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Benefits and Risks of Giving CBD to Dogs

With the increase in awareness of the benefits of medical marijuana, many pet lovers have wondered if the health benefits could extend to their four-legged family members. Although there have not been many formal studies, some dog owners swear that using CBD oil on their pets has made a world of difference. But what is the truth? Are there any specific risks or benefits to cannabis oil for our canine friends?

While there have not been many studies looking into the safety and benefits of using cannabis oil for dogs, one doctor from the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Studies at Colorado State University is trying to change that. Dr. Stephanie McGrath, who works on staff as an assistant professor and neurologist, has so far completed two studies specifically on cannabidiol and its potential benefits on dogs with arthritis or epilepsy. Both studies showed significant promise, especially in the treatment of dogs with epilepsy. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recently funded an additional, more extended three-year study.

However, other than those studies, the majority of the evidence on the use of CBD for dogs is anecdotal. This hasn’t stopped many prominent organizations from recommending it, though. In addition to funding additional research, the AKC also has dedicated an entire section of its website to discuss the benefits. These include helping with nausea, pain, inflammation, and anxious behaviors.

It is crucial to make sure that any CBD being given to dogs includes no more than 0.3% THC. Pet owners should look for organic products in liquid form from trusted companies. Currently, due to the legal status, these products are not allowed to be prescribed by veterinarians.

Pet owners must remember that, even though CBD oil is showing some potentially positive health effects, marijuana is toxic to dogs. If a dog ingests marijuana or THC, they will feel the psychoactive effects of the drug. There is also the potential for ingestion of marijuana or THC to be fatal. However, death occurs due to the impact of the secondary symptoms and not directly from cannabis. Signs of marijuana toxicity include lethargy, pacing, breathing problems, low blood pressure, loss of balance, urinary incontinence, and abnormal heart rhythms. A dog’s age, weight, and medical history impact the severity of an intoxication event. Dogs with a weakened immune system may have a more significant response.

Dogs who have ingested marijuana will be treated with induced vomiting (if caught early enough), activated charcoal, enemas, and supportive care including IV fluids and being kept in a quiet place to minimize any sensory issues. If this happens, pet owners should be honest with their veterinarian so that the dog can be treated appropriately. Even if it occurs in a state where marijuana is illegal, veterinarians do not have to report the incident to the police. All pet owners should be responsible for their cannabis, keeping it out of the way and locked up, to avoid potential medical emergencies.

It is important to note that there have been no reported medical issues associated with using actual CBD in dogs.

Unfortunately, claiming the use of CBD on dogs is safe cannot be done yet because there have not been enough tests or studies performed at this time. Pet owners who are considering CBD for their pets should remember, while there is positive anecdotal evidence that cannabis oil is beneficial, THC and marijuana are toxic to dogs. Always make sure to source CBD products responsibly.

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