Is CBD and Hemp Safe for Dogs?

In recent years, cannabis has undergone something of a revolution. With cannabis more legal and more available than ever before, this craze has even spread to the world of dogs. There is a large market for CBD and hemp-derived products for dogs, but what are these products, and are they safe for dogs?

What’s the deal with CBD and hemp?

After decades of prohibition, it now seems like cannabis is everywhere. Each year, more states legalize cannabis products for medical and recreational consumption. All but 3 U.S. states permit cannabis use in some form, yet marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.

Hemp is the most legal kind of cannabis. This is because hemp contains little to no THC, which is the psychoactive component of cannabis. To get high off of hemp, one would need to smoke the equivalent of a telephone pole.

While cannabis has long had a bad rap as a “gateway” or lazy drug, there are many novel uses for the plant in medicine and manufacturing. And one of those is treats for your pup.

What is CBD?

CBD is short for cannabidiol. It is one of over a hundred different cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. CBD and THC are the most well-known and most abundant cannabinoids. 

Unlike THC, which is psychoactive, CBD is best known for its soothing properties. CBD cannot get you high, although low-quality products may be contaminated with THC. 

What is hemp?

Hemp is a type of marijuana product. Hemp is the same as other cannabis plants, except it has almost no THC. To be legal in the United States, hemp products must be less than 0.3% THC.

Hemp plants are one of the fastest growing plants in the world, making it extremely useful across various industries. Hemp is used to make paper, textiles, and even biofuel. Hemp is also found in food products, which typically use hemp seed oil. This includes hemp dog treats, which take advantage of hemp’s CBD content to provide relaxation without any accompanying psychoactive effects.

So is CBD/hemp safe for dogs? Science says…

Research indicates that hemp and other CBD products are safe for dogs to consume. However, more research is necessary to discover the safest and most effective dose for dogs. 

For a long time, studying marijuana in any form was illegal. This means that the scientific record of these plants is lacking. CBD/hemp legalization is an ongoing effort in many cases. Thankfully, recent years have seen a boom in cannabis-related research. More research is needed, but existing studies are very promising and give no indication that CBD/hemp is harmful to dogs or humans.

According to researchers at Dalhousie University in Canada, CBD might be used to treat arthritis. “There is evidence that chronic osteoarthritic pain in dogs can be reduced by supplementation with CBD.”

A study released in March 2022 found that consumption of CBD in canines did not affect the immune system’s ability to fight off disease.

THC poisoning

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CBD is safe for dogs. THC is not. And as cannabis products become more popular, so does accidental exposure to cannabis. Each year, more and more pet owners seek medical attention for THC poisoning, also known as cannabis intoxication. Even a little THC can pose a risk to dogs, and extreme cases of intoxication have resulted in fatality. Thankfully, this is rare—most pets make a full recovery, provided they receive medical treatment. CBD/hemp can be great for dogs, provided you take precautions.

Store any cannabis-derived treats far away so that even the nosiest pets won’t find them. And if you have any other cannabis products in the house, ensure they’re also stored securely, and do not ingest them around your dog. 

When feeding your pets CBD or hemp products, THC poisoning is probably not a concern, as long as the product has been tested and certified. If your dog eats a whole pack of treats, they might get THC poisoning, but CBD products are very low risk.

Most often, THC poisoning is the result of a pet finding edibles. A dog thinks it’s regular tasty human food, not knowing it contains THC. Smoke inhalation can also result in THC poisoning.

If you think your pet has accidentally ingested THC, watch out for symptoms and immediately call your veterinarian or animal poison control at (888) 426-4435. 

Symptoms

  • Glassy eyes
  • Stumbling or trouble with coordination
  • Dilated pupils
  • Vomiting
  • Urinary incontinence

Treatment

A vet will do two things to support a pet who has accidentally ingested THC. 

First, they try to get the drug out of the pet’s system. This can mean inducing vomiting or administering activated charcoal. In extreme cases, a stomach pump might be necessary. This kind of treatment can be difficult to provide, however, because once pets start displaying signs of cannabis intoxication, the THC is already absorbed into the body.

Second, vets will provide supportive care while the THC wears off. This might mean managing your pet’s temperature, breathing, and heart rate. An IV might be necessary to provide fluids. Pets should be kept in a comfortable and confined space where they can safely wait out the effects. Anti-anxiety medications might also be used for agitation.

Do not panic. While this is certainly a scary time, THC poisoning is very manageable, and almost all dogs make a full recovery. Seek out medical attention immediately, and do not withhold information. It is essential that care providers know what happened and when, including the type of cannabis product ingested.

Can dogs have CBD oil for humans?

No! Dogs should never have CBD that is made for humans. Our dietary needs are very different from our pups, and there are many compounds humans eat that are unsafe or even toxic to dogs. If you are going to give your dog any kind of CBD, hemp, or similar product, make sure that it has been specifically formulated for dogs.

The same goes for CBD flower. Dogs should not inhale smoke and should never have CBD flower or other unrefined CBD products.

The bottom line

CBD and hemp have had a huge positive impact on the lives of humans and animals. But like any drug, safety is paramount. Store cannabis products somewhere pets do not have access, and never ingest cannabis in the same room as your pet. Never share with your dog products that are made with human consumption.

As long as proper safety measures are followed, CBD and hemp are a fantastic remedy for pain and restlessness. 

Tyler Kupcho
Author: Tyler Kupcho

Animal lover, proud husky parent. Writing Intern at DogFriendly.com

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