Written by Vet Evidence Based

CBD Oil For Dogs: What Dose To Give Your Dog?

Margarita Boyd
Written by: Dr. Margarita Boyd, BVSc MRCVS
Without standard guidelines it is difficult to know how much CBD you can give your dog, right? If you are struggling with this measure, but you yet want to help your canine discover veterinarian's recommendation for proper CBD oil dosage.

CBD oil, or cannabidiol, is one of the active ingredients from cannabis or hemp. It has recently surged in popularity in both humans and dogs to help a variety of conditions, including arthritis, epilepsy, and chronic pain. However, there aren’t many clinical trials involving dogs to ascertain what dose is safe or if this miracle drug really works.

The dosage of CBD oil for dogs has been known to vary from 0.2 to 20 milligrams (mg) per kilo (kg or 22.04 Ib.) of body weight. CBD oil for pets is available in different potencies, with some brands being much stronger than others, which will affect the dose.

The dose can also depend on the dog’s age and weight, the severity of the underlying conditions being treated, and if any other medications are being given.

In this article, we will discuss in detail the use of CBD oil in dogs, what dose to give your dog, and the possible side effects as well.

How Can CBD Oil Help Your Dog?

CBD oil has been used to help dogs with a variety of conditions, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Arthritis
  • Seizures/epilepsy
  • Neuropathic (nerve) pain
  • Chronic pain
  • Digestive issues
  • Appetite stimulation
  • Chronic inflammation

So, if you have decided to try using CBD oil for your dog, then the next important question is: How much should you give your dog?
But first, let’s discuss the research that has been done when it comes to CBD and dogs.

Are There Any Clinical Studies Involving The Use Of CBD Oil With Dogs?

There isn’t really a lot of research available in terms of CBD oil use in dogs. Clinical trials and research are needed to check if the drugs are safe, what dose is best to use and to check if a drug has any possible side effects.

We can’t just use human research for dogs, as dogs often metabolize drugs in a totally different way than we do. Some medications that humans use can even be poisonous for dogs, so that’s why we can’t just decide something is okay for dogs after conducting human trials.

However, there are a couple of reliable studies completed in dogs. One 2018 study used CBD oil in dogs with osteoarthritis. They gave the dogs either a placebo oil or CBD oil dose, each one administered twice daily. In that study, they used a CBD oil dose of 2 mg per kilogram (22.04 Ib.) of body weight twice daily. (1)

The results showed that 80% of dogs that received CBD oil had an improvement in their pain and mobility.

A small study in 2019 also found that dogs with epilepsy that were treated with CBD oil twice daily had significantly fewer seizures compared to the group that received anti-seizure medication. This study used a twice-daily dose of 2.5 mg per kilogram (22.04 Ib.) of body weight for the dogs. (2)

What Factors Influence The Dose Of CBD Oil In Dogs?

Every dog is different, therefore, there isn’t one standard dose that will suit every dog. There are some important factors that will influence the dose of CBD oil in dogs, including:

  • The potency/strength of the CBD oil
  • The dog’s size and weight
  • The dog’s underlying condition being treated

There isn’t a regulated dosage level for CBD oil, and, as mentioned before, there aren’t enough scientific studies to confirm what dose is best and effective for dogs.

Most products will offer dosing suggestions on the packaging, and dosages for different usage vary, but these are made by the manufacturer and are neither regulated nor checked.

Therefore, here are some tips to help decide what dose to give your dog:

1. Consult your veterinarian

Your dog should have a full veterinary clinical exam before you decide to give your pet any new treatment.

2. Consider your dog’s size and weight

Small dogs will require less CBD oil than larger dogs. Start with a low dose – You want to use the lowest dose possible that keeps your dog comfortable. Start with a low dose (e.g., 0.2 mg once a day) and then increase slowly if necessary.

3. Monitor your dog

Monitor your dog for any side effects caused by the CBD Oil. If your dog has been exhibiting negative side effects, the dose can be decreased or stopped completely. (3)

Calculating The Dose Of CBD Oil

So, you might just decide to follow the dosing instructions on the CBD oil packaging. This should discuss how many drops or milliliters (mL) you should give for the weight of your dog.

If you want to give your dog a very low dose to start with, then 0.2 mg per kilogram (22.04 Ib.) of weight once a day may be a good start. Using this dose, a 10 kg (22.04 lb.) dog would require 2 mg of CBD oil.

On the product packaging, it should say how many milligrams of CBD are in each milliliter of oil. For example, a product might have the strength of 10 mg of CBD in each mL (written as 10 mg/mL). If the 10 kg (22.04 Ib.) dog requires 2 mg of CBD, then you divide 2 by 10 to get the correct dose of 0.2 mL. Therefore, you need a 1 mL syringe to draw up 0.2 mL of CBD oil accurately.

This is just an example. Always talk to your veterinarian before starting a new medication or calculating the dose of CBD oil.

What Type Of CBD Oil Should You Choose For Your Dog?

There are many different CBD products for pets including CBD oil, treats, biscuits, and creams. As the industry isn’t regulated, yet some products may not contain what they claim! However, the FDA is working to get better answers about CBD.

CBD oil can be expensive, but don’t just choose the cheapest option, as it may have very poor quality. Here are some things to take into consideration when choosing CBD oil for your dog:

1. Choose High-Quality CBD Oil

Choosing a quality product is the best option for your dog, as they use better production methods and standards, and are less likely to contain harmful toxins or “filler” ingredients.

2. Choose Organic

High-quality CBD oils are produced from organically grown hemp that’s free of toxins.

3. Choose Independent Testing

The best companies independently test their products and provide an obvious certificate of analysis (COA).

4. Choose The Correct Potency/Strength For Your Dog

CBD oils are available in different potencies, such as 50 mg for small dogs, 200 mg for medium dogs, and so on. Choose a dose that best suits the size of your dog.

5. Choose A Low THC Level Or THC-Free Product

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the chemical in cannabis that produces the feeling of being “high.” Obviously, this high would be confusing, distressing, and potentially harmful to your dog.

CBD oil for dogs is usually made from the hemp plant and not the cannabis plant. Look for products that don’t contain THC, or have a level of THC below 0.3%.

Does CBD Oil Cause Side Effects In Dogs?

Just because something is advertised as “natural” doesn’t mean that it won’t have side effects. Nearly every medication or supplement, even natural ones, have the potential to cause some side effects, which can vary from mild to severe.

As there is not much research carried out in dogs taking CBD oil, there are no definite claims about the potential risks or side effects.

Common side effects of general medication can include vomiting or diarrhea, dullness or reduced appetite. Also, look out for excessive panting, loss of balance (ataxia), increased drinking or skin changes.

It’s important to monitor for any change from your dog’s normal behavior, and seek veterinary help if needed.

One study in 2018 assessed the potential adverse effects of CBD in healthy dogs, and the most common side effect reported was diarrhea. (4)

Two recent studies of CBD oil use in dogs, in 2018 and 2019, found that the dogs showed no side effects or changes in behavior. However, all three studies found that dogs taking CBD oil had an increase in one liver enzyme called alkaline phosphatase. These results need further research to check for the long-term effects of CBD oil on the liver.

Is CBD Oil Legal?

Whether CBD oil is legal or not depends on where you live. Laws can vary between countries and different states, so you should seek advice from your local council or law enforcement.

On top of this, some states don’t allow veterinarians to prescribe CBD oil, or even provide a professional recommendation or opinion about it.

CBD oil products for pets often get around the laws as they are usually produced from hemp. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has said that “CBD is regulated by the FDA and, currently, there are no FDA-approved CBD products for pets. In 2018, hemp, a cannabis plant that naturally has less than 0.3% THC, was taken off the federal controlled substances list.”

CBD Oil For Dogs: What Dose To Give Your Dog – Conclusion

Anecdotal evidence and initial research show promising results for CBD oil in dogs to treat a variety of conditions. However, with so little research completed at the moment, the real safety and value of CBD oil are still relatively unknown.

So, giving this drug to your dog should be done at your own risk. To reduce any possible risks, talk to your veterinarian first, choose a high-quality organic CBD oil, and start with a very low dose so you can monitor your dog for any negative effects.