CBD for Dogs: Practical Guide for Dog Parents in Need

Like responsible pet parents that we are, we just can’t stand watching our furry friends being in pain or suffering in any shape or form.

It especially hurts because they can’t tell us what’s wrong, and we can’t tell them that it will all be fine.

Ever since cannabis has become so popular among us humans for treating a number of medical conditions, holistic veterinarians started wondering if this magical herb can also help our pets.

So, as it turns out, dogs seem to respond very well to this one specific chemical in cannabis — cannabidiol.

CBD for dogs has become a new thing recently, and as it seems our furry friends are loving it.

However, when it comes to marijuana for dogs, pet parents have to be extra careful.

Unlike CBD, the most famous cannabis compound called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is toxic and dangerous to dogs. In fact, dogs are very sensitive to it and you need to avoid it at all costs.

On the other hand, CBD seems to bring forth a feeling of calmness and balance in all mammals, including dogs. It’s not psychoactive like THC, and what’s also interesting, it fits perfectly in our doggos bodies through its positive interaction with an endocannabinoid system that very much resembles our own.

We’re going to explore everything in a minute, but first check out this graphical guide to get an overall picture of what you’re heading into.

CBD for dogs

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What is CBD and what does it do for dogs?

CBD is a cannabinoid, a chemical compound found inside the cannabis plant. It’s non-psychoactive in nature, has a plethora of healing effects and is mostly derived from industrial hemp, which means it’s legal all over the world.

Cannabinoids from plants fit into mammalian body like a glove.

Here’s why…

Our dogs (like all other mammals) have an endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is a network of cellular receptors and activators that has an important role in regulating body functions like mood, sleep, pain, memory, appetite, inflammation, nausea, stress levels and much more.

This system operates through chemicals called endocannabinoids, that the mammal body produces in order to maintain balance in this system.

Unfortunately, our furry friends are sometimes not able to produce some of these chemicals on their own, which puts their system, and certain processes inside it, in disbalance. Endocannabinoids are successfully replicated and stimulated through cannabinoids found inside the cannabis plant.

Supplementing with cannabinoids such as CBD puts the mammalian endocannabinoid system in balance once again and helps put an end to many agonizing conditions which are affected by endocannabinoids misfiring.

CBD does this mainly by interacting with several receptors: TRPV1, 5-HT1A and GPR55.

Shortly upon consummation, CBD activates TRPV-1 receptors and helps balance the body temperature, chronic or acute pain and inflammation.

When 5-HT1A receptors are stimulated, there is a significant increase in dopamine secretion, which produces antidepressant and anxiolytic effects.

CBD also blocks GPR55 signaling, which has shown a great potential to decrease reproduction of cancer cells.

There is some evidence that CBD also activates PPARs receptors, which is also linked to its anti-proliferative effect.

Science behind CBD for dogs

Although CBD has a very promising medicinal usage, most researchers and veterinarians warn that we still lack in-vitro clinical trials.

Most of the studies regarding cannabis are conducted on rats, less on humans and even less on dogs.

In fact, there is not a single official study out there on the effects of cannabis on dogs.

Fortunately, there is this one research that is currently in progress, but we still have to wait to see the full results.

Colorado State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital started the research on CBD for dog’s arthritis and epilepsy.

The positive effects of CBD for dogs are backed by studies done on other mammals and real life stories from dog owners, which are, in my honest opinion, the most important evidence we could have.

Later in this guide, I’ll share with you some interesting feedback from dog owners like yourself.

What are the health benefits of CBD for dogs?

CBD has shown to be very effective for your dog’s overall health as well as some specific medical conditions.

So, even if your best friend does not suffer from any specific condition, it’s fine to give it CBD as a prevention or just as a daily supplement.  

However, CBD can also be used alone for treating a certain condition or as a boost to other medication for a number of different conditions and symptoms.

Let’s break this down in more detail…

CBD helps with allergies and skin issues in dogs tweet this

Itching, scratching, licking, chewing…Skin issues can be very irritating for both our dogs and ourselves.

Just like humans, dogs can be irritated by substances like pollen, food, insect venom (or flea saliva), dust, or even some types of pet shampoo.

Itching usually affects dog’s belly, armpits, ears, paws and cheeks. It can go on for months and even years in some extreme cases.

There are so many things that can cause an allergic reaction, but there is a possible solution in the form of CBD — as it has anti-inflammatory properties, it relieves inflammation which is the cause of itching, hives, and blisters.

The symptoms mentioned above can be reduced by adding CBD to the daily diet of your pet.

Also, you can try putting some CBD oil on your dog’s skin, which would probably be the best bet for external issues.

CBD reduces anxiety in dogs tweet this

CBD is known to reduce anxiety levels in people suffering from this kind of disorders, so it’s not a surprise it’s working for dogs too.

Some dogs are experiencing higher levels of (unnecessary) anxiety. This issue alone can make your daily walking routine in the park a walk of hell.

Every dog should be exposed to interaction with other dogs as soon as possible. It’s a normal part of animal socialization. Early socialization is very important for your dog’s further behavior.

Some dogs tend to develop some kind of fear of future possible dangers. Dogs suffering from anxiety tend to show symptoms and reactions such as urination, excessive barking and even destructive behavior.

Also, companion dogs tend to develop separation anxiety, having difficult times while being separated from their owner. Some dogs feel anxious while being left alone in the house, manifesting excessive distress behavior.

Thanks to CBD products, doggy parents can take a break.

By consulting your vet first, and by adding CBD to your dog’s life, you can help your fluffy friend feel much more relaxed. Yes, you can enjoy a walk in the park without having to avoid other dogs.

CBD reduces learned fears and phobias in dogs tweet this

Fears of fireworks and thunderstorms are very common in dogs.

Unfortunately, on the 4th of July or during a major storm, you almost can’t do anything to calm your dog down completely.

Noise phobias, as a fear of loud noises, can be a great distress for your pet. But fortunately, CBD can help you and your dog to stop the problem from getting worse.

CBD reduces aggressive behavior in dogs tweet this

When it comes to aggressive behavior in dogs, it’s a much more complex issue.

There are a number of factors that can cause canine aggression. Medical problems, behavior issues, trauma… Aggression is usually triggered by a specific situation. But, it’s all manageable, most of the times.

Beside taking behavioral classes with your dog, CBD can also help your pet feel more calm and relaxed, not being triggered in a specific situation and diminishing aggressive behavior.

CBD boosts appetite and relieves digestive problems in dogs tweet this

Some dogs are just easy to feed. They eat almost everything, but the problem can arise with dogs that are picky eaters.

There can be a number of reasons why your dog might be picky. If your dog usually has a good appetite and you notice some changes, it could be one of many digestive problems. Also, too many treats can spoil your dog, which could lead to it wanting to eat only that, not proper food.

It’s important to keep in mind and just accept that some dogs (sometimes depending on a breed or age) don’t have that much of an appetite.

But, if you think there is something wrong with your dog or it’s just being picky, consult your vet who can recommend the best food supplement such as CBD.

In fact, CBD treats can reduce nausea and boost appetite, as well as calm an upset stomach.

CBD helps with arthritis, joint and mobility issues in dogs tweet this

Arthritis is one of the most common orthopedic issues in dogs. In fact, it’s an umbrella term for abnormal changes and degenerative conditions caused by inflammation in joints.

The main cause of arthritis is tissue damage caused by joint physical trauma, stress, infection, even the immune system disorder. The most common joint disorder is hip dysplasia.

What really happens is that cartilage can’t be regenerated as fast as it’s wearing off. Because of that, the bony layer becomes more exposed to inflammation.

That all leads to thickening of protection layer around the joint making it less elastic and mobile.

Also, the blood vessels surrounding the inflamed joint become swollen and inflamed too, calcium deposits accumulate… It all makes the condition very painful, making our pets uncomfortable to move, even walk.

Arthritis is very common among dogs, especially the large breeds, but it also affects smaller dogs.

Since CBD is known for its anti-inflammatory and painkilling effects, it has caught the attention of vets treating orthopedic illnesses.

Since the studies and pet owner experience indicate there are no side effects, getting to a right dose for your dog will be a safe journey.

By taking CBD orally, your dog will be relieved from two most annoying symptoms related to inflammation: swelling and pain.

CBD helps our dogs battle cancer and tumors tweet this

Cancer is one of the most common causes of death in dogs over the age of 10.

The statistics say that the half of dogs over the age of 10 will suffer from one or another form of cancer.

Fortunately, half of those cancers can be treated and cured successfully if noticed on time.

Unfortunately, our beloved pets are not immune to different types of cancer and tumors. If you ever find a lump anywhere on your dog’s body, any kind of swelling or a wound that won’t heal, contact your vet immediately.

Decreased mobility, lethargy,  inability to urinate or any changes in appetite can also indicate cancer.

This may be disappointing to you, but CBD is not proven to heal from cancer by itself. But that doesn’t mean it can not be used as a supplement and addition to conventional therapy.

Cancer and accompanying therapy can make a life of our dogs very painful and uncomfortable. Dogs with cancers and tumors undergoing therapy can suffer from pain, appetite loss, seizures and convulsions.

The most common and conventional therapies for cancer in dogs are chemotherapy, surgery or (from recently) antibody therapy. Sometimes therapies are used in combination.

Like in humans, these therapies are very intense and hard on the body. That’s why more and more vets are recommending CBD to ease your dog’s way to recovery.

Cannabidiol has what it takes to relieve fatigue symptoms improve appetite, reduce inflammation as well as relieve pain.

CBD helps heal glaucoma in dogs tweet this

Glaucoma is a very common eye condition in some dog breeds. It’s manifested as high ocular pressure which causes inadequate draining of fluids in the eye. If the condition is chronic, it can lead to partial sight loss, even the complete blindness.

About 40 percent of dogs diagnosed with glaucoma lose their sight completely, despite the early diagnosis or treatment. High ocular pressure can also be treated to normal with CBD.

CBD relieves seizures and epilepsy in dogs tweet this

Epilepsy is medical condition that causes repeated seizures. This can be very frustrating experience for both you and your dog.

One minute your dog is just fine, the next it’s on the floor, drooling, uncontrollably shaking and twitching or being unconscious. This usually means one thing— epileptic seizure, which can last from one to several minutes.

What happens during a seizure is an abnormal electrical activity burst in the dog’s brain. That makes it behave in an unconventional way, without any control of its body.

Epilepsy and other seizures can be caused by eating something poisonous, head trauma, stroke, brain cancer, and many other conditions. Seizures affect between 1 and 5 percent of dogs.

Veterinarians usually prescribe phenobarbital — conventional medication used to stop the seizures in dogs, as well as muscle spasms that come with the seizure.

However, this drug tends to have numerous side effects in both humans and dogs. So, more and more vets are willing to give pet owners another option — CBD.

Which CBD product is the best for my dog?

Marijuana is still illegal in both Canada and the US. Fortunately, CBD is usually derived from hemp, which is completely legal.

Since CBD has become popular for both human and animal use, there’s a variety of products on the market.

FDA has not yet approved CBD products for pets, but that shouldn’t stop you from bringing happiness and relief to your favorite furry companion.

Generally speaking, you can get your dog CBD dog products at your local pet store, online or through your vet, if he has a holistic approach to his practice.

However, FDA issued a warning to veterinary professionals and pet parents about products claiming to contain CBD.

FDA tested some products and found that some of these products did not contain (almost) any CBD. So before buying any product read the labels carefully, check all the information about the product on the internet and consult your vet.

When buying a CBD product, ideally you’d want it to have a lab result with it, just so you can be sure what you’re buying.

CBD comes in different forms. Every dog is different, so it could take some time to find out which one is your dog’s favorite.

CBD pet treats could be the easiest way to give your dog daily dose of this natural medicine.

You can buy the treats or make them on your own. Here is the quick and easy DIY recipe for CBD dog treats by Colorado CBD products.

You’ll need a cup of peanut butter, 32 ounces of vanilla yogurt and CBD oil (check the dosage guidelines in the infographic).

Melt the peanut butter and mix it with the yogurt and CBD oil. Divide the mixture into cupcake molds or papers and put it in the freezer. Once cooled off, treats are ready for your dog to enjoy.

Simple as that!

If your dog is not feeling the treats, you can try just dropping CBD oil onto its gums. Also, there are CBD dog tinctures that are not as potent as the oil, so you can put it directly into your dog’s mouth or add it to the meal as well.

For external use, the best results are accomplished with topicals, which can be applied directly to painful joints or irritated skin.

Also, some companies make their products as capsules, which can be easier to use if your dog doesn’t mind pills.

Some good and reputable brands that you should check out are Canna Pet, CBDistillery, Green Mountain CBD.

How much CBD should I give my dog?

Every dog is different but the CBD dosing largely depends on its size and weight.

You can’t poison (or overdose) your dog with CBD, but it’s recommended to start with the smallest amount and gradually increase the dosage until you see positive results.

As seen in the infographic, calculating the dosage is simple and is usually done in 3 tiers…

Start with Tier 1, so if your dog weighs 15 lb, then the dose would be 0.05×15, which is  0.75 mg of oil twice a day.

Stick to that dose for some time. If your dog responds well but you still can’t see a big improvement, you can go to the next tier.

Here’s a quick CBD dosage chart that you can come back to whenever you need.

CBD dosage for dogs

Experiences of dog owners with CBD therapy

I did some digging on Reddit and a few other forums to see what pet parents are really saying about giving CBD to their dogs.

Are they satisfied?

Did they notice any difference in their dog’s condition?

Here are some interesting comments from dog owners who used CBD in some form to help their pups:

comments from dog owners who used CBD 1

comments from dog owners who used CBD 2

comments from dog owners who used CBD 3

comments from dog owners who used CBD 4

To wrap this up, if your dog is in need of a natural way out of a medical condition, try finding some organic CBD hemp, but stick to trustworthy and established products.

If you have tried using CBD products for your dog, please share your experience with us in the comment section.


In charge of Greencamp’s health section, with a decade long experience of using cannabis for stress relief. Her spare time is mostly divided between Irish dance and reading.

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