CBD Dog Treats: Are They Safe, and Do They Really Work?

Here's what you need to know about giving your dog CBD.

Sophie Hirsh - Author

Oct. 18 2019, Updated 3:36 p.m. ET

cbd dog treats
Source: istock

CBD has taken the world by storm over the past few years — not only for humans, but also for our canine companions. That's right: You can buy CBD treats specially formulated for dogs. Many of the conditions that CBD can help humans with can also affect our furry friends, so it makes sense that companies are also marketing CBD to dog parents. 

So if your dog is struggling with any physical or mental conditions, read on for everything you need to know about feeding CBD to your pup.

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What Are CBD Dog Treats?

Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is a chemical compound that naturally occurs in the cannabis sativa plant’s two classifications: marijuana and hemp. CBD most commonly comes from the hemp plant, and it either includes less than .3 percent THC or no THC at all. THC is what makes marijuana psychoactive; since CBD does not include significant amounts of THC, it will not get the user high, and instead, it will just leave them with relaxing effects. For example, CBD can help with mental conditions such as anxiety and depression, as well as physical conditions like sore muscles, joint pain, and seizures.

Humans can take CBD in a variety of forms (everything from oil to gummies to lotion to chocolate bars), but dogs are typically given CBD dog treats, which are simply dog treats infused with CBD. Some pet parents also give their dogs CBD oil or CBD capsules.

Why Give Dogs CBD?

Like humans, dogs can also experience physical ailments after sustaining an injury or as they age. According to petMD, CBD can also treat seizures, nausea, arthritis, and digestive issues. Additionally, dogs can experience anxiety, fear, and depression — for example, many dogs feel scared and anxious during fireworks or in large crowds; other dogs may experience anxiety, depression, or PTSD if they were rescued from an uncomfortable or scarring housing situation. 

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How Much CBD Oil Should I Give My Dog for Anxiety?

A common reason pet parents give their dogs CBD is for anxiety. Pet website Canine Journal recommends first checking with your veterinarian to determine if CBD oil is safe for your particular dog, and what dosage would be good to start with. Once you get the OK, in general, Canine Journal advises considering your dog’s size when choosing what potency to buy — for example, 75mg might be better for small dogs; and 300mg might be more effective for large dogs.

Canine Journal recommends starting with a very small dose of the CBD oil — even less than the bottle suggests. If your dog responds well, you can gradually increase the dose to match what the manufacturer advises.

How Many CBD Treats Can I Give My Dog?

If you’re giving your dog CBD treats, the dosage will probably be a bit more straightforward than it is with CBD oil, since you won’t have to measure it out in a dropper. Not to mention, it will be easier to administer to your dog, since he will simply need to eat a tasty treat, while with CBD oil, he will need to sit still while you drop the oil into his mouth. But just like with CBD oil, a dosage should be written on the package. Use that as a guide, and consider starting with less treats than what the package advises to make sure your pup reacts well — especially for small dogs — and then move up to the full dose. And always make sure to check with your veterinarian before giving your dog CBD.

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Is Human CBD Oil Safe for Dogs?

We may let our dogs eat our leftover food — but is it safe for them to take CBD formulated for humans? The website Weedmaps spoke with holistic veterinarian Judy Morgan to learn more.

“There should be no difference in ‘pet-quality’ oils,” Morgan told the outlet. “However, oils cannot be labeled for humans and pets to use, as FDA does not allow that. Many human oils are pretty concentrated, so dosing becomes an issue for small pets.”

“Yes, dogs can use human CBD oil,” Morgan continued. “Humans could take pet CBD oil if it is human grade and not adulterated in any way.”

So basically, while Morgan asserts that it is safe to feed your dog human CBD oil, it’s better to be safe than sorry and buy one specially formulated for dogs, since that one will probably come with better dosage guidelines for different sized dogs. Not to mention, you don’t really want to share droppers with your dog’s slobbery mouth, do you?

Best Dog CBD Oil and Treats

There are so many CBD brands on the market that make doggy-approved treats, oils, and capsules — so how on Earth are you supposed to choose? It’s important to do your research and make sure the brand you are purchasing from is one you are comfortable with. There are pretty thorough roundups of dog CBD companies to help you get started on Forbes and Rave Reviews.

The Science on Dogs and CBD

A study published on ScienceDaily in May found that 89 percent of epileptic dogs given CBD for a clinical trial experienced a reduced frequency of seizures. Additionally, a 2018 study published by Frontiers in Veterinary Science observed a "significant decrease" in pain as well as an increase in activity in dogs who were given CBD oil.

Since CBD is still relatively new in the U.S., there haven't been quite enough conclusive studies on its effects just yet — but hopefully more research will come out in the near future.

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