CBD (hemp oil) treats are becoming more popular to give pets, and some of the same dangers exist as with THC. Find out the symptoms and treatment plans. If you have spent any time researching cannabis for dogs, and specifically cannabidiol (CBD) you have probably wondered whether these products are safe. Can I give my dog a CBD gummy? It might take some experimenting to find the right amount to give your own fuzzballs. That’s okay—CBD is safe and natural, so no worries if your pet gets a little
FAQs about CBD Use in Pets
A: Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a cannabinoid produced by the plant Cannabis sativa, commonly known as marijuana. After many anecdotal reports of CBD’s potential health benefits, studies are now underway to look at the potential benefits of CBD for controlling pain from conditions such as osteoarthritis, calming anxious pets, and as a possible treatment for epilepsy in dogs. CBD is being used by many pet owners today, so it’s essential to know enough about it to discuss the potential risks of use.
Q: Is CBD psychoactive?
A: No; however, there are several possible reasons a dog who has ingested CBD may look high:
- The product that the pet ingested contains both THC and CBD. There are many products on the market, some even labeled for use in pets, that contain both CBD and THC at varying concentrations, so check the labels or look up the product online to see what’s in it.
- The pet ingested enough of a CBD product to cause THC toxicity. Hemp can legally contain up to 0.3% THC, so if a pet ingests a large amount of a hemp-based CBD product, mild THC toxicity can occur.
- The product has not undergone quality assurance testing and contains THC.
- The dog also found some marijuana or THC edibles. Ask about any other cannabis products in the home.
Q: What are the most common signs reported in pets after the ingestion of CBD products?
A: Vomiting, lethargy, inappetence, and diarrhea are the most common clinical signs reported. Ataxia can occasionally occur with large ingestions.
Q: How do I treat these cases?
A: Most cases need no treatment, aside from symptomatic care for gastrointestinal upset if it occurs. If it’s a large dose, where the THC content might be a factor, mild sedation, urinary incontinence, hyperesthesia, and ataxia could develop, and the pet should be confined to prevent injury from misadventure. If you see significant signs that look like THC toxicity, treat the pet in front of you and provide IV fluid support, anti-nausea medication, and good nursing care as needed.
Q: Is there anything special I need to know about pet hemp treat overdoses?
A: Products sold as “soft chews” can have an osmotic effect when large amounts of chews are ingested and pull fluid from the body into the gastrointestinal tract. In mild cases, this can lead to diarrhea and dehydration. In severe cases, hypernatremia, hyperglycemia, hyperkalemia, azotemia, and acidosis can occur. Aggressive fluid therapy, while monitoring hydration status and electrolytes in these pets, is critical.
Q: What about interactions with other medications? Any long-term effects to be concerned about?
A: CBD is an inhibitor of cytochrome P450 and has the potential to affect the metabolism of other drugs. While this appears to be of minimal clinical significance in most cases, this may be important when CBD is used in a pet for seizure control. Doses of other anticonvulsants may need to be adjusted. Remember that owners may discontinue anticonvulsants on their own if they feel that CBD is controlling their pet’s seizures, so this is an important discussion to have.
CBD has also been shown to cause dose-dependent elevations in liver enzymes in various safety studies. This has not been noted in acute overdose situations but could be a concern in pets taking CBD long-term. Monitoring liver enzymes and total bilirubin in these pets is recommended.
What to Know If You Want to Give Your Dog CBD
Our mission is to help save dogs’ and cats’ lives through our educational content. To support our efforts, this page may contain affiliate links. We earn a commission for qualifying purchases – at no cost to you.
Is CBD a cure-all, snake oil, or something in between?
If you have spent any time researching cannabis for dogs, and specifically cannabidiol (CBD), you have probably found yourself wondering whether these products are safe, and even if they will offer any real benefits for your pained, anxious, or elderly dog.
The simple story about CBD is that there is no simple story about CBD. Though CBD is a non-psychoactive chemical derived from cannabis or hemp that won’t get people or animals high like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it still falls into both a medical and bureaucratic black hole where it can be nearly impossible to extract definitive information.
But we have done our best to stare into the CBD abyss and pull out as much as possible to help you decide whether it might be good for your dog. As you’ll soon see, vets are placed in a difficult position when talking about these products, but you will hopefully walk away from this article with enough information to help you make a more informed decision.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol for Dogs — Quick References
CBD is derived from either hemp (the rope and fabric stuff) or cannabis (usually the recreational stuff). It can be easy to get, is purported to offer many health benefits for pets (and people), and comes in anything from pills and oils to specialty chews and treats. Often, you will find CBD in the form of an oil or soft chew that can be given orally, although there are other products like biscuits and capsules easily found online. Most importantly, unlike THC (CBD’s psychoactive cousin), it won’t get your dog high.
Great! Case closed, right? Well … not quite.
There is still a lot we don’t know about CBD. More accurately, we know pretty much nothing definitive about CBD because of the bureaucratic minefield that is the U.S. drug classification system. Under federal law, marijuana is a schedule 1 drug — putting it on the same level as LSD, ecstasy, and heroin. So it’s amazingly difficult to even study marijuana, and the THC and CBD it contains, for medical use. Cannabis-derived CBD is still technically illegal under federal law.
“But can’t someone just buy CBD products?” you might wonder to yourself.
That’s because the CBD in those products comes from industrial hemp, which is sort of legal. Hemp-derived CBD became “more legal,” and less murky, in the 2018 Farm Bill. Many states allow people to grow (cultivate) industrial hemp, which includes little to no THC. Other states don’t let people grow hemp, but it can still be imported after being grown and/or processed in other states where it is legal to grow, or even from overseas. As you can see, while the 2018 Farm Bill made hemp and hemp-derived CBD “more” legal, it didn’t completely remove all restrictions.
To add another wrinkle, there is some debate about the effectiveness of hemp CBD versus CBD that comes from a THC-rich cannabis plant. How accurate that debate is is itself a matter of debate, as studying cannabis-derived CBD is extremely difficult to do because of the legal classification of marijuana (see above). Not to mention that the CBD supplement market, or any supplement market for that matter, isn’t exactly standardized and well regulated. So it can be extremely difficult to know exactly what is in a particular product (exactly how much CBD, or even if it contains any traces of THC), how it was made (ensuring that there aren’t any impurities or potentially-dangerous solvents left over from the extraction process), or whether it actually even does what it claims. So the whole “CBD for dogs (and cats)” question and market is quite a cloudy one . but thankfully it is getting better! (See further below for the responsible companies who are leading the charge, doing great clinical research, and ensuring the safety, efficacy, and proper dosing of their products.)
Is It Safe to Give a Dog CBD?
Most vets will agree that you should not give your dog an intoxicating amount of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. There are plenty of reasons why, which you can learn about in “Marijuana, Cannabidiol & Dogs: Everything You Want (And Need) to Know.” The quick and dirty version is that dogs will not enjoy THC the same way you might (or do), and it can actually be dangerous.So is CBD better? Maybe. And that’s about the best information you’ll get out of most vets. (See why the proverbial cat will likely have your vet’s tongue when it comes to talking about CBD for your pets.)
Because of its cloudy classification and constantly shifting political winds, CBD creates a legal quagmire for anybody who wants to study or recommend its effectiveness as a medicine for animals. Luckily, there are a few ongoing studies being done at a few different veterinary colleges. The results of some of the clinical studies have now been published, and the results are looking quite encouraging. See the links added below, but note that the studies were done using very specific formulations of CBD and since not all CBD oils/chews/etc. are created the same, it doesn’t mean you should just run out and get any old (or even the cheapest) CBD product for your pets. Below the new links, we’re also including links to the companies whose CBD products were used in the university clinical trials. This is not an endorsement or recommendation for these products, but just to help point you in the right direction to start your research, should you decide to try CBD with your pets.
Links to Study Results:
What Conditions Does CBD Treat in Dogs?
In humans, THC and/or CBD have been reported to treat things such as:
It’s not hard to find stories of pet owners who report similar effects after giving their dogs CBD oil or treats. However, the lack of published double-blind study for animals makes it hard to pull out real facts from the purely anecdotal evidence.
Can CBD Treat Pain in Dogs?
As with other anecdotal evidence about CBD, you don’t have to look hard to find stories of dogs in extreme pain who purportedly found relief through CBD.
Many pet owners who praise the benefits of CBD will say that it helped reduce their dog’s pain and corresponding anxiety or immobility. These claims should not be discounted — nor believed blindly — on face value, but it’s one of the main reasons vets are so eager to study the possible medicinal uses of CBD (and marijuana in general) in pets.
Thanks to the Cornell University study mentioned above, we now have legitimate and valid scientific data to show that, at least the ElleVet Sciences CBD formula tested, does in fact provide significant pain relief to dogs with osteoarthritis.
What Vets Think About CBD for Dogs
First the unsatisfying answer: Vets don’t have anything definitive to say about marijuana or CBD products for dogs because, as mentioned above, they have limited means to study the potential benefits and, more importantly, the potential for harm. Add to that the fact that a vet could face disciplinary action (even loss of license to practice) for discussing, recommending, or prescribing cannabis for their patients, and you can see why vets’ lips are collectively sealed on this touchy topic. At best, you might find a vet who will say that CBD probably won’t be harmful to dogs, and it may or may not offer any actual benefit.
In September of 2018 California Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 2215 into law, making it legal now for California veterinarians to DISCUSS cannabis for pets with their clients. They still can’t explicitly recommend or prescribe it, but they can at least discuss its use. Read more about why veterinarians can’t talk about CBD and what you can do to change that.
‘I Don’t Care What Anyone Says, I’m Giving My Dog CBD’
It’s understandable that many people are frustrated by the ambiguity surrounding CBD and dogs. It often results in pet owners who go with their gut, especially when they think A) an existing medication isn’t working, or B) there are better, “more natural” alternatives. And this is equally frustrating for vets who can’t definitively say anything about it.
That being said, here are things to keep in mind when you give any unregulated, unstudied supplement to your dog.
Do Your Research:
This is especially true if you are buying something online. Avoid falling prey to the marketing hype and unsubstantiated claims. Seek out impartial reviews to see what others are saying (it’s often helpful to read the most negative reviews first).
Conduct a little background research on the company: Have they been sued and, if so, why? Have they been penalized by the FDA for allegedly making false claims? Do they have a veterinarian on staff, or do they work with a veterinary school?
As mentioned above, both ElleVet Sciences and Applied Basic Sciences Corporation have at least had their products undergo double-blinded, placebo-controlled, university-run scientific study to prove efficacy and safety. These two companies would be a good place to start with your CBD for pets research.
Natural Doesn’t Mean Better:
First of all, no marijuana or CBD product you might give your dog is natural. Apart from raw, unprocessed marijuana (which you should absolutely NOT give to your dog), anything you get has been processed or altered in some fashion. Second, natural things can be dangerous, too. For example, xylitol is a “natural” sugar-free sweetener, derived from sources like birch bark, but it is highly toxic to dogs.
Medications (either natural or synthetic) prescribed by your vet are prescribed for a reason: they have been studied, vetted, regulated, and well-documented. Your vet can also answer your questions about proper dosages, side effects, and when it might be time to go off a medication or try another.
If It Sounds Too Good to Be True …
Ah, the online CBD dog products. Sounds too good to be true, right? The CBD you get online comes from industrial (or “agricultural”) hemp that might have originated in your home state, or it might have come from overseas or another processing facility where the CBD was extracted through less-than-ideal processes. There are several ways to extract CBD from hemp, but one of the quickest and cheapest involves using solvents such as butane and hexane, which can leave a toxic residue if not properly handled. That’s not to say all online products should be distrusted, but definitely do your research on the company, how they make their product, their claims, and what unbiased reviewers are saying.
Keep a journal of your dog before and for several days if you decide to use a CBD product. This will help you decide whether it’s having a positive effect. Better still, record video of your dog to document their progress, or lack thereof (this will help you overcome the flaws of human memory). Or ask your friends/family whether they’ve noticed any difference in your dog without telling them that you’ve been giving your dog CBD (the closest you’ll get to a blinded study).
Know the Warning Signs:
Dry Mouth: Your dog can’t tell you if they have dry mouth, but it’s safe to say they might increase their water intake. And increased thirst could also be a sign of other serious problems, such as antifreeze or rodenticide poisoning, or conditions like diabetes.
Let your veterinarian know about anything you give your dog. This goes for both legal and illegal substances. Veterinarians aren’t obligated to report illegal drugs unless they suspect animal abuse.
Alternatives to CBD for Dogs
If you’re thinking about giving your dog CBD because you’re worried about the side effects of a prescribed medication, you might try a few of these alternative remedies — or just discuss your concerns with your vet.
Can I give my dog a CBD gummy?
It might take some experimenting to find the right amount to give your own fuzzballs. That’s okay—CBD is safe and natural, so no worries if your pet gets a little more or less than needed while you figure things out. In many cases, your pet will tell you if it’s time for more.
Can my dog have my CBD gummies?
CBD itself is not toxic for dogs, but other ingredients in gummies may be. … Depending on the ingredients found in your gummies, your dog might experience mild effects like nausea and diarrhea, or they might require further care to help eliminate toxins from their system.
Can I give my dog CBD edibles?
Hemp used for CBD is a non-psychoactive plant, different from the cannabis plant used for marijuana that contains psychoactive levels of THC; it is completely safe for dogs.
Will CBD calm my dog down?
Recently, CBD has become a hot commodity not only for humans looking to relax but also for dogs. CBD can help your dog in the same way it potentially helps humans feel calm, enjoy relaxation, falls asleep, and decrease inflammation. … Pet owners also worry if their dog may get high after taking CBD.
Can I give my dog 1000mg CBD oil?
Effective and palatable, our 1000mg CBD oil for dogs promotes joint health, can reduce anxiety, and lowers inflammation. May be given directly or on your pet’s favorite food or treat. Best for medium breed dogs ranging from 20-50 lbs, for a 30-60 day supply.
Do vets recommend CBD oil for dogs?
While veterinarians shouldn’t recommend CBD products, they can help pet owners weed through the myriad of companies offering products, according to Golab.
Can you give too much CBD to a dog?
Hemp can legally contain up to 0.3% THC, so if a pet ingests a large amount of a hemp-based CBD product, mild THC toxicity can occur.