When you have to give medicine to your dog, it’s usually an ordeal.
Only the luckiest owners have a pup who is willing to open his mouth for a syringe or a pill – even if the pill is wrapped in yummy meat. Even if you put a capsule inside a meatball into his dish, there’s a 50% chance that he’ll eat the meat and leave the capsule still sitting there.
That’s only one reason to consider giving your dog CBD oil when he’s in pain. The other purpose is that it can often provide fast and impressive relief.
Naturally, we’re not saying that cannabidiol (the full name for CBD) can or should replace a visit to the vet when your pet is suffering. If Fido’s withdrawn, whining, lethargic, or limping for no apparent reason, your first move should always be to get him to the doctor so you can find out what’s wrong and what you can do to help.
But even your veterinarian may suggest the long-term use of CBD oil to treat the anxiety, arthritis, or inflammation that could be causing your pet’s discomfort. Many vets stock and sell CBD right on their waiting room shelves.
CBD oil won’t make your dog high since it only contains a minuscule amount of psychoactive THC. It won’t cause dangerous side effects, unlike some of the strong canine meds often prescribed by veterinarians. And it isn’t even habit-forming, so once your dog feels better, he won’t have to go through any type of withdrawal.
What it will do for many pets, according to a large number of anecdotal reports and a growing body of scientific evidence, is to help him feel better.
That is, of course, if you choose a high-quality CBD oil that’s meant specifically for canine consumption.
Here are the ones to choose from.
Best CBD Oil for Dogs: Our Top Picks in 2020
1. Royal CBD Oil for Pets
This company makes outstanding CBD oil for humans and is now using the same carefully-crafted manufacturing process to create CBD oil for their dogs. The available potencies are calculated for the average weights of canines, so they aren’t as strong as the oils made for people.
There are three strength levels (4 milligrams per milliliter, 8.5mg/ml, and 17mg/ml) for dogs, as opposed to the four (from 8.5mg/ml to 83mg/ml) that Royal offers for the dogs’ owners.
The company doesn’t cut corners just because they’re taking CBD oils for dogs. The cannabidiol is sourced from organic, American hemp and extracted via the high-end supercritical CO2 method, combined with MCT carrier oil to create a full-spectrum product with the complete entourage effect. There are no added ingredients, so the only available flavor is “natural,” but dogs seem to like it just fine.
If you didn’t know better, you’d think they were using those processes for manufacturing and selling CBD oil for people who can read labels and reviews. But Royal CBD creates its pet CBD oil with the same care because the people buying the products can read labels and reviews – and care about their dogs’ health as much as they care about their own.
Things We Liked:
- Organically-grown hemp from US farmers
- Supercritical CO2 extraction and MCT carrier oil
- Full-spectrum oil
- Dog-friendly natural flavor
- Potencies chosen specifically for pets
Things We Didn’t Like:
- Rather expensive compared to similar products
2. Gold Bee Pet CBD Oil
Just like Royal CBD, Gold Bee uses the same process to manufacture its CBD oil for dogs that it uses for its “human products.” They use hemp sourced from Colorado and California organic farms, supercritical CO2 extraction, MCT carrier oil to produce a full-spectrum cannabidiol product with all of the hemp’s components left in to maximize the CBD’s effects. There are no additives, and as the Royal oil, the natural flavor is just fine for dogs’ taste buds.
The only objection we have to Gold Bee’s CBD oil is the potency selection. They do offer dosages of 8.5mg/ml and higher, but that’s probably way too much for small dogs; we wouldn’t advise owners of Schnauzers or Chihuahuas to go with Gold Bee for the time being. Why just for the time being? We understand that a 3.5mg/ml CBD oil is in the works, and should be available shortly.
Things We Liked:
- CBD extracted via supercritical CO2 method from organic, non-GMO organic hemp
- MCT carrier oil
Things We Didn’t Like:
- No suitable potency choice for small dogs
- Limited production runs mean limited supply available
3. CDB Pet 100
Here’s the one you may want to check out if Gold Bee’s CBD oil is too strong for your small pet, since it only comes in 100mg potency (which equals 3.5mg/ml); they don’t have any stronger options. It’s a very good product, sourced from organic American hemp, extracted by the CO2 method and combined with a hemp carrier oil (not quite as good as supercritical CO2 or MCT carrier oil, but close).
We do have one caution, though. This isn’t full-spectrum oil, it’s CBD isolate with the additional cannabinoids and other components of the hemp plant removed after extraction. That means it doesn’t have the necessary ingredients for the “entourage effect” that boosts the medicinal power of cannabidiol. Some might think that isolate is better for their dog because it doesn’t contain the minuscule amount of THC that’s left in full-spectrum CBD products. In truth, that amount isn’t enough to negatively affect your pet in any way. But this is good oil, so if you think isolate is “safer” in some way, go for it.
Things We Liked:
- Sourced from organically-grown US hemp
- No unnecessary ingredients
Things We Didn’t Like:
- Only one potency level, too low for small dogs
- CBD isolate
- Co2 extraction not supercritical
- Higher than expected price for a low-potency oil
CBD Oil for Dogs: What You Need to Know
Research on how cannabidiol affects canines is extremely limited. In truth, a lot more research needs to be done to understand how CBD affects humans, too.
However, experts are learning more and more every year, and signs clearly point toward the effectiveness of cannabidiol in treating several of the most common illnesses and conditions that affect dogs.
Research: Dogs and CBD
Only a few reputable studies focusing on canines and CBD have been published so far, but they have clear implications for owners who are considering giving CBD oil to their dogs.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis suffered by dogs and one of the most common causes of canine pain. The American College of Veterinary Surgeons reports that the disease affects approximately 25% of all canines in the U.S. A group of dogs suffering from OA was given either CBD oil or a placebo; the results showed that the pets treated with cannabidiol experienced substantial pain relief and increased mobility.
Another recent study that has so far produced only preliminary results was conducted at Colorado State University. It looked at CBD’s ability to treat canine epilepsy, the most common neurological disease seen in dogs (and the only human condition for which CBD treatment has received government approval). The early findings show that 89% of the pets receiving cannabidiol showed a reduction in the frequency of their seizures.
And in a study with more far-reaching implications, CBD was found to possibly be effective as a canine cancer treatment.
That research is promising. Just as promising are the results of studies on the ability of CBD to treat animals and humans.
Research: CBD and Its Medical Benefits
There’s a growing body of research examining the effect that CBD oil can have on illness, disease, and pain. Importantly, many of the studies deal with issues that commonly afflict dogs.
- A general survey of the research into CBD and pain reports that cannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD), can be effective against a wide range of difficult-to-treat issues including nerve pain, joint pain, and cancer pain.
- CBD administered transdermally to arthritic rats significantly reduced their joint inflammation, swelling, and pain.
- Of particular interest, because inflammation is a significant cause of canine pain: a full review of cannabinoids and their ability to act as anti-inflammatory agents found a large number of conditions that could benefit with CBD treatment, including arthritis, diabetes, and cancer.
- Anxiety may not cause physical pain, but dogs suffering from the disorder often display symptoms indistinguishable from pain. In one study, well over two-thirds of canines exhibited signs of anxiety. And CBD has shown great promise as an effective treatment for anxiety and stress.
To put it more simply, even though there’s no definitive body of work showing that cannabidiol will relieve your dog’s pain, soreness or anxiety – there’s an enormous amount of evidence that it could. And if you ask dog owners (and many vets) who’ve tried it, there’s no doubt in their minds that CBD oil is worth trying.
Won’t CBD Oil Hurt My Dog?
You may be thinking about the warnings you’ve heard not to give your dog pot (or let him near it), which are valid. Marijuana may not kill dogs, but it can get them high – and they’ll have no idea what’s happening to them, so they’ll get scared and anxious. Even worse, weed can be poisonous to dogs, requiring emergency veterinary care.
CBD isn’t weed; it’s only one of the cannabinoids that are found in the marijuana plant. It’s not psychoactive, won’t get your dog high and won’t endanger him.
Here’s why. There are two types of cannabis plants, marijuana and hemp, and the CBD oil you’ll purchase for your dog will be made from the hemp plant, not the pot plant. By law, cannabidiol sold after being extracted from hemp must contain less than 0.3% THC, nowhere near enough to affect your pup.
You can be sure that there’s only a minuscule amount of THC in the CBD oil by checking the COA (certificate of analysis) that should come with it. It shows the results of third-party testing, proving that the oil contains the promised amount of CBD and no significant THC content.
There are only a few minor side effects associated with CBD use in dogs: dry mouth, drowsiness, and lower blood pressure. And the last two have only been observed with large doses of cannabidiol, higher than anyone would probably give their pet.
Why CBD Oil Instead of Dog Treats?
If you see CBD dog treats sold at the vet’s office or online, your first thought might be: “That would be a much easier way to get my dog to take his CBD!”
It certainly might be easier. But it’s not the best way to give him CBD.
When you administer CBD oil with a medicine dropper, you’re in control of how much cannabidiol he receives. The label on the dog treat simply tells you how much was put into the treat before it was cooked or baked – and exposure to heat drastically reduces the potency and effectiveness of cannabidiol. Oil calculated to include 5mg of CBD will have 5mg of CBD. You have no idea how much CBD will be in a 5mg dog treat, or how effective it will be. And dog treats rarely come with a COA.
Additionally, CBD oil isn’t fattening. Dog treats and biscuits are. It may be that your dog needs the extra calories, but most pups don’t. And to give him the right dose of cannabidiol, you may have to feed him several treats, boosting his calorie intake even more.
You do have to calculate the dosage for your pet when you use CBD oil, an issue you don’t face when giving him a treat. But dosing isn’t difficult when you get the hang of it.
The optimal dose of canine CBD is based on the dog’s weight, and the best approach is to ask your vet. Don’t be afraid to ask; giving a dog CBD isn’t illegal or even questionable these days, and most vets are more than happy to provide advice. Otherwise, start with the recommended dose on the packaging.
Use the lowest possible dose if they suggest a range like “2.5mg-5mg” or “2-4 drops.” You can always increase the dose if necessary since there are no dangers of overdose or substantial side effects. If you’re still having trouble figuring it out, there are lots of canine CBD dosage calculators online.
(Just one advisory: if you put the oil into your dog’s food instead of dropping it into his mouth, it may take longer to act and may not be quite as effective.)
Now, let’s figure out how to choose the right oil.
What to Look for When Buying CBD Oil for Your Dog
You wouldn’t want to buy an essential medication from a no-name Chinese manufacturer. And you certainly don’t want to give your best friend low-quality CBD oil when you’re trying to help him through pain or a chronic illness.
The way to know you’re getting the best cannabidiol for your dog is to make sure the manufacturer adheres to the critical rules for producing CBD oil.
1. Organic Hemp
There’s a reason that organic produce is the best you can buy; it hasn’t been exposed to pesticides or other potentially-hazardous chemicals, so it posts the least danger to your body. In the same way, high-quality CBD oil will be sourced from organic hemp, preferably grown in America, where farmers have to adhere to stricter standards than in other nations. It should be non-GMO, too.
There are several ways that companies can extract cannabidiol from the hemp plant. Supercritical CO2 extraction is the most expensive method but also preserves the highest amount of CBD’s potency. Cheaper methods (in their order of desirability) like CO2 extraction, steam distillation, cold-press extraction, and extraction with natural solvents produce weaker CBD. Extraction with hydrocarbons produces CBD that could harm your dog.
3. Full-Spectrum Oil
When cannabidiol is extracted from hemp, it usually brings with it the other important of the hemp plant: terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids (including <0.3% THC content). They all work together to provide an “entourage effect” that enhances the CBD’s performance. Some manufacturers isolate just the CBD, however, for a product that’s not surprisingly called “CBD isolate.” It’s not quite as effective, but it does relieve any unfounded fear that a dog could react negatively to even a tiny amount of THC.
4. No Additives
The only ingredients that should be in CBD oil for dogs are cannabidiol and the carrier oil needed to help distribute the CBD. (MCT oil is the best choice for a carrier.) CBD oil produced for humans often contains natural essential oils for flavoring, but even those additives might harm your dog and should be avoided. And needless to say, no artificial ingredients should ever be acceptable when your pet’s health is involved.