Is CBD for Dogs a Good Idea?
Posted by Volhard Dog Nutrition on Feb 28th 2023
CBD has gained more and more popularity in the world of canine nutrition. The surge in public interest began in 2018, when the US Congress signed the Agriculture Improvement Act into law, thus removing hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act. The news was welcomed by the adherents of natural health care, an alternative to the increased costs of veterinary medicine.
The CBD alternative was sold as a natural path toward helping dogs with both health (e.g., pain, inflammation, anxiety, seizures, arthritis) and behavioral issues (for treating all sorts of aggressive behavior). And there's substantial merit to these claims. However, parents who decide to supplement their dogs' diet with CBD-based products (e.g., CBD oil or treats) must tread carefully: the regulatory oversight of the CBD industry is still insufficient, so be sure to learn everything about the CBD product you're buying before feeding it to your dog!
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol — or CBD — is a chemical compound first discovered by Roger Adams, a professor at the University of Illinois. It is a member of the "cannabinoid" family, alongside 80 different chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant.
How Does CBD Work?
CBD works by stimulating our endocannabinoid system (ECS) receptors. All animals are equipped with an ECS, which regulates various functions in a mammal's body, such as pain, inflammation, sleep, and memory. The primary benefit of CBD is that, unlike its infamous cousin, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), it is not psychoactive, which is why neither dogs nor humans will experience any "high" symptoms from it.
What Are the Health Benefits of CBD for Dogs?
Experts have documented various potential health benefits of CBD, both physical and behavioral. Some of these benefits are already backed by substantial evidence, whereas others still require further research. The most-cited benefits of CBD for dogs are:
- Improved symptoms of anxiety: CBD does relieve symptoms of anxiety in humans, which is why it has been touted as a solution for canine anxiety. However, its effect on this disorder requires further investigation.
- Improved symptoms of arthritis and nausea
- Improved appetite and joint health
- Reduced symptoms of canine aggression: Studies on shelter dogs have produced encouraging results (i.e., improved aggressive tendencies) in dogs with aggressive behavior.
- Seizure treatment: There is anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of CBD in alleviating seizure symptoms.
- Shinier coat
Learn Everything About the CBD Products You're Buying
Deciding on a CBD oil or treat takes time. Many dog owners are tempted to run down to the CBD store and buy the first product their eyes fall upon. But the rush might backfire down the road. No two CBD products are the same, so it will take some time before you decide on the best CBD product for your dog.
First, look for a certificate of analysis or COA. It will give you a breakdown of lab test results, as well as the number of cannabinoids (including THC) found in the final product. Be advised that CBD treats do contain trace amounts of THC. However, the 0.3% THC found in dog treats is within the legal limit and, given its insignificance, will not cause any side effects.
The best CBD products will include the following three tests in their certificate of analysis:
- A heavy metals test, which will tell you if the product contains any traces of pollutants such as lead.
- A microbial test, which will rule out bacteria such as Salmonella or E. coli.
- A pesticide test, which will detect whether your CBD product has been contaminated by another crop.
The absence of a COA is a serious red flag for all dog owners researching CBD products. Authentic CBD for dogs will have a COA to show that they have nothing to hide. In addition, the presence of the National Animal Supplement Council ( NASC) Seal of Quality Assurance will only lend more credibility to the product.
When it comes to oils, broad-spectrum CBD oil is the ideal option for dogs because it packs the highest number of natural cannabinoids and terpenes. The latter are the chemical compounds behind the hemp plant's smell and flavor. However, aroma and taste are not the only functions of terpenes. Research has shown that these chemicals are essential to CBD's therapeutic effects. Therefore, the more terpenes are found in the chemical composition, the more effective the CBD product becomes.
Check your CBD product's label to ensure it's a full- or broad-spectrum. This means your dog's CBD oil contains not just CBD but other necessary cannabinoids that occur naturally in full-spectrum hemp. This includes CBC (Cannabichromene) and CBG (Cannabigerol).
CBG is also studied for its medicinal use. It can decrease inflammation in the digestive tract and protect nerve cells and the eyes. It also supports healthy bladder function and fights cancer cells. A full-spectrum CBD oil contains terpenes like limonene, alpha-pinene, and beta-pinene. These are also naturally occurring medicinal substances found in all hemp.
Together, cannabinoids and terpenes create the entourage effect. This happens when compounds in hemp oil work synergistically to boost the medicinal properties of hemp oil.
Steer Clear of Hemp Oil
Beware. The label is where manufacturers will get you. Many manufacturers will label their CBD products as "hemp oil" and describe it as beneficial to your health. Hemp oil contains little or no CBD and is not therapeutic for dogs. If the product is labeled as "hemp seed oil," it's perfectly acceptable to give to your pup if CBD is added to it. Always check the COA to be sure of the amount of CBD in the product.
What Is the Right CBD Amount for Dogs?
The correct CBD dosage depends on both the dog and the product manufacturer. Since companies work with different dosage parameters, it's best to speak to a representative from the CBD manufacturer of choice; they know their product the best, so they're the most capable of providing you with an accurate answer. They will also provide details on their CBD variety, whether hemp-based or containing THC.
Veterinarians have documented cases of CBD toxicity, with symptoms such as diarrhea and liver enzyme fluctuations. Others have pointed out the effect of CBD on a chemical called cytochrome P450. CBD inhibits this chemical from metabolizing most medications, rendering them less effective. If your dog is on a medication plan, be sure to confer with your veterinarian before starting your dog on CBD.
Choosing the Best CBD Product Is All About Research!
It can be hard to compare products, and some people give up and look at costs only. This is different from how you determine if the CBD you are about to buy is the right one. You want a high-quality and safe product for your dog. Extracting CBD from hemp requires a lot of plant material and careful monitoring. Look for the following things when making your comparison:
- How was the CBD oil extracted? (CO2 is best.)
- Is the CBD concentration different than advertised? (CBD on COA should match the bottle.)
- Is it full-spectrum? (The product should have other cannabinoids, not just CBD.)
- Is the THC content worrisome? (THC should be less than 0.3% but higher than 0%.)
- Is it organic? (Hemp is a sponge for contaminants.)
- Was it third-party tested? (If you can't find a COA online, ask the manufacturer for one.)
It would help to look for these variables when determining a product's quality. The cost is never a sure sign of a product's quality.
With its sharp growth in popularity and medicinal use, CBD has become a landmark of natural canine health care. However, as a dog parent, it is your responsibility to put your dog's best interest first and the enthusiasm surrounding CBD second. As such, be sure to conduct ample research before introducing CBD to your furry friend. For more advice on dog nutrition, health, and training, make sure that you contact us and check out our blog!
Volhard Dog Nutrition and its expert nutritionists are now offering online consultations to help more dog parents discover why, what, and how to feed their dogs the healthiest of foods! Speaking to a Volhard nutritionist will help you understand the inseparable relationship between healthy food, a healthy body, and a healthy mind. If you're interested in contacting one of our Volhard nutritionists, don't hesitate to access our consultation page!