As pet owners, we are always looking for products with the best ingredients and the best results, especially if we know the product can help ease our pet’s pain. CBD (the second most prevalent component in cannabis) is shown to effectively treat hip and joint pain, inflammation, migraines, epilepsy, autoimmune diseases, depression, and anxiety. It can even help improve skin and coat health. And while many of us have begun to implement CBD pills, oils, and creams into our daily routines, you still may be wondering if it’s really safe for your dog – or even that effective. We’re here to spell it all out for you.
Know the product
While cannabis was thought of as a harmful drug for many years, the product has become much more mainstream, especially as scientists discovered its many health benefits. “Whether it’s CBD, new food, or treats, the first thing to consider is making sure any product you’re giving to your pet is high quality across the board,” says Nicole Brown, Chief Innovation Officer of Open Book Extracts, a cGMP-certified manufacturer of premium plant-based cannabinoid products. On the CBD side, Nicole suggests researching a new company’s origin story and learning about the farm where they grow their hemp.
It’s also important to check for a COA (certification of analysis) label on the package. This certification is only given when an outside lab tests the product to confirm that the ingredients and their levels match the label, so you know exactly what you are giving your pet. “The COA validates the quality and purity of the product,” Nicole explains.
Cannabis' two main ingredients are THC and CBD and while there are many differences between the two components (which you can read about here), the main point to note is that, when extracted from hemp, CBD does not produce the “high” effect that THC does. Because of this massive difference in the two components, you will find CBD extracted from hemp sold in many retail stores. (And giving it to your dog won’t give him the munchies.)
Navigating the aisles
Because pet CBD is still a burgeoning field and the CBD market has its own set of regulations, it’s important to do your research. According to Christy Love, a CBD expert and co-founder of Super Snouts, oil based CBD products are great for humans, who can wait the recommended 30 minutes for maximum absorption. But they are far less effective for our pets. “Anyone who has dogs,” Christy shares, “will know that asking them to hold liquid in their mouths for any length of time is impossible.”
What about baking the oil into treats? Heat treating, Christy explains, can degrade CBD and compromise its bioavailability. For this reason, her company produces water-soluble CBD tinctures, soft chews, and peanut butter spreads. Their products are USDA Certified organic or organically farmed, sustainable, grown by USA farmers, GMO, pesticide, solvent and heavy-metal free.
“Do your research,” Christy emphasizes, “and try different brands to find what works best for your pet. Don’t just go off marketing.” Still, all the options on the shelf can be overwhelming. If you’re visiting a pet store with a well-educated staff, Christy also recommends chatting with the store manager. “Ask them, ‘What products do you have where you see the most customers coming back with the best results?’”
Nicole also suggests starting off “low and slow” when implementing a new CBD supplement. “Start with a single or half dose to understand how your pet is going to respond, how they’re going to react. As with any ingredient or treatment, everyone is different based on weight, size, and age. You can really allow yourself to explore when determining what’s going to be part of the right regimen for your pet.”
Consult your vet
While there are many resources to help you navigate the somewhat uncharted territory of the CBD world, it is always important to consult your vet whenever you are giving your dog a new supplement.
“More and more vets are starting to become familiar with CBD and understand the benefits,” shares Nicole. “In the state of Nevada, for example, CBD is being leveraged and utilized as a treatment that vets prescribe to their patients.”
Some studies have shown that dogs who have taken CBD have had increased liver enzymes. So if your dog has a preexisting liver condition or takes medication metabolized by the liver, double check with your vet before starting CBD.
The bottom line
We know that your pet’s health is your number one priority, and this means truly understanding the products in their daily routines. CBD is well tolerated by animals as declared by the World Health Organization Report, but before choosing which brand to help ease your dog's pain or anxiety, do your research and consult your vet.