CBD oil has rocketed in popularity for both human and dog consumption. Once a fairly niche area of medicine, CBD has gained attention for its potential medical benefits, and research is uncovering the ways in which it can be useful for treating a variety of conditions.
CBD, or cannabinol, is a complex compound extracted from non-psychoactive hemp, a member of the cannabis family.
Isolated from any THC (the compound in cannabis that produces a "high"), CBD comes in a few different forms, either as isolated pure CBD or as a full-spectrum oil that contains other potentially beneficial plant compounds.
Both CBD oil and hemp oil for dogs have been said to reduce inflammation, thus decreasing the distressing symptoms of arthritis or chronic pain whilst enhancing mobility. They are also said to reduce seizures and ease anxiety.
In today's guide, we go into detail on all the common questions surrounding this new health supplement. We also recommend some products.
We explain the legal situation in the UK, potential health benefits, the products available, dosages, and any potential side effects.
What Exactly is CBD?
CBD is a cannabinoid compound found in all plants belonging to the cannabis family. CBD is the next most abundant cannabinoid chemical after THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol).
THC is the chemical in cannabis that gets you "high" and is found in some varieties of cannabis much more than others.
CBD is found in particular abundance in the hemp plant, a species of Cannabis Sativa that has been used for thousands of years. Hemp is a remarkable plant that can be used for fibre manufacture, biofuel and as a nutritious food (hemp seeds are very rich in Omega-3 acids).
Hemp also naturally contains very low levels of THC and much greater proportions of CBD, meaning it is non-psychoactive. CBD is readily extractable from hemp plants and can be isolated from any THC to make the resulting product free from any psychoactive effects.
CBD is a very interesting compound that binds to receptors that already exist in the brain. In fact, our brain and body already produce CBD and other endocannabinoids already and these play a vital role in our neurochemistry.
CBD in the brain helps regulate pathways that deal with pain, anxiety, and other neurological processes that have both mental and physical effects.
Since our brain already needs CBD to work properly and this is produced by the body, CBD derived from hemp essentially is supplementing a system that already exists in the brain. CBD in hemp mirrors the CBD produced by our body, helping it function properly.
What’s the legal situation in the UK?
Since CBD is connected to the cannabis plant, it is entangled somewhat with THC and marijuana strains of cannabis that produce psychoactive effects and get people "high". As such, CBD is legally complex and not all varieties are equally legal.
The legality of CBD products revolves around whether they are classed as ‘exempt products’ or not. An ‘exempt’ CBD product is one that is exempt from the Misuse of Drugs Act.
To become an exempt product and to be legally marketed as a CBD product, the product must have either nil THC or an extremely negligible quantity of THC that is impossible to produce any psychoactive effects.
This funnels CBD products into two main areas:
1. CBD Isolate
CBD isolate or pure CBD oil is extracted using a sophisticated process to make it as pure as possible and totally free from THC or any other chemicals other than CBD.
These may be marketed as ‘99.9999%’ CBD or similar to denote that they are virtually chemically pure.
2. Broad Spectrum/Full Spectrum CBD Oil
Some CBD products are not fully isolated and chemically pure. However, that does not mean they are illegal.
‘Full spectrum’ products contain CBD and other plant chemicals that potentially also have a beneficial effect.
They may contain small amounts of THC and also contain medicinal ingredients that potentially enhance the product. They will, however, usually contain less CBD overall.
This BBC article contains some useful info on the legality of cannabis oil.
Isolate vs Full Spectrum CBD
Isolate = Pure CBD oil
Full Spectrum = CBD + THC + Flavonoids + Terpenes
Flavonoids and terpenes are beneficial compounds that enhance the scent and flavour.
The amount of THC present in full-spectrum CBD oil will be less than 0.3%. This means it shouldn't produce any psychoactive effects.
A study in the British Journal of Pharmacology found that taking cannabinoids along with terpenes may help with anxiety, inflammation, and pain.
Some research also suggests taking the full range of compounds found in the cannabis plant together is more beneficial (this is called the entourage effect). However, it should be noted that research into this is still ongoing and is not conclusive.
If you're at all worried about THC then go with isolate CBD. It will be clearly marked in the description of the product.
You can check out our recommended isolate CBD here.
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How can CBD oil help dogs?
So how can CBD actually help dogs? Let's take a look at some of the main reasons for using CBD oil with dogs.
One of CBD’s headline medicinal uses is in treating various kinds of chronic pain. It is particularly effective at treating pain resulting from arthritis or other inflammatory conditions. This study shows the positive effect CBD can have on inflammation and pain.
CBD’s analgesic effect stems from a chemical named anandamide, a pain regulator, that CBD prevents the body from absorbing. The more anandamide in the bloodstream, the less pain is communicated via the nervous system.
Since CBD prevents this chemical from being reabsorbed into the body, it stays in the bloodstream longer, reducing pain.
CBD reportedly can have a calming effect in both humans and dogs, most likely due to its interaction with serotonin, a chemical that plays a vital role in our happiness and wellbeing.
Through its anti-inflammatory actions, it can soothe muscles and joints to reduce pain signals that cause anxiety. Full-spectrum products may also contain other beneficial plant compounds that further enhance CBD’s relaxing effect on the mind and body.
The complex ways in which CBD can help regulate the endocannabinoid system can prevent seizures including epileptic seizures in humans and dogs.
CBD receptors regulate blood flow to parts of the brain that trigger a seizure, lowering the chance of them occurring. Simultaneously, CBD’s anti-inflammatory effect can reduce the potency and damage potential of a seizure.
A study published in 2019 indicates that CBD may have a very positive effect as an anti-epileptic treatment.
CBD’s influence over serotonin production in the brain can help enhance the appetite of dogs experiencing eating problems. The endocannabinoid system in the brain also specifically regulates the appetite and thus CBD can increase it.
A poor diet can be the result of low serotonin that can also cause anxiety and depression. CBD can stimulate serotonin production that moderates appetite whilst also potentially relieving anxiety and depression in dogs.
Since CBD has analgesic effects that reduce inflammation and enhance muscle relaxation, it can increase mobility in dogs that are experiencing muscle cramps, arthritis or other musculoskeletal issues. CBD’s potent anti-pain effects can also increase mobility by decreasing the pain associated with movement.
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How does CBD oil actually work?
CBD is a complex chemical that interacts with two types of receptors in the endocannabinoid system within the brain. These receptors are named CB1 and CB2.
Each receptor helps our bodies modulate core functions such as our appetites, memories, sleep, pain, and mental state. Our body produces its own endocannabinoids but CBD can stimulate and modulate these receptors.
CBD does not actually bind to these receptors, it simply influences their behaviour and scientists and clinicians believe this can yield beneficial effects in the moderation of many negative health symptoms and whilst lowering the risks of some diseases.
CBD doesn’t get you high, though it is similar to THC, which is also a cannabinoid. CBD can actually prevent THC from binding to receptors in the brain, reducing its psychoactive potency. CBD also influences other neurotransmitters and receptors in the brain, such as serotonin.
CBD’s effect on the endocannabinoid system is very complex and it is only recently that we’ve managed to uncover more information about this intriguing yet relatively mysterious brain structure.
Studies are showing that CBD certainly actively modulates endocannabinoid receptors for positive gain in both animals and humans.
Should I be worried about any side effects?
There are no real scientific studies into how CBD might create negative side effects in dogs and anecdotal reports are often overwhelmingly positive.
Indeed, CBD is not linked to any dangerous side effects in humans when taken within the normal dosage range.
The side effects of CBD are more likely to be associated with how well your dog tolerates it. As mentioned, CBD and the endocannabinoid system are very complex and we are still uncovering new information about them all the time.
That said, it is likely that CBD products are safe to use for most humans and dogs providing that dosage guidelines are researched and strictly adhered to.
These are the side effects of CBD oil that are most common:
CBD relaxes the muscles and stimulates neurotransmitters in the brain that modulate sleep activity, it may cause drowsiness.
Drowsiness is not harmful unless it causes fainting or collapse and this would be likely very rare. It is far more likely your super-relaxed dog will simply curl up and get some comfy shut-eye.
If your dog’s stomach doesn’t tolerate CBD oil at all then vomiting is possible. Since CBD may relax the stomach lining and alter digestive functions, it is possible it could cause nausea resulting in vomiting.
Increased appetite is not always a positive thing for dogs that already struggle with their size and weight. Your dog may also eat too quickly, causing bloating or vomiting.
Some anecdotal reports of CBD side effects in dogs suggest dogs may experience a dry mouth. It is not clear why this would happen though it seems likely associated with salivation resulting from CBD’s interaction with appetite.
Possibly Thinner Blood
CBD can increase the level of the blood thinner coumadin in your blood.
Just how safe is CBD oil for dogs?
CBD is still being tested for safety in humans so it’s not surprising that concrete evidence surrounding safety in dogs is lacking.
In humans, CBD oil has been found to be generally very safe indeed. One major study looked at Epidiolex, an anti-epilepsy CBD-based drug licensed by the FDA in America.
In a study that focussed on the adverse effects of CBD, participants consumed an extremely large quantity of CBD oil daily for 14 weeks so harmful effects could be measured and categorised.
Overall, harmful effects usually involved gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhoea and stomach cramps rather than anything more sinister.
We cannot assume that CBD oil is completely safe for dogs, but there are very few anecdotal reports of dangerous repercussions. The vast majority of negative reactions involve fairly non-serious side effects.
The only major concern would be when your dog is already taking some form of prescription medicine, especially medicines for convulsions, anxiety, or depression.
Always consult a vet before using CBD oil. Especially if your dog has underlying health conditions.
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How can CBD oil be applied to a dog?
The required dosages of CBD oil are small and it’s pretty easy to sneak into your dog’s food and drink without them knowing. However, CBD oil is probably most effective when consumed sublingually, meaning under the tongue.
CBD oil rapidly absorbs into the blood from under the tongue and can cross the blood-brain barrier easily from there, yielding perhaps the most efficient effects. CBD oil is expensive and so, you obviously want to get your money’s worth!
If possible, you should try and administer CBD oil in this way. It doesn’t exactly taste great but once you drop the oil under the tongue or near the gums, there really isn’t much your dog can do to protest (unlike when you try to get them to swallow tablets!)
If you don’t want to administer CBD oil in this way then it’s simple enough to add it to foods or dissolve it in your dog’s water bowl.
CBD oil can readily be absorbed into hard and soft food stuff - you shouldn’t have any issue administering it in this way.
General CBD Dosage Guide for Dogs
CBD dosages for dogs depend on how much CBD is in your formula, the size of your dog, and the condition you’re treating to treat.
Some CBD oils contain other plant chemicals from the hemp plant, known as ‘full spectrum’ products. These contain less CBD proportionally in each dose compared to concentrated high-strength pure CBD oil.
Most CBD oils will be measured in ‘total CBD oil’ content. This will range between some 50mg for a small bottle to 1500mg for a very large bottle.
The rule of thumb is to use a maximum dosage of 5 mg/kg or 5 mg per 2.2 lbs. Each bottle will tell you how much CBD is released in one drop.
Alternatively, you can divide the total CBD in the bottle by the liquid content to give you the mg of CBD per ml of oil.
Stronger formulas will contain much greater concentrations of CBD per ml. For example, a very strong 600mg formula may contain 20mg of CBD in 1ml of oil whereas a weaker 75mg formula will contain only 2.5mg of CBD per 1ml of oil.
If that all sounds confusing then don’t worry! CBD oils will come with advanced dosage instructions and there are numerous calculators online that allow you to input info on your dog and CBD oil to give you dosage guidelines at weak, medium and stronger dosages.
Recommended CBD Oil for Dogs
In our opinion, these are the CBD products for dogs that are worth considering.
We'll start with our favourite. It's a pure CBD isolate product that's great value for money.
No.1 Recommended CBD Oil for Dogs
Tasteless CBD Isolate Oil
Here are some other specialists in CBD products:
Holistapet offers an awesome range of CBD products specially formulated and designed for dogs. Holistapet offers both pure CBD oil and CBD oil with hemp capsules to provide a dosage of CBD with the dietary support of hemp.
Their CBD oil is 0% THC and all other CBD products are tested at less than 0.03%, which is well within the realms of a totally non-psychoactive dose.
Holistapet also offers a great selection of CBD treats fortified with other vitamins, minerals, and nutritious natural additives. There are 3 varieties of CBD treats designed for stress and anxiety, joints and mobility, and immune and heart care.
Each has been expertly designed and manufactured from non-GMO, non-gluten, and non-dairy ingredients.
Another USA-based company, HempMy Pet is a very well-respected provider of all manner of CBD products for dogs and other pets.
Their selection covers everything from medical-grade pure CBD oil that comes in various size dropper-bottle tinctures to coconut oil infused with hemp, designed for skin irritations and also hemp and CBD treats.
HempMy Pet’s Wellness Bundles also offer a quick and convenient way to buy your dog an awesome selection of products that can boost its health and wellbeing.
Containing highly nutritious hemp and CBD-infused dog treat biscuits, CBD oil and coconut oil, the Wellness Bundle offers a cost-effective way to try out CBD products for your dog.
MediPets is a specialist provider of CBD products for dogs and other animals and pets as well as CBD dog treats. They also offer their very own types of CBD and hemp-infused treats and foods that are packed full of extremely healthy ingredients.
Unique to MediPets is their CBD spray, a convenient CBD tincture package in a spray bottle. Simply spray the CBD into your dog’s mouth to administer a dose - it’s incredibly easy!
MediPets products are high-grade and there are tons of different CBD and hemp-infused treats and chews to choose from so you’ll be able to grab the kind of treat your dog loves the most with the added benefit of CBD
HonestPaws are another US-based company that have built an excellent reputation for their CBD products. They stock high-grade US-made CBD oil as well as a variety of other novel CBD products like treats and soft chews. Each product is rigorously tested for safety and quality.
HonestPaw’s most popular products are their CBD Bites, available in 3 different varieties, Calm, Relief and Wellness. Each variety comes packed with other nutrient-dense natural ingredients and vitamins and minerals as well as CBD and hemp.
They all come in great flavours such as peanut butter and coconut - you’re sure to find the flavour that your dog will love!
King Kanine is a high-quality provider of many CBD products including pure oils, treats, and topical creams and balms. King Kanine’s products are conveniently listed by breed, so you can navigate to your breed of dog and choose an appropriate sized-bottle to administer the ideal dosage of CBD to your pet.
There’s also an excellent selection of treats and chews. King Kanine’s selection of balms and topical products are quite unique, for example, they offer a balm designed for sore dog paws and a hemp-based product to protect against mites. These contain CBD antiseptics for treatment and nourishment.
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CBD has already rocketed to popularity amongst humans but it’s fast becoming a prime product for enhancing pet health and welfare. Dogs, like us, can benefit from CBD’s positive effects on the endocannabinoid system.
CBD is generally considered very safe and many anecdotal reports including some scientific studies have confirmed its use for treating a range of conditions including anxiety, chronic pain, and loss of appetite amongst others.
If you’re looking for the best CBD oil for the dogs UK then this guide provides some of the best-established brands.
Organic CBD oil for dogs in the UK is becoming more popular and more products will be arriving on UK soil soon as more and more dog owners discover the uses of the CBD oil for dogs.
Nevertheless, you should always consult a vet before giving CBD to your dog and it’s very important to pay close attention to the dosage and the way in which your dog acts and behaves after they consume CBD.