The Best CBD Oil for Dogs and What to Look for (and Avoid) While Shopping for It

·8 min read

The popularity of CBD-infused products is sky-rocketing these days—and not just among humans. Many pet wellness brands are expanding their lines to include supplements containing CBD. This compound, also called cannabidiol, has been known to reduce anxiety, inflammation and other ailments in people and animals. But, with so many different options on the market, it’s hard to know where to start. We asked the experts to weigh in on CBD for dogs. Their insights are below, along with a list of the best CBD products for dogs out there.

Questions on CBD oil for dogs that we’ll answer:

  • Is CBD for dogs safe?

  • What to look for in a CBD product

  • Why use CBD for dogs?

  • How to use CB?

  • What are the best CBD products for dogs?

Note: We are strictly discussing CBD here, not THC, which has psychoactive properties and is still considered a Schedule 1 drug by the DEA, despite its legalization in many states. Research on the effects of THC on canines isn’t pretty (thus far). It can result in death, so please don’t feed your dog anything with THC in it. Store THC products safely where your dog can’t get them!

Is CBD for dogs safe?

In a word, yeah. CBD is safe for dogs. This is based on preliminary research, though. We don’t have enough data on exactly how it affects the canine system, especially over a long period of time. One company working closely with veterinary professionals, pet owners and scientists to research CBD’s effects on dogs is Canopy Animal Health.

Dr. Bob Menardi, DVM, Director of Veterinary Technical and Educational Services at Canopy Growth, says that in over 32 studies, Canopy Animal Health has deduced that CBD “products are well-tolerated and can safely be used towards achieving positive health effects” in canines. The research is ongoing, but these findings are overwhelmingly positive.

It helps to understand what’s going on inside your dog’s body when it comes to determining the safety of CBD. Dr. Lindsay Butzer, DVM and Zesty Paws spokesperson, says both humans and dogs have an Endocannabinoid System (ECS) made up of cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are primarily found in the central nervous system. When dogs ingest CBD, it binds to those receptors. This can alter the way their bodies regulate certain processes.

The funny thing is dogs have way more receptors than humans do. Which makes sense when you consider how much better they are at smelling than we are!

“Because even small amounts of THC can have a very negative effect, it is important to understand the composition of cannabinoid-containing products before administering them to your pet,” says Dr. Butzer.

This is also why it’s very important to select your dog’s CBD products carefully.

What to look for in a CBD product

“It’s important to be aware of the difference between Full Spectrum and Broad Spectrum Hemp Extract,” says Dr. Butzer. “Full Spectrum Hemp Extract contains all the naturally occurring terpenes, flavonoids, and phytocannabinoids from the hemp plant, including THC…Broad Spectrum Hemp Extract has one or more elements removed from it using a highly specified process.” You’ll want to go Broad Spectrum to ensure no THC is included in a formula.

Dr. Butzer advises looking for third-party lab results or Certificates of Analysis (COAs), too. Not only do these signify the brand is knowledgeable about the hemp industry, it means the brand has met regulatory guidelines in their state.

A trustworthy CBD product will tell you how much CBD it contains. Even better? It will tell you if the hemp plants inside were grown using sustainable and safe farming practices. It should also state how much THC it contains (no more than 0.3% by weight is good).

Dr. Menardi agrees and adds the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) to the list of organizations to look for on a product label or packaging. The NASC works with the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine to provide manufacturers with a framework for the production of CBD products for pets, so you know you’re getting a safe supplement.

You’ll be surprised how many popular CBD and hemp oil products offer only Full Spectrum or are not NASC certified. Do your research to make sure your dog is getting the healthiest version of CBD.

Why use CBD for dogs?

So, why use CBD for dogs? The most common reason is usually to quell anxiety. Whether your dog suffers from anxiety specific to a scenario (vet visits) or has a meltdown every time you leave them alone in the house (separation anxiety), CBD can help soothe these behaviors. Dogs with joint and mobility issues may find CBD products ease their pain.

CBD supplements can serve as alternatives or additions to prescription medications. Talk to your vet first before administering any CBD products in conjunction with prescription meds!

How to use CBD

Dr. Butzer advises starting with something simple, like a chewy treat. These are standardized to the manufacturer’s recommendations and usually taste pretty good (to the dog). Oils with droppers work, but make it more difficult to control how much your dog actually ingests. Plus, chews often include other ingredients that can also improve your dog’s health.

She recommends feeding your pup roughly half of the suggested dose at first. Make sure your dog doesn’t have any weird reactions (diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness) before gradually increasing to the full dosage.

Finally, always check the packaging on the product to determine how much to feed your dog! Dr. Menardi says each dog’s dose will differ based on height, weight and age.

The Best CBD Products for Dogs

It may take a few tries to find the right CBD product for your dog—that’s OK! As always, check with your vet if you’re unsure about which direction to take. At the end of the day, it’s all about the pup’s well-being. CBD may be perfect for your dog, or it may be a trend you can ignore. Almost all the items on this list are NASC certified and contain Broad Spectrum hemp extract.

1. Hemp Elements Plus Cognition Bites for Dogs by Zesty Paws

NASC Certified: Yes

In addition to Broad Spectrum hemp extract, these chews contain Omega-3s and Ashwagandha, two complimentary ingredients to CBD. Zesty Paws sources the CBD in these treats from CBDistillery, a Colorado-based company providing “high-quality, fairly priced, U.S. grown, hemp-derived CBD products.” Cognition Bites are ideal for aging dogs who need extra memory and brain function support and any pup with too much nervous energy.

Buy it ($27)

2. Martha Stewart’s CBD Calm Soft Chews

NASC Certified: Yes

In conjunction with Canopy Animal Health, Martha Stewart developed a line of CBD products for dogs inspired by her own pups. Choose from Wellness, Calm and Mobility focused formulas. All raw ingredients are sourced from reputable suppliers (and of course all products are backed by Canopy science and research). The calm chews also include soothing chamomile.

Buy it (From $23)

3. Suritypro Active CBD Soft Chews

NASC Certified: Yes

Another Canopy Animal Health product, these chews are terrific for dogs constantly on the move. They support joint function and mobility. Canopy Animal Health packages their products based on dog size, so there’s less guess work when it comes to dosage! An oil option is available, too, if that method works better for you and your dog.

Buy it (From $33)

4. Hemp Well Calm Dog Soft Chews

NASC Certified: Yes

Hemp Well makes a wide variety of supplements for canines, felines, horses—and even birds! Their products are organic, GMO-free and made sustainably. Plus, the addition of Omega3s means an immune system boost for your dog.

$28 at Amazon

5. Wholistic WholeCalm Oil by Wholistic Pet Organics

NASC Certified: Yes

A combination of CBD and MCT oil make this product unique. MCT (medium-chain triglycerides) oil is often found in coconut oil and is said to help reduce inflammation and increase energy. It also makes absorbing the nutrients in food products easier for the body. This brand has Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) and GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) certifications.

$50 at Amazon

6. Honest Paws Purity Premium Hemp Oil Tincture for Dogs

NASC Certified: Yes

Honest Paws is an NASC-certified brand that separates its CBD oil into three distinct categories (Levels 1 through 3) based on your dog’s weight, making it easier to choose which tincture to buy. Beyond this organic oil, the company makes soothing paw balm and chewable treats for your pup.

From $30 at Amazon

7. Pet CBD Soft Chews for Dogs by cbdMD

NASC Certified: No

While cbdMD is not NASC certified, they are GMP certified and are members of the Hemp Industries Association. Plus, their formulas are tested by third parties who are all ISO (International Organization for Standardization) certified. Their chews and oils are made with Broad Spectrum hemp oil and are veterinarian approved.

Buy it (From $25)

8. Rover’s Canine Broad Spectrum Hemp Oil by Rover’s Wellness

NASC Certified: Yes

This company specializes in oils—and transparency. It was started by a couple (with 25 years of experience in the pet industry) who was trying to help their ailing dog feel like his young self again. The hemp comes from an organic farm and they post all their lab results on their website.

Buy it (From $45)

9. Canine Hemp Infused Balm by Charlotte’s Web

NASC Certified: Yes

Charlotte’s Web is praised for its delicious CBD treats (though they do use Full Spectrum hemp oil). However, they also make balms to soothe raw canine skin. Their hemp infused balm relieves dogs of itchy skin, paws and noses due to allergies or other irritants.

Buy it ($25)

RELATED: The Best Dog Sunscreens of 2021 to Protect Your Pup from the Sun

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