Should You Give Your Dog CBD This July 4?

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Opinion-editorial by Brit Smith, host of Blunt Talk

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Independence Day—a time for hot dogs and anxious pups. This year, more and more pet owners are turning to CBD treats to help calm their animal’s anxiety before the fireworks kick off.

As a dog parent myself, I have a few pressing questions. Like; Does it really work? And more importantly, is it safe?

An Overview of CBD:

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-intoxicating compound derived mainly from hemp. It can also be found in lesser amounts in some marijuana strains, like ACDC or Cannatonic, which are bred specifically for higher CBD content over the intoxicating THC.

In the U.S, there is a gray area surrounding what qualifies as legal vs. illegal; Right now, CBD extracts that contain less than 0.3% THC are considered to be legal CBD products. But CBD companies are not allowed to claim any health benefits on the product labels, because data on that claim is scarce, due in large part to the government’s refusal to reschedule cannabis so it can be fully studied.

Full disclosure; I have given my nervous-nellie rescue dog CBD treats before. He’s a 70lb black lab/border collie mix. One year, he got a 2mg CBD dog treat at dusk on the 4th of July. After about 30 minutes, he started looking a little drowsy, so he laid down next to me and instantly fell asleep. He woke up with more energy than usual, unphased by the colorful explosions in the night sky outside. But I’m not one to rely on anecdotal evidence, even if it is my own. So I decided to research the science behind it as well.

Just like for humans, the scientific clinical reviews of CBD for pets are few and far between. As in… four studies over the last two decades. So I reviewed the two most recent peer reviewed trials, and here are the results:

2017 Cornell University Study

This study looked at how CBD oil (from ElleVet Sciences) could impact dogs with joint pain caused by osteoarthritis. It was a randomized, placebo-controlled, veterinarian and owner-blind cross-over study. For a period of four weeks, once every twelve hours, the canine participants were given either 2mg or 8mg of CBD oil per kilogram of body weight, or placebo oil.

Results showed that 89% of dogs consuming the CBD oil exhibited a significant decrease in pain, and an increase in activity levels. The authors say those results suggest that as little as 2mg/kg of CBD twice a day can help increase comfort and activity in dogs with osteoarthritis.

2019 Colorado State University Study

This small randomized double-blind study of 16 dogs was carried out by a neurologist at the University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital. It looked at how CBD impacts dogs with the rare condition of idiopathic epilepsy. There was a placebo group, and a treatment group that got CBD oil derived from hemp, for a period of 12 weeks.

Results were interesting here for two reasons; First, the researchers found that dogs who were given CBD oil had a distinct reduction in the number of seizures they had. Second, there was a correlation between how much CBD was in a dog’s blood, and how great the seizure reduction was. The higher the blood’s CBD concentration, the greater the reduction in epileptic fits.

What Do Vets Say?

Short answer; not a lot. Vets cannot legally recommend CBD, or any hemp or cannabis-derived products for their animal patients yet. That’s largely because there have not been enough scientific studies to back up the thousands of anecdotal claims that CBD helps animals with anxiety, seizures, IBS, pain from inflammation, or Crohn’s disease. 

Their main concern is the possibility of cannabis toxicity for pets who ingest THC, the psychoactive compound. Vets advise that you shop around and don’t just go for the cheapest stuff online. Organic, non-pesticide laden options are the best.

The manufacturer should be able to show a certificate that tells you exactly how much CBD is in the product. Make sure the CBD oil is free from additives. Tinctures are the most effective, and you can measure out the milligram doses drop-by-drop. Depending on your pet’s size, 1-5mg is enough.

Even with anecdotes galore, most vets are adamant that pet owners consult them before administering any CBD, especially if your pet is on any other medication that CBD might interact with.

TL;DR Version: CBD seems to be helpful for anxiety in most animals. If you’re buying some, don’t just go for the cheapest option. Pick organic, without pesticides or solvents. If you get treats or tincture, make sure you give your pet 1-5 mg at most. Consult a veterinarian before administering anything, especially if your pet is on other medications that CBD might interact with.

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Blunt Talk is a podcast about cannabis hosted by Brit Smith every Monday. You can listen to all previous podcasts on iHeartRadio.

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