Does CBD for dogs actually work?

It comes in a small, amber-colored eyedropper bottle, or even in the form of a familiar bone-shaped treat. It promises to alleviate a wide range of pet ailments, from anxiety to joint pain or even epilepsy.

Due to the surge in use following cannabis legalization, people are naturally becoming curious about the potential benefits to pets of CBD, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid in both hemp and marijuana. If CBD–the cannabinoid known as Cannabidiol–has positive effects for them, will it help their furry friend, too?

While it shows potential, there’s also a risk of harm if you’re not careful.

“We are likely to see continued interest in CBD and an increase in research about its uses and efficacy in the coming years,” Dr. Jerry Klein explained to the American Kennel Club. While THC is toxic, there is growing anecdotal evidence of CBD’s effectiveness for anxiety, pain, epilepsy and even some forms of cancer in pets.

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“CBD is also used because of its anti-inflammatory properties, cardiac benefits, anti-nausea effects, appetite stimulation, and for possible anti-cancer benefits, although there’s no conclusive data on this use,” Klein said.

‘We do not know what size dosage would be toxic. Any medication or supplement carries the risk of a reaction.’

Joanne Schaus, a resident of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, bought CBD oil online for her 11-year-old Australian Shepherd, Skid. She told NBC news that her dog became hyperactive, pacing and panting, just about any time it stormed – a frequent occurrence during Midwestern summers. Schaus said she tried just about everything to calm him down, even giving him a Thundershirt.

It didn’t work. She read online that CBD might help, so she gave it a try. After a few weeks, he calmed down substantially.

“He just didn’t even notice the storm,” Schaus said. “I can’t say it’s completely fixed him because if we get a huge thunderclap he does get a little nervous.”

Unlike THC, CBD derived from hemp appears to be legal in all fifty states, though local enforcement varies as does understanding of the laws. Marijuana-based CBD is available in 47 states, except for Idaho, Nebraska and South Dakota. While both types of CBD are derived from the cannabis plants, hemp is more accepted as the plant lacks marijuana’s THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive component that gets you high and could intoxicate your pet.

Some pet owners are apprehensive, while others swear by CBD’s curative qualities.

A study released last month found that CBD oil reduced the frequency of seizures for some canines suffering from epilepsy. Yet, no research has proven the safety or effectiveness of these products. For that reason, the Food and Drug Administration cautions against giving it to pets. Consequently, Klein noted, the FDA has not issued a dosing chart.

“We do not know what size dosage would be toxic. Any medication or supplement carries the risk of a reaction,” he said.

The best thing to do is talk to your vet – and make sure you initiate the conversation. With the exception of California, vets have been left out of most state laws concerning cannabis, so they can only discuss CBD if clients broach the subject.

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In spite of all of this, if you and your vet do decide to try CBD for your pet, Klein said it’s important to remember that not all products are valued the same. For starters, look for an oil tincture – not dog treats.

“This way, you can adjust your dog’s dose drop by drop,” Klein explained.

He also advises on seeking out organic products, or at the very least, tinctures that don’t contain pesticides, fungicides or solvents. While you’re checking the ingredients, perhaps the most important thing is to look for a certificate from the manufacturer. This is what will tell you the amount of CBD that is actually in the product. It’s also imperative to make sure there’s little or no THC.

To this end, don’t skimp on your purchase.

“You don’t want to go for a cheaper option that could have toxic substances such as pesticides, herbicides, or heavy metals. Make sure your CBD oil is free of additives,” Klein said.

Allen Cathey, a former anesthesia veterinary technician and current equine consultant for Receptra Naturals, a hemp CBD extract company, said he was drawn to the brand for this reason. Currently, he is studying how CBD affects dogs as well as horses, and how people can properly dose their pets based on their size and weight.

“Controlled, ethical environment studies are what the vets are looking for,” Cathey said. “CBD cannot be prescribed until those studies come out.”

Cathey hopes to publish the results of his own research by July.

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