is still by-and-large at its foundation. However, that’s not to say there aren’t certain overall concerns that those working in the field haven’t brought up.
Perhaps the biggest criticism of CBD for our pets that come from vets is simply not employing what they were educated to do…and rightfully so. Diagnosing what could potentially be wrong with a dog is not up to the owner, but a medical professional, and regardless of how natural or harmless some people believe CBD can be, it doesn’t negate the fact that it’s still a substance being given to an animal that has an elementary level of communication with us. Furthermore, vets (as well as researchers) are still trying to figure out how CBD reacts with certain breeds of dogs over others, which can play a pretty pivotal role in how it gets diagnosed and in what dosages. However, despite these limitations, many vets are still giving CBD the green light.
Even with the limited knowledgebase behind diagnosing CBD relative to the rest of the veterinary field, many vets are still working with owners if they want to give their pet a shot with the substance. The primary reasoning behind this goes back to the inherent design of CBD in our pet’s bodies, which is that it’s reactive with our endocannabinoid systems, defining it as a natural remedy. Furthermore, most vets agree that as long as a patient isn’t self-diagnosing or consulting an amateur on how much CBD their dog should take, then it’s a relatively harmless substance to ingest. However, the dangers behind it have started to rise up with increased usage, which has been the cause of some concern between vets, owners, and the dog community as a whole.
The Dangers of Dogs Using CBD Oils
Although there’s yet to be a reported overdose of a dog on CBD, there certainly have been plenty of cases of poisoning. According to the ASPCA’s Poison Control Center, there’s been a 700 percent increase in marijuana-related pet poisonings in 2019 alone, which is a grave cause for concern amongst owners. While it’s true that every new substance like CBD is going to have those who overdo things, this is still a widely unregulated industry, which comes with the territory.
Beyond just consulting with your vet over if CBD is right for your dog and how much they should take, the other half of the equation is what products they should be taking. The industry hosts a lot of bunk items, which while most will be harmless to your dog, others can be made with filler or junk, which can cause trouble in itself. Furthermore, while mixing an oil or tincture into your dog’s food might be fine, going overboard on certain CBD treats can not only cause tummy aches but lead to real issues as well. And finally, don’t forget that in states where marijuana is recreationally legal, some treats that are designed to be CBD treats for dogs can contain slight to moderate amounts of THC in them, which your dog might have a terrible reaction to.
Ultimately, talking with your vet will help in preventing the most common issues that could occur with your dog, which is why we stress it as a first solution. However, if you do find yourself where an accident may have occurred, the ASCPA lists the following as common symptoms of CBD/THC pet overdose:
- Urinary incontinence
- Some pets with larger exposures have even become recumbent
Granted, as most dog owners will tell you, there could be any number of reasons that these symptoms are occurring. The difficult part here is determining if it was the CBD that caused or not, as well as how heightened your emergency might be. A good rule of thumb with our pets is that it’s better to be safe than sorry, so even if it turns out your dog was coincidentally throwing up from eating too much grass, having that assurance over knowing it was because of a new CBD regiment could literally be a lifesaver. Finally, if you feel as though your dog had CBD that was either a bad batch or poisoned, contact the ASPCA’s Poison Control Center ASAP at the number listed at the bottom of this article.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the CBD dog industry is that it’s still very much in its infancy. In a lot of ways, this is the most exciting time to be involved, getting in and learning about the potential of how we can improve the lives and health of our furry friends. On a much larger level, however, there are still some concerns over how this industry will develop, as well as to what regulatory bodies will oversee the production of CBD for dogs and the types of ingredients being allowed. Remember, even though most of what we’re making can be consumed by humans too, we still don’t know small things such as how CBD might interact with other substances once ingested by a dog, and for that, we’re still very much experimenting.
The biggest issue with this ‘experimental’ phase is oversight over scalability, which could become dangerous if regulators don’t act quickly. According to Bloomberg, in 2019 alone it’s estimated that approximately 10 percent of the CBD market will go towards pets, making them a primary consumer more so than in any other natural remedy or industry. As one of the first times that we’ve had a substance we can share with our pets, this is an exciting time, but also one with its hesitations over what they can and can’t ingest.
One of the first things we should consider with implementing regulation on CBD dog oils, tinctures, and treats is what substance that can and can’t be used in combination with the CBD. Even those who are making CBD oils for humans that they advertise as safe for dogs needs to be thoroughly checked that a dog can have some as well. Additionally, improving labeling on the packaging, including what ingredients are in there as well as the potential side effects for our pets is an absolute must, as well as looking into how different combinations of foods or other substances that might affect the dog too. While we already have a relatively good grasp on what dogs can and can’t have, this is still a subject we’re learning about, and when it comes to innovation, sometimes new things can have unfortunate consequences.
All-in-all, it’s an exciting time to be in the CBD industry (especially for our furry friends). While there are some roadblocks and setbacks ahead regarding an ironclad set of what they can and can’t have, the future is looking good. A big part of this will be how we can continue to create new and great solutions for our dogs, which could even improve certain everyday functions with them as well, such as easing them on car trips or helping them gain their appetite back. If done right, CBD could establish a foundation for dogs to live the best we’ve ever seen them, which is a remarkable feat in its own right.
Tips For Easing Your Dog Into CBD
Consult Your Vet
As we stated above, your vet is going to know best, which is why you should talk to them first about if CBD is right for your dog. Make sure to be forthright and honest with everything you know, as well as walk out of the office (or call) knowing the exact amount of CBD you should be giving your dog per their weight and diet restrictions, as well as if there are any red flags you should look out for. Even though this is a new medicine, your veterinarian knows much, much more than you do about your dog (no offense) which is why they should always be your first go-to with any new substance.
Know Why Your Dog Needs It
While administering CBD has been a growing trend for dog owners, that doesn’t necessarily mean your pet needs it. Despite its wonders in curing things like anxiety or appetite, these can sometimes be symptoms of bigger problems that CBD alone can’t solve. Ultimately, CBD can either play a great catalyst in helping get over existing problems, or in helping to cope with life-long ones. Remember, this is a medicine, which while humans might take it recreationally or for problems like social anxiety, that doesn’t mean your dog needs to be like you. Quite simply, sometimes man’s best friend is just fine how they are.
Have An Action Plan For How They’re Taking It
Even if your dog does need CBD, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to like it. To combat this, a helpful tip is putting your dog’s CBD oil in their food or inside a treat like a scoop of peanut butter. Certain companies have started to develop CBD dog treats, which have been a great alternative to trying to squeeze tinctures in their mouths. Ultimately, you know your dogs taste best, so pick which method you think they’ll love the most and ease them into things gradually and slowly.
The other half of your action plan needs to understand when and why they’re taking CBD. Even though you might have CBD in your possession doesn’t mean it’s the appropriate time or emergency for your dog to be taking it. Consult with your vet what symptoms you see that require them to take CBD, as well as the proper way to dose them on it.
Know What To Do In An Emergency
As all of us would be heartbroken if something happened to our pet, it’s imperative you have a backup plan in case your dog has a bad reaction to CBD. Write down the ASPCA’s Poison Control Center’s number at 1-888-426-4435 and place it on your fridge or store it in your phone. Trust us, it might be a lifesaver.
Keep Your Behavior Consistent
With your dog getting used to CBD, it’s important you keep your relationship and routine the same with them. For example, if you’re giving your dog CBD for social anxiety, then going about socializing with them normally will help in the process when you eventually ween them off. In short, this isn’t a time to give your dog CBD and let them be, but rather embrace this an opportunity to get to know them better, as well as grow your relationship further.