Cannidibidol — or CBD, as it’s more widely known — has become a wellness craze in recent years, infiltrating the canine community with everything from oral sprays to “candy” bars.
Many experts tout CBD as a miracle drug for canine ailments, but this praise hasn’t come without controversy. CBD is derived from hemp and is a non-psychoactive chemical derivative of the cannabis plant.
In 2018, the US legalized hemp and CBD products nationwide, with the groundbreaking 2018 Farm Bill. Despite its legality, state and federal law forbids veterinarians to prescribe or recommend CBD products. Because of this, many are hesitant to even discuss its use with pet parents.
Although the government doesn’t allow prescription CBD for pets, many experts believe it has significant medical benefits for canines with pre-existing conditions. But is CBD really as beneficial as experts seem to think? We’ll compare studies of CBD use in dogs, explore conditions CBD might help with, and help you come to your own conclusion about whether dogs can benefit from CBD.
CBD acts on the brain’s endocannabinoid receptors, which are responsible for a range of bodily functions and help maintain homeostasis. According to the Innovative Care Veterinary Journal, “Research suggests that a balanced [endocannabinoid system] promotes appetite, sleep, mood regulation and stability, gait, pain perception, memory, body temperature, immunity, reproduction and fertility in both humans and pets.”
CBD products claim to treat all sorts of conditions, from chronic nausea to depression. Two of the most common reasons for CBD treatment are arthritis and epilepsy. Here is a complete list of conditions that CBD products may help with:
Several studies have been conducted on the safety and efficacy of CBD oil in dogs. A double-blind Cornell University study found that dogs with arthritis who took CBD had a significant decrease in pain and increase in activity levels. A clinical trial performed by Colorado State University had similar findings. Ninety-four percent of pet parents of the arthritic dogs studied reported an improvement in their dogs' quality of life when given CBD oil.
A separate study of dogs with epilepsy found a 33% decrease in seizure activity in the study group that took CBD.
Research into CBD for dogs is still ongoing, and many of the results available are preliminary findings. While the studies are very promising, there is still much work to be done to find out all the potential benefits of CBD for dogs.
As with any medication, CBD comes with its share of side effects, though they are rare and usually mild in presentation. Increased thirst, drowsiness, and nausea are the most common, but in rare cases, CBD can lower blood pressure. Low blood pressure is typically only seen with very high doses of CBD. There is no record of deaths resulting from CBD use in humans or canines.
As pet parents, we will try nearly anything to help our pups feel better, especially if it means an all-natural, plant-derived alternative to traditional medication. But is CBD really beneficial for dogs? The jury is still out.
Much of the information online about CBD’s benefits are anecdotal reports from dog parents; however, the studies that are available are very promising. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if CBD is worth a try for your dog. Talk to a veterinarian before starting your dog on any nonprescription medication or supplement. Weigh the risks and the benefits and talk to your pet’s doctor about conditions that might not be well-suited for CBD products.