Dosing CBD for dogs: an expert’s perspective
Josh Sosnow, DVMChief Medical Officer of Companion CBD
Date Published: 2020-01-04
Date Updated: 2020-01-29
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound that has been garnering quite a bit of attention for its ability to safely manage a variety of medical conditions with relatively few side effects. CBD is a “phytocannabinoid”, a plant-derived compound derived from the hemp plant. Phytocannabinoids like CBD mimic the action of chemicals that are essential for normal functioning of our brain and body.
Pets and people have a system of cellular receptors that are collectively referred to as the endocannabinoid system. In the last 10 to 15 years, our understanding of the functions of this system have brought CBD into the limelight as a valuable therapeutic option for many conditions like osteoarthritis, seizures, anxiety, and allergies.
Unfortunately, the recommended dosage of CBD is often, in fact, incorrect. Too often, the dosing suggested by a manufacturer is not based on any published science. The published data concerning the use of CBD in veterinary medicine is still developing, but several newer studies give us a clear idea on the dosage we should use.
Here’s what we now know on the dosage of CBD to give dogs.
Pharmacokinetics (how CBD is metabolized in the body)
Several studies have explored how CBD is metabolized in the body. The studies show that CBD should be given to dogs twice daily. This is done to maintain blood levels within the therapeutic range. Researchers have found very few abnormalities in bloodwork thus far, but long-term studies are still lacking.
Due to the way that CBD is metabolized, CBD shouldn’t be given to dogs that are already using certain medications. This could lead to certain side-effects and make the drugs less effective. Overall, studies show that CBD is considered safe for dogs. There are few side effects, except for diarrhea in some patients.
Due to the potential ant-inflammatory properties of CBD, osteoarthritis has received early attention. One study looked at a CBD/CBDA based product to manage osteoarthritis at a dose of 2 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) of body weight in dogs.
While this dose was found to be effective, many anecdotal reports on veterinary discussion boards and several unpublished studies suggest a dosing range of 0.25 mg/kg to 2mg/kg twice daily.
The FDA recently approved Epidiolex, a CBD-based drug for managing seizures in children. This has prompted veterinarians to explore the use of CBD in animals with seizure conditions.
So far, only one study looks at CBD as an adjunct treatment to other anti-seizure drugs. The study evaluated CBD at a dose of 2.5mg/kg twice daily. While the results were not statistically significant, they were encouraging enough to proceed with a secondary study which is currently ongoing at 4.5 mg/kg twice daily. Interestingly, the minimum dose of the FDA-approved drug in humans starts dosing at 5mg/kg twice daily.
The research on the clinical use of CBD is still developing, which means we often find ourselves looking towards the human and lab animal studies for cues on dosing veterinary patients. We still have much to learn about the benefits of CBD for dogs and other veterinary patients. Before using CBD to treat your dog, it’s essential to talk to your veterinarian. This will help you ensure that it’s safe and minimize the risk to your dog.