Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a compound in the cannabis plant. While marijuana is certainly the most widely recognized form of cannabis, CBD is also present in marijuana’s close cousin, the hemp plant. People have used hemp for therapeutic and healing reasons for well over a thousand years.
CBD oil, derived from hemp, has become increasingly popular over the past couple of years for a variety of medicinal purposes. And just lately holistic veterinary science has begun to embrace CBD oil for many of the same reasons people are attracted to it. CBD oil is thought to be a natural, safe, and effective remedy for an expanding list of behavioral and medical issues in dogs.
- How CBD Oil Works
- How CBD Oil Benefits Dogs
- Research on the Benefits of CBD for Dogs
- CBD Oil Safety and Dosages
How CBD Oil Works
There are over 100 compounds present in the cannabis plant, and each one is referred to as a cannabinoid. Most people have heard of just two of these compounds: THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). Of these two cannabinoids, THC is by far the most well-know. That’s because THC is the psychoactive component of marijuana that gets a person “high.” CBD, on the other hand, has no such intoxicating effect on people. Instead, it has a different, very important property that is very appealing to the medical community and people in general — CBD is a therapeutic cannabinoid that influences and energizes the body’s endocannabinoid system, or ECS, to boost healing and overall wellness.
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
The ECS (endocannabinoid system) is a chain of receptors interconnecting organs, glands, nervous system and brain. Interestingly, there was little known about the ECS until research on the effects of marijuana on the body. It was this research that led to the discovery of receptors in the brain that respond pharmacologically to cannabis. That brought about the detection and identification of naturally occurring cannabinoid compounds in the human body that bind to these receptors. Collectively, this research has substantially enhanced understanding of human biology, disease, and health (see this report and this study for more technical details).
The endocannabinoid system acts like a command center for the body, managing healing and health and maintaining overall balance (homeostasis). All mammals depend on the ECS to manage immune responses. Of importance here is that “all mammals” of course includes dogs. CBD oil collaborates with receptors to act as a natural neuroprotective (protecting neurons from injury or degeneration) agent with many health benefits.
CBD, whether naturally produced by the body or introduced to the body in the form of a supplement, leads to two-way communication between the various and numerous endocannabinoid receptors which enables the body to decrease or increase immune responses as needed. In short, CBD oil supplements are a very natural way of contributing to the body’s maintaining a perfect balance.
How CBD Oil Benefits Dogs
The primary reason CBD is thought to help regulate pain in dogs is that in many cases a dog’s body is deficient in cannabinoids. Introducing CBD supplements in your canine’s diet increases the cannabinoids in the dog’s body and contributes to restoring balance in the animal’s ECS system. If you’re thinking that it might be difficult to administer CBD to your pet, there’s no need to worry — CBD for dogs can be purchased in a few different forms, including CBD dog treats.
Below are a host of ailments that CBD oil can help to minimize or eliminate. For even more health issues CBD helps with, refer to this more general CBD oil article.
Allergies are the body’s overreaction to the presence of a foreign substance — the immune system mistakenly determines the particular substance is a threat. This foreign substance can be anything from mold to pollen to a particular type of food. The immune system tries to protect the body by having mast cells (mastocytes) release histamine. An over-release of histamine can bring about a variety of allergy symptoms including swelling, nasal congestion, hives, and itchiness.
Recent studies suggest that along with anti-inflammatory properties, CBD oil can also prevent the immune system from releasing too much histamine. A study published in Pulmonary Pharmacology & Therapeutics investigated the use of CBD oil to decrease the effects of a prevalent trigger of histamine — raw egg whites. This study was carried out on guinea pigs and concluded that CBD lessened the airway blockage that typically results from released histamine. CBD has also been shown to reduce the inflammation that leads to itchiness, which certainly implies that CBD oil is a realistic approach to treating allergies dogs (as well as humans).
Seizures and Epilepsy
Lately a number of dog owners with pets that suffer from epilepsy and seizures have given their canines CBD oil supplements as a treatment. For some, high levels of CBD helped to manage the animals’ seizures. Over an extended time, CBD oil supplements have reduced not only seizure frequency, but in some cases completely ended seizures altogether.
Scientific studies provide evidence that CBD has a positive effect on drug-resistant epilepsy in humans, and many testimonials from canine owners indicate the same may be true for dogs. Researchers from Colorado State University have just recently focused on studying the use of CBD oil as a possible treatment for epilepsy in dogs. For six months, dogs with a history of experiencing seizures received CBD oil or a placebo. The preliminary results showed that close to 90% of the studied dogs exhibited a significant decrease in seizures.
Lack of Appetite
While there is no one single reason a dog loses its appetite, most often it’s due to nausea. Just like a person won’t have an appetite when nauseous, a dog reacts the same way. In addition to treating general pain, CBD oil is often successful in alleviating digestive issues (which are often accompanied by pain).
Chronic Pain and Arthritis
Arthritis means “joint inflammation.” It causes aches, pain and swelling in the body’s joints, such as the hips or knees. Just as people can get arthritis, so can dogs. CBD oil is a pain reliever, and it can target aching joints to provide an arthritic dog with relief from the chronic pain that accompanies the disease. CBD oil also helps lessen the inflammation that inhibits a dog from healing properly.
Unfortunately, pets — including dogs — can get cancer just as people do. Fortunately, the symptoms that accompany cancer, including chronic pain, loss of appetite and nausea, can often be treated with CBD oil — as mentioned above. A 2016 National Center for Biotechnology Information study confirms that CBD can reduce the side effects of cancer to provide a pet to experience more comfort.
Many behavioral issues in dogs are the result of anxiety or stress, and CBD oil has been found to be a help in reducing both.
- Aggression toward other dogs: Since many cases of aggression are rooted in anxiety, CBD oil can help reduce aggression by reducing a dog’s anxiety levels
- Excessive barking: Often excessive barking is due to anxiety, just like aggression, so CBD oil can be of help here
- Pacing or inability to relax: In anxious dogs, a dose of CBD will trigger a release of neurotransmitters that calm in a natural way
- Fear of thunderstorms, fireworks or other loud noises: Loud noises can cause the brain to release stress hormones, and CBD oil can limit that release
Research on the Benefits of CBD for Dogs
In just the past couple of years the acceptance and level of popularity of CBD has dramatically increased in for dog owners hoping to deal with their pets’ anxiety, pain and other health-related issues. Some have claimed that CBD is a wonder drug, able to cure just about any health problem. The truth, however, is a bit more subtle. But while there may be some that make unrealistic claims regarding CBD oil, actual research-backed science is appearing that indicates real promise for this hemp-based health supplement.
In 2016 some of the first studies were carried out that investigated fundamental questions regarding how CBD is metabolized by, and affects, dogs — and the results were promising. A separate study at Cornell determined that as little as 2 mg per kilogram of body weight of CBD oil twice a day helped increase both the comfort and activity in dogs with osteoarthritis.
Though research on CBD oil for pets is still in its infancy, there are many studies using human subjects that confirm CBD to be a feasible and sensible therapy method for a range of medical conditions — conditions also common in dogs. This research is centered on the human endocannabinoid system, but medical professionals are aware that this system is very similar for all mammals. This implies the results from studies performed with human subjects can be translated to apply to dogs as well. More affirmation should arrive as veterinarians press for further studies to be undertaken on the use of CBD oil for veterinary reasons. Many veterinary researchers are rationally confident that because CBD oil has been shown to be a simple yet effective treatment for human health-related issues, future studies on CBD oil and dogs will reveal comparable results.
CBD Oil Safety and Dosages
CBD oil has been found to be safe for pets, including dogs, to ingest — just like it is safe for human consumption. The effects of CBD oil result from its capability to stimulate the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Often people have concerns about CBD from a misunderstanding of the differences between CBD and THC.
Unlike THC, CBD does not have any intoxicating characteristics. CBD lacks the psychoactive properties of THC (which is a good thing). There have been very few reports of any side effects associated with CBD products intended for use by dogs. What few side effects exist are all quite mild, and typically only occur when the oil is given in servings much larger than recommended.
There are a few ways to administer CBD to a pet, including CBD tincture (CBD in liquid form), CBD spray, and CBD treats. For tincture you’ll use a dropper to directly feed the CBD to the animal or to add it to a favorite food — either method works fine. Spray is a simple and versatile way to add CBD to your dog’s diet, as it can be sprayed onto any type of pet food or treat, or even directly into your dog’s mouth. One of the most convenient methods is to buy CBD dog treats.
There isn’t a single, exact specification of just how much CBD any one pet should get — just as there isn’t a single, universal CBD serving size for people. In general, the amount of CBD that your dog should be given scales up with the animal’s weight. Larger, heavier animals will be given larger amounts of CBD than will be given to smaller, lighter pets.
While there are no standard guidelines for CBD dosing for dogs, a good rule of thumb is to consider a single dose to be about 2 mg of CBD for every 10 pounds your dog weighs: a ten pound dog would get 2 mg, a twenty pound dog would get 4 mg, and so forth. CBD has no psychotropic effects on your pet, and CBD is not a powerful prescription medication, so you shouldn’t be overly concerned about making sure your measurements are “exact.”
If you’re using CBD for your dog’s general well-being the dose amount can follow the above 2 mg (or even a little less) per ten pounds of pet weight. If you’re using CBD to treat a medical condition such as chronic inflammation, arthritis, or joint pain, you might consider upping the dose to about 3 mg of CBD per ten pounds of weight.
How Fast Does CBD Work In Dogs?
If your dog has anxiety problems, CBD oil will typically start to calm your pet within as little as 20 minutes, though it could take up to 60 minutes. For acute pain — sharp pain that develops suddenly — CBD again works quickly for dogs. Your dog should begin to feel relief within 30 minutes.
Chronic conditions are painful problems that develop slowly, and usually worsen over an extended time period. A chronic condition may develop over months, or even years. Chronic health problems include issues such as painful mobility or joint pain. For chronic conditions you’ll need some patience — it might take two to four weeks for the CBD to work for your dog to achieve the best results.
CBD Oil Supplements For Pets
Whether you opt for CBD in tincture, spray, or treat form, the packaging should include some information on dosing — as is the case for CBD for dogs products from EMPE USA.
The EMPE USA products list recommended doses on the product label. For their CBD tincture you place 1 dropper of full in your pet’s mouth, water, or food. For the CBD spray, give 1 to 5 sprays directly into your pet’s mouth, food, water or treats. For the EMPE USA CBD treats give your dog the treats every 12 hours: a dog under 20 pounds gets 1 treat, a dog 21 to 44 pounds gets 2 treats, and a dog 45 to 95 pounds gets 3 treats.