It is undeniable that the popularity of CBD is picking up. Last year, it was conservatively estimated that around 7% of American adults already use CBD products1. Because it has been found that CBD can help dogs and other pets as well, analysts expect this number to grow to 10% in the next 5 years. This is despite the large divide between the amount of clinical proof and the overwhelming anecdotal stories extolling CBD’s benefits.
Statistics seem to show the increasing confidence of US consumers in the potential of CBD as a holistic type of treatment despite obstacles like the stigma associated with cannabis, government regulation, and lack of studies. Since CBD is not cheap, those who continue to buy CBD must have experienced real and perceivable relief from their ailments. These people are also likely to be confident to recommend or use CBD on their ailing loved ones and that can include their dogs.
CBD for Dogs: A Growing Market
According to recent statistics, approximately 85 million families or 67% of households in the US own a pet and 63.4% of this demographic are dog owners. In another survey, 81% of 1000 dog owners said that they consider their dogs to be true family members, equal in status to children.2
The love US consumers have for their pet dogs is fairly evident in several surveys. One such survey revealed that millennials3, who incidentally comprise the biggest demographic of CBD users, are the most willing to spend on their dog. While the average spending of a dog owner totals up to $1,285 per year, millennials say that they are willing to spend around $2,000 to treat their sick pet and while 11% said they would be willing to shell out as much as $10,000.4
This data concurs with survey data from a cannabis research firm which revealed that Americans spent a total of $33 million on CBD pet products alone in 2018, which is a big leap from $8 million in 2017. The firm also expects sales to hit as high as $1.16 billion in just around 2 years. This just shows how willing US pet owners are to try and improve the quality of life of their pets, and the CBD industry is ready to capitalize on that.
What Do Dog Owners Use CBD For?
Dogs can suffer the same conditions that affect humans like arthritis, seizures, anxiety, and stress. Naturally, pet owners, especially those who have already experienced the benefits of CBD, will most likely try it on their dogs. Often, vets from states where cannabis is legal are also likely to recommend it5 to owners but in most other states, vets may only recommend it when the owner asks about it.
Even though CBD can help dogs, one important thing to clarify is that marijuana is toxic to dogs.6 They can get high by ingesting marijuana/THC or food laced with it, or from secondhand smoke, and a high enough dose can kill them.
However, CBD derived from hemp cannabis is not and there are no known instances of dogs suffering any major adverse effects from CBD. Those that have been observed are very mild and are the same as those in humans: diarrhea, itching, drowsiness, and vomiting7 but still, it cannot be confirmed whether these are caused by other factors like incorrect dosage or the quality of the CBD.
How Can CBD Benefit Your Dog?
The most common reasons why dog owners turn to CBD is to alleviate pain, treat seizures and reduce the anxiety of their pets8. While CBD is known to address a wide range of conditions in both humans and dogs, one thing to note is that finding the right dose can be fairly complicated, especially since CBD is biphasic9 which means it can produce opposite effects in low and high doses. The CBD dose depends on the following factors:
- The size and age of the dog
- The condition that needs treatment
- The method of administration
- The quality of the product10
Dog owners usually find the right dose by estimation and trial and error since scientific data on the effects of CBD on dogs is scant. However, most CBD companies will provide a chart or calculator on their website that shows how many milligrams of their CBD product should be given to a dog based on their weight in kilograms. Still, every dog will react to CBD differently and some say that older dogs seem to be more sensitive to it compared to the younger ones.
How to give CBD to your dog
There are also different ways to administer CBD to a dog. In the absence of supporting studies, it is believed that the best way is to apply CBD oil sublingually. This allows direct absorption from the blood vessels in the mouth to the bloodstream. Putting it on food or using CBD treats means the CBD will have to be absorbed through the digestive system. Not all compounds are absorbed faster and better sublingually, some need to be processed by the liver to be more bioavailable. However, most CBD users say that CBD takes effect faster when taken sublingually.
Like what we mentioned in What Dose of CBD Is Actually Effective? a good rule of thumb would be to check the manufacturer’s website first for the minimum dose recommended for your pet. Begin with the minimum amount and adjust accordingly until you achieve the desired effect.
CBD can help relieve your dog’s pain
CBD is a well-known pain-reliever and studies seem to confirm that it is effective in dogs as well. In one study11 on dogs afflicted with osteoarthritis, as many as 80% of the test subjects involved in the test showed improvement in pain and mobility after being given a dose of 2 to 8 mg of CBD per kilogram of body weight.
CBD can help with your dog’s epilepsy and seizures
Likewise, at least one study12 points to the effectiveness of CBD in reducing epileptic seizures in dogs. However, the results warrant more research since the same number of dogs in the placebo group also responded to treatment and had fewer seizures.
Additionally, one study13 found the oral administration of CBD oil to be more effective than gel capsule or cream.
CBD can help your dog calm down
A growing number of dog owners swear by the effectiveness of CBD in reducing the anxiety, hyperactivity, and aggressive behavior of their dogs. However, clinical trials confirming CBD’s anti-anxiety properties have been conducted on human subjects, not dogs.
CBD can stimulate your dog’s appetite
A common problem with sick or distressed dogs is the loss of appetite. This can have a downward spiral effect where the dog gets even sicker from the loss of appetite and so on. However, it seems that CBD can help dogs recover their appetite according to pet owners who have tried it, but there are still no clinical trials on dogs to support this claim.
CBD can help dogs with cancer
It may be surprising to know that cancer is actually the leading cause of death for dogs14. While CBD and cannabinoids, in general, have shown potential as a treatment for cancer, studies at present have yielded mixed results.15 However, the numerous anecdotal stories are worthy to be taken into consideration. Since there are no known major side effects to CBD, using it to treat cancer in dogs has a greater upside compared to its downside. CBD is also likely to address the symptoms of cancer like pain and vomiting in the process. Undoubtedly, this is one invaluable way that CBD can help dogs.
CBD seems to have a far greater upside as a supplement for addressing various ailments and promoting overall wellness in dogs. However, it can be difficult to get guidance from vets since CBD is still in a legal gray area at least in the US, with the FDA discouraging the use of CBD on both humans and animals.16 There is also a question of the quality of the products being sold in the market today and there is the possibility of inferior products doing more harm than good.
- Nick Kovacevich. With CBD, Cannabis Wellness Market Goes Big[Forbes]
- [Psychology Today]
- Acosta. New Acosta Report Finds 28 Percent of Consumers Use CBD Products Daily or As-Needed[Cision]
- Chris Lange. National Pet Month: Here’s how much Millennials spend on their pets[USA Today]
- Lori Kogan1*, Regina Schoenfeld-Tacher2, Peter Hellyer1 and Mark Rishniw3. US Veterinarians’ Knowledge, Experience, and Perception Regarding the Use of Cannabidiol for Canine Medical Conditions[Frontiers in Veterinary Science]
- Fitzgerald KT1, Bronstein AC, Newquist KL. Marijuana poisoning.[PubMed]
- What Are Possible CBD Side Effects For Dogs?[Cannanine]
- Lori Kogan,1,* Regina Schoenfeld-Tacher,2 Peter Hellyer,1 and Mark Rishniw3. US Veterinarians’ Knowledge, Experience, and Perception Regarding the Use of Cannabidiol for Canine Medical Conditions [PMC]
- Alejandro Aparisi Rey,1 Martin Purrio,1 Maria-Paz Viveros,2,* and Beat Lutz1,* Biphasic Effects of Cannabinoids in Anxiety Responses: CB1 and GABAB Receptors in the Balance of GABAergic and Glutamatergic Neurotransmission[PMC]
- Sally Jones. CBD Dosage For Dogs: Clearing Up The Confusion[Canine Journal]
- Lauri-Jo Gamble,1 Jordyn M. Boesch,1 Christopher W. Frye,1 Wayne S. Schwark,2 Sabine Mann,3 Lisa Wolfe,4 Holly Brown,5 Erin S. Berthelsen,1 and Joseph J. Wakshlag1,*. Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs[PMC]
- McGrath S, Bartner LR, Rao S, Packer RA, Gustafson DL. Randomized blinded controlled clinical trial to assess the effect of oral cannabidiol administration in addition to conventional antiepileptic treatment on seizure frequency in dogs with intractable idiopathic epilepsy.[PubMed]
- Lisa R. Bartner, Stephanie McGrath, corresponding author Sangeeta Rao, Linda K. Hyatt, and Luke A. Wittenburg. Pharmacokinetics of cannabidiol administered by 3 delivery methods at 2 different dosages to healthy dogs[PMC]
- Wikipedia contributors. “Cancer in Dogs”[Wikipedia]
- CBD for cancer: Everything you need to know[Medical News Today]
- What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD[FDA]