*Disclaimer: This article is not meant to serve as a substitute for veterinary advice. Dr.Hempdog believes firmly in the contents of this article because of the thorough research that backs it up and our own experiences with the thousands of dogs that we have helped through the years (including our own). You should always defer to your veterinarian when adding anything to your dog's unique wellness routine.
If you’re searching for high-quality CBD products for your dog, do them a favor: look for “full-spectrum” CBD (i.e. CBD products that contain trace amounts of THC, but not more than 0.3%) rather than broad-spectrum products (which contain no THC).
Studies show that THC is both entirely safe and extremely beneficial for dogs in the right amounts; furthermore, THC actually enhances CBD and the other cannabinoids present in hemp to create an especially potent effect.
In this article, we’ll break down the scientific evidence behind THC’s safety profile and potential benefits, followed by a short primer on how to identify high-quality full-spectrum products using lab work.
Studies Demonstrating THC’s Safety for Animals
Of course, no matter how amazing the benefits of THC may be, safety is the top priority. While THC can be toxic to animals in larger doses, numerous studies demonstrate that, in low doses (and especially when used alongside CBD), THC is safe and non-intoxicating for animals:
- A 2020 study found that full-spectrum CBD was well tolerated by dogs, only causing side effects at the highest doses tested.
Another 2020 study found that full-spectrum CBD administered to dogs via chews and oils caused no side effects at any phase of testing.
- From Frontiers in Veterinary Science: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2020.00505/full
- A separate 2020 study documented the effects of a human-grade full-spectrum CBD product in six dogs, yet recorded no adverse effects at any point during testing.
- From Biomolecules: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32054131/
Yet another 2020 study showed that THC and full-spectrum CBD both only caused side effects in dogs at very high doses.
- From Frontiers in Veterinary Science: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7029731/
A 2019 review of cannabinoids in animals concluded that small amounts of THC typically wouldn’t cause any issues for dogs, especially when combined with CBD to further nullify any potential intoxication.
- From Animals: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6770351/
- A more specialized 2019 study found that dogs only experienced side effects after prolonged exposure to THC-heavy full-spectrum CBD, though no seizures were recorded (which is what the study primarily focused on).
- A 2018 study demonstrated that full-spectrum CBD alleviated inflammation and joint pain in arthritic dogs without any notable side effects.
How THC Enhances Full-Spectrum CBD
THC enhances hemp products through what’s known as the entourage effect, which refers to the scientific theory that different compounds in hemp (such as cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids) are actually more effective when taken as a whole. Although scientists don’t fully understand the exact mechanisms behind this synergy yet, many studies clearly show the entourage effect in action:
- An exploratory 2020 study found that full-spectrum CBD’s potency was strongly linked to other cannabinoids and terpenes beyond CBD, including THC.
- A thorough 2019 review attributed the entourage effect primarily to THC-CBD interactions, in addition to contributions from other cannabinoids and terpenes.
- A 2019 review explored the synergistic effects of many different cannabinoids and terpenes at different receptors in the body, detailing numerous synergies between THC and other cannabinoids.
- A 2018 review concluded that, on average, full-spectrum CBD was more effective than pure CBD at alleviating seizures, likely due to an entourage effect.
- A 2017 study found that CBD and THC were both able to alleviate pain on their own, but also that small amounts of THC could actually enhance CBD’s painkilling properties.
How to Tell If a Product Contains the Right Amount of THC
If you’re just looking for surface-level info about whether or not a product contains THC (but not how much), you can look at a product’s labeling to see whether it classifies itself as “full-spectrum,” “broad-spectrum,” or an “isolate”:
- Full-spectrum CBD contains some amount of THC and is the most effective type of hemp product. Superior full-spectrum products will also contain a variety of other helpful cannabinoids and terpenes to create an even stronger effect.
- Broad-spectrum CBD refers to products that remove THC, making them less potent overall.
- CBD Isolate is pure CBD, which entirely lacks THC or other supporting cannabinoids.
However, trusting the label isn’t enough; knowing that a product is “full-spectrum” doesn’t tell you how much THC it contains, and furthermore, some products don’t even contain what they claim to. Don’t worry though—we’ll tell you how to identify the contents of your product below.
To confirm what’s in your product, you should look at its lab work, which will come in the form of a Certificate of Analysis (COA) that should be easily accessible on the company’s website. For more on what to look for in a great product’s lab work, you can check out our article about interpreting COAs.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can use our full-spectrum CBD oil to help your dog live more comfortably, you can easily schedule a free, 15-minute consultation with our expert staff by visiting our website, contacting us at (720) 773-9595, or sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ve had years of experience helping thousands of dogs to be successful with full-spectrum CBD, and we’re intimately familiar with all current research pertaining to safety and dosing guidelines.