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CBD for Your Dog: Is It a Good Idea? [Understanding the Facts]

Green Shoppers Written by Green Shoppers
Updated on January 24, 2019

Dogs: Man’s best friend. We would go to the ends of the Earth for our furry friends, which is why we go to great lengths to keep them fit and healthy throughout their lives. They are just so important to us, and throughout a dog’s lifetime we can spend an awful lot on medical treatments and vet bills.

But what if there was a preventative measure we could be taking to help our pets stay healthy?

Enter CBD oil. There has been a huge surge in publicity for CBD lately, and it turns out that humans might not be the only ones who can benefit from it. There is a school of thought that dogs, too, might be able to utilise CBD in order to maintain wellbeing, an idea which we will fully investigate below.

What Really is CBD?

Cannabidiol, more often simply called CBD, is one of the numerous compounds that can be found within cannabis.

This is where people start to worry, as cannabis can have some mind-altering effects on humans, never mind in dogs! However, the psychoactive high produced by marijuana is caused by THC, not CBD, and marijuana is illegal to possess or consume in the UK by all accounts. CBD, on the other hand, is legal as long as it comes from industrial hemp, since this plant contains less than 0.03% THC and will not at all get you – or your furry friend – stoned.

As a result, CBD is currently being researched and utilised as a health supplement. Usually taken as a sublingual oil, humans are using CBD to promote general health and wellbeing, as there is a pool of evidence gathering which suggests it could do just that. And, you guessed it, it might actually be able to do the same in dogs.

In order to understand why CBD is a good health supplement, you first need to learn a little about one of the amazing systems in our body.

The Endocannabinoid System

In 1988, the first cannabinoid receptor was found in a rat’s brain by Allyn Howlett and William Devane. After this discovery, a synthetic form of THC was used to find out more, the endocannabinoid system was thus discovered.

Now, scientists think that all life forms have some kind of endocannabinoid system (ECS). Essentially, this refers to a system in our body’s consisting of a network of cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids – meaning cannabinoids that we produce ourselves.

This system works to ensure that our bodies continue to work normally, as the creation of endocannabinoids which bind to corresponding receptors throughout the body creates a signalling system, helping our body to maintain homeostasis. In other words, it helps our body to stay completely in balance, promoting our health and general wellbeing.

As it turns out, dogs have this system, too, and their cannabinoid receptors may be more plentiful than ours. To date, two primary cannabinoid receptors have been identified, called CB1 and CB2. The CB1 receptors exist predominantly in the brain and central nervous system, and it is thought that dogs have many more of these in their brain than we do.

This is why whole-plant cannabis is so dangerous for dogs – if a dog were to consume THC, the high would be much stronger and last longer, and the effects on the body could lead to serious complications or even death.

CBD, however, does not have this effect, and it is thought to stimulate the CB2 receptors more – these are found in the immune system, organs, and tissues. So, with this information, is CBD actually safe for dogs?

Is CBD Safe for Dogs?

There haven’t really been full scientific studies on CBD use in dogs, but research does take place. Anecdotal evidence suggests that there is no harm in giving your dog CBD. In fact, when scientists were trying to find the median lethal dose for CBD in humans, they used to test it out on dogs, and they found that no dose of CBD was lethal.

In fact, since dogs have the same endocannabinoid system that we do, they would likely only experience similar side effects. It is scientifically understood that CBD is well-tolerated in humans, and common side effects include minor ones such as the likes of nausea and drowsiness.

Since a dog’s ECS might be more sensitive than ours, it is sensible to give them smaller doses than humans would use, but it is generally accepted that CBD is safe for dogs as long as it is administered in the right quantities.

What Vets Think About CBD for Dogs

Without concrete scientific studies, vets aren’t likely to say one way or another on CBD for dogs. It is illegal for a vet to prescribe CBD to a dog, since the lack of studies cannot really ensure a pet’s safety. However, that is not to say that you can’t make the personal decision to give CBD to your pet.

In fact, according to Waayb, a US company that produces CBD products for pets, there has not been much resistance from the vet community regarding CBD usage in pets. Since some anecdotal evidence suggests that CBD really does keep our four-legged friends healthy, and since science seems to suggest that it is safe, it doesn’t really matter what vets – who aren’t legally allowed to advise on the matter – think.

Tips for Giving Your Dog CBD

If you want to go ahead with trying CBD for your dog, it’s important that you know enough about the matter to keep your pet safe. As we have said, CBD should be safe for dogs, but probably in lower quantities than in humans. Let’s take a look at some tips for giving CBD to your dog:

  • Do your research: There are several dangers to look out for when buying CBD for humans, never mind dogs. The same rules apply here: Look for products where the CBD was extracted via CO2 extraction, companies with third-party lab reports, and companies that have good, impartial reviews.
  • Don’t ignore your dog’s health: If your dog is actually sick, take it to the vet and get it proper treatment – don’t rely on CBD oil to keep him or her healthy at all times. Just because you give your dog CBD does not mean that they can’t get sick.
  • Find the minimum effective dose: You can’t give a high-strength CBD to your dog and expect it to be tolerated well. In order to keep your pet safe, start with the lowest possible strength of CBD and work your way up very slowly until you find the minimum dose that seems to work – don’t go up from there! The minimum effective dose is where you should stay in order to optimise your canine’s health.
  • Document everything: Keep a journal of your dog’s health and behaviour for several days before you administer CBD, and then after they have been administered the compound. If you’re trying different strengths, document what happens with each strength. Not only will this help with finding the minimum effective dose, but it also means you can catch any complications or side effects before they get serious.
  • Know the warning signs: Dogs, like humans, react differently to different things. This is why it’s important to know the signs of when things might not be right. The following side effects can be experienced by both humans and dogs:
    •  Dry mouth: If a dog increases their water intake and seems thirsty, they may be experiencing a dry mouth. This isn’t serious if it’s a result of CBD intake, but it can be caused by other more serious conditions, so it might be worth keeping an eye on it.
    • Tremors: High doses of CBD may cause tremors, which can be serious in dogs. However, you shouldn’t really be giving your dog high doses.
    • Low blood pressure: A vet may notice a low blood pressure in a check-up, but you may also notice it if your dog seems overly tired or lethargic. This is a cause for concern, so you should disclose information about CBD treatments to your vet and/or stop the CBD treatments immediately.
    • Light-headedness: If your dog seems disorientated or dizzy, they may be feeling light headed.
    • Drowsiness: If a dog seems lethargic and changes its sleeping patterns, they may be feeling drowsy as a result of CBD.

If you suspect your dog is experiencing negative side effects, you should stop CBD treatments immediately. Dogs can’t tell you that they feel unwell, but you can help them by keeping a close eye.

Where to Get CBD Treatments for Your Dog

CBD treatments for dogs are available to buy in the UK. Some companies that sell products include:

  • Extend Pets UK
  • PetWellbeing UK
  • Zooplus

Depending on the type and strength of the product, they can vary quite drastically in price. Some are around £10, while others go up to almost £50.

Final Thoughts on CBD for Your Dog

With an increasing number of humans taking CBD for its potential health benefits, it’s no wonder that people are wanting to get their pets in on the action.

So far, it seems that CBD is a safe, natural supplement that dogs can take, but it is important that owners are aware of all the risks and take care of their pet throughout the process. More research is needed on the matter to concretely say one way or another whether CBD is safe for dogs.

If you really want to go ahead and try CBD for your dog, it’s crucial that you follow the tips we have included in this article – taking care of your pet is the most important thing of all.