CBD use guide for dogs: effects and safe dosage

Discover the benefits of cannabidiol or CBD for dogs

Cannabinoid therapy has been gaining fame in recent years within the veterinary field. Currently both humans and animals benefit from these treatments and in certain doses, they are safe and effective for use in our pets.

We remind you that this is informative content, to bring the information available in scientific studies closer to the general public. You should consult with your veterinarian before administering CBD to your pet or companion animal.

Possible uses of CBD for dogs and cats

Different scientific publications have reported on CBD to treat canines, but what are its benefits and what is the right amount to treat our dogs? Well, the answer is more complicated than it seems, the dosage depends a lot on the condition you want to treat and here I will explain why.

The endocannabinoid system in dogs

As you will find in Cannactiva’s blog entries, cannabinoids act in the body depending on their affinity to receptors found in the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system includes the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, and some other cellular targets where they exert their effect.

In dogs, CB1 receptors have been found distributed in the central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral nervous system (PNS) similar to other mammalian species (1). Also in salivary glands, intestinal epithelium, hair follicles and skin (2; 3; 4; 5).

The location of these receptors is of utmost importance, since depending on their location the effect of cannabinoids will be observed. In addition, it has been suggested that when certain pathologies (diseases or medical conditions) occur, the expression of these receptors and their counterpart, endocannabinoids, may increase (6).

What are the effects of CBD in dogs?

For example, in dogs with epilepsy (7), atopic dermatitis (2; 8), degenerative myelopathy (9) y osteoarthritis (10), an increase in the expression of cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids has been demonstrated, most likely due to the compensation exerted by the organism in trying to restrict the development of the disease.

This lays the groundwork for treating dogs with cannabis, especially cannabidiol, as there are more receptors to which cannabinoids such as CBD can bind to carry out their therapeutic effect.

Safety of cannabis therapies in dogs

On the other hand, cannabinoid therapy should not be abused either, since, naturally, dogs have a greater number of CB1 receptors in the brainstem and cerebellum. (11), which may be contraindicated for cannabinoids such as Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is fully CB1-related and can trigger a toxic and undesirable effect. (12).

THC has a high toxicity in dogs and it is safer to use CBD.

Safety of CBD for dogs

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a phytocannabinoid that antagonizes the action of CB1 and CB2 receptor agonists (13) and therefore has been shown to be relatively safe and well tolerated for therapeutic use in dogs (14; 15; 16; 17). Then, is it safer to use CBD than THC in dogs? YesCBD may only present adverse effects at very high doses, and these are reversible when treatment is discontinued.

What adverse effects can CBD have on dogs?

Potential adverse effects of CBD in dogs include vomiting (18), diarrhea, lethargy, hyperesthesia, and hypothermia (17), and elevations of liver enzymes have been found in clinical diagnostic tests (18). Fortunately, all the undesirable symptoms that have been described have been reversible after discontinuation of cannabidiol treatment.

Pharmacokinetic studies show that adverse effects of cannabidiol in dogs are seen at very high doses, with doses of pure CBD ranging from 12 mg/kg to 62 mg/kg. Based on the data from these studies, the equivalent dose of cannabidiol that could be toxic would be 0.4 to 2 mL of 3% CBD oil per kg of dog weight.

The low toxicity of CBD in dogs is due to the fact that cannabidiol from cannabis has a bioavailability of less than 19% after oral administration in dogs (19), which means that only that percentage of the total ingested will be available in the blood to reach its site of action.

How long does it take for CBD to take effect in dogs?

CBD reaches peak plasma levels after 1.5 hours when consumed in an oil-based vehicle, as are most hemp-derived products (14). However, other research groups that have studied purified cannabidiol have reported that the maximum peak varies between 2 to 5 hours, depending on the dose and whether it is an acute (single dose) or chronic treatment (20).

How long does CBD remain in the dog’s body?

Finally, cannabidiol will be eliminated from the dog’s body mostly by the fecal route (biliary excretion) and by the renal route to a lesser extent (21), and even a week after discontinuation of chronic treatment CBD could be found in the blood (17).

Can I give CBD to my dog if he is taking medication?

Studies on the possible interactions of cannabidiol with drugs show that CBD is processed or metabolized by the body in the liver, which can be a drawback if administered simultaneously with other drugs that are metabolized in the same way (22).

Interestingly, no changes in plasma levels of antiepileptic drugs such as phenobarbital and potassium bromide, both of which are hepatically metabolized, have been observed when co-administered with CBD to dogs with epilepsy (16). This should not rule out the cautious observation of the simultaneous administration of cannabidiol with other drugs of similar metabolism, therefore veterinary advice is recommended.

How to give CBD to dogs?

CBD in dogs has a very wide dosing range to treat different conditions and studies on cannabidiol dosing in dogs suggest escalating doses as needed. That is, start with low doses and gradually modify the dose based on the effect (23), increasing it if necessary after 14 days of treatment to have a clearer picture of the response to treatment.

Regarding the dosage of CBD for dogs, it is best to start with low initial doses and observe 14 days before gradually increasing it, if necessary.

Why is it better to give low doses of CBD in dogs?

It is recommended to treat our pets with low doses of CBD.Some research teams suggest that clinical studies conducted so far have tested the effects of cannabinoids in dogs using doses 5 to 40 times higher than those doses used effectively in veterinary clinical practice (23). In addition, antagonistic responses have been reported depending on the use of phytocannabinoid dosage (24), a biphasic effect that has been described during the last few years.

Effective CBD dosage for dogs

The doses of CBD in hemp or hemp oil that have achieved the desired therapeutic effect in dogs vary depending on the condition.

For pain treatment in dogs with osteoarthritis, 2 mg/kg has shown analgesia and improvements in mobility (25), which in a 3% commercial CBD oil product would be equivalent to 0.06 mL/kg; although another study reported 0.3 – 4.12 mg/kg (dose adjusted for effect) as an effective dose for pain relief and even reduction or discontinuation of gabapentin use (15). This would be equivalent, in commercial preparations, to 0.01 mL/kg – 0.137 mL/kg of 3% cannabidiol oil.

On the other hand, 2.5 mg/kg has reduced the frequency of epileptic seizures in one study (26) but in another, 0.51 mg/kg – 1.25 mg/kg reduced the frequency and intensity of epileptic seizures (27) in dogs. Although different hemp oil products were used in the studies reporting these doses. CBD doses would be equivalent to 0.017 – 0.041 mL/kg (1.25mg/kg) or 0.083 mL/kg (2.5 mg/kg) of CBD oil for dogs 3% CBD oil for dogs.

CBD for dogs
CBD for dogs with anxiety

What dosage of CBD oil for dogs to use?

In general, the effective dose can range from 0.5 mg/kg to 4.12 mg/kg of pure CBD. This range is so wide that the dose should be determined individually, starting with a small dose in the first instance, in order to avoid undesirable side effects (28). Also remember the convenience of starting with minimum doses and waiting about 14 days before increasing them.

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CBD treatment for dogs: consult your veterinarian

The optimal dosage for each canine deserves a completely individual titration, which should be carefully monitored by the veterinarian. Likewise, although there are no studies on the long-term use of CBD, the veterinarian must constantly evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the treatment in each dog.

The objective of this article is informative and seeks to provide scientific information in a language understandable to the general public. Its content can complement, but never replace, the diagnosis or treatment of any disease or symptom. Before starting to administer CBD to your pet, consult your veterinarian.

Cannactiva’s CBD products are intended for external use. Consult your veterinarian before using CBD.

Referencias bibliográficas
  1. Freundt-Revilla, J., Kegler, K., Baumgärtner, W., & Tipold, A. (2017). Spatial distribution of cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) in normal canine central and peripheral nervous system. PloS one, 12(7), e0181064. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0181064
  2. Campora, L., Miragliotta, V., Ricci, E., Cristino, L., Di Marzo, V., Albanese, F., Federica Della Valle, M., & Abramo, F. (2012). Cannabinoid receptor type 1 and 2 expression in the skin of healthy dogs and dogs with atopic dermatitis. American journal of veterinary research, 73(7), 988-995. https://doi.org/10.2460/ajvr.73.7.988
  3. Dall’Aglio, C., Mercati, F., Pascucci, L., Boiti, C., Pedini, V., & Ceccarelli, P. (2010). Immunohistochemical localization of CB1 receptor in canine salivary glands. Veterinary research communications, 34 Suppl 1, S9-S12. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11259-010-9379-0
  4. Galiazzo, G., Giancola, F., Stanzani, A., Fracassi, F., Bernardini, C., Forni, M., Pietra, M., & Chiocchetti, R. (2018). Localization of cannabinoid receptors CB1, CB2, GPR55, and PPARα in the canine gastrointestinal tract. Histochemistry and cell biology, 150(2), 187-205. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00418-018-1684-7
  5. Mercati, F., Dall’Aglio, C., Pascucci, L., Boiti, C., & Ceccarelli, P. (2012). Identification of cannabinoid type 1 receptor in dog hair follicles. Acta histochemica, 114(1), 68-71. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.acthis.2011.01.003
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  8. Abramo, F., Campora, L., Albanese, F., della Valle, M. F., Cristino, L., Petrosino, S., Di Marzo, V., & Miragliotta, V. (2014). Increased levels of palmitoylethanolamide and other bioactive lipid mediators and enhanced local mast cell proliferation in canine atopic dermatitis. BMC veterinary research, 10, 21. https://doi.org/10.1186/1746-6148-10-21
  9. Fernández-Trapero, M., Espejo-Porras, F., Rodríguez-Cueto, C., Coates, J. R., Pérez-Díaz, C., de Lago, E., & Fernández-Ruiz, J. (2017). Upregulation of CB2 receptors in reactive astrocytes in canine degenerative myelopathy, a disease model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Disease models & mechanisms, 10(5), 551-558. https://doi.org/10.1242/dmm.028373
  10. Valastro, C., Campanile, D., Marinaro, M., Franchini, D., Piscitelli, F., Verde, R., Di Marzo, V., & Di Bello, A. (2017). Characterization of endocannabinoids and related acylethanolamides in the synovial fluid of dogs with osteoarthritis: a pilot study. BMC veterinary research, 13(1), 309. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12917-017-1245-7
  11. Herkenham, M., Lynn, A. B., Little, M. D., Johnson, M. R., Melvin, L. S., de Costa, B. R., & Rice, K. C. (1990). Cannabinoid receptor localization in brain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 87(5), 1932-1936. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.87.5.1932
  12. Fitzgerald, K. T., Bronstein, A. C., & Newquist, K. L. (2013). Marijuana poisoning. Topics in companion animal medicine, 28(1), 8-12. https://doi.org/10.1053/j.tcam.2013.03.004
  13. Peres, F. F. F., Lima, A. C., Hallak, J., Crippa, J. A., Silva, R. H., & Abílio, V. C. (2018). Cannabidiol as a Promising Strategy to Treat and Prevent Movement Disorders?. Frontiers in pharmacology, 9, 482 . https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2018.00482.
  14. Deabold, K. A., Schwark, W. S., Wolf, L., & Wakshlag, J. J. (2019). Single-Dose Pharmacokinetics and Preliminary Safety Assessment with Use of CBD-Rich Hemp Nutraceutical in Healthy Dogs and Cats. Animals : an open access journal from MDPI, 9(10), 832. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9100832
  15. Kogan, L., Hellyer, P., & Downing, R. (2020). The use of cannabidiol-rich hemp oil extract to treat canine osteoarthritis-related pain: A pilot study. AHVMA Journal, 58, 35-42. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/339698157_The_Use_of_Cannabidiol-Rich_Hemp_Oil_Extract_to_Treat_Canine_Osteoarthritis-Related_Pain_A_Pilot_Study
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  18. Mejía, S., Duerr, F. M., Griffenhagen, G., & McGrath, S. (2021). Evaluation of the Effect of Cannabidiol on Naturally Occurring Osteoarthritis-Associated Pain: A Pilot Study in Dogs. Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association, 57(2), 81-90. https://doi.org/10.5326/JAAHA-MS-7119
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  21. Brutlag, A., & Hommerding, H. (2018). Toxicology of Marijuana, Synthetic Cannabinoids, and Cannabidiol in Dogs and Cats. The Veterinary clinics of North America. Small animal practice, 48(6), 1087-1102. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cvsm.2018.07.008
  22. Anderson, L. L., Absalom, N. L., Abelev, S. V., Low, I. K., Doohan, P. T., Martin, L. J., Chebib, M., McGregor, I. S., & Arnold, J. C. (2019). Coadministered cannabidiol and clobazam: Preclinical evidence for both pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic interactions. Epilepsia, 60(11), 2224-2234. https://doi.org/10.1111/epi.16355
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  24. Carvalho, R. K., Souza, M. R., Santos, M. L., Guimarães, F. S., Pobbe, R., Andersen, M. L., & Mazaro-Costa, R. (2018). Chronic cannabidiol exposure promotes functional impairment in sexual behavior and fertility of male mice. Reproductive toxicology (Elmsford, N.Y.), 81, 34-40. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.reprotox.2018.06.013
  25. Gamble, L. J., Boesch, J. M., Frye, C. W., Schwark, W. S., Mann, S., Wolfe, L., Brown, H., Berthelsen, E. S., & Wakshlag, J. J. (2018). Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs. Frontiers in veterinary science, 5, 165. https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2018.00165
  26. McGrath, S., Bartner, L. R., Rao, S., Packer, R. A., & Gustafson, D. L. (2019). Randomized blinded controlled clinical trial to assess the effect of oral cannabidiol administration in addition to conventional antiepileptic treatment on seizure frequency in dogs with intractable idiopathic epilepsy. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 254(11), 1301-1308. https://doi.org/10.2460/javma.254.11.1301
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Masha Burelo
Investigadora en cannabinoides | Doctoranda en Neurociencia

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