There’s a growing interest in CBD oil for dogs and other pets. In 2019, the CBD pet market size was valued at 27.7 million USD and it’s expected to grow 40.3% each year from 2020 to 2027. Some reports also show that 24% of U.S. pet owners already use CBD based products in their household either for them or for their pets.

But although many pet owners are already regular consumers of these products, many others are left wondering why is it becoming so popular and what is it exactly. This article aims to answer those question and shed some light on whether or not CBD oil is a good option for your dog.

What is CBD oil for dogs and how does it work?

CBD is short for cannabidiol and it’s a compound found in marijuana and hemp. Most of the time, CBD oil doesn’t contain delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is what gives marijuana its psychoactive properties. That’s because most CBD products are extracted from hemp and not from marijuana.

Hemp and marijuana both come from Cannabis sativa which is the only plant genus known to produce cannabinoids. Hemp is defined as a cannabis plant that contains 0.3% or less of THC and marijuana is the cannabis plant that contains more than 0.3% of THC.

The way CBD works is by impacting the activity of messengers in a dog’s body called the endocannabinoid system. This system helps regulate sleep, appetite, pain, the immune system and more. CBD is able to have this impact because the endocannabinoids in CBD are very similar to the ones found in a dog’s body.

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What can CBD oil do for dogs?

The truth is that there isn’t any definitive scientific data on how the use of CBD oil impacts dogs. There’s only anecdotal evidence from dog owners that suggest that CBD can help ease pain due to joint problems, control seizures, anxiety, allergies, and it can also benefit dogs with cancer.

  • Pain due to joint problems: Vets usually prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to treat this condition. However, NSAIDs can have very serious side effects on dogs while CBD is a natural substance and doesn’t have as many side effects as NSAIDs if used with the right dosage.
  • Seizures and epilepsy: It’s estimated that 5% of dogs suffer from seizures at some point in their lives. To treat epilepsy and seizures, some vets prescribe the use of antiepileptic drugs. These drugs can be extremely harmful to a dog’s liver and they don’t always work. But when researchers at the Colorado State University studied the effects of CBD as a treatment for epilepsy in dogs, they found that 90% of dogs that receives CBD had a reduction in seizures.
  • Dogs with anxiety: Although there are several anti-anxiety drugs available for dogs, CBD is being studied to treat anxiety because it doesn’t carry as many side effects as other drugs on the market. Humans already use CBD for pain, anxiety and depression and its antidepressant effects aren’t exclusive to humans. When dogs get stressed, giving a few drops of CBD oil directly in the dog’s mouth can help calm the dog. And it can take as little as 5 to 20 minutes to show its effects.
  • Dogs with allergies: The endocannabinoid system mentioned earlier is also found in the dog’s skin which means that CBD oil can also provide relief in dogs with allergies or other skin conditions. It can also promote the growth of new skin cells.
  • Dogs with cancer: The American Veterinary Medical Association states that approximately 25% of dogs develop neoplasia at some point in their lives while almost 50% of dogs older than 10 years old will develop cancer. Cancer is a massive challenge for dogs, especially if they need to undergo chemotherapy or radiation. Some studies suggest that CBD oil has cancer-fighting properties that can slow down the growth of cancer cells and improve the efficiency of cancer treatments.

Are there any negative side effects of CBD for dogs?

Much like there isn’t any scientific data that proves the benefits of using CBD oil in dogs, there also isn’t scientific data about the negative side effects. However, there are known potential side effects of CBD in humans. To minimize any potential side effects if you give your dog CBD oil, be sure to follow the proper dosage that should be clearly stated on the product’s package.

Some of the possible side effects are:

  • Dry mouth: there is an indication that CBD decreases the production of saliva. In dogs, this may manifest as a dog becoming thirsty.
  • Low blood pressure: CBD is also known to cause a temporary drop in blood pressure in humans. Even small amounts can create a feeling of light-headedness.
  • Drowsiness: CBD oil has a calming effect, that’s why it’s used to treat anxiety. Therefore, it can also cause slight drowsiness.

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Making sense of it all

Although there is some anecdotal evidence that suggests that CBD oil can have major benefits in dogs, there isn’t official scientific data to back this up. And because there also isn’t scientific data regarding CBD oil’s side effects, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn’t yet approved the use of CBD oil for dogs. Because of this, there weren’t conducted tests to issue a dosing chart and so there isn’t any information about what size dosage can be toxic for dogs.

Any medication or supplementation carries a risk of side effects and so you should always consult your vet before giving your dog a new treatment. If your vet and yourself decide that CBD is the way to go for your dog, choose a product that doesn’t have any chemical additives or preservatives. These can cancel some of the health benefits of CBD oil.

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