The popularity of CBD has exploded in the last few years as we learn more and more about the healing powers of this natural substance. And since those powers appear to apply to all mammals, it's no surprise that many humans have started using CBD to help their dogs.
CBD has been shown to be safe for canine use in a multitude of studies as well as effective in treating various health problems. If you're considering giving CBD to your dog, you're not alone. If you've struggled to find accurate information on the correct dosing for this oil in dogs, you're also not alone.
There is a lot of conflicting information out there when it comes to CBD dosing in dogs. Why this confusion exists has a lot to do with the long list of uses for CBD, the drastically different sizes dogs can be, and the various tinctures available. But that doesn't mean you can't figure out the right dose for your dog and your situation.
Proven Uses for CBD in Dogs
Before we get into how to calculate your dog's CBD dose, let's first look at what conditions this oil has been proven to help.
We know from various studies, many done just within the last couple of years, that CBD oil has the potential to help a multitude of conditions. The list of proven effects is expanding all the time, but at this moment, there is proof that CBD can drastically reduce the symptoms of:
More recent studies have even found evidence that CBD may be able to reduce tumor growth, control autoimmune diseases, and reduce PTSD, but these findings are still being reviewed.
How to Find Quality, Dog-Safe CBD Oil
There have been quite a few studies that have looked at the safety of CBD use in both healthy dogs and those suffering from a chronic condition. Even at extremely high doses, the side effects have been low to nonexistent. But that doesn't mean you should give your dog the first CBD oil you find at the supermarket.
To make sure you are getting a tincture that is safe for your pup and a quality product that isn't just a waste of money, there are a few things you should look for:
- Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil – Products that made with full-spectrum oil will contain additional cannabinoids that support the therapeutic effects of CBD.
- THC Content – Make sure the product is made from organic hemp oil (naturally low in THC) or is labeled as containing 0% THC.
- CO2 Processed – CO2 extraction pulls phytocannabinoids out of the plant without the use of chemicals and without damaging the CBD molecules.
- Purity and 3rd Party Tested – CBD oil for dogs should not contain any added flavorings or essential oils unless it is marketed as safe for use in pets.
Calculating the Right Dose for Your Dog
Once you have found a quality CBD tincture, you are ready to determine the optimal dose for your dog.
If the product you are using is not marketed specifically for pets, the dosing instructions should be ignored. You can find information on how to calculate the right dose below. If you purchased a product marketed for dogs, it will likely give a recommended dosage for dogs, possibly based on size. While this might be a good starting point, you should take some additional steps to ensure you have the correct dose for your dog's weight and condition.
CBD Dose Based on Weight
Most CBD companies recommend a dose of 0.1mg to 0.2mg per pound of body weight for dogs, but many holistic vets frequently prescribed much higher doses. So what is the right CBD dosage for dogs?
One study looking at the safety of CBD subjected healthy beagles to doses as high as 9mg per pound of bodyweight daily for six weeks. While these dogs did show increased alkaline phosphatase in their blood, a common sign of liver disease, none of the dogs suffered from physical symptoms or showed long term damage. All this is to say, even doses much, much higher than recommended, aren't likely to be damaging.
However, studies have also shown that CBD may not be as effective in high doses as it is in more moderate doses. The same is true of very low doses.
Given this, the best practice for finding the right dose for your dog would be to start at 0.1mg per pound and slowly up the dosage until you notice an effect. If you begin to notice the effects wearing off, try lowering the dose slightly. To be safe, especially if using CBD for long term use, don't go over the maximum medicinal dose listed in the chart below without talking to your holistic vet.
CBD Dose Based on Condition
Of course, size isn't the only thing that plays into finding the right dose. What you are treating your dog for will also determine how much they need.
Healthy dogs who are receiving CBD as a maintenance supplement will do fine on the lowest amount for their size, while dogs being treated for serious ailments will need much more.
A recent study on dogs with osteoarthritis found that 0.9mg CBD per pound of body weight given twice daily was effective in reducing pain. While another recent study of dogs with epilepsy found that 1.1mg CBD per pound of bodyweight twice daily resulted in significant decreases in seizure activity. Though further studies are underway to determine if higher doses would be more effective.
On the chart below, we have included maintenance dose and therapeutic dose levels so you can choose the dosage that best corresponds with your pet's needs.
Knowing the mg dose of CBD for your dog is only the first step in understanding how much of a tincture your dog will need each day. Since many CBD oil tinctures contain different concentrations of CBD and different volumes of oil, you may need to do some math to figure out how much of the tincture to give.
Most tinctures come with a dropper that holds 1ml of fluid when filled. So you will first need to determine how many mg of CBD are in a single ml of the tincture you have.
Some products will tell you exactly how many mg of CBD are in each serving. But for bottles that fail to break that down, you can calculate it yourself. To do this, you will need to know the CBD concentration (which should be listed in mg on the front of the bottle) and the volume of the bottle in ml (which also should be listed on the label). Plug those numbers into this equation to find out how many mg of CBD are in each ml:
(CBD concentration) / (milliliters in the bottle) = mg CBD in a 1ml dropper
Easy CBD Dosing Chart
Once you know how many mg of CBD are in one dropper-full of your tincture, you can use the chart below to determine how much of the tincture to give your dog once or twice daily.
The Best Way to Give CBD to Your Dog
By far, the easiest way to give your dog CBD oil is to simply put it in their food bowl. Most pure tinctures are relatively tasteless, while those made specifically for dogs may be flavored to taste good to your pup. In either case, most dogs don't mind this form of administration.
However, studies have shown that CBD given orally, especially with food, may not absorb as well into the bloodstream. Since IV CBD is not likely to be an option for you and your dog, the next best thing would be to put the dose directly under your dog's tongue. This will allow at least some of the CBD to absorb directly into the bloodstream. Using a high concentration CBD tincture will mean smaller doses, which will make this technique easier.
Start Low and Adjust
While there have never been any significant side effects found in studies concerning CBD use in dogs, it's always a good idea to start with a low dose, see how your dog tolerates it, and then slowly increase it until you see results. Since quality CBD products are pricey, this technique can also help save you some money.
For large dogs, look for bottles with a higher concentration of CBD, 500mg or above. This will prevent you from having to use half a bottle for your dog for each dose. For small dogs, look for concentrations closer to 30mg. The higher the concentration, the smaller their dose will be and measuring out a tenth of a dropper-full is very difficult.
Remember to adjust the dose as needed, up or down, to find what works for your dog. And make sure to give the CBD time to integrate into your dog's system. With some finicking and a little patience, you're likely to see the same fantastic results so many others have found with this amazing product.
Stephanie McGrath, DVM, MS, Lisa R. Bartner, DVM, MS, et al, “A Report of Adverse Effects Associated With the Administration of Cannabidiol in Healthy Dogs.” Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, Volume 52, Fall Issue 2018.
Lauri-Jo Gamble, et al. “Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs.” frontiersin.org, 23 July 2018.
Stephanie McGrath DVM, MS, Lisa R. Bartner DVM, MS, et al. “Randomized blinded controlled clinical trial to assess the effect of oral cannabidiol administration in addition to conventional antiepileptic treatment on seizure frequency in dogs with intractable idiopathic epilepsy.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Vol. 254, No. 11, Pages 1301-1308, June 1, 2019.
Sara Seitz worked in the pet industry for over a decade. In addition to being a certified dog trainer, Sara gained experience working as the general manager of a dog daycare and boarding facility, as the creator and manager of a pet sitting company, as a groomer, and as a dog behavior evaluator. She also has a bachelors in animal behavior from CSU. Currently, Sara works as a freelance writer specializing in blog, article and content writing.