The CBD for dogs market has skyrocketed in recent times. Indeed, Forbes reported that annual sales of CBD products for pets have now exceeded $600 million. However, there is little reliable information on how much cannabidiol to give a dog due to a lack of regulation and research.
This article looks into the available data on the ‘right’ CBD dosage for dogs while investigating the different products on the market. Pet owners are adamant that CBD can help with issues such as chronic pain and arthritis, so let’s see how much of it is required.
Why Does Your Dog Need CBD?
There’s no universal CBD dosage that works for any condition on any dog. Like humans, the physiology of dogs is wildly complex. Even subtle differences in doses can have significant effects in terms of productivity and efficiency.
However, your first step is to determine why you feel as if your dog requires CBD. Most pet owners consider the cannabinoid if their faithful friend has one of the following issues:
- Chronic pain
- Mental disorder
- Lack of appetite
Dog owners also suggest CBD helps improve their pet’s general quality of life. Many people start using CBD during their dog’s old age when it is in obvious discomfort. Others prefer to administer it temporarily during bouts of sickness, fatigue, or just when something appears out of the ordinary behavior-wise.
A little later, we’ll look into how CBD could help specific conditions in dogs, including related research. However, first, let’s look at dosing.
Veterinarians can’t administer, dispense, prescribe or recommend cannabis or its products for animals.
We must make one final point before proceeding. In 2019, the FDA stated it couldn’t conclude that CBD was generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for use in human or animal food. The Administration sent warning letters to various companies for selling pet food and treats with CBD.
Technically speaking, the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the list of controlled substances, separating it from marijuana. Nonetheless, it remains illegal under federal and state law for vets to recommend CBD oil for pets. Furthermore, veterinarians can’t administer, dispense, prescribe or recommend cannabis or its products for animals.
However, you’ll find that countless brands can deliver CBD products for pets to your doorstep in most states.
How Much CBD Oil Should I Give My Dog, Based on Size?
Plenty of pet owners give their dogs CBD oil tinctures made for humans. While it’s probably preferable to administer a pet-specific product, this practice is perfectly fine as long as the CBD oil dosage is small enough.
One of the factors that impact how CBD affects a user is body weight. In general, dogs are significantly smaller and lighter than humans. Therefore, if you weigh 175 pounds and find that 40mg of CBD has a noticeable impact, it stands to reason that your 25-pound pooch needs much less.
If you administer too much CBD and it has the desired effect, you’re in danger of assuming that’s the required amount. In reality, you could be providing your dog with far more CBD than the minimum therapeutic dose.
It is also worth noting that, like humans, dogs can build up a tolerance to CBD. If you take too much, the body recognizes it as “abnormal” and launches signals to prevent the creation of further endocannabinoid receptors. The key, then, is to hit that sweet spot where CBD can provide maximum effect without the body limiting the amount of ECS receptors it creates.
Now, let’s look into CBD dosing for dogs based on their weight. A basic starting point in terms of CBD oil for dogs is 1 mg. This point is typically only 1-3 mg in humans, as even large dogs are typically about 1/3 the weight of average humans.
Let’s go ahead and break down how much CBD to give to your dog based on relative weight.
Extra Small (2 – 8 lbs)
Small dogs require a tiny amount of CBD, though they have extremely fast metabolisms. As a result, you may need to administer 2-3 doses per day, depending on the results. Initially, administering 1 mg is a decent starting point for dogs in a lot of pain.
For anxiety or behavioral issues, you can measure out 0.5 mg of a tincture and take it from there. All doses are based upon a twice daily (morning and evening) administration. If the initial dose does not provide satisfactory results, try increasing in 1 mg increments until you see an improvement. However, don’t exceed 15mg of CBD a day.
Small (8 – 15 lbs)
You can use the same doses here as you would for an extra small dog. One exception involves administering a 1 mg dose for behavioral issues instead of a 0.5 mg dose.
Medium (15 – 30 lbs)
For medium-sized dogs, some people have had success by beginning with a 2 mg initial dose. Then they increase the intake by 3 mg increments until they achieve the desired results. This is a potentially useful strategy when attempting to manage pain.
For issues such as lack of appetite or anxiety, a general 1 mg initial dose is adequate, with successive doses increasing by no more than 2 mg. Also, you should not provide your dog with more than two doses per day.
Large (30 – 60 lbs)
For large dogs with general pain, arthritis, etc., a 1-3 mg dose of CBD is generally recognized as an appropriate starting point, depending on the severity. If you don’t notice any results with the initial dose, try increasing each successive dose by no more than 3 mg. Don’t provide more than two doses in any 24-hour spell.
For behavioral problems, appetite loss, or anxiety, an initial dose of 1 mg is suggested, with successive doses increasing by no more than 2 mg. It is challenging to determine if and when your dog is experiencing the effects of CBD, so monitor their reaction closely.
Extra Large (60+ lbs)
The same general recommendations are used for extra-large dogs as for large ones.
How Much CBD Oil for Dogs with Arthritis?
The above dosage guidelines are very general and depend on many factors, including the seriousness of your pet’s condition. Studies on CBD for dogs with arthritis recommend a dose of between 2 and 8 mg per kilogram of bodyweight. Many research papers stay on the lower side of that estimate.
As for whether CBD is effective for dogs with arthritis, a study published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science in 2018 suggests it is. Researchers gave dogs with osteoarthritis two different doses of CBD oil, 2 mg/kg and 8 mg/kg, or a placebo oil, every 12 hours. After four weeks, they moved into a two-week washout period.
At the end of the study, canine brief inventory and Hudson activity scores revealed a significant increase in activity and decreased pain in dogs that consumed CBD. Moreover, a veterinary assessment also showed decreased pain during CBD application. Pet owners didn’t report any adverse side effects.
The researchers concluded that 2 mg/kg of CBD oil, twice a day, could help increase comfort and activity in dogs with osteoarthritis.
How Much CBD Oil for Dogs with Joint Pain?
It is tricky to determine the amount of CBD to give to a dog with joint pain. However, a study published in Pain in 2020 looked into the effects of cannabidiol on canines with OA-associated joint pain.
Over four weeks, the researchers gave dogs either a placebo or liposomal CBD. They found that 20mg of this form of cannabidiol per day was as effective in improving clinical outcomes as 50mg of non-liposomal CBD.
A liposome acts as a protective bubble that encapsulates CBD molecules. Sellers of this form of cannabidiol claim it can deliver CBD to the bloodstream at least four times faster than standard carriers. Liposomes also increase bioavailability, so you get great results with a relatively low dose.
How Much CBD Oil Should I Give My Dog for Anxiety?
There is relatively little information regarding how much CBD is required to reduce anxiety in dogs. The dosage charts you see online are vague and depend on a canine’s weight, among other factors. Indeed, there isn’t much scientific research to show that cannabidiol decreases canine anxiety. Nonetheless, countless pet owners claim that CBD is useful for calming their dogs.
A study published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science in 2020 looked into the impact of CBD treats on canine responses to a noise-induced fear response test. Sixteen dogs were divided into four groups. Apart from a control group, the other three groups received either:
- 25mg of CBD
- 100mg or 200mg of Trazadone based on weight
- A combination of CBD and Trazadone
Ultimately, the researchers concluded that CBD didn’t have an anxiolytic effect on dogs at a 1.4mg/kg dose.
What Forms of CBD Are Available for Dogs?
Keep in mind that it is VERY difficult to administer a CBD oil tincture to a dog. Most oils must be held sublingually (under the tongue) for between 60-90 seconds before swallowing. Good luck trying to get your dog to do that.
CBD pet treats contain pre-measured doses, so you know how much your dog is eating.
Some people mix the oil with food or other treats. There is a suggestion that the bioavailability of CBD consumed sublingually is overstated, with less of a noticeable difference between it and orally consumed cannabidiol as previously believed. Therefore, it is worth trying CBD treats or biscuits to guarantee the consumption of the cannabinoid. Also, treats contain pre-measured CBD doses, so you know how much your dog is eating.
CBD topicals are another option and will likely work best for dogs with surface aches and pains.
Final Thoughts on CBD Dosage for Dogs
Whatever form of CBD for dogs you choose to administer, make sure you do it responsibly. You should not take any of the information or recommendations in this article as professional veterinary advice. Also, veterinarians aren’t allowed to recommend or prescribe CBD for dogs in any case.
We have provided ‘ballpark’ dosing guidelines, but in reality, the safest option is to begin with a tiny amount. Analyze how your dog reacts to CBD before determining whether you need to increase the amount.
When in doubt, always read the labels on your CBD product carefully, and contact the manufacturer if you have any uncertainties or particular questions.