Is it safe to give CBD Oil to Dogs?

Professionals and pet owners have advocated for the cannabinoid, based on the recent scientific and anecdotal evidence and human CBD effects. This is to say that, even though many people have reported benefits for their loving pets, you should take everything with a pinch of salt and consult your veterinarian before administering CBD in any form to your dog.

How Does CBD Affect Dogs?

We know that CBD, the cannabinoid extracted from hemp or other cannabis derivatives, affects the human body in a specific way—it interacts with the endocannabinoid receptors located in the central and peripheral nervous systems, aiding the body in relieving pain and decreasing inflammation.

It is suspected that many of the effects reported in humans can appear on dogs. Many pet owners have reported the benefits of CBD for sick or in-pain pets. Not much study has been done on it, though, but Cornell University published a significant one.

Their research studied CBD's effects on arthritis-suffering dogs and presented encouraging results. Over 80% of the dogs taking the CBD oil showed "significant improvement in pain levels and quality of life" without discernible side effects."

Another study tackled CBD as a potential treatment for epilepsy in dogs. Sadly, the ailment is fairly common in the canine world, making some of the results of this investigation very promising—almost 90% of dogs presented less seizure than those that weren't treated.

What Dog Health Problems Can CBD Oil Treat?

Most of the reported health benefits of CBD oil for dogs have been anecdotal, besides the research referenced above. This doesn't mean that CBD is ineffective, but its properties on the lovely animals have been unproven.

From what it is reported, and based on the effects the compound has on humans, many argue that CBD may help with:

  • Anxiety
  • Pain
  • Noise phobia
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Epilepsy
  • Inflammation

Again, these aren't hard facts—a lot more studies need to be done to reach a conclusive assessment of CBD effects.  

Possible Side Effects of CBD in Dogs

There is no data on what side effects a dog can experience from consuming CBD. The best estimate is to consider the side effects humans may experience when we ingest the hemp extract. If you have decided to administer your dog with CBD, keep an eye for these effects, and discuss your observations with a veterinarian:

  • Dry mouth: Research has shown that CBD can decrease the production of saliva. For dogs, this would manifest as increased thirst.
  • Lowered blood pressure: High doses of CBD have been known to cause a temporary drop in blood pressure. Even though the amount may be small, it might create a brief feeling of light-headedness. Your dog won't tell you if they're feeling lightheaded, but they might seem disoriented or dizzy.
  • Tremors: Human patients with Parkinson's disease have reported increased tremors at high doses of CBD. Shivers of any kind should be cause for concern in a dog.
  • Drowsiness: Dog owners have used CBD to treat anxiety. The calming effect of CBD can also cause slight drowsiness, especially when using higher doses.

The Roadblock for Vets

Veterinarians are in a weird spot regarding CBD oil or any other hemp extract. Although the 2018 Farm Bill pulled out hemp and its derivatives from the Schedule I drug list, making it effectively legal, there's still a lack of regulatory frame for the plant—especially when talking about what veterinarians can or cannot recommend.

Even in states where cannabis is legal to humans, no legal framework allows veterinarians to advise pet owners on their dog's CBD consumption.

The only silver lining is California, where Assembly Bill #2215 explicitly allows veterinarians to discuss CBD. This bill is just a small step towards needed regulation that will enable many other studies to reach definite conclusions for owners and their dogs.