The Complete Guide to CBD for Pets

Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

The chances are good that you’ve heard a coworker or a friend talk about CBD in terms of its possible benefits. While these claims have yet to be conclusively proven, CBD may have many benefits for both mental and physical health. 

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the active ingredients found in cannabis plants. Unlike THC, which is the psychoactive cannabinoid that induces the ‘high’ associated with marijuana, CBD is non-psychoactive and thus does not induce a ‘high.’ 

As CBD continues to grow in popularity, some believe that it holds potential benefits for pets as well as owners. Allegedly, CBD has pain-relief and anti-inflammatory properties, which may provide relief for your pets from issues such as arthritis.

Everyone, of course, wants the best for their pet, and it’s important to do sufficient research before introducing any new supplements to their diet. However, with so many CBD products available and so many conflicting opinions on the internet, it can be difficult to find information that’s relevant and dependable. If you find that this is the case, read on. The following is a break-down of everything you need to know before giving your pet CBD.

 

What is CBD for pets?

The main differences between CBD for pets and CBD for humans is the concentration of CBD per unit, and the addition of pet-friendly flavoring and extracts like cod liver oil. (1)

Pet CBD, just like human CBD, comes in three forms:

  • Full-Spectrum: Full-spectrum CBD contains all of the elements naturally found in the hemp plant, including essential oils, terpenes, cannabinoids, and other compounds. Studies have shown that the potential effects can last up to eight hours. 
  • Broad-Spectrum: Broad-spectrum CBD, like full-spectrum, includes other elements from hemp which have been isolated and then ratioed out from the rest of the hemp’s byproducts. This allows for the exclusion of certain compounds, such as THC. Studies show that the potential effects can last up to six hours. When using broad-spectrum, your pet may be able to experience the possible benefits of CBD without consuming any THC, which can be toxic for pets. 
  • Isolate: Isolate is CBD in its purest form. Studies show that the potential effects can last up to four hours. Isolate can be used for pets who are sensitive to THC; it is also odorless and tasteless, so it won’t alter the taste of food if added to a meal. (2)

Brandon Beatty, founder of Bluebird Botanicals, says that there’s usually no difference in the way various CBD oils are manufactured. Although CBD isn’t highly regulated, FDA standards typically require products to specifically label whether the product is intended for humans or pets. (3)

‘I believe the oils are typically identical,’ Beatty states. ‘Some companies might add special flavoring for animals, like bacon for dogs, and maybe something like cod liver oil for extra effect, but more often than not, I’d guess they’re identical.’ (3)

Different types of pet CBD products:

CBD products for pets usually come in the forms of soft chew tablets, capsules, tinctures, and topicals. (4)

  • Soft Chews: Soft chews are a convenient way to give CBD to pets who are older or who have trouble chewing firmer foods. They still provide the meaty taste that pets desire, while also delivering CBD. They come in a variety of flavors, such as chicken or turkey. (5) You should make sure to give them to your pet in careful moderation.
  • Capsules: Capsules make CBD bioavailable and easier to absorb. Capsules offer convenient, error-free dosing so that you don’t have to do any guesswork. They can be broken open and sprinkled over food, or given to your pet as an entire capsule. (6)
  • Tinctures: Tinctures can have a longer shelf-life than some other options; they also tend to have more concentrated dosages of CBD.
  • Topicals: Topical salves can deliver hemp oil extract, which can potentially help to relieve skin irritation, wounds, and insect bites; typically, they are applied directly to afflicted areas. 

These products vary in dosage, so it is important to consider your pet’s needs to determine which one is best. To figure out which dosage is best for your pet, you must consider two factors: their weight and the severity of their condition. Various companies make their products with different dosing tiers, often depending on weight. (7)

Example Calculations:

If you want to give your 45-pound dog a low dosage, you would multiply their weight by .05 to get 2.25 MG (45 x .05 = 2.25 mg) / twice daily

If you want to give your 45-pound dog a medium dosage, you would multiply their weight by .125 to get 5.63 MG (45 x .125 = 5.63 mg) / twice daily

If you want to give your 45-pound dog a high dosage, you would multiply their weight by .25 to get 11.25 MG (45 x .25 = 11.25 mg) / twice daily 

It is recommended to start your pet off on a low dosage and to watch their response to the CBD carefully. You should always consult a vet if you’re unsure of how much to give, or if your pet starts to experience any side effects. (7)

Potential CBD benefits for your pets:

Experts know that cannabinoids react with endocannabinoid receptors, found in the central and peripheral nervous systems of all animals – including us. These systems help to maintain balance and good health in the body. (8)

Mark Verdino, MD, senior vice president and chief of veterinary staff at North Short Animal League America, says that they don’t know whether CBD actually helps with pain or simply makes your dog care less. It has been observed that pets tend to react less to low-level pain stimuli, such as arthritis and similar ailments, when they take a CBD product. He also explained that they seem less reactive to various anxieties. 

‘At night time when the lights are dimmed down, it’s dark out, they don’t see it well in the dark, and he gets a little spooked. And when I give him the CBD, he seems to just go to sleep,’ Verdino says.

It’s still unclear whether CBD actually helps pets with anxiety or it’s simply making them sleepy. Either way, Verdino says that a symptom is presented and CBD seems to dissolve it. (9)

Dog owners often suggest that CBD can help with pain, as well as possibly control seizures. According to Dr. Jerry Klein, the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) Chief Veterinary Officer, CBD potentially has properties that could be used for:

  • anti-inflammation
  • cardiac benefits
  • anti-nausea effects
  • appetite stimulation
  • anti-anxiety impact
  • possible anti-cancer benefits

Possible drawbacks:

Before you decide whether CBD is right for your pet or not, you must assess the risks. The FDA has not approved CBD usage for medical purposes, nor have they recommended dosages. Make sure to start off with a small amount, and you can add more based on your pet’s reaction. (8)

If your pet is already on a medication, it’s important to discuss this with your vet to make sure that CBD won’t cause any negative interactions, or require changes in the existing medication’s dosage. Safety studies have shown that CBD can cause a dose-dependent increase in liver enzymes. Monitoring your pet’s health and overall well-being is essential if you plan to give them CBD on a long-term basis. (10)

Research has shown that CBD could have possible side effects on dogs, including:

  • Dry mouth: Research shows that CBD can decrease saliva-production. Always observe your pet to see if there’s an unusual increase in thirst; this may indicate dry mouth.
  • Lowered blood pressure: If given in high doses, CBD can cause a temporary drop in blood pressure. Even if the drop is small, it may result in a brief feeling of light-headedness. 
  • Drowsiness: When on higher doses to help with anxiety, dogs can experience faint drowsiness.

Verdino had some advice for anyone considering CBD for their pet: ‘I recommend people use a pet-specific product just so that they know that the concentration is appropriate, that there’s nothing else in it … because look, this is a fairly unregulated industry.’ (9)

What to look for before purchasing

If you make the decision to try giving your pet CBD, it’s important to keep a few factors in mind when shopping around. No two oils are the same, and you always want the highest-quality ingredients for your furry friends.

  • Organic products are your best bet: Make sure that the product is organic. If you can’t find any organic products, just make sure that your choice doesn’t contain pesticides, fungicides, or any other toxic substances—just as you would with any other product.
  • Don’t be cheap: As with most things, higher quality comes at a higher price. Cheap CBD products may contain substances that are toxic for your pet.
  • Do your homework: Reliable manufacturers provide certification of the amount of CBD in their product. Products for pets should contain lower levels of CBD and no THC. (8)

 

Conclusion

Whether you have a cat or a dog, CBD can provide some of the same potential benefits as it does to humans. If you choose to give CBD to your pet, experts recommend products that are designed specifically for them.

You should always do your research, and find out whether the company is outsourcing their CBD or making it themselves. Is the product really organic? Does it come with a certification? As with anything else, make sure the CBD you give your pet is as safe and high-quality as can be.

 

Disclaimer: This article is based on our independent research. While our team does everything in their power to provide accurate and current information from credible state-run websites and resources, we are not lawyers or legal experts. As such, none of the following information should be interpreted as legal advice. Content on these pages is provided for informational purposes only and those with legal concerns should consult experts within their state, such as the FDA.

 

SOURCES

1) “CBD for Pets Vs. Humans: What’s the Difference?”, Source: https://joyorganics.com/cbd-for-pets-vs-humans-whats-the-difference/#:~:text=The%20biggest%20differences%20between%20CBD,for%20them%20is%20typically%20recommended

2) “COMPARING CBD ISOLATE AND FULL SPECTRUM CBD”, Source: https://dope.dog/blogs/dogs/comparing-cbd-isolate-and-full-spectrum-cbd 

3) “Ask a Stoner: What’s Different Between My CBD Oil and My Dog’s?”, Source: https://www.westword.com/marijuana/whats-the-difference-between-my-cbd-oil-and-my-dogs-10916801

4) ”CBD Products for Dogs”, Source: https://www.cbdmd.com/cbd-for-pets

5) “CBD Soft Chews for Dogs”, Source: https://www.cbdmd.com/cbd-for-pets/cbd-for-dogs/cbd-soft-chews?irclickid=3EL0%3AzzsVxyLUPg0MdV3iVCmUkE1V%3AShRTrXTg0&irgwc=1&utm_source=impact

6) “What are CBD Living Pet Capsules”, Source: https://avecbd.com/products/cbd-living-pet-capsules-750-mg/

7) “How Much CBD Should I Give my Cat or Dog?”, Source: https://www.milehighpawducts.com/cbd-dosage-chart-for-dogs-and-cats/

8) “CBD Oil for Dogs: What You Need to Know”, Source: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/cbd-oil-dogs/

9) “CBD Oil For Dogs: A Veterinarian Explains The Pros And Cons”, Source:  https://www.huffpost.com/entry/cbd-oil-dogs-pros-cons_l_5d77b7e6e4b0645135754d14

10) “FAQs about CBD Use in Pets”, Source: https://www.aspcapro.org/resource/faqs-about-cbd-use-pets