CBD for Dogs: Everything You Need to Know
In certain states, medical marijuana is an option for people seeking relief from ailments like seizures, pain, anxiety, and cancer.
Pet parents and veterinarians alike are naturally wondering whether cbd for dogs, in the form of products such as cbd oil for dogs or cbd dog treats, can provide the same benefits.
Here’s everything you need to know about CBD for dogs.
THC vs. CBD for Dogs
CBD is one of over 80 different chemical compounds called “cannabinoids” that have been derived from the cannabis (marijuana) plant. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), perhaps the most famous cannabinoid, CBD is not psychoactive.
Instead, CBD shares important metabolic pathways with a class of drugs called NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen and Rimadyl. These pathways control many processes in the body, from inflammatory responses to blood clotting.
Do not give dogs straight marijuana or any product containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive component of marijuana. There is simply not enough research to justify the use.
CBD-based products, however, may help improve your dog’s quality of life when used in conjunction with other therapies.
Why Use CBD for Dogs?
CBD is often mentioned as a useful therapy for a variety of conditions, including pain management, arthritis, anxiety, seizures, and even cancer. Although the use of CBD in treating each of these conditions is under-researched, there are varying levels of scientific evidence for each scenario.
Because CBD shares metabolic pathways with anti-inflammatory drugs, it makes sense that it would help with certain inflammatory conditions (anything that ends with -itis is an inflammatory condition).
Osteoarthritis, often abbreviated as arthritis, is one of the most common inflammatory conditions in dogs.
One in four dogs will be diagnosed with arthritis in their lifetime, and by some estimates, as many as 60% of dogs exhibit some degree of the disease.
Research has shown that CBD can provide substantial pain relief in dogs with arthritis when given twice daily at appropriate doses.
In theory, the anti-inflammatory benefit seen in arthritic dogs could also be seen in dogs with other types of inflammatory pain, especially back pain from intervertebral disc disease (IVDD).
Preliminary studies in people have shown that combo products containing both CBD and THC are more beneficial for pain relief than when either drug is given alone. But no such research has been done on dogs, so THC should not be given to them.
Seizures are probably the most-studied application of CBD in people, but limited research exists for pets. In dogs, seizures can be caused by a vast number of underlying conditions.
With regards to idiopathic epilepsy specifically, there is some research that suggests that CBD could be useful in reducing seizure frequency in these dogs. However, these benefits are only seen with dogs that are given traditional anti-seizure medications at the same time.
Like seizures, the term “cancer” is an umbrella term that refers to an extremely diverse set of specific diseases, each with their own set of beneficial treatments.
In people, CBD has been studied for possible use in cancer patients, both to treat the tumor(s) directly, as well as to treat the secondary symptoms of cancer and chemotherapy. Very limited research has been done on the use of CBD for dogs with cancer.
However, the anti-nausea effects of CBD seen in people who undergo chemotherapy have also been documented in rats and ferrets, suggesting that dogs receiving chemotherapy may benefit from CBD treatment.
Perhaps the biggest misconception is that CBD is useful in managing a dog’s anxiety. In theory, it is possible that CBD, by reducing pain and inflammation, could indirectly reduce anxiety caused by pain or inflammation.
But because CBD is not psychoactive, it is unlikely that CBD has the ability to directly treat canine anxiety in the way that Prozac and other medications do. The use of CBD for anxiety in dogs, as with most conditions, requires substantially more research.
Potential Risks of CBD for Dogs
Overall, CBD itself seems to be incredibly safe in dogs and cats. However, numerous scientific papers have found that when given at the recommended doses, CBD does cause an elevation in an important liver value on bloodwork called alkaline phosphatase (ALP).
We are not yet sure whether the elevation of this liver value has any medical significance. It could signify that CBD causes irritation or damage to the liver. Alternatively, it could be an artificial finding in which the drug interferes with the way the lab measures the liver value.
Anecdotal reports do exist of dogs becoming somewhat sleepy or sedate if they receive extremely large doses of CBD, but those effects appear to resolve on their own with time.
CBD doesn’t appear to have any drug interactions when it’s given to a dog that’s on an anti-inflammatory drug like Rimadyl.
Because there is a theoretical risk of drug interaction, as with any medication, you should consult your veterinarian first before treating your dog with CBD.
THC Dangers for Dogs
Unlike CBD, THC ingestion can cause serious problems for your pet.
“The most significant [issue] is THC toxicity, meaning, essentially, they are high,” says Dr. Gary Richter, owner and medical director of Montclair Veterinary Hospital in Oakland, California. “Depending on how significantly a pet has been overdosed, the effects of that can be quite long-lasting, even days.”
During these episodes, a pet may not be able to stand or eat. If you suspect THC toxicity, take your pet to the veterinarian immediately. Secondary effects of THC, especially respiratory depression, should be monitored closely to avoid complications.
Overall, life-threatening risks for dogs from cannabis are “exceedingly rare,” Dr. Richter says. There is no documented lethal dose for THC in dogs. In fact, a dose of THC 1,000 times greater than the dose needed for a dog to feel “high” is still not lethal.
THC toxicity more often occurs when a pet has eaten a product that also contains chocolate, coffee, or raisins. “Even if the THC toxicity is not excessive, they can sometimes have problems due to these other ingredients,” says Dr. Richter.
How Much CBD Can You Give Dogs?
Though there are some topical treatments, CBD oil is typically administered orally to dogs, and giving the correct dosage is imperative. “As is the case with any medication, success has everything to do with dosing,” Dr. Richter says.
Studies on using CBD for dogs with arthritis or seizures generally use a dose between 2-8 mg/kg, with most papers erring on the lower side of that estimate (roughly 1-2 milligrams per pound of body weight), twice daily.
This dosage has been found to be both safe and somewhat effective for just the conditions studied (arthritis and seizures). Additional research is needed to evaluate the necessary dosages for CBD in treating other conditions.
One complication in attempting to properly dose dogs with CBD is that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found that many CBD products actually contain little, if any, CBD.
The only FDA-approved cannabinoid product, Epidiolex, could theoretically be prescribed by a veterinarian for epilepsy in dogs, although this would likely be cost-prohibitive. Because it is FDA-approved, though, the CBD content of this product would be accurate, unlike most other CBD products on the market.
Can Veterinarians Prescribe CBD for Dogs?
U.S. veterinarians are forbidden from prescribing/dispensing CBD, and cannot encourage or instruct clients to purchase CBD products.
However, they are free to talk to you about the potential risks and benefits of a treatment plan you may have devised on your own. If you are considering giving CBD to your dog, speak to your vet, and you may want to also speak with a veterinarian who has experience with CBD.
Can my Dog take CBD Oil While Taking Other Medications?
With the pet CBD market industry exploding globally, it’s no surprise that we need to look out for any drug interactions. What many people don’t know is that dog CBD oil can interact with other medications by either enhancing the effect, or by interfering with the metabolism of some.
In this blog, we’ll discuss why it’s important to consult with your veterinarian first before using CBD pet products.
Not only is this important so that you can get a proper diagnosis for a medical condition, but your veterinarian will be able to discuss any possible side effects if CBD is used together with other pet meds.
Here’s what you need to know to fully protect your pet, and to make sure that there are no drug interactions.
CBD can alter the way your dog processes certain medications
Yes, although cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural supplement that is beneficial for numerous health conditions in pets, as well as for chronic pain, insomnia, depression , and anxiety, CBD does have the potential to interact with certain medications.
CBD is derived from the hemp plant, yet it can also come from the marijuana plant. CBD hardly ever contains delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the compound that gives marijuana its “high” effect. High-quality CBD is non-toxic and considered safe for pets and humans alike.
There are almost no side-effects, apart from those coming from a low-quality CBD oil that may contain contaminants. It’s always best to look out for the compromised quality of some CBD oils.
You’ll need to discuss with your veterinarian all supplements, over-the-counter meds and prescription meds that your pet may be taking. Today research continues to demonstrate how effective CBD oil is for pets, yet one still needs to examine how it can interfere with the metabolism of pet meds and other supplements.
Benefits of CBD Oil for Dogs
Cannabidiol (CBD) extract is quickly gaining popularity as a natural alternative for managing pain, inflammation, and a variety of medical conditions, including epilepsy. However, recent reports have called into question the safety of CBD when used together with other pet meds. It’s also good to note that using a compromised quality or low-quality CBD oil raises the risk of side effects.
A recent 2019 study by the University of Korea, demonstrates that the CBD anti-cancer protein shows potential in killing tumor cells. The researchers tested the synergistic effect of CBD with a cancer destroying protein called TRAIL. (TNF related apoptosis- inducing ligand.)
The study concluded that TRAIL and CBD created apoptosis separately in colorectal cancer cells. The researchers also found that together, both reduced cancer cells a lot. “ To the best of our knowledge,” they wrote, “this is the first report that cannabidiol induces significant TRAIL-induced apoptosis of colorectal cancer cells,” noting that earlier reports suggested that a different protein response was responsible for cancer-cell death.” via MDPI Journals.
FDA & CBD
The FDA has also tested the chemical content of cannabinoid compounds in some of the products, and many were found to not contain the levels of CBD they claimed to have. We have also heard reports of CBD potentially containing contaminants (e.g., pesticides, heavy metals); we are looking into this.
Some cannabis products are also being marketed as pet food and health products for animals. The FDA has not approved cannabis for any use in animals and recommends pet owners talk with their veterinarians about appropriate treatment options for their pets.” via FDA, 2019.
Blood Pressure and CBD Oil
High doses of CBD oil may potentially drop blood pressure resulting in lightheadedness and possibly dizziness in people. It’s always best to consult with your veterinarian for the best advice prior to purchasing a CBD product. That said, the positive side of CBD oil use is that it may be good for patients with high blood pressure. CBD together with regular exercise and a healthy diet help to regulate hypertension.
A 2017 study by Dr. K Jadoon on CBD and its effects on blood pressure demonstrated the following:
The study concludes that “acute administration of CBD reduces resting BP and the BP increases stress in humans, associated with increased HR. These hemodynamic changes should be considered for people taking CBD. Further research is required to establish whether CBD has a role in the treatment of cardiovascular disorders.”
CBD Oil Interacts with Anti-Seizure Meds
A study researching CBD interactions with seizure meds in people added that “ Because all of the participants are also taking other seizure drugs while they are receiving the investigational therapy, investigators checked the blood levels of their other seizure drugs to see if they changed. “With any new potential seizure medication, it is important to know if drug interactions exist and if there are labs that should be monitored while taking a specific medication,” said lead author Tyler Gaston, MD,” via Science Daily.
Dr. Gaston and her colleagues found that there were significant changes in levels of the drugs clobazam (and its active metabolite N-desmethylclobazam), topiramate, and rufinamide in both adults and children, and zonisamide and eslicarbazepine in adults only.
Except for clobazam/desmethylclobazam, however, the drug levels did not change outside of the normally accepted range. In addition, adult participants in the study taking clobazam reported sedation more frequently.
Additionally, when seizure patients were using valproate, they added that “Tests also showed that participants taking valproate and CBD had higher ALT and AST (liver function tests) compared with participants not taking valproate.
Very high ALT and AST indicate abnormal liver function, but significant ALT and AST elevation occurred only in a small number of participants (4 children and 1 adult), and the levels returned to normal after discontinuation of valproate and CBD.”
The study concludes that “The findings emphasize the importance of monitoring blood levels of antiepileptic drugs as well as liver function during treatment with CBD. “
A perception exists that since CBD is plant based, that it is natural and safe; and while this may be mostly true, our study shows that CBD, just like other antiepileptic drugs, has interactions with other seizure drugs that patients and providers need to be aware of,” said Dr. Gaston.”
CBD as a natural supplement does not cause a “high” in pets, but may cause a reaction when used together with anti-seizure meds. Cannabinoids have been shown to inhibit cytochrome P450 enzymes by using up these enzymes, and by inhibiting how other enzymes work.
When cannabidiol oil is consumed by dogs in large amounts, a large group of enzymes may be altered in the same way that grapefruit alters enzymes.
Most pet meds are metabolized in the liver via certain enzymes that are made in it. CBD works in the same way that grapefruit does, and may use up all the enzymes and also alter the effectiveness of pet meds.
NSAIDs and Corticosteroids
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are a class of drugs commonly used to control pain and inflammation in dogs. NSAIDs help many dogs lead a life that is more comfortable for them, but what about interactions with CBD oil? CBD oil has the potential to make pet meds less effective.
That said, pet parents should take every precaution to ensure that there are no interactions with any of their pet meds or supplements, and even NSAID’s, corticosteroids, pet herbal supplements and vitamins. The potential for adverse reactions will also depend on the body chemistry of your pet and the dose of the prescription or supplement.
Administer CBD oil 2 hours before or 2 hours after giving pet meds or supplements.
NSAID’S include the following:
Meds like Gabapentin when taken together with CBD can cause lethargy in pets. It’s important to discuss CBD use with your veterinarian prior to administering.
Common corticosteroids include the following:
The most common symptoms when using these are gastrointestinal issues like lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and even ulcers. We all know that pets cannot take both NSAID’s and corticosteroids at the same time, but what about cannabidiol oil and NSAID’s and corticosteroids?
CBD oil can also enhance the effectiveness of certain drugs and one may be able to lower the dose of pet meds or therapy when using CBD oil. Pet meds that are used for pain relief need to be administered carefully when using them together with CBD oil.