*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.
We all want to keep our dogs safe, so it’s normal to be cautious when looking into new foods, supplements, or other such products to give them. Fortunately, studies clearly show that high-quality CBD products are safe for animals, and furthermore, that they can be extremely helpful in assisting dogs suffering from many conditions.
Below, we’ll go through three key things you need to know in regard to CBD’s safety:
- Clinical trials and studies show that CBD is safe: Studies from universities and veterinary experts (which we link to below) show that CBD, like many other cannabinoids, is consistently safe for dogs.
- Know what else your product contains beyond CBD: There are typically more things in a product than just CBD, so you need to determine what those things are in order to be sure that the product is safe for your dog.
- Understand overdosing and side effects: There are certain situations in which CBD may not be ideal; the research (and our experience) shows that when dogs have side effects, it’s usually because of an excessively high dose or other compounds in the product.
The Research Showing CBD’s Safety for Dogs
In recent years, veterinary scientists have conducted numerous studies into the safety of CBD and other cannabinoids for dogs, which show that CBD is both well-tolerated by, and extremely effective for, many dogs. Here are some of the most relevant safety studies:
- A recent 2020 study found that full-spectrum CBD was safely and effectively absorbed by dogs.
- A 2020 study of cannabinoids in dogs found that CBD and THC were generally safe, only inducing negative side effects at very high doses.
- Another 2020 study reported that full-spectrum CBD was harmless for dogs at low to medium dosages, again, only inducing side effects at the highest doses tested.
- Yet another 2020 study demonstrated that a full-spectrum CBD product caused no negative side effects in dogs.
- A 2019 study found that CBD extracted from hemp was entirely safe for dogs at all doses tested.
- A specialized 2019 study found that full-spectrum CBD was generally safe for dogs, only causing undesirable side effects in very high doses. Furthermore, no doses tested induced seizures or seizure-like symptoms in dogs.
- A 2018 study of full-spectrum CBD in arthritic dogs found that CBD reduced pain and increased mobility without causing any side effects.
How to Evaluate the Contents of a CBD Product
There can be countless other compounds in a CBD product beyond CBD, many of which can be extremely helpful, while others may be toxic.
Figuring out what’s in your CBD product can seem daunting, but in truth, it’s very easy as long as you look at a product’s Certificate of Analysis (COA). A COA (i.e. lab work) will detail all of the significant cannabinoids in a product, and can also include other helpful information such as terpene profiles and safety tests to show that no toxic compounds are present. You should be wary of any company that doesn’t provide an easily accessible, detailed, and up-to-date COA from a third-party testing company.
Key Things to Look For in a Good CBD Product:
- CBD: CBD is a natural compound known as a cannabinoid, which studies show can help manage arthritis, inflammation, pain, seizures, and even cancer (we go through this in more detail in our article about the benefits of CBD for dogs). Most importantly, CBD has been shown to be entirely safe for dogs, which we discuss below.
- Supporting Cannabinoids: Cannabinoids such as THC, CBC, CBG, CBDA, and many others are often used alongside CBD, since studies not only show that they can have potent health benefits of their own, but that they can actually enhance CBD (which is known as the entourage effect).
- CBD products fall into several categories based on what other cannabinoids they have. CBD products that have THC in them are specifically known as “full-spectrum,” whereas those without THC are “broad-spectrum.” Pure CBD without any other cannabinoids is known as an “isolate.” Full-spectrum CBD is the most effective type of CBD product because of the entourage effect.
- Terpenes & Flavonoids: These are natural plant compounds that provide aroma and flavor, but are also often able to help manage inflammation, pain, and other conditions according to many studies (which you can read about in our article about terpenes and flavonoids).
- Other Hemp Compounds: Omega fatty acids and other desirable, FDA-approved nutrients are often found in hemp, and can be preserved with high-grade extraction. One 2020 review outlined these compounds and both their nutritional and medicinal value, concluding that hemp could be valuable as both food and drug alike.
Hazardous Compounds That Some Products May Contain
The CBD industry isn’t very well regulated yet, so some low-quality CBD products can potentially contain hazardous compounds, such as:
- Excessive THC: Studies show that small amounts of THC (below 0.3%) are helpful and safe for dogs, but some CBD products contain more THC than they say they do, making them toxic to animals.
- Contaminants: Poorly made CBD products may contain a variety of toxic compounds, such as heavy metals, solvents, pesticides, reactive chemicals, and other contaminants.
When Negative Side Effects May Occur
Although CBD is proven to be safe for dogs, negative side effects* may occur in these situations:
- An extremely high dose can sometimes cause negative side effects, but this typically isn’t an issue if you dose according to common sense and our dosing recommendations.
- Low-quality CBD products can sometimes contain hazardous contaminants that could cause side effects, as discussed above.
- CBD isolate has been reported by some people to cause discomfort in dogs, though this isn’t well understood. We recommend staying away from isolates for that reason (among many others), which we explain in more detail in our article about full-spectrum vs isolate CBD products.
*If you notice any negative side effects after giving your dog a CBD product, see a vet as soon as possible, just to be safe.
We’ve helped thousands of dogs be successful with our full-spectrum CBD products over the years, so we’ve built up an extensive database of safety and dosing information. If you have any questions about how to safely use our CBD for your dog, you can schedule a free consultation with our team by visiting our website, calling us at (720) 773-9595, or sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.