CBD for Puppies: Yay or No Way?

CBD for dogs has become a hot topic in Canada and overseas, but what about CBD for pups? Are CBD treats, oil, and other products safe for puppies?

As a puppy parent, you may be wondering if your puppy can safely take CBD for conditions like anxiety, puppy teething, or CBD to help your puppy (and you!) get a good night’s sleep.

With an increase in interest and curiosity about CBD for puppies, we created this resource to share what we know and what’s left to learn.

CBD for dogs vs CBD for puppies

MYTH: Puppies are just small dogs.

There is sometimes the misguided belief that because puppies are essentially a miniature version of an adult dog, CBD oils, treats, and other products are safe for puppies when they’re administered in a smaller dose.

This isn’t true, and here’s why:

Although puppies do grow into dogs, there are key differences between the two that may impact how medications and other drugs affect your puppy.

  • It takes less time for puppy tummies to empty. This means drugs and other substances may enter your puppy’s bloodstream and bodily systems quicker than an adult or senior dog.
  • Increased kidney and liver metabolism. There are studies to support puppies filtering and removing drugs from their system at twice the rate of an adult dog. This could lessen the effect of a drug, or even increase the effect depending on how it circulates in their little bodies.
  • Puppies have a higher water content and less fat than adult dogs. This can change how drugs interact, metabolize, and are distributed throughout your puppy’s body.

It’s important to remember that CBD research is still in its early stages, and most of what we know (which is quite minimal) comes from studies of CBD in dogs—not puppies.

CBD for puppies: What we know

EXPERT TIP: If you’re on the hunt for puppy training treats, we can help. Our monthly Waggle Mail Puppy packs include healthy, nutritious, and filler-free puppy treats that have been carefully vetted (pun intended) by our resident animal health professionals.

With the jury still out on safe CBD dosing for puppies, we don’t recommend introducing CBD products to your little one quite yet.

Although there is a growing body of research about CBD for dogs, how or whether this information applies to puppies is still to be determined. For example, we know that CBD has low oral bioavailability. (Translation: only a small amount of CBD actually makes it into a dog’s body to deliver a calming or other intended effect.)

CBD for puppies to calm down is unproven, at least in an evidence-based way. Since puppies may metabolize quicker than their adult counterparts, it could be that proper puppy dosing may actually be more, not less, than an adult or senior dog.

So… are CBD treats good for puppies? Well, first and foremost there are no cannabis products that are approved by Health Canada for use in puppies. For the sake of your puppy’s health and safety, it’s best to wait until those questions have been answered.

What can CBD be used for?

So far researchers have seen early successes with CBD and the following canine conditions:

  • Behavioural issues like anxiety
  • Skincare, including allergy support
  • Gut health and inflammatory bowel conditions
  • Pain management for things like arthritis
  • Palliative care
  • Ocular conditions like glaucoma

It’s possible this list will grow with time, but more research is needed to confirm CBD for puppy teething, CBD and anxiety, and other conditions. If you’re a parent to a nervous, teething, or restless puppy and considering a CBD oil or other product, always start by talking to your veterinarian. Because the CBD landscape is constantly changing, your puppy’s health team will be able to provide the most up-to-date information. Not only that, but they can also apply what they know of your puppy’s health history to support you in making a smart, safe decision.

Is CBD safe for puppies?

Not to sound like a broken record, but the best way to answer this question is by framing it in terms of what we know about CBD for dogs.

Adult dogs are thought to have more cannabinoid receptors than us humans, which means they’re predisposed to the side effects of CBD and to overdose of THC cannabis products. These receptors are found all over the body, but they’re mainly concentrated in the nervous and immune systems. How true this is for puppies remains to be seen, so although we can’t quite call CBD for puppies safe… we can’t exactly call it “unsafe,” either.

Like any drug, CBD affects the body—the cannabidiol system, to be exact. Currently, we know very little about any short-term effects (when CBD is administered over a few days) or long-term effects (when CBD is administered for weeks or longer). This is why it’s important to talk to your vet about the benefits and risks of giving CBD to your puppy.

Although the safety margin of cannabinoids appears to be quite wide in animals, some short term side effects may include:

  • Stomach upset (e.g., vomiting, diarrhea, and inappetance)
  • Lethargy
  • At higher doses, CBD may cause dry mouths, trouble walking (ataxia), and low blood pressure

My dog ate weed! What do I do?

EXPERT TIP: Make sure you trace your puppy’s steps to figure out what they consumed and whether those products contain THC. In some cases, pups will eat everything… including the packaging! Check out our guide on CBD for dogs for details on what to do.

Puppies are notorious for sticking their noses where they don’t belong.

If your pet (young or young at heart) gets into your CBD stash, products like CBD chews or marijuana/tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-containing products may require immediate intervention. Chews can have an osmotic effect, drawing fluid into the gut; in cases like these, your dog may require fluid support. Marijuana-containing foods, many of which also contain chocolate, are a common source reported to pet poison hotlines.

Tips for CBD for puppies

Want to start your puppy on CBD? Keep these five things in mind:

1. Talk to your veterinarian. Although your vet cannot prescribe your puppy CBD, there may be other options or add-on treatments available.

2. Do your research. If you and your vet agree CBD may be appropriate for your puppy, search up dog-friendly CBD products that have been rigorously tested for CBD content, heavy metals, bacteria, yeast, mould, and other toxins. Stay away from products containing THC and artificial sweeteners—these are a no-no for dogs. Labels are often deceiving; a certificate of analysis if your best bet for accuracy and peace of mind.

EXPERT TIP: The Canadian Association of Veterinary Cannibinoid Medicine (CAVCM) has a ton of great resources for pet parents and families.

3. Start slow. Slowly increase to the recommended dosage to avoid adverse side effects. Since we don’t know proper dosing for puppies, we recommend following CAVCM’s dosing guidelines.

4. Store out of paw’s reach. Any CBD products (especially human CBD products with THC) should be safely stowed away. The less accessible, the better!

5. Monitor your pup. Just as you would with any new medication, stay by your pet’s side so you can keep an eye on how they’re doing and step in if needed.

While we wait for more cannabis research for our furry friends, you can trust that our Waggle Mail dog subscription boxes, including our Waggle Mail Puppy packs, always contain safe, vet-recommended products.

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