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After reporting on the best CBD tinctures, pre-rolls, and gummies for humans, we decided to turn our attention to our canine companions. Like humans, dogs also have an endocannabinoid system, which contains cannabinoid receptors. When cannabinoids like CBD are consumed, they engage with these receptor sites and affect a variety of bodily functions, including pain sensation, mood, appetite, and immune function.
When it comes to man’s best friend, “CBD has been showing promise in many areas for health,” says veterinarian Dr. Stephanie Liff of Pure Paws Veterinary Care. While more studies are needed, there is “plenty of anecdotal evidence suggesting benefits for pets, and many studies are currently in progress,” explains veterinarian Dr. Jamie Richardson of Small Door Veterinary. While there is emerging research on CBD’s effect on a range of conditions including epilepsy, anxiety, allergic skin conditions, and cancer, there has already been research done that shows CBD has been proven to help dogs with osteoarthritis, a painful joint disorder. “A study from Cornell University showed that nearly all dogs with osteoarthritis had improved pain scores and evaluations when taking CBD twice daily, compared to the dogs who received a placebo treatment,” she says.
While the Food and Drug Administration has not officially approved CBD products for therapeutic use in pets, the vets we spoke to were in agreement that quality-controlled CBD is unlikely to be harmful. “Because I believe the product to be safe, I often discuss CBD as a treatment for pets that are already on medications but are not having enough benefit from these medications, or for pets who don’t have a lot of options for medications due to comorbidities but still need pain relief,” says Liff. However, they stressed that you should always speak to your dog’s veterinarian before starting a CBD supplement, “particularly if they suffer from any underlying diseases or take any medications that may affect their ability to metabolize CBD products,” notes Richardson. While there are not many possible negative side effects from CBD, for dogs with compromised liver function, “there is a possible need to decrease the dose or monitor for drug interactions,” adds Liff. A veterinarian will also be able to help you figure out a specific dosing regimen, says Dr. Tory Waxman, veterinarian and founder of Sundays Food for Dogs.
According to Richardson, “as with CBD for humans, there are a vast range of CBD products for pets on the market, with very minimal regulation or quality control,” so choosing the right brand is essential. In fact, the more we spoke with vets, the more we heard the same thing: ElleVet, a Maine-based company, is the gold standard for dog CBD. It is very important to use CBD designed specifically for pets because the THC in marijuana can be toxic to pets, says Waxman, one of several doctors who recommended ElleVet to us. “Human CBD companies that also make pet-CBD products may not be as stringent in their quality control for pet products specifically,” she adds. Liff, who also highly recommends the brand, calls its products “safe and reputable” because it does “extensive” quality-control testing. “We trust ElleVet CBD products, as they provide a certificate of analysis indicating the potency, per-dosing unit, and ingredients of their products,” adds Richardson, noting that it was actually ElleVet products that were used in the aforementioned study of osteoarthritic dogs at Cornell University, “and they also have other ongoing clinical trials, which help to assure quality control.” That’s not to say ElleVet is the only dog-CBD-maker worth trying, but of the three vets we spoke to, it was the only brand mentioned by name.
While Liff has personally not used CBD on her own pets, her parents have an older golden retriever who is a little arthritic, and he takes ElleVet CBD chews, which she says have improved his mobility. ElleVet makes chews for both small-breed dogs under 50 pounds and large-breed dogs over 50 pounds, both of which are peanut-butter flavored to encourage your dog to take them. The small-dog chews contain 20 milligrams of cannabinoids per chew, while the large-dog chews contain 30 milligrams.
If your dog is finicky with treats, ElleVet sells a CBD tincture, which Richardson has used for her senior dog, who suffers from arthritis, “as part of a multimodal approach with other pain medications and supplements.” Depending on the dose your vet prescribes, ElleVet sells the oil in three different sizes: a 15-milliliter bottle that contains 1,050 milligrams of cannabinoids, a 30-milliliter bottle that contains 2,100 milligrams, and a 60-milliliter bottle that contains 4,200 milligrams. Each bottle also comes with an oral syringe to make it easier to administer to your pet.
Another option is ElleVet’s soft gels, which contain their signature ElleVet Complete Oil. Since they don’t have any smell or taste, these are a good option if you would prefer to hide the supplement in your dog’s food. Like the chews, the soft gels come in two sizes: one designed for small dogs under 45 pounds, which has six milligrams of cannabinoids per capsule, and one for large dogs over 45 pounds, which contains 19 milligrams of cannabinoids per capsule.
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