CBD, or cannabidiol oil, is a current trendy health and lifestyle craze. This oil, derived from hemp, cannabis, and other plants, is similar to but not exactly like marijuana, which is legal in some form in more than half the states in America. CBD oil does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the chemical in marijuana that affects the mind. However, it is starting to be used in a similar way for physical health conditions ranging from arthritis to anxiety. So naturally, pet parents want to know if CBD can help their furry children, too. The question is, is CBD for dogs safe?
Veterinarians aren't legally allowed to comment on CBD for dogs
The United States Food and Drug Administration is still measuring its official verdict on CBD, so on a federal level, this oil isn't even technically legal for humans, reports The Washington Post. (Most state governments do approve of CBD, though.) Still, veterinarians are not legally allowed to weigh in on CBD for dogs. "Even in states like Oregon, Colorado, and Massachusetts, where marijuana (for people) is legal both medicinally and recreationally, the practice of a veterinarian discussing, recommending, or prescribing CBD for their patients is still not technically legal, or is murky at best," wrote Jason Nicholas, BVetMED, CMO of Preventive Vet, an online resource.
There are CBD products formulated for dogs
So if CBD oil isn't legal for most vets to even discuss, then how come there are CBD products for pets being sold by reputable pet stores and websites? There are many studies in progress examining CBD for dogs, so doctors can't give their patients definitive advice. On a mercantile level, though, there are almost no restrictions. But just because there are CBD products formulated for dogs on the market doesn't mean they are right for your pet.
CBD dog treats are not regulated
There are health products of all types being sold in the United States legally, but not all of them are approved by the FDA. (You see this often when it comes to certain health supplements.) So treats with CBD for dogs are available, but they aren't regulated. What this means is that pet parents don't really know what they're getting when they buy these for their dogs. Jennifer Coates, DVM, says, "Pet owners may run across CBD products of wildly different qualities. Some may contain little if any actual CBD and/or be contaminated with potentially dangerous substances."
CBD oil can help dogs with seizures
Okay, so CBD is not federally legal for humans, most vets can't prescribe it, and the products on the market are questionable. So what's the upside? Well, there actually is one CBD medication that is approved by the FDA for seizures in humans with epilepsy. Early research has also shown that dogs given CBD oil experience fewer seizures.
CBD oil may help dogs with anxiety
One of the main reasons people seek out CBD for themselves is to help with anxiety, so it follows that people look at CBD for dogs for the same reason. Pet parents want to soothe their dogs' general and/or separation anxiety or anxiety during stressful times like fireworks on the Fourth of July or thunderstorms. While most of the evidence supporting CBD's effectiveness in this capacity is anecdotal, there is some research that backs up the idea that CBD medications for dogs can ease an animal's anxiety. Make sure you're watching out for these things that can trigger anxiety in dogs in the first place.
CBD oil may counter pain in dogs with arthritis
A College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University study has shown that CBD can be an effective treatment for dogs with pain related to arthritis. A "significant decrease in pain and increase in activity" was observed by the medical researchers, with "no side effects" reported by the pet owners. If you're concerned your dog isn't feeling well, look for these 13 warning signs your dog is in pain.
There are possible side effects
So no side effects were reported in that particular Cornell University study on CBD for dogs with arthritis, but that doesn't mean there aren't any possible side effects across the board. Dr. Coates says, "Those that have been reported are linked to very large doses and primarily involve dogs becoming sleepy or developing mild gastrointestinal problems, all of which resolve with time."
It depends on the dosage
Since CBD is not a regulated substance, anyone who uses it should be careful about the dose they give their dogs and remember that not all products on the market are correctly labeled. Always follow the instructions on the package and always err on the side of caution.
It depends on other medications your dog takes
When it comes to medications for dogs, treat the situation the same way you would treat human medications: Talk to a doctor first. Like humans, dogs' experiences with CBD can vary depending on other medications they take.
Research on CBD is only just beginning
Dr. Coates says, "It's a bit of the 'Wild West' right now when it comes to CBD production." The vast frontier of CBD research, for humans and pets, is still before us. There are a lot of studies to be done and government departments and associations are only just looking into CBD as a viable medication. It is definitely something to keep your eye on, for you and your furry friend. In the meantime, try these natural ways to calm your dog's anxiety. Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.