Medically Reviewed by
Jason Crawford

Article Last Updated on January 5, 2023

When your furry friend is hurting, you want to do anything you can to make it feel better and ease the pain. Sometimes conventional meds don’t produce the same effects on dogs as they do on humans, so pet owners seek different treatment.

The popularity of cannabis and hemp CBD for wellness has led it to become an alternative treatment for pets as well, with veterinarians acknowledging its beneficial effects on dogs and recommending further research. (Kogan et al, 2019)

Since a lot of pet parents have started using CBD to treat the ailments of their furry friends, it may be confusing how exactly to use it and how many mg of CBD you should use. But, no worries, we’ve prepared this comprehensive guide for you where we’ll cover some basics about CBD treatment for pets, as well as how to find the right dosage.

What Are the Benefits of CBD Products for Dogs?

Just like humans, dogs have their own endocannabinoid system with endocannabinoid receptors that regulate the homeostasis in their bodies, meaning it keeps the internal processes in check. When something is off, your dog will behave unusually, act overly withdrawn or aggressive, have a reduced appetite, or refuse to move.

Whatever the reasons for your dog’s pain are, CBD has some of the same benefits for dogs as for humans. It can be used to treat anxiety in dogs that are easily startled and fearful of loud noises (vacuum cleaner, thunderstorms), separation anxiety, or general pet anxiety. CBD can regulate your dog’s mood and help it be less anxious.

CBD is also great for treating inflammation and joint pain, or any kind of chronic pain. It can be used to ease the symptoms of arthritis or other inflammatory body aches. Regular doses of CBD help reduce the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and in this way, it lowers the pain.

Loss of appetite for any reason can also be treated with CBD, as well as sleeplessness. One of the more recent discoveries is that CBD can also be effective in treating canine epilepsy. There are also topical creams which are very useful for treating arthritis.

Types of CBD Products for Dogs

CBD oils and tinctures are great for absorption, but they can be a little harder to administer to dogs, mostly because they may show resistance. CBD capsules are another good option, and they are also much easier for dosing as the CBD mg per capsule is always stated on the label.

Except for these, the most successful way of treating your dog with CBD would be with CBD dog treats like biscuits because it’s the easiest way your dog can receive the whole dose of CBD.

How to Use CBD Oil for Dogs

CBD oils come with a measured dropper which makes it very easy and precise for dosing based on your dog’s weight. There are several ways you can give CBD oil to your dog:

  1. You can add the oil to food, which is probably the easiest and the most “no-brainer” method of all. CBD oil can be added to any kind of food, moist or dry, or you can even conceal it somehow in a spoonful of peanut butter. Peanut butter works well in concealing the flavor and your dog will get its daily dose;
  2. You can also use the dropper to administer the CBD tincture directly into your dog’s mouth. This method allows for good absorption and ensures that your dog will get the whole dose, however, it can be challenging if your dog shows resistance. Another way to do this is to use the dropper to apply the oil to your dog’s gums if you can, because this way the absorption will be more successful;
  3. Alternatively, you can add the oil to its drinking water. However, you need to be careful not to add too much water, because some of the oil in the water bowl may remain unconsumed and your dog won’t ingest the proper dosage.

CBD Dosage per Weight: How Much CBD Oil Should I Give My Dog?

When it comes to CBD dosage for dogs, the most important thing to remember is that the smallest dose possible should be your starting point and this is non-negotiable. The goal is to find the perfect smallest dose that will work as higher doses over time can cause your dog to build up a tolerance to CBD.

You should take note of the concentration of the CBD bottle (how many mg per ml) and use the dropper as a measuring tool. One full dropper contains about 1ml of tincture or about 20 drops. You will find the right amount for your dog based on its body weight. Check out the dosage recommendations below:

  • For extra small dogs (2-8 pounds) and small dogs (8-15 pounds), the least amount of CBD is recommended. An initial dose of 1mg is generally a safe way to start. Note that some small dogs may have a fast metabolism so you may have to administer up to 3 doses daily because the effects will quickly fade. For anxiety or other behavioral issues, you should start with a 1/2mg dose for an extra small dog, and 1mg for small dogs.
  • Medium-sized dogs (15-30 pounds) have good results with a 2mg starting dose, with the possibility of increasing it to 3mg if needed for stubborn or chronic pain. For anxiety or a lack of appetite, you should try with 1mg at first and increase it to no more than 2mg per day if necessary.
  • Large dogs (30-60 pounds) and extra-large dogs (over 60 pounds) can do anywhere between 1mg and 3 mg, depending on their size, metabolism, individual needs, and the severity and type of the medical issue. For anxiety and behavior, the starting dose should be 1mg and no more than 2mg if your dog needs more.

CBD Dosing: Monitoring Tips

Since it’s likely that you’ll be doing a lot of monitoring to see how your dog responds to the CBD treatment, it’ll be helpful to prepare yourself beforehand because finding the best CBD oil dosage for your dog’s individual needs is the most important aspect. Make sure you buy high-quality oil. Full-spectrum CBD with trace amounts of THC is best because you get to reap the full benefits of the cannabinoids.

We’d also advise you to keep a journal where you’ll write down the date with the dosage and the frequency of the doses, as well as your dog’s reactions following the treatment. You may think that you will remember everything without writing it down, but you’ll probably need to refer back at least a couple of times, so writing it down will definitely give you a better picture.

Another tip we can give you is to divide the dose (once you’ve found the perfect dose) into 2-3 smaller ones throughout the day. This way your dog will be medicated most of the time and it will help to control the symptoms better. You can also make the bedtime part of the dose a little higher so your dog can sleep better.

Potential Side Effects of CBD on Dogs

CBD is known to be a mild compound, and just like for humans, it generally rarely causes any side effects in dogs as well. Most commonly, it can cause dry mouth, mild drowsiness, and a drop in blood pressure. You can recognize these side effects by your dog’s behavior.

Dry mouth will inevitably lead to increased thirst, and the lowering of the blood pressure may make your dog dizzy and wobbly. If you notice any of these changes, then it’s probably a reaction to the CBD.

Large doses may cause more adverse reactions, like vomiting and extreme drowsiness (like refusing to get up). However, these effects are temporary and can be avoided with the correct dosage.

The most important thing is to monitor your dog’s reactions while it’s receiving the CBD treatment, take notes, and make adjustments as necessary. 

Final Thoughts

Using CBD to treat various medical conditions and behavioral problems in dogs is an effective way to help your pet and improve its quality of life. There are different CBD products that can be administered to dogs, with CBD oil being the most commonly used one. The dosage of CBD mostly depends on the size of your dog and its body weight.

However, starting with the smallest dose possible is highly recommended so your pet gets used to the substance and avoids unnecessary side effects. It’s best to monitor and take note of its reactions before changing the dose. CBD is usually well-tolerated with side effects experienced mostly at high doses.

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

A passionate advocate for the benefits of cannabis. Fraser Horton, who has a background in botany and a strong love of nature, has spent years researching how cannabis affects the body and mind. He established Leaf Nation in 2020, where he has devoted himself to educating people about the legalisation of marijuana and its safe and responsible use. Fraser is committed to highlighting cannabis’ potential for improving wellness and working to dispel the stigma associated with its use.


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