Cannabis 101: CBD for Your Dog

cannabis 101 cbd dogs boulderholisticvet blog post

Using cannabis for pets is a hot topic. It comes up in my practice daily. Now that marijuana is legal in Colorado, more of my clients have access to and use cannabis for medical and recreational purposes. In this article, I am going to cover the basics of cannabis and how you can use it for your dog. If marijuana isn’t yet legal in your state, keep reading. Everything I am going to teach you is legal in all 50 states.

Don’t worry cat lovers, the next installment is for you! Cats are not small dogs and don’t metabolize this herb in the same way. They deserve their own post!

Is it hemp or marijuana? What’s the difference?

I was initially confused by this! So, I am going to break it down in the simplest of terms.

Cannabis Plant for Pet. Image by Miran Rijavec.

First, let’s consider dogs. We classify all domestic dogs to be one species, Canis lupus. Within this classification we have different breeds. For example, a Rottweiler is a different breed than a Chihuahua. While they are both in the same species (Canis lupus), they have very different properties such as size and demeanor.

Let’s get back to cannabis. Cannibus sativa is the term for the plant. It is a very general classification. There are different strains of Cannibus sativa. This is where we can differentiate hemp and marijuana. They are both cannabis but have different properties. For example, some strains of cannabis sativa are designed to make industrial hemp fiber, while others are designed to make psychoactive marijuana.

Wait, is this legal?

To answer this question, it’s important that you understand what makes cannabis medicinal. There are two main components to consider.

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). This is the part of the plant with psychoactive properties. In other words, this is the part of the plant that causes you, or your dog, to get ‘high’. There are medicinal properties to THC as well.

CBD (cannabidiol). This is the part of the plant with NO psychoactive properties. Instead it has only medicinal properties. Your dog cannot get high from this component of the plant.

It is legal to buy and use products in all 50 states with THC concentrations below 0.3%.

Keep reading to find out what products I use and where you can buy them.

 

Will my dog get ‘high’?

Dogs have many, many more THC receptors in their brains compared with humans. It takes a small fraction of THC to get a dog ‘high’ compared with a human. For some people, consuming THC, causes paranoia and anxiety. Obviously, we don’t want that for our dogs.

If you stick to the preparations that are legal and have less than 0.3% THC, this won’t be a problem.

Don’t share your marijuana with your dog!

When should I use cannabis for my dog?

As always you should work with your veterinarian when deciding on a treatment plan. We still have a long way to go to fully understand the medicinal properties of cannabis. Most of the information we are using in veterinary medicine about cannabis comes from human studies. This isn’t ideal and hopefully more animal studies will be done in the future. At this point we have a lot of anecdotal evidence in dogs. Anecdotal evidence isn’t the most reliable but it’s a start.

Here are some common uses of cannabis in veterinary medicine:

Anxiety – CBD has been shown to improve overall tranquility and feeling of well-being in people. It’s calming effects may be due to an increase in GABA and serotonin, both calming neurotransmitters. I also like using l-theanine and magnesium to help manage anxiety.

Arthritis – The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD can be a great addition to a pain management protocol. Consider using cannabis in conjunction with acupuncture and massage.

Epilepsy – There is a lot of interest in the anti-seizure effects of cannabis in human medicine. A quick web search reveals many people that are treating themselves with cannabis and successfully controlling seizures. It is very important that you never discontinue medications for dogs with epilepsy.

There have been reports of cannabis helping heart disease, reducing allergies and reducing symptoms of IBD. Right now the possibilities are endless.

Where can I get it?

There is one brand I use for dogs,HempRx by Rx Vitamins for Pets. What’s wonderful about this product is that they offer an oil or chew. You can add the oil to your dog’s food once or twice daily. It’s formulated by a veterinarian and has a pleasant smell. If your dog doesn’t mind chews, that’s another great option.

It’s important that you know the quality and strength of the cannabis product if you decide to use another product. Some of the commercial products I see are just not potent enough to see great results. I always use the maximum dose with my patients and generally see results within four weeks.

Be patient.

Want to learn more? Check out this book written by Dr. Robert Silver, DVM. It is really user-friendly and is extremely comprehensive.

I would love to hear from you! Are you using cannabis for your dog? What results have you seen? Is it legal where you live?

With love,
dr. angie signature boulder holistic vet

22 thoughts on “Cannabis 101: CBD for Your Dog”

  1. Great article Angie! I really enjoyed reading it and found it very informative! Thanks so much for doing the research and sharing your knowledge! If you want yet another interesting aspect of cannabis to look into, terpenes are ALL the rage and have their own therapeutic and medicinal benefits as well! Check out the website below for more information on how the company i am now working with is using terpenes to give people more control over their highs and mood. Look forward to reading more of your articles!
    Lia aka Dexter’s nanny 🙂

    1. Hi Lia!
      It is so good to hear from you! Many of the CBD products will give the terpene amounts in the their guaranteed analysis. I have been using HempRx by Rx Vitamins for Pets. I hope you are well!
      Dr. Angie

  2. I want to thank you from a long distance for the information you have shared. I have a 5 year old intact Bulldog. After some unsuccessful traditional treatment for pancreatitis, I stopped all prescription meds and began treating him with probiotics, slippery elm, and CBD. I trust my vet, but he is terribly conventional. My boy had a serious reaction to the Deramaxx prescribed for his pain. After 24+ hours of bloody diarrhea and another trip to the see the vet, we left with antibiotics and de-wormer. His stool sample (x2) was negative for worms… I had already discontinued the Deramaxx. After two doses of the antibiotics (the rebel in me refused to give him the panacure), he got grumpy and the abdominal pain returned in full force. Within minutes of his first dose of CBD, he was calmer. After his second dose, we had our first full night of peaceful sleep in a week. Today is day 2 of treatment and he has been playful, able to move without discomfort, and had his first normal movement in days. I was scared to veer off the traditional path. It’s one thing for myself, but my boy depends on me to make decisions for him. I’m so glad I chose to try the CBD. Thank you for sharing this information. It was a support I was unable to find elsewhere on a holiday weekend.

  3. I’m confused. You say hemp is different from CBD (which I believe it is) but the product you recommend is hemp. I’m thinking of trying CBD for my 5-month old puppy for his car sickness which I think may be from anxiety.

    1. Dr. Angie Krause, DVM

      Hi Celia,

      Thank you for reaching out!

      CBD derives from the hemp plant (a type of cannabis). All the terminology can get confusing!

      We have seen CBD be tremendously helpful for anxiety! The HempRx that we carry has 0.50mg of CBD per drop. Here is our dosing chart.

      If you try CBD for your puppy, will you keep us posted on how it helps?

      Warmly,
      Claire

  4. Dr. Angie,

    Have you seen any results with CBD oil and helping to prevent cancer from metastasizing ? I know there is not much research but I have read articles about possible prolonging on life and improve end of life from CBD. Thanks!

    -Alison

    1. Dr. Angie Krause, DVM

      Hi Alison,

      Great question!

      Dr. Angie just wrote an article for Animal Wellness Magazine discussing CBD for cancer! It won’t be published until June, but she discusses tons of information in the article regarding CBD for our pets with cancer. She discusses that hemp derived CBD has been shown to cause death to cancer cells, may improve the success rate of chemotherapy and may slow tumor progression.

      For cancer patients, she usually recommends 0.50mg/kg of CBD twice daily, slowly increasing to 1mg/kg by day 3 of use.

      I hope this information helps!

      Warmly,
      Claire

  5. My old boy has recently been having a real tough go. His leg muscles get so tight he will not even let me bend his elbows. He has a hard time walking. I took him to CSU and they said he likely had a tumor in his neck messing with his nervous system. They would need to do an MRI to be sure but any relief would probably require surgery. I will not put my old friend through that at his age. They gave me several medicines to try but none gave him any relief.

    I tried a CBD oil that was made for pets. It worked fantastic. The relief was obvious within one day. He still had trouble walking but was much more relaxed. He easily let me bend his leg joints. But when the bottle ran out, I ordered another from the same place, supposedly same stuff. It did not work at all. He is now back the way he was. So disappointing. This place has lab work on their product but I wonder if they really know what to look for or if they can really QC the product well enough to develop a consistent product?

    AL

    1. Dr. Angie Krause, DVM

      Hi there!

      I am so sorry to hear that your boy has been struggling lately. How overwhelming and scary.

      How frustrating to find a product that worked, only for the second bottle to not help. It sounds like you looked into it, and the brand does does a COA or guaranteed analysis of the product? Do you know the dosing that you are administering? The maximum dose that we use for dogs is 3mg/kg twice daily.

      I hope this helps! Big hugs to you, I know this is a difficult time.

      Warmly,
      Claire

  6. It isn’t legal in Texas but I started my toy poodles on your oil . Our vet couldn’t recommend it because it isn’t legal but told me he had his dog on it and told me about the website. Bryndi is 12 years old and has arthritis really bad in her front knees and had a really hard time getting around . I was doing injections but they were not lasting very long for the cost of them so I decided to try your oil and it has really help her and you can tell she feels so much better and even runs and plays now . We have been doing it for little over a month and this time I am going to try the chews for her . I also have a dog 14 year old toy poodle which has heart trouble and I am going to try and see if it will help him a little bit , I give him medication every day and I am going to start giving him some cbd oil and just see if it will help him a little more . Thanks Diane Galindo

  7. Hello.

    Thanks for creating your website. Ive enjoyed the read.

    I have a question with regards to the “max” dosage of CBD oil. I ask this as i’ve only found your website that states 2 to 3mg of CBD per kg of body weight, twice daily.

    My 16 year old Jack Russell is currently on CBDistillerys CBD oil. 1.7mg per drop.
    She has 4 drops on a morning, 4 at night. She has this for purely for seizures and weighs 7kg. Therfore she is currently on, if we round it up, 1mg/kg twice daily (1.7 x 4 = 6.8mg).

    It does seem to be helping slightly but if i can do more i have to try.
    Simple question here for you is this. From what i’ve read on your website it seems as if im safe to double or even tripple the current droppage i give her. I could in theory give her a “max” of 12 drops on a morning (3mg/kg of body weight) and 12 on a night? (another 3mg/kg of body weight) Any advice here would be welcome.

    Sorry if this is long winded, it’s done intentional to help other people out with their dosage questions.

    Many thanks in advance.

    Craig

    1. Hi Craig,

      Excellent question!

      Studies done (on dogs) have shown CBD use for seizures at 2.5mg-3mg/kg twice daily. You can definitely try a slow increase of the dosing and see how this helps! I would also recommend using a calendar to log when you increased the dosing (and to what) and logging when she has seizures. Ultimately, this will hopefully help you find the perfect dose.

      I hope this helps. Keep us posted, you are doing a great job!

      Warmly,
      Claire

  8. I am new to your site and have been searching out many holistic sites with answers regarding the use of CBD oil. I did find one that I think fits for my dog but was just following up on your sites recommendation of the Hemp RX. Not understanding the amount of mg being offered so minimal for large dogs. I am now using 1000 mg .05-.75 ML twice a day for my 145 pound mixed breed. How could there be such a difference in what you believe a large dog should be taking for inflammation. This brand comes highly recommended with COA on each batch, all natural, 0 THC and on and on. I just find it so frustrating to search for answers and find such a varied response from what I think are good sources. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Hi Denise,

      Great question!

      The difference is likely the concentration of the actual product. How many mg of CBD are in each drop of the product you are using? For There is 0.50mg of CBD/drop in the HempRx and 1mg of CBD/drop in the HempRx Forte. Because it is so highly concentrated, a smaller volume is administered at each dose.

      I hope this helps clarify a bit!

      Warmly,
      Claire

  9. Hi Dr. Angie,
    I have a 4 y/o, FI, Aussie who has a heterozygous MDRI mutation. Should I use whatever the recommended dose of CBD oil is or should I reduce it and by what amount? Thanks in advance.

    Doris

  10. Hello ! I have a 80lb almost 16 yo rottie / retriever mix. Her arthritis has gotten really bad and was having a difficult time getting up without whimpering. She was on Carprovet 75mg 2 x a day and it was no longer helping. I started her on CBD oil 1000 , at 2mg per her weight . Stopped the pills. Helped a little . She now has to take 17mg every 8 hours to keep her able to get up easily and walk. She still gets excited to go outside and is talking again like she used to. This dose seems so high compared to recommendations. Am I causing her harm ? I just want her to be comfortable for whatever time she has left. Thanks for your helpful site .

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