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CBD for Dogs: A Complete Guide to Canine Serving Sizes

Written By Ellese Symons Apr 27th 2023
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Whether you prefer having pet supplies shipped to your home or shopping locally, you've probably noticed a dramatic increase in the number of retailers stocking CBD dog treats and tinctures. While they're sold just about everywhere, many dog owners feel product manufacturers don't provide enough information about CBD serving sizes to ensure they're measuring the right amount for their pet. 

Will you ever find the clarity you're looking for? Probably not on product labels. CBD is not a medication. You won't find detailed instructions for a list of specific concerns because every dog is different. If you have questions about giving CBD to your pet, consult your veterinarian. Until then, consider browsing this guide. You'll find just about everything you need to know about safe, effective cannabinoid administration. You'll also learn how to find the ideal serving size for your canine companion. 

Understanding the Basics: What CBD Oil Is & How Your Dog Could Benefit  

CBD (cannabidiol) is the most abundant of more than 113 cannabinoids in the oil extracted from hemp flowers. (Komarnytsky et al., 2021). It works by interacting with multiple molecular targets, including the receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) (Fernandez-Ruiz et al., 2012), a messaging system found in all animal species (Silver, 2019). As the regulatory system responsible for nearly every crucial function impacting physical, mental, and emotional well-being, cannabis researchers believe supporting ECS function with CBD promotes homeostasis (Sallaberry & Astern, 2018). 

That means CBD could be just as beneficial for your pup as it is (or could be) for you. Based on the feedback of nearly 2000 survey respondents, most human CBD users report positive results for relaxation, better sleep, mild or temporary anxiety, and discomfort after physical activity. In a survey of more than 2200 veterinarians, most providers with CBD experience report similarly favorable results (Kogan et al., 2019). Unlike many other plant extracts, hemp-derived CBD oil is not toxic for companion animals (Miranda-Cortes et al., 2023). 

Product Selection: Factors to Consider Before Committing to a Purchase   

A dog that's feeling anxious might howl, defecate indoors, or scratch compulsively. Cowering, hypervigilance, and destructive behaviors are also common (Kriss, 2021). Physical discomfort can cause changes in appetite, posture, or activity levels. (Nicholas, 2022). Could CBD help? It's possible. But not all CBD products are the same. Many brands claiming their products are pet-friendly use carrier oils that are difficult for dogs and cats to digest. Others use pet-friendly carrier oils but don't provide the documentation needed to confirm their products are pure, potent, and contaminant-free. Your dog deserves the best products available. 

Before committing to a purchase, consider the list of product ingredients. Avoid CBD oil tinctures made with fractionated coconut (MCT) oil. It's not harmful, but its fatty acids can cause nausea, upset stomach, loose stools, and diarrhea for many dogs. Tinctures made with hemp seed oil are easier on canine digestion. Once you're reasonably sure you've found rigorously tested products made with canine-friendly ingredients, you'll be that much closer to determining how much CBD your dog might need to achieve the results you're hoping for, an amount typically impacted by the following factors. 

Dog size and weight  

Most CBD pet products have serving-size suggestions printed on their labels. Most often, you'll see a chart specifying how many milligrams of CBD to give your dog based on their size. The bulbed dropper makes those suggestions easy to adjust. When you choose CBDistillery® CBD Oil Pet Tinctures, you have two options, a 150mg CBD oil pet tincture for small to medium sized dogs and a 600mg tincture for medium to large sized dogs. 

Reasons for Use  

Every dog has a unique physical chemistry. That's why a CBD serving size that provides relief for one dog could be considerably more or a lot less than the amount that provides similar results for yours. You could also discover that the amount of CBD that helps calm your dog when they're feeling anxious could be quite different than the serving size that works best for pain, stiffness, or inflammation after physical activity. If you're interested in using CBD for more than one concern, consider recording each serving size modification and documenting your observations. 

CBD concentrations  

Once you've determined the ideal serving size for your pet with a less concentrated product, a product that helps you move forward in small increments, you may want to use less of a more potent tincture to minimize your costs. For example, a pup getting good results from a 5mg (1 dropper) serving of a 150mg CBD oil pet tincture will get the same results with a 5mg (5 drop) serving of a 600mg CBD oil pet tincture.  

CBD Oil Administration: Four Ways to Give CBD to Your Dog  

You will not harm your pet by sticking with the serving size suggestions printed on product labels. But the time you invest in identifying the smallest amount of CBD your dog might need for optimal results reduces the risk of (minor) side effects. We generally recommend starting with just a few drops of a CBD pet tincture (or part of a treat). If you're not seeing the effect you're hoping for within a few days, gradually increase the amount you're administering in small increments. 

Although you're bound to see reports from people claiming impressive results within hours of their dog's first CBD serving, every pet is different. It can take days or even weeks for some systems to respond. While you're waiting, you may find it at least somewhat reassuring to know that most human survey respondents report achieving their best results within 7-14 days of consistent use. Your dog will let you know which of the following methods of CBD oil administration they prefer. 

#1 – Mixing CBD Oil with Food 

CBD oil pet tinctures are exceptionally versatile. You can add a serving of CBD oil directly to your dog's wet or dry food, use the tincture to make CBD-infused dog treats, or place a few drops onto your pet's favorite biscuit. If your dog seems less than enthused about the addition, try adding CBD to peanut butter, a sticky treat many dogs adore.   

#2 – Adding CBD Oil to Water  

If your dog's appetite is diminished, they're refusing to eat, or you're concerned about offering too many treats, consider adding a serving of CBD to their water bowl. To ensure they're getting a full serving, add the CBD oil to less water than your pet usually drinks. You can offer more water once they've finished their CBD-infused beverage. 

#3 – Direct Administration  

Many dogs enjoy the flavor of hemp. If your four-legged friend allows you to place a serving of CBD into their mouth, direct administration could be one of the easiest ways to ensure your pet is getting a full serving. If your pup resists your efforts, try gently moving their lower lip away from their teeth and administering the oil into the "pouch" (Martin, 2022).   

#4 – CBD Dog Treats  

CBD-infused dog treats make it easy to ensure your pet is getting their CBD. But the cannabinoid concentrations and overall quality can vary by brand. You may need multiple treats of one brand to get an equivalent serving size of another. If the manufacturer doesn't provide access to third-party testing to verify their CBD products are as pure and potent as claimed, keep looking. Many hemp-derived dog treats contain little (if any) CBD. 

CBD Oil Safety: Common Side Effects and Precautions  

CBD pet products are generally well-tolerated and safe for most dogs. Researchers investigating the cannabinoid's potential impact on multiple aspects of canine health and well-being report "no adverse effects" (Gamble et al., 2018). However, side effects are possible. Some dog owners say their pets seem more tired than usual or experience minor digestive upset. The time it takes to determine your dog's ideal serving size minimizes their risk of developing a dry mouth, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, or upset tummy. If your dog has a medical condition or takes medication, discuss your interest in CBD with your pet's veterinarian. Hemp-derived cannabinoids can interact with several over-the-counter treatments and prescription medications. 

Could Your Dog Benefit from a CBDistillery® Full Spectrum CBD Pet Tincture?  

CBDistillery® CBD oil pet tinctures are made with full spectrum hemp extract. We blend that high-quality plant extract with cold-pressed hemp seed oil, a carrier oil that's easier on canine digestion. Many people prefer giving their pets full spectrum products because of the "entourage" effect achieved by their many additional cannabinoids and terpenes. The CBD to THC ratio ensures there's no risk of intoxication. 

When you choose CBDistillery®, you can shop with confidence. Our products are rigorously tested, quality assured, made with 100% clean ingredients, and backed by a 60-day satisfaction guarantee. You'll find downloadable batch test results on our product pages and a scannable QR code on every label.    

References 

Fernandez-Ruiz J, Sagredo O, et al. (2012) Cannabidiol for Neurodegenerative Disorders: Important Clinical Applications for This Phytocannabinoid? 75(2) Br J Clin Pharmacol 323-33. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2125.2012.04341.x 

Gamble L, Boesch J, et al. (2018) Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs. 165(5) Front Vet Sci. https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2018.00165 

Kogan L, Schoenfeld-Tacher, et al. (2019) US Veterinarians' Knowledge, Experience, and Perception Regarding the Use of Cannabidiol for Canine Medical Conditions. Front Vet Sci. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6338022/ 

Komarnytsky S, Rathinasabapathy T, et al. (2021) Endocannabinoid System and Its Regulation by Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Full Spectrum Hemp Oils. 22(11) Int J Mol Sci 5479. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22115479 

Kriss R. (2021) Understanding, Preventing, and Treating Dog Anxiety. American Kennel Club.org. 

Martin, N. (2022) How to Give Liquid Medicine. Rover.com 

Miranda-Cortes A, Mota-Rojas D, et al. (2023) The Role of Cannabinoids in Pain Modulation in Companion Animals. 9 Front Vet Sci. https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2022.1050884 

Nicholas, J. (2022) How Can I Tell If My Dog Is In Pain? Preventative Vet. 

Sallaberry C, Astern L. (2018) The Endocannabinoid System, Our Universal Regulator. 34(6) JYI 48-55. https://www.jyi.org/2018-june/2018/6/1/the-endocannabinoid-system-our-universal-regulator 

Silver R. (2019) The Endocannabinoid Systems of Animals. 9(9) Animals 686. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090686