Cannabidiol (CBD) has quickly become a household name, establishing itself as the golden child of the hemp industry as more and more people use it for nearly every ailment they encounter. Of course, you may have noticed while shopping for products for your pooch that CBD for dogs is becoming equally commonplace as well. 

Any responsible pet owner has to ask, is CBD safe for dogs? If so, how is it supposed to be used? 

Whether you are a regular CBD user or are new to the substance and are looking into its interaction with animals, use the information provided in the comprehensive guide below to learn more about what CBD is, how it affects dogs, and how (if applicable) you can begin giving it to your dog in a safe and responsible manner. 

Owner giving dog CBD for dogs

CBD for Dogs: What Is CBD? 

Cannabidiol is a naturally occurring chemical compound found within the hemp plant that is believed to produce a host of health benefits when absorbed into the body. To better understand what CBD is, think of cannabis. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, is a chemical that is known for its psychoactive properties and medicinal uses. 

CBD is a close relative of THC as they are both cannabinoids. The distinction? CBD lacks the psychoactive properties of THC, meaning that it is only taken for its purported health benefits rather than for recreational use. CBD is said to be helpful in alleviating issues like: 

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia 
  • Seizures
  • Pain
  • Inflammation

Of course, it is important to note that, while there is a strong following of those who believe in CBD’s efficacy, research is still relatively sparse. This means that there are no guarantees that can be made when giving it to your dog. Rather, those who choose to use it may use it as a potential natural alternative to similar products that help to soothe your pup. 

One of the biggest questions that users have when hearing about CBD is, how does CBD work? This can be an especially important question to ask when discussing the difference between dogs and humans. So, let’s dive into how CBD for dogs works. 

How Does It Work? 

Within each of our bodies resides a system of receptors known as the endocannabinoid system. This system is designed to achieve homeostasis, or the balance of the body’s natural processes. Say, for example, that you are in pain. Your body will naturally produce chemicals known as endocannabinoids that are designed to attach to these receptors to produce a healing effect. 

When a certain part of the system is overwhelmed or not functioning optimally, it can be helpful to introduce further cannabinoids to achieve the same effect. This is where chemicals like THC and CBD come in. These chemicals, known as phytocannabinoids, produce the same effect when absorbed in the body, attaching to the necessary receptors to achieve the desired effect. Both dogs and humans share this system of receptors, meaning that phytocannabinoids can be theoretically used for you and your fluffy friend. 

Obviously, theory is not a great thing to go off when giving new things to your dogs. So, can dogs use CBD without being negatively impacted by it? 

CBD for Dogs: Is It Safe? 

Because CBD is underresearched, there are very few studies about the interaction between CBD and dogs. While CBD is not known for being exceptionally dangerous, there are always cases in which dogs can experience an adverse effect. 

If you do plan on giving your dog products with CBD in them, the key to doing so safely is to do so in very small doses, only giving them as much as they need to feel the effects that you are looking to provide for them (if they feel anything at all). 

Each time you provide them with a dose, make sure to monitor their behavior and their reaction. Does it seem like it is helping? Does your dog feel more relaxed or like they do not have the same level of pain that they were feeling before? If they do react positively, great! This may be a great way to help them naturally while limiting their exposure to potentially dangerous medications. 

As I stated above, CBD is not known for its toxicity. However, some humans have experienced side effects, which dogs may feel as well. The most common side effects to look out for include: 

  • Dry mouth and increased thirst
  • Lowered blood pressure, which can make your dog feel dizzy and lightheaded
  • Drowsiness 
  • Nausea (or any other major symptoms associated with a bad reaction to the substance)

Additionally, many products advertised as CBD for dogs can contain trace amounts of THC. CBD products are legal at the federal level as long as they contain less than 0.3 percent THC. Although this is a very small amount, THC toxicity is another potential issue to consider (which wouldn’t be a major cause for concern anyway). 

If you’ve gotten this far and you are still interested in giving your dog CBD, you may be wondering how to give it to your dog. Fortunately, there are several administration methods that can help your dog get their daily dose of CBD. 

How to Safely Give Your Dog CBD

The best products to look for when shopping for CBD for dogs are CBD tinctures and CBD edibles. If you choose CBD tinctures, you could either give your dog the CBD straight from the dropper or mix it into food and treats that you feed to them. On the other hand, CBD dog treats have a specified dose per treat and are often far easier to give to your dog. 

No matter which product you choose to purchase, there are some further considerations to make before buying just any product on the market. Some of these points include:

  • Making sure that your chosen product is organic: CBD products that are not organic can contain toxic chemicals like pesticides and fungicides, which can cause harm to your dog when absorbed. Look only for products that are organic (and lack other harmful additives like xylitol). 
  • Be wary of (some) inexpensive products: CBD tends to be more expensive because it takes a lot to get the product out to consumers. As such, you should be wary of cheaper products as this may indicate lower quality that can be dangerous to your pup. While there are some more affordable products that may be okay, it is best that you do your research and look for items from a company that is reputable and charges more for a better experience. 
  • Look for certificates of analysis with your product: A high-quality company will provide you with a certificate of analysis that tells you more about the CBD content and overall quality of the product. This analysis, done by a third-party, will also show you the CBD content as well as reveal any other cannabinoids present in the hemp (these will only show up in full-spectrum CBD products, not CBD isolate). Because of the nature of this substance, it is best to avoid any companies that can’t provide in-depth, reliable information about the products that they produce. 

As long as you pay attention to what you are buying, give your dog CBD in small doses, and monitor their reaction after ingesting the substance, you should be okay! If it eases your concerns, you can also speak to your veterinarian prior to purchasing your first CBD product. 

Put simply, it is okay to purchase CBD for dogs, but there is no guarantee that it will provide the anticipated benefits. If you do purchase a product, be responsible when administering it to your dog and be on the lookout for any side effects. Choose your products carefully and pay for only the highest-quality options on the market. As long as you follow the recommendations above, CBD should be a safe and pleasant experience for both you and your pup!