CBD For Pets – Everything You Need To Know

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The next time you head to your dog groomer, you might be asked if Fido wants “nail pawlish,” a “shedicure,” a whitening shampoo and rinse or a blueberry facial. And while all of those might make him look different, they’re not going to profoundly change his life, or yours. What will have a big impact on both of you, though, is CBD oil.   

We’ve written about CBD in the past but here’s a quick refresher. CBD stands for “Cannabidiol” and it is the second most significant phytocannabinoid compound found in cannabis after THC or “tetrahydrocannabinol.” While both CBD and THC have medicinal benefits, the main difference between the two is that THC possesses psychoactive properties responsible for the “high” that recreational cannabis users seek. CBD doesn’t have any of those properties. In other words, anyone who tries to get buzzed off CBD oil is destined for disappointment.

In this article, we’ll look deeper into CBD, what it does and why veterinarians in Canada have been recommending CBD for dogs for the past decade. 

What Does CBD Do?

When Cannabidiol is extracted from either hemp or marijuana plants, it can be distilled into various forms, but its most common incarnation is oil. When ingested, CBD oil works by targeting receptors in your brain, central nervous system, and cells that trigger relaxation sensations. That is why CBD is prescribed to humans suffering from anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, and seizures. In fact, according to one Harvard Medicine School professor, CBD is an effective treatment for children suffering from epilepsy when other medicines are not. And again, because CBD is not a psychoactive compound there aren’t any intoxicating side effects.

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What Is CBD Good For? 

One of the most common reasons people use CBD is for pain relief. As mentioned above CBD targets your relaxation sensors and so for those suffering chronic symptoms, like cancer patients, for example, CBD offers relief without the sensation of feeling “high.” Nor does it involve the side-effects of other corporate medicinal offerings which can be really hard on your liver and other organs. It’s also been used to reduce inflammation: one University of Kentucky study showed that CBD reduced inflammation in lab rats without the side effects common to current arthritis treatments. Here is a list of other ailments CBD is typically prescribed for:

  • • Pain relief
  • • Anxiety 
  • • Anti-seizure
  • • Sleep disorders
  • • Appetite stimulation
  • • Stress
  • • Parkinson’s disease
  • • Multiple sclerosis
  • • ADHD
  • • Nausea
  • • Heart Disease
  • • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • • Bacterial infections
  • • Arthritis

Why Is There CBD For Dogs?

So how does all of this information relate to CBD for dogs? Well, in the case of canines, they have a similar endocannabinoid system to humans and so the positive effects of CBD oil usage are comparable. If Fluffy is anxious or suffering seizures, veterinarians will recommend CBD to alleviate her symptoms. In fact, if your dog is showing symptoms of any of the ailments listed above, CBD is an excellent, natural remedy, plus it’s good for:

  • • Hip dysplasia
  • • Cataracts
  • • Pruritus (itchy skin) 
  • • Diabetes
  • • Acid Reflux
  • • Muscle atrophy
  • • Atopic Dermatitis

Is CBD For Pets Different Than CBD For Humans?

The short answer is no. CBD oil works the same for both dogs and their people. The only real difference comes down to labeling. There are different label laws related to products intended for human consumption and those intended for animals. Also, many CBD oils that are dosed for human use could be too strong for small pets. Therefore it’s recommended to buy pet-specific CBD products and note the dosage on every single serving before doling out accordingly. (See the “How Much CBD Oil Should I Give My Dog” section below.)


Is CBD Safe For Dogs?

Yes. CBD is non-toxic, not addictive and has very few side effects, all of which are mild compared to the lists of side effects that come with pharmacological remedies. And as already mentioned, CBD oil does not have an intoxicating effect. There are no known reports of a fatal overdose caused by CBD and part of the reason for this can be summed up by a report from the American Cancer Institute that reads, “Because cannabinoid receptors, unlike opioid receptors, are not located in the brainstem areas controlling respiration, lethal overdoses from Cannabis and cannabinoids do not occur.” 

However, that does not mean your new puppy won’t feel uncomfortable after he wolfs down an entire bag of Vitality CBD Dog Biscuits. As with the consumption of too much of anything, your pup will probably suffer from vomiting or have diarrhea until the excess product is purged from her system. Also, it’s important to note that Health Canada does not regulate all CBD products and therefore it’s important to do a bit of research before choosing a CBD product for your pet: know your supplier; avoid products with harmful additives and learn how your product is prepared.

Can I Give CBD To A Pet Other Than A Dog?

Yes. Because of the reasons listed above, CBD is a safe product that cannot be abused. The worst that can happen is stomach discomfort, excessive lethargy or purging in the form of vomit or diarrhea. However, extensive studies on the long-term effects of CBD oil for pets have not yet been done. And, because pets such as cats, rabbits and other small creatures all have different physiological make-ups, CBD could have varying degrees of success on them. Consider administering a very small amount to your pet, noting its impact, and work from that. As always, it’s best to consult your veterinarian before doing so. Oh, and dumping CBD oil in your goldfish bowl will not be the least bit beneficial for your finned friends.


How Do I Know Which CBD Product To Get My Pet?

As with CBD extracts for humans, there are any number of choices for pets and the best one is simply the one your pet likes most. Most pet owners purchase CBD oil for pets in a bottle or syringe as it’s the easiest to administer – simply squirt it directly into your dog’s mouth or mask it in a treat or other food. Another popular way to give your pup a dose is to give them a CBD biscuit: some options include Vitality, Harmony, and Serenity among others. For cats, there are CBD goodies in the form of dried sardines infused with CBD. 

How Much CBD Oil Should I Give My Dog?

As mentioned above, when it comes to smaller animals, such as cats and rabbits, administer a very small amount at first and monitor your pet’s reaction. Increase dosage in very small increments. The same goes for small dogs but when dealing with larger canines, the chart below can be a good guide. Ultimately, there are five important steps to follow when giving CBD oil to dogs.

  1. Consult your veterinarian before administering a form of treatment. 
  2. Consider your dog’s other health conditions that may impact his ability to metabolize CBD. (For example, does he have kidney problems? Again, refer to your veterinarian.)
  3. Find high-quality CBD pet products that are free of toxins.
  4. Note your dog’s weight, size, and activity level because these factors will help determine what dosage to administer.
  5. Purchase the correct potency for your dog’s size. For example, 300mg, or more of CBD should only be bought for large dogs.
  6. Start with a very low dosage (0.2mg per pound of your dog’s weight once a day) and slowly increase if needed. Monitoring your dog’s response to the CBD (or any medication) is important.