This article is not a substitute for veterinary diagnosis or treatment of any condition, symptom, or disease. Please consult with your veterinarian if your dog is suffering from any troubling symptoms.
Have you heard the buzz about CBD oil for dogs but are doing your research to learn if this is just a hype driven trend or a natural supplement with research to back it up? You have come to the right place.
We designed this guide to give you the information you need to make an informed decision about whether or not this supplement is right for your dog. We will provide links to the original scientific research as we answer these common questions:
* What is CBD and where does it come from?
* Is CBD oil safe for dogs?
* How does it work?
* What does full spectrum mean, and why is it better for my dog?
* What are the science based potential health benefits?
* How can I make sure I buy a quality CBD oil for my dog?
Additionally, we walk you through the research behind each of these specific benefits:
(Click a topic below to go directly to that section)
Understanding CBD: What is it?
CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive compound found in hemp. It is among over 80 naturally occurring substances known as cannabinoids that are found in this special strain of cannabis.
There are three main classes of cannabinoids: endocannabinoids, phytocannabinoids, and synthetic cannabinoids.
Endocannabinoids: These are compounds that are naturally produced by the body as part of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). They are considered “neuroregulatory” molecules which means they interact with the nervous system to promote homeostasis, or balance, to a variety of natural processes.
A prominent example is Anandamide, which among other things, is associated with euphoric feelings, including the so-called “runners high.”
Pytocannabinoids: These are chemical substances that are naturally found in the cannabis plant and include hundreds of compounds, only a fraction of which have yet to be carefully studied for their potential benefits.
The two primary and most well researched examples include CBD and THC. However, other lesser known cannabinoids have also become of interest to medical researchers, including CBG (cannabigerol), CBC (cannabichromene), and CBL (cannabicyclol).
Synthetic Cannabinoids: These are a class of cannabinoids that have been developed in laboratory settings. Their purpose is to mimic the action of natural cannabinoids on the ECS. They are often patented by the pharmaceutical companies that design them.
Unfortunately, included in this class are illegal drugs that have been linked to dangerous and addictive synthetic marijuana for illicit recreational use. On the other hand, pharmaceutical companies are also interested in developing synthetic cannabinoids for novel treatments, for example the FDA approved drug Marinol®.
Now that you know where CBD oil comes from, it begs the question….
Is CBD Oil Safe for Dogs?
You may be concerned about giving your canine companion a supplement made from cannabis. After all, you may have seen news reports about pets overdosing from eating their owner’s marijuana infused edibles or a stash of recreational cannabis.
However, and this is important, CBD oil is made from industrial hemp. This plant is a very special variety of cannabis that contains only trace amounts of THC, the compound that causes the “high” as well as toxicity to dogs in very large doses. This is the opposite of cannabis made for medicinal or recreational use where selective plant breeding has created strains that have extremely high concentrations of THC.
CBD oil is safe for your dog because it does not contain anywhere near enough THC to be a problem for canines, even in relatively large doses. In fact, a small amount of THC is thought to boost the benefits of CBD (read on to learn more).
Furthermore, the safety of cannabidiol has been verified by several scientific studies. This has also been verified at high doses on canines. In fact, as we will explore below, it has a better safety profile than drugs that are currently widely prescribed for pain in dogs, such as opioids and NSAIDs.
How Does CBD Oil Work for Dogs? The Endocannabinoid System
In the process of trying to understand how cannabinoids work, scientists discovered the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) in 1988. The ECS is now considered a distinct biological system that includes specific neurotransmitters and receptors that are found throughout the body.
Over and over, subsequent scientific research has shown a wide variety of ways in which the ECS works as part of a signaling system that promotes homeostasis, in other words balance, across many bodily functions and processes.
Yes, your dog has an endocannabinoid system too! In fact, all animals do (with the possible exception of some very primitive invertebrates). It seems that the medicinal qualities that have been associated with cannabis for thousands of years might not be so ridiculous after all.
The Benefit of Full Spectrum CBD Oil for Dogs
Holistic healers throughout history have often touted the virtues of whole-plant medicine, suggesting that the plant itself has a perfect balance and its healing properties are best taken in the natural context.
That may not be true in all cases since clearly the refinement of certain plant compounds can have its own benefits. However, when it comes hemp, science has started to verify the whole-plant philosophy.
The so called “Entourage Effect” is a term that was coined from cannabis research done in the 1990’s by Israeli researchers led by Raphael Mechoulam, the scientist who first isolated THC and subsequently CBD.
This theory, which has since been verified and expanded to include natural compounds known as terpenes also found in hemp, suggests that even trace amounts of one cannabinoid can enhance the effect of another by amplifying it through the ECS.
It turns out that the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is complicated, sensitive and still holds plenty of mystery that scientists are racing to understand.
You will find that a true full spectrum oil, such as LolaHemp CBD oil for dogs, usually contains trace amounts of THC when you look at the lab reports. This small amount, along with the other cannabinoids naturally found in hemp, can boost the health benefits of a full bodied hemp oil over one based on a CBD isolate, without causing any side effects such as confusion or a “high” in your dog.
Let’s turn next to a closer look at how CBD oil for dogs works by investigating some specific benefits and the research behind each.
How Does CBD Affect Dogs? 10 Potential Benefits
The clinical research on dogs specifically is less well developed than that on humans, as is always the case with advances in medical research. However, it is widely thought that, in terms of the ECS, the same processes apply in both cases. Where possible, our review includes canine specific research, supplemented with studies that document the action of cannabidiol in humans, animals and in vitro.
1. Pain Relief
America is in the midst of an opioid epidemic, thanks in large part to the gross over prescription of pharmaceutical opiates for pain management. The crisis has prompted a burst of new research searching for safer and non-addictive drugs to treat both chronic and acute types of pain.
The most promising has been research into the role that cannabinoids such as THC and CBD play in terms of interacting with the nervous system to mitigate the perception of pain. In fact, a few pharmaceutical drugs have been refined from cannabis for this purpose, and in other cases, these cannabinoids have been synthesized in laboratories for their ability to treat pain.
Luckily for dogs, identifying safer ways to treat pain are likely to translate to veterinary medicine, albeit with a slight delay. It probably won’t be long before pharmaceutical companies are making synthetic cannabinoids for use in dogs. Luckily, natural CBD oil formulated with dogs in mind is already available without a prescription.
Pain is generally classed into two groups: neuropathic and nociceptive.
Neuropathic pain, or nerve pain, is associated with a break down in the nervous system, such as with some neurodegenerative diseases or spinal injuries. Many forms of chronic pain have at least an element of neuropathic pain.
Nociceptive pain is that associated with injury or tissue damage. For example, if your dog has recently had an injury or a surgery, the pain they are experiencing is likely this type of pain.
2. Reduces Inflammation
CBD oil has potent anti-inflammatory effects that have been well researched in repeated scientific studies. Inflammation can be caused by a variety of problems, including injuries, allergies, and chronic conditions.
When it comes to dogs, a variety of conditions can include inflammation, many of which may benefit from CBD oil. For example, inflammatory bowel disease, tick borne illness such as Lyme disease, and dermatitis are all associated with inflammation (among many others).
The traditional “go to” for the treatment of inflammation are NSAIDs, a class of drugs known to have serious, and in some cases, fatal side effects. (Read on to learn more.) This is particularly a problem for conditions associated with chronic inflammation, such as Osteoarthritis (OA).
As our graphic below shows, OA is a serious problem that affects many of our canine companions, and senior pets in particular. In addition to being a source of pain, the progression of OA often leads to a significant decrease in mobility and quality of life for our furry friends. Cannabinoids have been identified as having potential therapeutic benefit for both dogs and people with OA.
Even more exciting? Early research has shown that CBD oil may do such a good job at reducing inflammation due to OA that it can actually prevent nerve damage that occurs with the progression of this disease!
3. General Anxiety
Because of the ECS and its role in regulating mood, cannabinoids have been the subject of a fair bit of research in psychological disorders. Among the most well researched is that of CBD oil and it’s anti-anxiety properties.
In fact, cannabidiol has been shown to be have therapeutic potential for the following types of anxiety in humans:
* Generalized anxiety disorder
* Obsessive compulsive disorder
* Panic disorder
* Social anxiety disorder
We can’t talk to dogs, so it probably comes as no surprise that these categories of mood disorders don’t really map on to our dogs per se. However, the underlying triggers and/or neurological imbalances that cause anxiety problems likely do have more in common than not.
Many holistic vets as well as pet owners have already discovered the calming effect of natural and safe CBD oil for dogs. It's use in the treatment of anxiety related problems such as aggression and phobias is where we will turn to next.
Dog aggression is a common behavioral problem that can be difficult to resolve. Unfortunately, thousands of dogs are surrendered every year to animal shelters because of aggression problems.
The ASPCA has identified 11 distinct types of dog aggression which include:
* Pain induced
* Sexual dynamics
One thing you may notice about the ASPCA list above is that many of these types include some aspect of anxiety – anxiousness about possessions, rank in the hierarchy, or safety. In such cases, CBD oil may be an effective part of an overall behavior modification program to help your dog stay calm in situations that are stressful for him.
Dog aggression is a very complex behavioral problem that includes a wide range of behaviors, severity, and different levels of danger to people or other pets. In many cases, aggression in dogs can require the help of a professional animal behaviorist or experienced trainer to get under control.
If your dog suffers from aggression against people, other dogs, or other pets, talk to a professional trainer about how natural CBD oil combined with training can help make your dog feel calmer and more confident in the face of triggers.
5. Phobias: Fear of Cars, Thunderstorms and Separation
As the graphic below shows, phobias are a common problem for our canine companions. Phobias such as fear of cars, thunderstorms or being left alone all have one thing in common: acute anxiety.
As we covered above, cannabidiol has powerful anti-anxiety effects. Not unlike similar problems in people, such as Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), dog phobias are about the tight association between a trigger (or specific stimulus) and an emotional reaction, in this case, panic.
We already talked about how CBD oil has anti-anxiety effects because of its role in mood regulation via the Endocannabinoid System. However, when it comes to phobias, there is something even more exciting to know about CBD.
Recent research has shown that cannabidiol acts to disrupt the memory of trauma, essentially decoupling the stimulus and conditioned emotional response. In simple terms, CBD can help the brain and nervous system “forget” the root trauma that is often at the core of phobias.
Like aggression, phobias in dogs are complicated behavioral problems that, in severe cases, require the help of a professional trainer. CBD oil is not a cure-all.
On the other hand, CBD oil can help your dog stay calmer while in the presence of common phobia triggers, hastening your progress towards solving her fear problems.
If your dog is experiencing problems sleeping through the night, it is important to rule out a few common causes first. For example, puppies often need to use the potty more often than a full night allows for.
Other conditions such as kennel cough, irritation from allergies, pain from an injury and even congestive heart failure can be the cause of sleepless nights. It is important that you speak with your vet if your dog is having trouble sleeping in order to rule out any of these serious problems.
However, like people, some dogs seem to suffer from plain old poor sleep. In such cases your vet may recommend cannabidiol as part of a treatment plan.
CBD oil is known to play an important role in modulating sleep. Many dog owners have found that their dog sleeps longer and more soundly with daily use of this natural supplement.
Although still in the early stages of research, cannabidiol has shown some promise for its antitumorigenic properties (the fancy word for anti-tumor effect). It has been shown to have some ability to fight tumors in a variety of types of cancer, including (so far): lung cancer, breast cancer, leukemia, glioma (tumors in the brain or spine) and colon cancer.
In addition, for dogs undergoing traditional cancer treatments, cannabidiol may help alleviate some of the unfortunate side effects including pain, nausea, changes in appetite, restlessness and general discomfort.
Another indirect, but important property of cannabidiol has to do with the way that it interacts with the immune system. By reducing oxidative stress, which can lead to tissue damage, CBD can support the body’s natural healing power for those recovering from cancer treatment.
We need to be clear here – this does not mean that CBD oil alone is a cure for cancer. And, it may even interact to increase or decrease the effects of other medications your dog is prescribed. Holistic vets in particular seem most open to safely incorporating this non-psychoactive and natural supplement into a comprehensive cancer treatment plan for canines.
CBD oil may be part of a veterinarian supervised plan of cancer treatment, whether by acting directly on the cancer itself, boosting the immune system, or offering relief from symptoms that result from traditional cancer treatment.
8. Skin Problems
One of the most interesting aspects of the ECS is that it plays a vital role in skin health. It is implicated in critical aspects of the skin such as lipid production, skin cell growth, and the functioning of the sebaceous glands as well as hair follicles.
In fact, the ECS been identified by dermatologists as a promising potential therapeutic target for conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, acne, skin cancer and dermatitis.
When it comes to dogs, there are several skin conditions that can affect quality of life, and cannabinoid may be a helpful and natural alternative to pharmaceutical treatment.
For example, allergic dermatitis is a condition that often develops into dry and patchy areas of itch skin. Common causes of dermatitis in dogs include flea bites, pollen, food allergies or reactions to certain chemicals in shampoos or other products. If left untreated, your dog may scratch affected areas to the point that they become open wounds and potential infections.
CBD oil has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and natural pain relieving properties in addition to promoting healthy skin functions. It can be taken orally by adding drops to food, directly to the tongue, or applied on the surface of the skin at the site of the problem.
It is worth noting that persistent skin problems can be a sign of a more serious underlying problem that may need medical attention. Always check with your vet if your pet’s skin issues are acute or do not resolve within a few days.
Cannabidiol can provide welcome soothing relief to the dog with a variety of skin problems. In addition to addressing symptoms such as itchiness and inflammation, CBD oil actually promotes healthy skin via the ECS and its regulatory role in skin development.
Cannabinoids have been shown to interact with the ECS to stimulate appetite. However, this area of research is still in the early phases and the precise mechanisms are not fully understood.
We do know that CBD has shown promise in terms of helping with nausea, a common cause of lack of appetite in dogs. The ECS has also been identified as playing an important role in gut health, potentially addressing the underlying imbalance that causes some dogs to lose their appetite in the first place.
CBD hemp oil can be an important aid for those canine picky eaters who sometimes are too finicky for their own good. Owners of such dogs tend to rely too heavily on treats and other fatty foods which can impact pet health over the long run. Better to have your pooch enjoying their fully balanced diet.
10. Reducing Other Medications
The table below shows just some of the rather worrying side effects that can come from extended use of many commonly prescribed veterinary medications. Many informed owners are wary about these negative impacts, and rightly so.
In fact, many holistic veterinarians, indeed more and more traditional vets as well, are looking for ways to reduce the use of such medications when safe and natural alternatives are available.
CBD oil, in some cases, can offer a solution to this problem. Let’s take pain for example. The two most common classes of veterinary drugs prescribed for pain are opioids and NSAIDS, both of which have significant side effects, particularly when used to treat chronic conditions.
Recent research shows that cannabinoids work in cooperation with these pain relievers, potentially enhancing their effect. This could mean lowering the amount of other medications, a major win for our furry friends.
Reducing the use of pharmaceutical medications with harmful side effects can improve quality of life as well as health outcomes in many cases. Talk to your vet about how cannabidiol may be a part of your dog’s overall treatment and wellness plan.
How Much CBD Should I Give My Dog?
Here at LolaHemp, we want our readers to be informed advocates for their dog’s health. We asked our partner Dr. Robert Silver DVM, MS, CVA for some dosing guidelines and he provided the data in the table below that we thought our readers would find useful.
It is important to note that the dosing information provided is calibrated to LolaHemp CBD oil for dogs. It may not apply to other brands since they can vary widely in terms of concentration.
Here are a few more tips to keep in mind:
* Start low and increase slowly. This is the general rule of thumb with natural supplements and the same is true for CBD oil.
* CBD oil is safe, even at larger doses. Your vet may prescribe a much larger dose of CBD oil for specific conditions, depending on the situation with your individual dog and their health issues.
* Always consult with your vet. Sometimes CBD oil is so effective at providing relief that it might be masking a more serious problem that needs medical intervention. Better safe than sorry.
* CBD oil can affect different dogs differently. Just like many other supplements, medications and indeed even food, variations in individual dogs can create differences in metabolism.
* CBD can react with other medications. Again, check with your vet before administering CBD to your dog if they are taking prescription medicines for a medical condition.
Find Quality CBD Oil for Dogs
The market for CBD products is currently through the roof as more and more research is coming out demonstrating a myriad of health benefits without the high of medical marijuana or unwanted side effects of pharmaceutical medications.
High demand can translate into conditions that are ripe for scams. In fact, one recent study showed that many such products are often improperly labeled. They may contain high amounts of THC (a big problem for dogs) or even no CBD at all. That is why it is important to do your research before buying CBD for your pet.
Worse, some manufacturers may use cheaper hemp that has been treated with pesticides. These contaminants can build up when the product is refined into hemp oil – definitely not something you want to give your beloved pet.
At LolaHemp, we are committed to providing a quality product because we were inspired to get into this business because of our own little girl – Lola the Chihuahua.
Here is our commitment to quality:
We use only organic, GMO free hemp in our CBD oil for dogs. We believe that only by starting with the best can we ensure the best finished product.
Batch Lab Testing
Many CBD companies out there don’t provide third party labs on their product. If you encounter this, it is a big red flag. As of right now, there is no regulatory agency that supervises the quality of CBD oil. Responsible companies that stand by their product always provide third party lab tests.
Even those companies that do…take a closer look. What is the date of the test? Oh… it’s from three years ago? Okay. Well, we provide third party testing on every single batch. That is the LolaHemp commitment to giving your pet the best.
One more thing. Are you interested in a full spectrum oil so your pet can enjoy the additional health benefits of the “Entourage Effect?” So are we! And, you can see it in our lab results.
Many companies claim to offer a full spectrum oil, but then the labs show CBD is the ONLY cannabinoid present. That isn’t full spectrum – it’s a cheaper isolated form of CBD that lacks the full profile of cannabinoids and terpenes that nature intended.
Commitment to Animal Welfare
My mother and I adopted Lola, a 6 year old chihuahua, from a local organization in 2015. We didn’t know it then, but she would change our lives in more ways than one.
Not long after bringing her home, we learned that she was suffering from debilitating anxiety related to both car and thunderstorm phobias. Desperate to find a solution for her that wasn’t a pharmaceutical grade tranquilizer, we did our research. We finally found the solution that worked for her – CBD oil.
Disappointed with the quality in terms of the full spectrum CBD oil available just for dogs, we founded LolaHemp to fill the niche. We firmly believe in our product and want to get it into the hands of every pet owner that has a dog that can benefit!
Lola also inspired us to get more involved in the animal rescue community. We founded Lolawawa’s Pet Boutique and raised funds to support various shelter, foster and rescue groups who work tirelessly to find forever homes for loving animals in need.
LolaHemp continues this effort by donating 1 bottle of our organic CBD hemp oil to one of our participating rescue organizations for every 4 bottles sold. Helping these abandoned animals with the calming and healing benefits of CBD oil during this stressful time of transition in their lives is our way of helping our furry friends in need find their fur-ever homes.
Conclusion: Is CBD Oil Good for Dogs?
As we have explored in this article, there are many researched backed benefits of CBD oil for dogs. CBD oil made from hemp is safe for your pooch, and in some cases, may even be safer than some commonly prescribed veterinary medications.
This natural cannabinoid has properties that can help with specific issues such as pain, anxiety, skin disorders and sleep (among others!). Cannabidiol works with the body’s Endocannabinoid System and can also be used as a wellness supplement to promote balance across a wide variety of biological processes, even in healthy dogs.
Finally, it is important that you purchase CBD hemp oil that is formulated and dosed with dogs in mind. Look for organic sourcing, third party batch testing, and a demonstrated commitment to animal welfare that goes above and beyond, such as LolaHemp!