So, you’ve decided to try something new to help ease your dog’s anxiety. You’ve heard great reviews from lots of different pups at the dog park, but now you’re online and lost in a sea of different options. The trouble is, there are positives and negatives to every single one. We’ve broken them down to help you choose the best option for your pup’s needs.
Ever since cannabidiol (CBD) was legalized across all 50 states in 2018, this all-natural, non-psychoactive compound extracted from cannabis and hemp has been widely hyped as a miracle drug for humans. Now, more and more pet parents are turning to this new “miracle drug” to treat their best friends. But just as with most medications, not all CBD and CBD-derived products are alike. CBD, hemp and medical marijuana might play in the same sandbox, but there are important differences between them.
One of the many great things about pet CBD is its versatility. The miracle substance is multifaceted, from the methods of extraction used to obtain it (is it isolate or whole plant extraction?), to its varying potency levels, to the different ways it can be consumed by your pet (oil, treats, and topical). There are no cold hard facts yet about which of these will be the best for your dog, but the wide variety gives you a scope to find out.
CBD oil is extracted from two different types of cannabis plant: the male plant, hemp, and the female plant, marijuana. The most commonly used of the two in CBD oil for pets is hemp. This is because of the lower levels of THC, the active ingredient that gives cannabis users a high. The Farm Bill, passed in 2018, made it legal for the mass production of all cannabis plants with a THC level under 0.3%. The CBD oil that pet owners source is also known as hemp oil. The positive cannabidiol in the plants can be extracted using a few different processes, including CO2, oil and ethanol extraction. All of them have their positives and negatives, but the result is basically the same: you are left with CBD oil that can be dissolved into a carrier oil such as hemp seed or coconut. The advantage of CBD oil over other forms of CBD is that it allows pet owners to change doses day by day. If your pup doesn’t see an improvement from one dose in his food, simply use the dropper to add more until you hit the sweet spot. Nobody knows your dog better than you do, and the look on his face when he’s feeling the effects will let you know that you’re on the right track.
Many hemp dog treats and soft chews are actually human grade, which should tell you everything you need to know about the quality of the ingredients involved. Just like human CBD treats are not recommended for dogs, it’s also not advisable to start snacking on your dog’s CBD-infused treats, but it would be safe to do so. Hemp treats are a wonderful way of giving your dog his daily dose without him even knowing that he’s taking his medicine. The more discerning dog might sniff the oil on his food or notice a capsule in a spoonful of peanut butter, but a treat’s a treat. Whether they’re into pumpkin, garlic, kale, maple bacon or beef, there’s a treat out there to suit all canine tastes. Most packages will come with a recommended dose and how many times a day they should be consumed, which will give you a rough guide on how many your pet needs depending on his size. If the dose doesn’t seem right, simply feed him another treat.
Medical marijuana laws are hazy at the best of times, but when it comes to pets, these laws don’t apply to them or their veterinarians. Dogs can’t even be prescribed medical marijuana by veterinarians. There are some cases where dogs have been given doses of marijuana, albeit illegally, by their owners. Positive results reported from these trials include a reduction in pain and seizures, but with the rise of legal CBD offering the same healing benefits, there seems to be no need to take this route.
Topical CBD is a cream or salve that can be applied directly to wounds, insect bites and painful areas on your dog’s skin. The jury is still out on whether the plant extract taken in this way is as effective. Some advocates for the methods listed above would claim that the other ingredients in the cream soothe the wound and that the CBD is actually more of a placebo. Either way, it’s probably best to stick to CBD oil or hemp treats until more research is done on topical salves.