CBD for Pets: How Much Should You Give (and Other Tips to Help Your Furry Friend the Natural Way)
As every pet owner knows, people aren’t the only ones that feel pain, suffer from stomach issues, or find it hard to sleep. Sometimes our dogs and cats (and cows and goats) need medication, too.
But we can’t expect them to stay on those medications forever. And some pet meds carry serious side effects (if they work at all, which isn’t a guarantee) that leave us second-guessing if it’s really the right choice for our furry friends.
If we expect our animals to be a part of the family, we need to consider their physical needs just like our own. However, our bodies are not the same as little Scruffy’s. Even with your vet’s guidance – something you should absolutely get before introducing or changing your pet’s treatment regimen – differences in size, anatomy, and metabolism can make dosage decisions tricky.
Cannabidiol (CBD) has gone from unknown to unavoidable for many fur parents looking for a natural alternative with fewer side effects. But you may have questions about how to treat your beloved pet safely. And while this article can’t (and shouldn’t) replace the advice of your veterinarian, we round up a few tips to consider before you give Mr. Meowser or Mrs. Borkington that first dose.
How Much CBD Should You Give Your Pet?
There are a few things to consider when giving your pet CBD for the first time.
Know Why You’re Using CBD
It can seem obvious, but knowing the reason why you’re using a CBD pet product is an important part of the dosage conversation. Giving your excitable dog CBD to help him stay calm while you’re at work is different from giving your elderly pet CBD to relieve arthritis pain. This will also help your veterinarian as they recommend the appropriate dosage.
Consider Your Pet’s Size
My Chihuahua/Papillon mix, Bruenor Battlehammer, weighs in at about 7 pounds. And while he has the heart of a giant, his diminutive size means he should get significantly less dosage than I’d give to a German Shepherd or Mastiff.
As a general rule, it is wise to start your dosage off at about 1-5mg of CBD for every 10 pounds of weight. It’s worth noting that not all animals react to CBD the same way, and even two of the same species may respond to different dosages. Cats seem to metabolize CBD quicker than dogs, for example. So while the same rule for milligrams of CBD to pounds of pet applies, you may need to give your cat the same dosage more often than you’d give it to a similar-sized dog.
Be Consistent With the CBD Dosage
CBD works best when it is applied consistently. Missing a day or adjusting quantity sporadically isn’t going to help your pet – and it may reduce the relief they experience. Pets, like people, benefit from a regular dosage and schedule.
Begin with your vet’s recommended dosage. After a week or two you can begin to get an accurate assessment of your pet’s improvement, or lack thereof, and increase or decrease the dosage accordingly.
Pay Attention to Your Pet
In many ways, treating a pet is more difficult than treating yourself or your children. You rely on your own body to give you cues through pain and other persistent symptoms. And children can tell you when and where they feel pain. We don’t have that privilege with our animals.
Anytime you change your pet’s medication or treatment regimen, keep a close eye on their behavior. You know your pet, so trust your intuition if you notice a change in mood or increased whining.
When dealing with your pet, it’s a good idea to act like a scientist. For a few days before administering your initial dosage of CBD, take special notes of your pet’s behavior. For example, take notes of these important indicators.
- How much does your pet sleep?
- How often does she whine or cry? What was she doing immediately before the whining began?
- How much does she eat? Does she eat with gusto or does she avoid her food?
- How much of the day is your pet active?
Write all of this down with dates and times, and try to organize your observations so that it will be easy for you to reference in the future.
After you have observed your pet without CBD, begin the first round of dosage. Again, keep a close eye on the same behavior indicators you monitored before. Write everything down daily for at least one or two weeks, and compare your observations to your pre-CBD notes.
Hopefully you’ll see some improvements in at least some of these indicators. If not, consult with your vet and try adjusting dosage.
Choose Your CBD Brand & Product Carefully
Not all CBD products are produced with the same focus on purity or commitment to safety. While some pet stores sell CBD, they may limit their selection to a single brand with no insight into how that brand was selected.
Shop around for brands you trust to be open and honest about their sourcing, potency, and testing.
- Stick with hemp-derived CBD, preferably CBD isolate or broad spectrum CBD to avoid toxic THC.
- Look at the brand’s website to make sure they lab test their products. You’re buying medication, after all, and unwanted chemicals or cannabinoids found in unregulated products can leave your pet feeling worse.
- Find a brand your pet likes. While purity and consistent dosage is most important, medicating your pet will be much easier if they enjoy – or at least don’t mind – the CBD pet treats or tincture you dribbled over their food bowl.
Of course you may not have time for constant observation, but the more information you can document the more educated you will be about your pet’s improvement.
While CBD is natural and exceedingly safe to use, especially with proper dosage, it’s best to approach with the same caution you’d use when introducing a new prescription medication. If you notice your pet improving, continue the dosage you’re using. And if your pet’s condition worsens, consult with your vet immediately.