As of June 2018, marijuana (herbal cannabis) is legal in 30 states across the country. In some states, it is legal for both medical and recreational purposes; in some others, the herbs are only legal when used for medical purposes. Legality issues arise from the effect of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC – a psychoactive and addictive component found in marijuana flower – on the human brain. The cannabis plant has a quite diverse family, however, and each has a unique composition and concentration of THC.
When people are talking about cannabis or CBD oil for dogs, they refer to an entirely different variety called hemp. While both are from the same species, they have distinct biochemical properties. More specifically, industrial hemp has a lower concentration of THC but a higher concentration of CBD. Not only is it safe for pets, CBD, in fact, offers a lot of therapeutic benefits for dogs including but not limited to:
• Reduces anxiety
• Prevents and kills cancer
• Helps seizures and epilepsy
• Increases appetite
• Reduces inflammation
• Relieves pain
• Improves cardiovascular health
• Reduces inflammation
• Protects the nervous system
CBD oil is also legal as long as it contains no more than 0.3% THC. If you purchase it from reputable retailers, you may be able to get a product with zero amount of psychoactive components.
CBD Oil for Dogs-What is CBD Oil?
In simple words, cannabis oil is a liquid product extracted from the cannabis plant. Because there are multiple varieties of the plant, the source determines whether the extracted product contains a psychoactive component. CBD oil is extracted from industrial hemp, a form of cannabis with fibrous leaves and small buds. The oil contains a very low concentration of THC (0.3% or less), so it will not intoxicate your pets when administered at the right dose. Some manufacturers dilute the oil with other liquids, too. One of the most common dilutions is MCT oil derived from coconut or palm. It is colorless and odorless, so it is the perfect type of fat to add to food or liquid for extra health benefits.
How to Administer CBD Oil to Dogs?
Although topical treatments are possible, CBD oil is most often administered orally to dogs. It is easier and the dog has a better chance of absorbing all the potential health effects of the product. According to Dr. Gary Richter, the medical director of Montclair Veterinary Hospital, you can even safely administer the oil to dogs in conjunction with more conventional treatments such as medications. There are very few, if any, concerning drug interactions that dog owners have to worry about. Dr. Tim Shu, the founder of VETCBD in California, also explains that medical cannabis has no life-threatening side effects; it does not even damage the liver, GI tract, and kidney, according to the same publication in petMD.
Just like any other kind of treatment, the use of CBD oil for dogs is not without risks. One of the most common side effects is toxicity, but it can only happen due to overdosing. Depending on how severe the overdose is, the effect can last for days. During the episode, the dog may not be able to walk, eat, or even stand up. In such a case, it is crucial that you take your dog to a veterinarian for immediate care to help get rid of the toxins inside the dog’s bloodstream. CBD oil, on its own, is not toxic but the additives can be. Assuming the product actually contains an amount of THC, there is a higher risk of toxicity. Life-threatening side effects from taking CBD oil are almost non-existent.
In exceedingly rare cases, severe toxicity occurs not because of the CBD oil itself but when the dog consumes the oil with certain types of food for example raisins, chocolate, and coffee. Even when toxicity from THC is not excessive, the effects get worse because of the other aforementioned ingredients. This is not to say that ingesting large amounts of CBD oil is all-safe; proper dosing remains a crucial procedure to prevent unfortunate consequences on the dog’s health and life. If you are planning to get CBD oil for dogs and just to be on the safe side, it is best to consult a veterinarian beforehand. The vet should be able to recommend the right product and proper dose in addition to suggesting some precautionary measures you need to be aware of.
How Effective Is CBD Oil For Dogs?
Based on warning letters published by the FDA since 2015, many CBD products in the market contain very little amount of CBD and some do not even contain the oil at all. Things get trickier when you realize that the labels are also often misleading; some products even state an exaggerated amount of CBD. With that in mind, you may not be able to give the right dose even at the presence of a veterinarian on your side. Your reference point is the amount stated on the CBD oil products’ labels, which can be inaccurate at times. To avoid unnecessary risk and for the safety of the dog, it is best to dose conservatively; always assume there is just too much concentration of CBD oil in the product, so give less than the vet suggests.
You need to conservatively dose, but you must be skeptical when it comes to effectiveness. The safety of the dog comes first, which means you cannot rely solely on CBD oil to treat all symptoms of diseases. Think of CBD oil as supplemental treatment in addition to the medication prescribed by a veterinarian. Research concerning the use of CBD oil for dogs is still ongoing, and many (if not most) conclusive research on the benefits of CBD were conducted on humans rather than animals.
The good thing is that CBD oil for dogs is safe, with nearly zero negative effects when administered at the right dose. Purchase only organic products from reputable retailers to minimize risk. If possible, get a lab analysis to check the actual amount of CBD contained in the product so you can follow the suggested dose accurately. You will also want to make sure that there is no THC. As for effectiveness, it is still difficult to pinpoint any conclusive report from research designed specifically for dogs. However, if the health benefits for humans are used as indicators, CBD shows a lot of potentials indeed.