What is CBD oil, and how can it help my dog with anxiety?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the many compounds produced by cannabis Sativa hemp plants. For generations, hemp and its derivatives have been used in many forms by humans due to its therapeutic properties. In recent years its popularity among pet owners has surged.
The potential wellness benefits for dogs include reduced seizures, addressing anxiety, reducing pain and discomfort, and overall well-being.
It is known that cannabidiol works in the human (and your dog’s) body through interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system is essentially a vast network within the body of receptors activated by compounds the body produces naturally. The ECS helps the body maintain homeostasis, a state of balance, and proper function among the body’s many systems. Foreign compounds like cannabidiol are very similar in structure to the compounds produced by the ECS and act in similar ways to promote balance within the body.
Much of what is known so far about CBD’s effectiveness on dogs is anecdotal evidence, consumer experiences, and experimentation.
CBD and Marijuana
Hemp describes non-psychoactive cannabis sativa plants that are grown for industrial and agricultural use. Hemp has many non-therapeutic uses- from textiles to industrial applications. These plants have a much higher CBD content and only trace amounts of THC. Cannabidiol is extracted from hemp in many ways, with CO2 and alcohol extraction considered the safest means of processing.
Marijuana describes cannabis sativa plants grown and cultivated differently from hemp to yield high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the compound with psychoactive content and is what most people associate with cannabis because it causes a “high” or euphoric feeling.
Is CBD Safe for Dogs?
Studies on CBD’s use and safety in dogs and cats indicated that CBD appears to be safe in healthy adult dogs, but further research is needed to understand how cats absorb and metabolize CBD oil. Colorado State University’s 2016 study on CBD in dogs helped determine safe dosages to be used in further research, indicated that CBD was well-tolerated in healthy dogs and that oil formulations offered the most bioavailability.
Even as the research continues, the market and the internet are flooded with false and unproven medical claims, inferior or dangerous products with unknown ingredients sold as CBD or hemp oil. Calls to poison control centers for pets show a dramatic surge in calls for dogs exposed to THC after their owners either gave them marijuana or were given CBD that had unsafe THC levels in it.
Is CBD Legal?
Provided your CBD oil is derived from hemp, it is legal in all 50 states. Some CBD oils are derived from marijuana plants and are therefore considered a marijuana-derived product. These CBD oils are illegal in states where marijuana is not legal. Any oil containing over 0.3% THC is considered marijuana. CBD oils must not contain THC levels higher than that amount. Some companies sell pure hemp oil (that does not contain CBD), claiming it has the same benefits as CBD.
Dogs can be prone to anxiety. It’s normal from time to time. However, consistent or uncontrollable anxiety can develop into an anxiety disorder. If not addressed, severe anxiety in a dog may lead to other problems that can be frustrating, traumatic or even dangerous for both you and your dog.
||Symptoms of Anxiety:
- Trips in the car
- Visits to vet or groomer
- Mailman/visitors to home
- Dog park
- Injury or illness
- Chewing and destructive behavior
- Hiding and avoiding people
- Trembling (may be hard to see visually)
- Tail tucked
- Excessive barking (especially “at nothing”)
- Other vocalization (whining, crying)
- Pacing and restlessness
- Compulsive behaviors (licking, chewing nails)
- Panting and drooling
- Urinating or pooping in the house
- Self-mutilation (biting self or licking a spot until it’s raw, chewing on limbs or tail)
|Long-Term & Separation Anxiety
- Absence or loss of family & pack members
- Trauma (lack of socialization, multiple owners)
- Environmental stress
- Age-related stress
- Lack of physical exercise
- Excessive confinement
- Harassment from other pets in the home
A Breakdown of Product Attributes In Our Reviews:
Form of CBD
The most common forms CBD is sold in for dogs are oil tinctures, capsules, chews or treats, and topical treatments. Some manufacturers also sell CBD peanut butter for dogs.
- Research has proven that oil tinctures provide the highest levels of bioavailability to your dog.
- Chews and treats are useful if your dog does not like the taste of CBD oil but do not offer the precision of giving a dose that an oil tincture does.
- Capsules can provide help you choose a precise amount for your dog and are convenient.
Some CBD products for dogs are enhanced with tasty flavors like bacon, peanut butter, blueberry, apples, etc.
- Avoid products with artificial flavors
- Avoid products with artificial sweeteners in them, as substances like xylitol are fatal to dogs
- You may be able to flavor your CBD oil yourself if your dog prefers it- in gravy, in his food, or on treats that he already has
This attribute describes how much CBD is contained in a bottle or the potency of the oil. A higher number means there is more CBD in the bottle. For an owner who wants to give their dog a higher CBD dose, a more potent oil makes it easier.
Type of CBD
CBD is sold in several forms- full-spectrum or broad-spectrum and as an isolate. Full-spectrum means the product has undergone the least processing, and these extracts typically contain much more of the hemp plant, such as cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. CBD isolate is made through an extraction process that removes all other compounds, leaving only cannabidiol (CBD) itself.
What to Look For:
First things first.
What are the goals with your dog and use of CBD oil? Does he have a specific condition you are hoping to help him overcome or are you seeking to incorporate CBD as an ongoing maintenance supplement for his wellness and general health? These goals should be discussed with your veterinarian. Yes, good quality CBD products are expensive! Especially high-potency ones! Keep in mind that:
- Lower potency products are best for regular, maintenance use of CBD for your dog, and you should always start at a very low dose
- Higher potency products make appropriate dosage for larger dogs easier (more CBD per drop)
- Lower potency makes it easier for smaller dogs so you aren’t out there with a toothpick trying to measure out a quarter of a drop of super potent oil.
- Your dog’s weight, age and how active he is are also going to determine how much he should have.
- If you are considering a CBD product with other ingredients, you want to be sure that not only the CBD but also the other ingredients will not affect how any existing medication is metabolized in his body. Always ask a veterinarian!
Our Recommendations on CBD for Dogs:
Due to the unregulated market, there are a lot of inferior products out there. You want a high-quality product for your dog, and you want to know exactly what’s in it. Here are some guidelines:
- Choose a specifically made product for dogs because some CBD products have ingredients that are poisonous to canines, such as theobromine, xylitol sweetener, or carrier oils like grapeseed.
- Make sure you are getting actual CBD oil, not hemp oil, with clever packaging.
- The most popular and safe form of CBD is in an oil tincture. This has also been proven to be the most effective way for it to absorb, and for pets, the easiest way to ensure a precise dose.
- CBD for dogs should not contain levels of THC above 0.3%. Otherwise, it is considered marijuana, possibly illegal, and unsafe for your dog.
- High-quality CBD oil can be pricey. Don’t choose CBD for your dog based on price.
- The hemp should be grown in conditions where the soil is tested.
- The manufacturer should have a current Certificate of Analysis (COA) readily available. This should reflect an analysis of their product and its content, conducted by an independent third-party laboratory. Reputable manufacturers will issue a COA for every batch of CBD oil they sell.
- Avoid a company that does not prominently display a recent COA for their CBD products.
- Due to how industrial hemp is grown and processed, organic is best.
- Tinctures are best for therapeutic purposes.
- CBD treats are often processed, heated, and it may be difficult to judge potency over time by administering CBD only in chews or treats. While these can be an excellent way to give your dog CBD as part of a wellness routine, if you are concerned about potency and dosage, use an oil tincture.
What is a COA or Certificate of Analysis?
The COA is a certificate indicating that a laboratory independent of the manufacturer tested the CBD oil to make sure the percentages are correct and free from foreign and toxic byproducts.
If the product you are looking at does not have a current (within the last year) COA readily available, move on! If you are buying a bottle of CBD in a store, many of them have a code you can scan on the bottle that will link you to the certificate online if you scan with your phone.
Choose a CBD manufacturer who can provide a current (within the past year) Certificate of Analysis (COA) that shows they have commissioned independent third-party testing. A COA will show information such as the percentage of CBD and THC, along with any contaminants. Some oils have far more THC in them than listed on the label.
Ensure the party who carried out the analysis is an accredited laboratory, not another manufacturer or cannabis company. Many third-party testing “companies” are part of the cannabis industry, and you have no way of knowing if there is a conflict of interest.
The certificate should include:
- A certificate ID
- Indication showing the date of the test, who completed it, and the party that requested it.
- Cannabinoids with the total mg per unit showing how much THC and CBD
- Microbials, Foreign Matter, Heavy metals, Pesticides
Reputable manufacturers will issue a COA for every batch of CBD oil they sell.
The information supplied by Sparky’s Spots about CBD for dogs is meant to serve as a guide only. We encourage our readers to be cognizant of misleading and unproven claims. CBD oil should never replace timely medical care for your dog. The FDA recognizes potential possibilities in the use of CBD, but has not approved it for use in animals. Many claim that CBD oil can cure cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimers. While it is known that CBD oil can help address anxiety, insomnia and pain in humans, and the research for dogs looks promising, the research to understand what the side effects are is still in very early stages. There is even less research for long-term effects on dogs.