When your dog’s in pain, you may not know what to do.
It’s not like you can give him some ibuprofen and tell him to lie down for a while or give him a heating pad to use while he’s watching TV. You may not even be able to tell exactly why he’s in pain – since he certainly can’t tell you where it hurts.
In serious cases, naturally, you’ll immediately rush him to the vet. But if he’s sitting in a corner and whimpering, limping around for no apparent reason, or just unusually lethargic and withdrawn – you may wait a day or so to see if he gets better, before calling your veterinarian and making an appointment.
Seeing a vet is almost always the best approach when you first notice that your dog is in pain. The long-term answer, though, maybe available at the nearest strip mall: CBD oil.
As far as researchers are concerned, the jury is still out on the use of CBD to treat common pet ailments. But initial studies and anecdotal evidence are overwhelmingly positive. They support the use of CBD oil for dogs suffering from arthritis, anxiety, inflammation, seizures, and other serious medical conditions.
Many vets agree – which is why they often stock CBD in their offices and clinics, available for purchase right next to the dog food and treats.
Here’s a look at the best CBD oils for dogs – followed by a buying guide to help you understand how CBD works and what to look for.
The Best CBD Oil for Dogs in 2020
1. Royal CBD Oil for Pets
Royal CBD is a relatively new player in the market. But the company has quickly made its mark by offering premium-quality CBD products which are just as good (or better) than its more established competitors. Their CBD oil for pets is a perfect example.
This is a full-spectrum oil produced from the same US-grown organic hemp that Royal uses for its “human products,” extracted by the same supercritical CO2 method and blended with the same MCT coconut carrier oil (and no added ingredients). The offerings are lower in potency (with pets in mind), but the quality is exactly the same; you could take the pet CBD oil yourself with no worries whatsoever.
While we’re on the subject of potency, Royal CBD’s oil for pets is available at three different levels so you can choose the best option from 100mg (about 4mg per milliliter dose), 250 mg (about 8.5 mg per dose) and 500mg (about 17mg per dose), depending on your dog’s size. The oil’s natural flavor is one that won’t bother your pet and will mix easily with his food if that’s how you plan to dispense it. As a full-spectrum oil, your dog will receive the full benefits of the entourage effect provided by the additional cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes, and the THC content below 0.3% is documented by third-party testing results.
Things We Liked:
- US-grown organic hemp
- Supercritical CO2 extraction
- Full-spectrum, <0.3% THC with third-party testing
- A natural flavor that dogs won’t mind
- Choice of three strength levels for differently-sized dogs
Things We Didn’t Like:
2. Gold Bee Pet CBD Oil
Gold Bee is an excellent CBD producer, but not a very big one. That means you won’t see their pet CBD oil on your veterinarian’s shelf; you’ll have to order it online (and they often sell out pretty fast). Finding it is worth the effort, though. This is top-shelf CBD oil, extracted via the supercritical CO2 method from California and/or Colorado-grown hemp. The carrier oil is pure MCT oil, and nothing else is added to the blend. It’s definitely a quality product; as a full-spectrum oil, the extract contains all of the other components needed for the entourage effect, including the minuscule amount of THC (less than 0.3%) allowed by law.
There are several potencies available. 250mg (about 8.5 mg/milliliter) is the lowest-potency option that Gold Bee sells right now, but we understand they plan to have a 100mg offering for smaller dogs available soon – it may even be ready by the time you read this. The company is planning to increase its manufacturing capacity, too, to make all of their high-quality CBD products more readily available.
Things We Liked:
- Organic hemp from Colorado and California
- Supercritical CO2 extraction
- Full-spectrum oil with MCT carrier oil
- Taste is inoffensive to dogs
Things We Didn’t Like:
- No potency lower than 250mg (although lower choices are said to be coming soon)
3. CBDPet 100
There are a lot of things to like about CBDPure’s pet offering, called CBDPet 100. It’s extracted from organic Colorado hemp, processed on-site via CO2 extraction, and blended with high-quality hemp seed carrier oil with no additional ingredients or artificial flavors. The quality is definitely high.
Unfortunately, it’s a CBD isolate instead of a full-spectrum oil, and it’s only really suitable for small dogs because of its low potency. As an isolate, it doesn’t contain any of the other cannabinoids, terpenes or flavonoids needed to provide the entourage effect that boosts pain relief. And CDBPet 100 is only available at a 100mg potency level, which averages out to about 3.5mg per milliliter dose. That’s a moderate dose (at best) for a small dog – which would be fine if there were additional options, or if this was a full-spectrum oil instead of isolate.
Instead, this is really a niche product best used for very small dogs. We like the oil, though, so hopefully, they’ll increase their potency offerings in the near future.
Things We Liked:
- Produced from organic Colorado hemp
- CO2 extraction
- No added ingredients (other than hemp seed carrier oil)
Things We Didn’t Like:
- CBD isolate, not full-spectrum
- Only one very low potency level available
- Co2 extraction not supercritical
- High price for low potency
CBD Oil for Dogs: Buying Guide
Some people recoil at the idea of giving CBD oil to their dog. That may because their vet hasn’t prescribed it, they may be confusing CBD with weed, or they may think that CBD is just another get-rich-quick scam.
The truth is very different. Many vets prescribe or suggest CBD, it’s very different from weed and won’t make your dog high – and CBD is far from a scam or fad. Most importantly, research shows that it can successfully treat a number of medical conditions in humans and pets.
Here’s a deeper dive on CBD oil, and how to choose the right one for your dog.
CBD Isn’t Marijuana
Perhaps the most important thing to understand about CBD is that it isn’t pot. In fact, it doesn’t even come from the marijuana plant.
The reason so many people confuse cannabidiol (the formal name for CBD) and weed is that they both come from the cannabis plant. But there are two types of cannabis plants, marijuana and hemp – and CBD can be sold legally because it comes from the hemp plant and not the pot plant. The government lifted its ban on hemp in 2018, which is why CBD has become widely available in the last few years.
Legal hemp can only contain a trace amount (less than 0.3%) of THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana. That’s why CBD from hemp won’t get your dog (or anyone else) high. By contrast, CBD extracted from the marijuana plant is psychoactive and can only be legally sold in dispensaries. You can’t buy it online, at your vet’s office, or in your local CBD store.
And CBD has become a very big deal. Here’s why.
CBD’s Medicinal Properties
Medical marijuana is now legal in more than half of America’s states, and the bulk of peer-reviewed studies show that weed can help with a wide variety of health issues. To understand why that’s important to our discussion of CBD for dogs, you have to know a little about the pot plant.
The active compounds in marijuana are called cannabinoids. There are more than 100 different cannabinoids in the plant, and the two most important are THC and CBD.
THC is the cannabinoid that interacts with the brain to create marijuana’s well-known high. But CBD is the one that provides most of pot’s medicinal properties. (The other cannabinoids, as well as the plant’s terpenes and flavonoids, are believed to enhance CBD’s power through what’s known as the “entourage effect.”) In other words, most of marijuana’s medical benefits come from the CBD it contains, not the THC.
So CBD from the hemp plant is just like the CBD in the marijuana plant and is ideal for treating the medical issues that pot is used for. It just won’t get you, or your dog, wasted in the process. (Never give your pet any form of weed. It will make him really, really sick.)
What canine illnesses or diseases can CBD oil treat? Research is still in its early stages, and so far most of it focuses on human patients rather than dogs. But the evidence is strong in many areas.
- Arthritis and chronic inflammation: CBD is becoming a front-line treatment for canine osteoarthritis, which affects more than 25% of all dogs during their lifetime. A study published in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science found that regular administration of CBD oil improved mobility and relieving pain in arthritic dogs. And more general research shows that CBD is an effective treatment for chronic inflammation – a common effect of canine osteoarthritis.
- Pain: It’s not just the pain of arthritis that CBD can relieve. Much of the research on cannabidiol focuses on more general chronic and severe pain, and there are many studies that show its effectiveness in relieving both types.
- Anxiety: A number of research studies have concluded that CBD can be effective in treating the symptoms of stress and anxiety, which are common issues for canines. One small animal study has already shown promise for the use of cannabidiol to help dogs suffering from anxiety.
- Seizures: CBD is an accepted treatment for epileptic seizures in humans, and has now been shown in a small study to be an effective treatment for canine seizures as well.
- Cancer: Research is in its infancy, but initial studies show promise for the use of CBD to treat cancer, including one small study focusing on canine cancer.
Buying CBD Oil for Your Dog
CBD oil is not a generic product. There are major differences in the way that manufacturers extract the CBD and use it to create oil – and if you don’t choose carefully, the CBD won’t help your dog to the extent that it should.
Here are the key variables to consider.
- Full-spectrum vs. isolate: A full-spectrum CBD oil (sometimes called broad-spectrum) retains all of the important components of the hemp plant: cannabinoids (including the <0.3% amount of THC legally allowed in hemp), terpenes and flavonoids. As we’ve mentioned, they all work together via the “entourage effect” to enhance the medical benefits of CBD.
- CBD isolate: the CBD has been isolated, eliminating all of hemp’s other components. However, that also eliminates the extra benefits provided by the entourage effect. Isolate can be crucial for human CBD users, who have to worry about the minuscule amount of THC triggering a positive drug test. We’ve never heard of a dog being subjected to a drug test, though, so isolate isn’t the right choice for most pets.
- Extraction method: CBD can be extracted from hemp by several different methods.
- The most desirable (and expensive) method is called supercritical CO2 extraction, which delivers the highest concentration of CBD.
- CO2 extraction (without the “supercritical” label) is also efficient and a good second choice.
- Steam distillation of cold-pressing is less expensive and more difficult, but still produces good CBD oil.
- Solvent extraction should be avoided. “Natural” solvents are likely to produce weaker CBD and a nasty taste; if the process uses hydrocarbons, the toxic residue can end up in the CBD.
- Quality: Look for CBD extracted from organic hemp, grown in America. Organic plants ensure that you’re not giving your dog oil which contains pesticides or other poisonous substances, and American hemp must meet higher standards than growers face in other nations. Also, avoid CBD oils that contain additives. Even “natural” essential oils may harm your pet.
- Certified: All CBD oil, whether it’s for you or your dog, should have a certificate of third-party independent testing. That will let you make sure that the oil contains the promised amount of CBD and that it has less than 0.3% THC content, and if you’re buying full-spectrum oil, that the terpenes and flavonoids are still present. (It also shows that the producer is confident enough in his product to submit it for third-party testing.)
- Form: CBD oil typically comes in liquid “tincture” form, which allows you to drop the oil right under your dog’s tongue for fast action and accurate dosing, or mix the oil into his food. CBD oil is also sold as a topical product, to be used for muscle pain or rashes.
You can also buy CBD oil in capsule form to be given like any other pill, or in the form of a dog treat. Each works more slowly than the tincture because the CBD can’t be absorbed until digestion is complete.
How Much CBD to Give Your Dog?
CBD dosing can be confusing. That’s mainly because bottles or containers are usually labeled and sold by the total amount of cannabidiol they contain or their overall concentration of CBD. Those measures are very different than the amount of oil you should be giving your dog each day.
The easiest ways to tackle this are to ask your vet what she recommends or to follow the dosing instructions on the bottle (usually based on the dog’s weight).
Before using “standard dosage” instructions, though, here’s one very important recommendation: start with the smallest recommended dose and then increase if necessary. CBD has a more powerful effect on dogs than humans, so it pays to go slowly.
If you’re going to figure out the dose by yourself, the standard recommendation is to give between 1-2 milligrams of CBD per 10 pounds of weight. So to do this right, you have to know how much CBD is in each milliliter of oil; some vendors tell you that, others don’t. If you’re not good at math, following the package directions or asking your vet is a much safer approach.
While We’re Talking About Your Vet…
Many pet owners are reluctant to talk to their veterinarian about CBD oil. Don’t be.
Talking to your pet’s doctor about CBD isn’t like talking to your own doctor about your weed consumption. CBD has become a generally-accepted treatment in the veterinary community, and as we’ve mentioned, many vets sell it right in their offices.
Not only can the doctor give you advice on dosages, but she can also tell you whether CBD is the right approach for your dog’s medical issues and whether it might have problematic interactions with other canine medications.
Consulting with your veterinarian about your pet’s needs and whether CBD can help isn’t just acceptable. It’s smart.