By now, I’m sure you’ve heard at least one person touting the benefits of hemp supplements for dogs. CBD is all the rage for people and pets alike. Is it really worth trying, though, or just yet another hyped-up trend? In my opinion and experience, it’s the first one for sure. However, everyone (and every dog) is different. So, let’s go over the benefits and uses of CBD for dogs so you can decide for yourself.
Benefits of CBD & Hemp Supplements for Dogs
CBD oil comes from the plant C.Sativa, also known as marijuana or pot. However, unlike pot, CBD lacks THC, so it won’t get you (or your dog) “high.” Hemp oil is also from the same plant, but it’s either very low in or completely free of cannabidiol. Like CBD, though, it also won’t cause a high.
Both Hemp and CBD have been used as a form of therapy and supplement in humans pretty much since ancient times, right up until the plant was outlawed in the US in the early 20th century. Over the last decade or so, individual states began decriminalizing different parts of the plants, starting with hemp, then CBD.
Currently, CBD oil is legal in all 50 states, and numerous studies show that it helps with everything from chronic pain to anxiety in people. Given the many potential health benefits of CBD for humans, can we expect the same results in our dogs as well?
The Endocannabinoid System
Before diving into the different benefits of Hemp CBD on dogs, it would be good to be a bit familiar with a physiological system that has been under constant research for the past 25 years.
The endocannabinoid system plays a huge role in the central nervous system (CNS) – the brain and its supporting structures – as a modulator in the transmission of biochemical signals throughout the CNS. As a neuromodulator, it is believed to influence how mammals behave.
Experts believe that endocannabinoids also play a role in influencing the immune system by regulating adaptive immune responses and encouraging the activation of the different immune cells.
Since these special types of lipids work with the immune response, experts believe they also have an effect on inflammation as well.
The Different Benefits of Hemp CBD Supplements in Dogs
Given the role of endocannabinoids in inflammation, as well as their influence on the central nervous system, it isn’t surprising to see the many benefits that may be derived from CBD supplements.
1. CBD May Help Reduce Aggressive Behavior
Most dogs may indeed be a man’s best friend, but even our besties can get a bit aggressive at times, especially when stressed out. Since aggression is one of the number one reasons people surrender dogs, I’m all for anything that helps curb that tendency. While supplements alone can’t completely change a dog’s personality, CBD combined with good training may do the trick.
A 2021 study published in the journal Nature found that regular CBD supplementation helped curb aggressive behavior in shelter dogs. Although there wasn’t a huge statistical difference between CBD and the placebo, the authors did note the possible calming effect of CBD which does warrant further study.
2. May Help in Reducing Inflammation
Just as in humans, inflammation is a key physiological process in a dog’s fight against infection or injury.
During inflammation, biochemicals transmit to the brain, which can lead to pain or, when not controlled, injury to any body tissue or even organ damage.
In 2021, a study published in the journal Veterinary Science showed that CBD seemed to decrease the amounts of inflammatory biomolecules in blood. This was shown through a reduction in the levels of IL-6 and TNF-α – biochemicals released during inflammation – in CBD-treated blood.
3. CBD and Dog Osteoarthritis
Just like in humans, dog osteoarthritis is a disease caused by inflammation in the joints resulting in pain, limited mobility, as well as the formation of bone spurs in dogs.
No known cure exists for osteoarthritis in dogs. However, supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin may help manage inflammation, which in turn can help in the relief of symptoms.
A study published in the journal PAIN found that CBD supplements can also help reduce inflammation in dogs suffering from osteoarthritis. The study showed that administering CBD to canines is relatively safe and it can actually help improve the quality of life in dogs suffering from arthritis.
4. CBD and Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs
Inflammatory bowel disease in dogs occurs due to constant inflammation in their gastrointestinal tract, particularly their intestines. The inflammation leads to improperly absorbed food, which in turn causes poor digestion. Dogs with IBD suffer from frequent bouts of diarrhea, as well as vomiting, which results in weight loss.
Dogs with IBD usually need steroids to control inflammation. A 2008 study, though, found that IBD may be one of many diseases resulting from an endocannabinoid deficiency. In that case, CBD supplements may help treat it.
CBD also has anti-inflammatory properties as shown in another study published in 2014.
Given these properties, it isn’t surprising that CBD can actually work as a supplement that can help in alleviating symptoms associated with IBD in dogs.
5. May Help in Preventing Epileptic Seizures
Unknown to many, canine epilepsy is a quite common neurological condition in many canines. It affects as much as 0.75% of the dog population.
Genetic conditions that lead to either overactivation or depression of the brain may be the underlying reason behind epileptic seizures.
Vets typically prescribe anti-epileptic drugs, such as phenobarbital, for dogs with this neurological disorder.
A study done in 2019 showed a noticeable reduction in seizures in dogs who received CBD supplements. Researchers noted that the decrease in seizures was indirectly proportional to the dosage given. That is, the higher dosages resulted in fewer seizures.
Researchers noted, however, that those reductions had not gone beyond 50%. Despite this, the authors did mention that this finding was worthy of further studies.
6. May Help in Relieving Symptoms Associated with Allergies
Cases of allergies in dogs have gone up in recent years. CBD may alleviate skin itching, drying, and rashes in dogs by acting on the endocannabinoids found in their skin.
In dogs with atopic dermatitis, CBD supplements may even help modify a dog’s behavior. Giving these supplements discourages them from licking on wounds and rashes caused by this condition which leads to faster healing on affected sites.
Another study found that dog treats containing CBD had an antipruritic (stops itchiness) effect, while not necessarily modifying a dog’s behavior.
7. CBD Supplements and Dogs with Cancer
Cancer is a terrible disease that affects not only humans but dogs as well.
The cure to this disease continues to remain elusive but research has shown that giving CBD to dogs with cancer may relieve them of pain associated with the progression of the disease.
CBD has also been shown to have some potential for use in cancer therapy when used as an adjunct to certain drugs used for chemotherapy.
Studies also show that CBD helps in slowing down tumor progression by triggering cell death and stopping cells from migrating and going into other tissue spaces. It may even help in reducing tumor size too.
Last, CBD may prevent the proliferation of blood vessels around the area where a tumor has grown, starving it of nutrients necessary for tumor growth.
How much CBD should you be giving your dog?
If you feel that your dog may benefit from hemp CBD, the next question would be just how much should be giving your dogs.
It’s really hard to give you an exact answer because many of these studies are in their preliminary phase. So, there are still many unanswered questions, and many findings left open for debate.
That said, there are recommendations that have been given with regards to an acceptable and safe dose of CBD for your dog.
A study published in 2020 has shown that escalating doses of hemp CBD is proven to be safe with a very minor percentage of dogs experiencing adverse effects.
Experts recommend a safe starting dose of 0.05 to 0.25 mg/pound of body weight. They recommend slowly increasing the dosage to 0.125 mg/pound, twice daily, if the lower dose doesn’t help your dog’s condition.
To make sure though, talk to your veterinarian about the right CBD dose for your dog.
Be sure to ask your vet about drug interactions in case your dog is under some form of medication.
As with all forms of medication, side effects can occur. Your dog may experience effects such as sleepiness, nausea, and an increased appetite. Be sure to ask your veterinarian about these as well.
There’s still quite a bit of both controversy and speculation surrounding CBD oil and hemp supplements for dogs. New studies come out every day, though. We’re learning so much more about this natural remedy and how well it works for dogs.
Being an all-natural product doesn’t mean though that hemp CBD is entirely safe. Manufacturing and product standardization are key issues as well with regards to its use. So, make sure you choose reputable sellers.
Once again, I remind you to talk to your vet. Not only can they tell you if CBD is worth trying for your dog’s condition, but they may be able to recommend a good brand.
What are your thoughts on the benefits of CBD oil and hemp supplements for dogs? Have you tried either of them out? Share below.