How to Choose:
What is CBD oil, and how can it help my dog with cancer?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the many compounds produced by cannabis Sativa hemp plants. For generations, hemp and its derivatives have been used in many forms by humans due to its therapeutic properties. In recent years its popularity among pet owners has surged.
The potential wellness benefits for dogs include reduced seizures, addressing anxiety, reducing pain and discomfort, and overall well-being.
It is known that cannabidiol works in the human (and your dog’s) body through interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system is essentially a vast network within the body of receptors activated by compounds the body produces naturally. The ECS helps the body maintain homeostasis, a state of balance and proper function among the body’s many systems. Foreign compounds like cannabidiol are very similar in structure to the compounds produced by the ECS and act in similar ways to promote balance within the body.
Much of what is known so far about CBD’s effectiveness on dogs is anecdotal evidence, consumer experiences, and experimentation.
CBD and Marijuana
Hemp describes non-psychoactive cannabis sativa plants that are grown for industrial and agricultural use. Hemp has many non-therapeutic uses- from textiles to industrial applications. These plants have a much higher CBD content and only trace amounts of THC. Cannabidiol is extracted from hemp in many ways, with CO2 and alcohol extraction considered the safest means of processing.
Marijuana describes cannabis sativa plants grown and cultivated differently from hemp to yield high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the compound with psychoactive content and is what most people associate with cannabis because it causes a “high” or euphoric feeling.
Is CBD Safe for Dogs?
Studies on CBD’s use and safety in dogs and cats indicated that CBD appears to be safe in healthy adult dogs, but further research is needed to understand how cats absorb and metabolize CBD oil. Colorado State University’s 2016 study on CBD in dogs helped determine safe dosages to be used in further research, indicated that CBD was well-tolerated in healthy dogs and that oil formulations offered the most bioavailability.
Even as the research continues, the market and the internet are flooded with false and unproven medical claims, inferior or dangerous products with unknown ingredients sold as CBD or hemp oil. Calls to poison control centers for pets show a dramatic surge in calls for dogs exposed to THC after their owners either gave them marijuana or were given CBD that had unsafe THC levels in it.
Is CBD Legal?
Provided your CBD oil is derived from hemp, it is legal in all 50 states. Some CBD oils are derived from marijuana plants and are therefore considered a marijuana-derived product. These CBD oils are illegal in states where marijuana is not legal. Any oil containing over 0.3% THC is considered marijuana. CBD oils must not contain THC levels higher than that amount. Some companies sell pure hemp oil (that does not contain CBD), claiming it has the same benefits as CBD.
Among older dogs, cancer is the most common cause of death. Nearly 50% of dogs over 10 years of age develop cancer. Dogs can get lymphoma, soft tissue cancers, bone cancer, and many other forms of the disease. A lot of these cancers can be addressed through surgery or other veterinary oncology treatments. Cancer can be an uncomfortable or downright painful ordeal for a dog to go through. Radiation and chemotherapy could make him very ill, and surgeries are tough to recover from. Sometimes the diagnosis is terminal, and pet parents must begin asking questions about what the quality of life for their dog looks like.
CBD oils are a tincture product that is derived from the hemp plant, and CBD can also be added to dog treats. This is becoming increasingly popular among pet parents to improve the quality of life for their dogs. The benefits of CBD oil for dogs with cancer suggest it helps them by:
- Stimulating appetite
- Lessening pain and discomfort
- Reduced anxiety during veterinary visits and procedures
- Helping to facilitate healthy sleep
- Helping with nausea from chemotherapy (check to be sure it is not diminishing the effect)
So what things should you look for in a CBD oil for your dog with cancer?
CBD Oil Tincture
Generally it’s agreed that for dogs with serious health problems like cancer, more is better when it comes to CBD. It’s difficult to get a consistent and high dose of CBD in a manufactured dog treat unless you add the CBD to it yourself. So an oil tincture is the way to go. Oil tinctures have been proven to offer the highest level of bioavailability for your dog.
Higher, Authenticated Potency
Carefully dosed, the right amount of CBD is easier to administer in a formula that has a higher concentration. This means the mg/bottle number should be higher. Full-spectrum CBD is generally considered to be more beneficial as it contains more cannabinoids, terpenoids, and flavonoids- all molecules produced by the cannabis plant.
A Certificate of Analysis (CoA) that is current and easy to find will help you ensure you’re getting what’s advertised.
Use of CBD to help treat your dog’s pain may result in fewer side effects than traditional painkiller medications. Some medications cause serious problems for dogs that are almost as bad as the original problem. In addition to pain, some of these side effects can include loss of appetite and nausea, which can erode your dog’s strength and vigor. Your dog needs to eat to keep his strength. Alleviating nausea and stimulating his appetite will help him do so.
Even though CBD is considered a natural product and often classified as a supplement, it is still a drug that could interact with other medications your dog is taking. Please discuss CBD use with your vet, as they may be able to help you plan the most effective dosage to use in conjunction with other treatments. Not all veterinarians are open to using CBD in dogs, and in some states, they are expressly forbidden from endorsing or recommending it.
Things to avoid:
- Avoid CBD oil or “edibles” intended for humans. There may be other ingredients that could be toxic or fatal to a dog, including xylitol sweetener or carrier oils like grapeseed.
- Avoid products that contain THC. It does not do the same thing for dogs as it does for humans. If your dog is fighting cancer, the last thing he needs is marijuana toxicity.
- Avoid any products with coloring, preservatives, or other additives, such as sweeteners.
- Products that have specific interactions or affect metabolization of cancer-related medications or treatments your dog is on
If you are considering CBD oil for your dog after a cancer diagnosis, avoid any manufacturers who imply that their products are a cure. Research in humans and lab mice show that the body’s endocannabinoid system has a lot to do with how cancer develops. However, the research is still in its early stages and it’s important to avoid believing every claim that a manufacturer makes that is not backed up with research.
A Breakdown of Product Attributes In Our Reviews:
Form of CBD
The most common forms CBD is sold in for dogs are oil tinctures, capsules, chews or treats, and topical treatments. Some manufacturers also sell CBD peanut butter for dogs.
- Research has proven that oil tinctures provide the highest levels of bioavailability to your dog.
- Chews and treats are useful if your dog does not like the taste of CBD oil but do not offer the precision of giving a dose that an oil tincture does.
- Capsules can provide help you choose a precise amount for your dog and are convenient.
Some CBD products for dogs are enhanced with tasty flavors like bacon, peanut butter, blueberry, apples, etc.
- Avoid products with artificial flavors
- Avoid products with artificial sweeteners in them, as substances like xylitol are fatal to dogs
- You may be able to flavor your CBD oil yourself if your dog prefers it- in gravy, in his food, or on treats that he already has
This attribute describes how much CBD is contained in a bottle or the potency of the oil. A higher number means there is more CBD in the bottle. For an owner who wants to give their dog a higher CBD dose, a more potent oil makes it easier.
Type of CBD
CBD is sold in several forms- full-spectrum or broad-spectrum and as an isolate. Full-spectrum means the product has undergone the least processing, and these extracts typically contain much more of the hemp plant, such as cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. CBD isolate is made through an extraction process that removes all other compounds, leaving only cannabidiol (CBD) itself.
What to Look For:
First things first.
What are the goals with your dog and use of CBD oil? Does he have a specific condition you are hoping to help him overcome or are you seeking to incorporate CBD as an ongoing maintenance supplement for his wellness and general health? These goals should be discussed with your veterinarian. Yes, good quality CBD products are expensive! Especially high-potency ones! Keep in mind that:
- Higher potency products make appropriate dosage for larger dogs easier (more CBD per drop)
- Lower potency makes it easier for smaller dogs so you aren’t out there with a toothpick trying to measure out a quarter of a drop of super potent oil.
- Your dog’s weight, age and how active he is are also going to determine how much he should have.
- If you are considering a CBD product with other ingredients, you want to be sure that not only the CBD but also the other ingredients will not affect how any existing medication is metabolized in his body. Always ask a veterinarian!
Our Recommendations on CBD for Dogs:
Due to the unregulated market, there are a lot of inferior products out there. You want a high-quality product for your dog, and you want to know exactly what’s in it. Here are some guidelines:
- Choose a specifically made product for dogs because some CBD products have ingredients that are poisonous to canines, such as theobromine, xylitol sweetener, or carrier oils like grapeseed.
- Make sure you are getting actual CBD oil, not hemp oil, with clever packaging.
- The most popular and safe form of CBD is in an oil tincture. This has also been proven to be the most effective way for it to absorb, and for pets, the easiest way to ensure a precise dose.
- CBD for dogs should not contain levels of THC above 0.3%. Otherwise, it is considered marijuana, possibly illegal, and unsafe for your dog.
- High-quality CBD oil can be pricey. Don’t choose CBD for your dog based on price.
- The manufacturer should have a current Certificate of Analysis (COA) readily available. This should reflect an analysis of their product and its content, conducted by an independent third-party laboratory. Reputable manufacturers will issue a COA for every batch of CBD oil they sell.
- Avoid a company that does not prominently display a recent COA for their CBD products.
- Due to how industrial hemp is grown and processed, organic is best.
- Tinctures are best for therapeutic purposes.
- CBD treats are often processed, heated, and it may be difficult to judge potency over time by administering CBD only in chews or treats. While these can be an excellent way to give your dog CBD as part of a wellness routine, if you are concerned about potency and dosage, use an oil tincture.
What is a COA or Certificate of Analysis?
The COA is a certificate indicating that a laboratory independent of the manufacturer tested the CBD oil to make sure the percentages are correct and free from foreign and toxic byproducts.
If the product you are looking at does not have a current (within the last year) COA readily available, move on! If you are buying a bottle of CBD in a store, many of them have a code you can scan on the bottle that will link you to the certificate online if you scan with your phone.
Choose a CBD manufacturer who can provide a current (within the past year) Certificate of Analysis (COA) that shows they have commissioned independent third-party testing. A COA will show information such as the percentage of CBD and THC, along with any contaminants. Some oils have far more THC in them than listed on the label.
Ensure the party who carried out the analysis is an accredited laboratory, not another manufacturer or cannabis company. Many third-party testing “companies” are part of the cannabis industry, and you have no way of knowing if there is a conflict of interest.
The certificate should include:
- A certificate ID
- Indication showing the date of the test, who completed it, and the party that requested it.
- Cannabinoids with the total mg per unit showing how much THC and CBD
- Microbials, Foreign Matter, Heavy metals, Pesticides
Reputable manufacturers will issue a COA for every batch of CBD oil they sell.
The information supplied by Sparky’s Spots about CBD for dogs is meant to serve as a guide only. We encourage our readers to be cognizant of misleading and unproven claims. CBD oil should never replace timely medical care for your dog. The FDA recognizes potential possibilities in the use of CBD, but has not approved it for use in animals. Many claim that CBD oil can cure cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimers. While it is known that CBD oil can help address anxiety, insomnia and pain in humans, and the research for dogs looks promising, the research to understand what the side effects are is still in very early stages. There is even less research for long-term effects on dogs.