CBD Oil for Dogs: A Canadian Perspective on Cannabis
Cannabis is approved for human use in Canada… but what about CBD oil for dogs? Find out the legalities, implications, and complexities of CBD oil for dogs in Canada.
CBD oil for dogs: Yea or no way?
If you’re a pet parent in Canada considering cannabis products like CBD oil for your dog, buyer beware: not all pet CBD products are created equal.
In this post we’ll break down everything you need to know about canine cannabis, from legalities to dosage, sourcing, and signs of intoxication.
Is CBD oil for dogs legal in Canada?
Although a variety of cannabis products are not illegal to sell in Canada, currently as of March 2022 there is no legal pathway for Canadian veterinarians to prescribe cannabis products.
Because Health Canada has not approved cannabis products like CBD oil for use in animals, veterinarians—regardless of whether they’d like to—are not legally allowed to prescribe, dispense, or administer these products to their patients.
Is this a problem? In a way, yes. Because the legal landscape is constantly changing, many vets consider canine cannabis a touchy subject, unsure of what they can and can’t legally discuss. Although they want the same thing you do (a happy, healthy dog), some vets opt to avoid the conversation altogether.
Before you buy—and especially before you try—a cannabis product like CBD oil with your dog, it’s always a good idea to broach the subject with your vet… even if the conversation feels a bit uncomfortable.
How to talk to your vet about CBD oil for dogs
Openness and honesty are two hallmarks of a great relationship between you and your dog’s veterinarian. Cannabis conversations are no exception: speaking openly about things like CBD for dogs with anxiety, CBD oil and canine pain management, and different cannabis formulations ensures your dog’s safety.
Here are three ways to start a healthy dialogue about CBD oil for dogs:
- Plan ahead. If you want to chat cannabis with your vet, make sure to mention this to the receptionist when booking in. Many clinics will book separate appointments for topics like these to give enough time for your vet to thoroughly address your questions and concerns.
- Be honest. With the legalization of cannabis for human use in Canada, the times and the stigma are changing. Remember: your vet is not there to judge you; they’re trained and dedicated to advocate for animal health and wellbeing. Any cannabis treatments (including CBD) are important to document in your dog’s medical file. Full disclosure about what you’re using and why can prevent adverse effects from things like negative drug reactions or overdosing.
- Be understanding. Vets dedicate their lives to helping animals and their humans. Because cannabinoid medicine is still in its early stages, many vets weren’t trained on the subject; for many, the extent of their experience involves dealing with emergency cases of toxic over-consumption. Even if your vet is well-read and eager to begin treating patients, the current state of play is prohibitive. While we can’t say what the future will hold, for now your vet runs the risk of losing their license if they were to administer or, in some cases, even advise.
Buying CBD products for dogs in Canada
Thanks to the Cannabis Act, pet parents in Canada can legally purchase cannabis products through a licensed producer or retailer. Not surprisingly, once the Act came into effect an influx of cannabis products—for people and for pets—hit the market. But just because a product is for sale doesn’t mean it’s a good product… so what’s a pet parent to do?
Cannabis researcher Stephen Cital estimates that upwards of 70% of CBD extracts sold online in the United States are mislabeled, even after 3rd party testing. These include CBD oils for dogs.
Part of what makes cannabis so complicated is that it’s not just one thing. The cannabis plant itself contains hundreds of chemicals (cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, etc.). By far the two most common cannabinoids are CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). As you may know, THC produces the high or intoxication associated with consuming cannabis, while CBD is known for its reported therapeutic uses.
Is cannabis safe for dogs?
Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer here. Without strict regulations, there is no guarantee that a particular formulation will be a good fit for your dog. Add to that a risk of adverse reactions with other medications and known risks of THC intoxication from weed cookies and other human edibles, and you have a Wild West of uncertainty when it comes to canine health and safety.
What we do know, however, is that dogs’ endocannabinoid system (the part of the body responsible for processing CBD and other cannabis products) is pretty incredible. It’s thought to be the largest receptor system in the mammalian body, encompassing a long list of systems and bodily functions.
Researchers have made important therapeutic discoveries for CBD on humans’ body systems, and emerging research with dogs is looking promising, too.
The potential benefits of cannabis products like CBD oil for dogs may include:
- Behavioral 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
Choosing a reliable cannabis product for your dog
If you’ve decided to give CBD oil for dogs a try, it’s always best to start by discussing your decision with your vet.
Four questions to keep in mind as you research CBD oils for dogs for sale in Canada:
- Is it legal? Make sure to use only licensed producers and provincially licensed retailers approved by Health Canada. All products should have a Drug Identification Number (DIN).
- Is it safe? Licensed producers are required to follow Good Production Practices, which include vigorous testing (to rule out contaminants like bacteria, mould, or heavy metals) and clear labeling of contents.
- Is the company trustworthy? Whether a business is trustworthy is somewhat subjective, but consider things like whether they promptly respond to inquiries, support furthering veterinary research, and hold themselves to high, ethical standards across all aspects of production.
- Is the formulation appropriate? Oils, tinctures, capsules, and treats are all popular forms of CBD, but human edibles (brownies, cookies, gummies, etc.) are off-limits for dogs due to the potential for overdosing and the risk of associated toxic ingredients like chocolates or xylitol.
My dog ate weed—Now what?
Before we talk about toxicity, it’s important to address dosing.
Keep in mind that veterinarians can’t legally advise how much CBD is too much, and how much is just right for your dog. There is very little published research to support dosage recommendations, but a good rule of thumb is to follow the Canadian Association of Veterinary Cannabinoid Medicine’s suggestion to start low and go slow.
The rules change when the conversation switches from CBD to THC. Symptoms of THC overconsumption or intoxication often present within half an hour of ingestion and can hang around for up to three days.
Common clinical signs of THC toxicity include:
- Extreme lethargy or, conversely, extreme agitation
- Ataxia (uncoordinated movements)
- Dilated pupils
- Loss of bladder control
- Hypersensitivity to things like touch or sounds
- Tremors or seizures
If your dog displays any of these symptoms, call your vet or your local poison control line immediately. Treatment will depend on clinical sign severity, what item(s) they ingested, and amount and concentration. Ultimately, the goal is to stop your dog’s body from absorbing further THC; the sooner they’re seen, the sooner supportive care like IV fluids and monitoring vitals can be put in action.
What does the future look like for dogs and CBD oil for dogs?
If only we had a crystal ball…
While we can’t see into the future, the cannabis industry is an ever-changing one with new research published all the time. Our job is to stay across those industry updates to ensure that our Waggle Mail dog subscription boxes always and only contain safe, appropriate products for your dog.
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Dr. C. Beck
Registered Veterinarian, Founder & CEO