Fraser Horton
Fraser Horton
Last Updated on February 19, 2021

Cannabis, also referred to as marijuana, has been used for recreational and medicinal purposes for thousands of years. With the increasing number of studies emerging on the medical benefits of cannabis, dog owners are starting to wonder whether the hemp plant can provide health benefits for their pets, too.

Previously, we’ve covered topics such as how many mg of CBD to give to your dog, and whether you can give your cat CBD for anxiety. In this article, we’ll take a look at whether giving CBD to dogs can cause an overdose.

We’ll provide you with a summary of the available information on incorporating the cannabis plant in pet products, and the effects you can expect it to have on your canine friend.

CBD and the Benefits of CBD Oil in Humans

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural cannabinoid found in the marijuana plant that allows users to feel calm and relaxed. Together with the other popular cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which has psychoactive effects on users, they’re two of the most researched compounds of the marijuana plant. 

Cannabinoids have an effect on the human body as a result of the existence of the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for maintaining balance in the body (homeostasis), and regulating processes like immune response, appetite, metabolism, memory, and so on. 

By interacting with the CB-1 and CB-2 receptors, cannabinoids affect the endocannabinoid system, and produce the “high” effect – a result of THC, and the calm effect – a result of CBD.

The health benefits of medical marijuana in humans include reducing inflammation, helping with chronic pain, epilepsy, nausea, seizures, anxiety, appetite loss, and other conditions. Humans have been taking advantage of the medical and recreational properties of cannabis for those reasons, but do cannabinoids affect our pets the same way as they affect us?

CBD Oil for Dogs and the Effects of CBD on Dogs

Researchers are doing numerous studies on the therapeutic effects of the cannabis plant, but they’re mostly studies on humans. As a result, the information regarding the effects on marijuana on pets is limited

Yet, it’s likely that cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid receptors found in the bodies of our furry friends similar to the way they interact in the human body. CBD is used by a lot of pet owners today as a way to help with osteoarthritis, epilepsy, joint pain, anxiety, and other conditions their pets may be suffering from. 

Even though this type of treatment isn’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), owners are using hemp oil and other hemp products as a treatment option for their pets much more than they did in the past. 

Can I Give My Dog Treats With CBD Oil?

Sure you can, although you need to be careful and make sure you give your dog an appropriate dose of CBD, so as to avoid any potential side effects.

What Are CBD Dog Treats?

CBD for pets is mostly found in the form of dog treats, CBD-infused edibles for dogs. Compared to the concentration of CBD in CBD oil and tinctures, the amount of CBD in dog treats is lower. CBD-rich dog treats are generally used to help the endocannabinoid system maintain homeostasis, and treat other conditions in pets.

Is CBD Oil Safe for Dogs?

The use of CBD oil for pets has increased as a result of the legalization of CBD for human consumption. Veterinarians have acknowledged the beneficial effects of CBD on dogs and are focusing on doing even more research in the future. (Kogan et al, 2019)

For the time being, CBD is considered to be relatively safe for dogs even though it’s not specifically recommended by the FDA. What’s most important is that dog owners don’t give excessive amounts of CBD to their pets as it may cause side effects.

CBD Products and CBD Dosage for Dogs

The type of CBD products you decide to give to your furry friend is up to you. What’s important is that you make sure you give your pet the right dosage of high-quality, full-spectrum products that are compatible with your dog’s needs.

How Much CBD Oil Should I Give My Dog?

Dosing the appropriate amount of CBD for your pet will depend on its weight, breed, and medical condition for which your dog is being treated. 

It’s best to start with a lower dose of about 1-2 mg so you can see the effects CBD has on your pet. You may also want to consult their veterinarian about the changes in supplementation that you’re making in your dog’s routine so they can give you feedback on the subject, because finding the appropriate dose for your pet isn’t as easy as you may think.

Can My Dog Overdose on CBD Dog Treats?

There have been some cases of cannabis toxicity in pets, but overdoses have not been recorded. Even the cases of cannabis toxicity in pets are generally attributed to the consumption of  THC, which doesn’t affect animals in the same way as it affects humans. Note that higher doses of THC can harm your pets and result in unwanted side effects.

Potential CBD Side Effects for Dogs

When giving your dog the appropriate dose of CBD, the potential side effects are relatively minor and may include:

  • Dry mouth (similar to humans experiencing dry mouth, dogs may also experience thirst since CBD can affect the production of saliva);
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (high doses of CBD may cause gastrointestinal upset in dogs);
  • Lethargy and drowsiness (high doses of CBD can cause an extremely calming effect and dogs may appear lethargic);
  • Lowered blood pressure (high doses of CBD may cause a temporary drop in blood pressure);
  • Ataxia (high doses of CBD may result in problems with coordination and lack of balance); 
  • Urinary incontinence;
  • Inhibition of drug metabolization (as with humans, high doses of CBD may inhibit the production of some liver enzymes and interfere with the metabolization of other drugs and medications);
  • In rare cases, excessive amounts of CBD in the system can result in dogs having seizures or becoming comatose.

What Do I Do if My Dog Experiences Side Effects From CBD?

In most cases when dogs experience side effects from CBD, there’s no need for special treatment. All it takes is some time for your dog to metabolize the CBD before it gets back to normal. You can treat severe side effects with an IV fluid or anti-nausea medication. You can also consult your veterinarian for other treatment options.

Final Thoughts on Using CBD Oil for Dogs

For all the pet parents who are thinking about starting their dogs on CBD, it’s important to be well-informed before you make the decision of giving them some CBD. Different conditions require different doses which may be hard to guess since the FDA hasn’t approved CBD and hasn’t issued a specific dosing chart for pets.

It’s hard to see your dog suffer through chronic pain, cancer, and other medical conditions, but as a pet owner, it’s always best to consult your veterinarian before treating your puppy with any cannabis products.

Additional Sources

Kogan L, Schoenfeld-Tacher R, Hellyer P, Rishniw M. US Veterinarians’ Knowledge, Experience, and Perception Regarding the Use of Cannabidiol for Canine Medical Conditions. Front Vet Sci. 2019;5:338. Published 2019 Jan 10. doi:10.3389/fvets.2018.00338

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