How Long Does It Take for CBD to Work on Dogs?

by K Marie Alto December 02, 2021 12 min read

How Long Does It Take for CBD to Work on Dogs?

Everyone wants their fur babies to be as happy and heathy as mother nature intended them to be. Unfortunately, just like with us humans, there are so many ailments that can get in the way of a happy and healthy life and afflict our canine companions over the course of their life. Veterinary care can be expensive and more and more pet parents are turning to more natural and holistic alternatives before moving forward with a prescription treatment or a costly procedure.

There is growing support across the country for CBD-based products, both for humans and pets, to help address various ailments. Dogs can experience many benefits from CBD oils, so it's worth learning everything one can about these products in case you might want to try them.

That's why we've written up this guide. Let's dig right in!

What is CBD and What Does it Do?

CBD is the acronym for cannabidiol. Cannabidiol is an active ingredient found in the hemp plant, which is a non-psychoactive species of the cannabis plant. Unlike (tetrahydrocannabinol) THC, CBD cannot get you or your fur baby "high." Instead, it is said to have some medicinal and anti-inflammatory properties.

CBD is often perceived to fall in a gray area due to lack of understanding. It’s also sometimes lumped in with THC/marijuana making many weary of its legality.  CBD itself has been legal since the 2018 Farm Bill was signed into law.  The only caveats are that the CBD must be derived from the hemp plant, and that it can’t contain more than 0.3% THC.  This minute amount of THC is non-psychoactive.

What is CBD

As you may be aware, CBD-based product consumption is currently growing as a medical trend for both humans and pets. While there's still much we don't know about CBD and its efficacy helping with different ailments  – many studies are ongoing – what is significantly more important is what we do now about it. Many  of the preliminary research results look promising for pet parents looking for holistic approaches to supplement their dogs’ natural powers to heal themselves.

"Currently, there has been no formal study on how CBD affects dogs. What scientists do know is that cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid receptors located in the central and peripheral nervous systems, which help maintain balance in the body and keep it in a normal healthy state." - American Kennel Club.

What does CBD do? Humans, dogs, and other animals have a bodily system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is part of the overall endocrine system. It consists of receptors, which accept CBD molecules and use them to trigger various effects on the creature taking it. Extensive research today shows that the ECS not only affects but also regulates a number of body functions, systems, and conditions and diseases including pain perception, sleep, immune system function, thermo regulation, memory and learning, and appetite regulation amongst other functions.

A 2017 report on CBD by the World Health Organization lists diseases for which CBD may have therapeutic benefits. 

CBD potential therapeutic benefits

For dogs in particular, there is not enough conclusive research in this field as of yet, but rather abundant anecdotal evidence suggesting that adequate stimulation of their ECS with CBD may help with a number of ailments ranging from situational anxiety caused by separation to reducing discomfort associated with mobility and minor aches and pains to supporting general well-being and more.

What Can CBD Oil Help with in Dogs?

Today, there is both anecdotal evidence and preliminary studies that suggest many beneficial effects associated with the use of CBD in both humans and animals.

For starters, CBD seems promising as a holistic approach to help with pain.  Pain is common in dogs, and can be caused by many things, including injury, degenerative disease, and aging. Just like with us humans, at some point pain will simply be part of most dogs' lives.

Benefits CBD Oil

A very common source of pain in dogs is associated with mobility aches and pains. There is plenty of historical and anecdotal evidence today suggesting that CBD may help with discomfort associated with joint aches and pains. This is, among other things, what has made CBD a great alternative for pet parents looking for a true natural and holistic option to help their dog’s unlock their natural powers to heal themselves while sparing them many of the undesirable known and unknown side effects caused by other options.

Joint pain is one of the most implacable and hardest to relieve kinds of pain, and it's the worst to see in your fur baby when they struggle to move around. Being able to help your dog tap into their natural healing powers to feel better and restore the enjoyment of simple daily activities with a simple oil is almost a miracle.

Another potential benefit of CBD for dogs comes from helping dogs with seizures. Seizures are the most commonly reported neurological issue in dogs, primarily because it's one of the most visible and most startling disorders.  

"The prevalence of canine epilepsy is estimated to be between 0.5-5-7 percent. This means that as many as 1 in 20 dogs may experience a seizure in their lifetime." - Metropolitan Veterinary Associates.

CBD is said to have promising uses in helping with the disorders that lead to seizures in both humans and dogs. According to a study by Colorado State University, there is promising evidence that suggests CBD has a positive effect on reducing seizure frequency in dogs.

Dr. Stephanie McGrath, a neurologist at Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, described the findings from a trailblazing pilot study to assess the use of cannabidiol, or CBD, for dogs with epilepsy as promising and exciting.

The study that took place from 2016 to 2017 found that 89% of dogs who were administered CBD in the clinical trial had a reduction in the frequency of seizures. Nine dogs were treated with CBD, while seven dogs in a control group were treated with a placebo.

Administering high quality hemp-derived CBD products to your dog may also have the following benefits and effects:

  • Anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation is a leading cause of disease and illness, so anything that helps with inflammation is beneficial.
  • Heart health benefits. Many dogs suffer from cardiovascular problems, particularly as they get older or if they're out of shape. CBD oil may be beneficial in strengthening the heart and making the cardio system more resilient.
  • Anti-nausea. Nausea can be difficult to detect in a dog since they can't exactly tell you about it. However, if you suspect your canine companion has nausea problems, CBD may help.
  • Appetite boosting. Dogs with different ailments or that are aging tend to have issues eating and may lose interest in food entirely. It's always a good idea to have your dog checked out by a vet if they aren't eating, but if it's an issue of interest and not medical problems, CBD may help stimulate their appetite.
  • Situational Stress. For one reason or another, some dogs experience situational stress caused by many different reasons. It's possible that CBD may be able to help bring that stress to more manageable levels.

Again, though, there aren’t many long-term studies scientifically supporting these benefits. Many of these long-term studies are currently being conducted, so it may be years before conclusive results can be seen, which is common for these types of tests.

Are There Side Effects to CBD Oil for Dogs?

Any chemical that works on the body, whether it's on yours or that of your pup, has the potential for side effects. That's just the nature of biology.

CBD Side Effects

Luckily, most of the potential side effects of CBD are often very mild.

  • Dry mouth. In dogs, dry mouth mostly just means they're thirsty more often, which might lead to more need to go out and use the hydrant. CBD can inhibit saliva production, which causes dry mouth, but is not otherwise harmful.
  • Abruptly lowered blood pressure. CBD can lower blood pressure, but usually only in high doses. Keep in mind though, that a "high dose" for a small dog might not be very much at all, especially in the concentrations modern CBD oil comes in. Thankfully, this drop in blood pressure is generally short-lived and is likely no worse than a brief spell of dizziness for your fur baby.  If your pup is older or has heart disease you should speak to your vet before trying CBD.
  • Drowsiness. Part and parcel of dealing with addressing situational anxiety; CBD may cause drowsiness as your canine companion grows more relaxed. Depending on their usual temperament and energy levels, this effect may be more pronounced in some breeds rather than in others.
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. These are all side effects associated with extremely high doses. You generally won't have to worry about these unless your fur baby finds the bottle and drinks the whole thing at once.  It’s worth noting here, regardless of the form of the CBD, you should always ensure it is not accessible by your pup.

That's pretty much it! As it turns out, CBD oil is generally quite safe, even in high doses, which is why it's so promising as a holistic alternative for various ailments. While dying from an overdose of CBD is unlikely, the same is not true for THC. CBD is regarded as safe for dogs.

How Long Does CBD Take to Work?

Whether you read all the way here or you skipped here because you already know all about CBD, let's get down to business. How long does it take for CBD to start working in your dog?

Factors that Affect CBD

Unfortunately, there's no simple answer. You have to consider several factors.

  • Your dog's weight. While there's currently no consensus on CBD dose administration, generally, CBD dosages are given on a by-weight basis, usually in 10-pound increments. The larger and heavier your fur baby, the more you need to give them.
  • The concentration of the oil. Different brands of CBD oil have different concentrations of CBD. A higher concentration oil means you need less to get the active effects.
  • How it's administered. Sublingual application – that is, putting a drop directly beneath your dog's tongue – is the fastest, while mixing it with food is the slowest.
  • Your dog's sensitivity. Some dogs are more sensitive than others, and there's no way to tell other than giving them some oil and watching for any changes in behavior or illness.
  • The intended effects. Different goals have different active times. For example, administering CBD to stop a seizure in progress may happen within seconds, while giving it to a dog to relieve pain might take much longer.

In general, at the low end for dealing with situational stress, CBD may take effect in as little as 15-30 seconds when administered to a small dog, in a larger dose, sublingually. At the high end, for a dog that is more resistant to the effects, and if you're dealing with something like pain or lost appetite, it can take 45 minutes or longer to take effect. And, of course, there's always the chance that your dog may not respond to it at all.  CBD does build up in your pup’s body, so it’s recommended to dose for one full week before expecting to see results for more serious issues.

There's also a related question: How long do the effects of CBD oil last?

This one also varies a lot, according to breed, size, dosage, activity level, age, and symptoms. Generally, however, the effects can last anywhere from 4-8 hours. Interestingly, if you administer CBD via food, older dogs will digest it slower and will maintain the effects for longer, which is great, especially for those suffering from pain.

How to Pick the Best CBD Oil for Your Furry Friend

If you've decided that you want to try out a CBD oil for your fur baby, you want to make sure you're getting the best quality product. Luckily, there are a few key attributes to look for in a CBD oil product to make sure you're getting something good.

Best CBD Oil

Look for USDA certified Organic CBD oil. The USDA regulates agriculture, and among other things, will make sure that the hemp grown to produce the CBD oil you're using is free from pesticides, fungicides, solvents, heavy metals, and other contaminants. Eventually, the FDA may get involved as well, though they generally don't regulate pet products the way they do human products.  Any organic claims should always be backed up by a certification. We highly advise pet parents to stay away from baseless product claims such as “organically grown” or “pure organic” or anything that carries the word organic without a respective endorsement from a reputable organization. 

Consider, but don't rely on price. Lower-priced CBD products may be diluted or adulterated in some way or produced using sub-par ingredients containing all sorts of contaminants. Often, to distract unsuspected pet parents from their product’s poor quality, they will be advertised as containing insurmountable concentrations of CBD oil. We have seen these concentrations range from the 3,000 ml to the millions of milligrams in a single bottle. On the other hand, higher-priced products may be relying on a brand name rather than any inherent quality to drive their price. You will always want to avoid the cheapest products, but just because a product is expensive doesn't mean it's good.

When comparing two cbd oils of similar quality (USDA certified organic for example), look at the amount of CBD per bottle. It is always safe to expect that the bottle with more CBD (in mg) per bottle will cost more. When making a purchase decision based on prices, always compare apples to apples or, products of similar quality. In terms of CBD oils for your dog we recommend using the USDA Organic Certification as your baseline for high quality. Anything below that should be avoided. Always do your due diligence.

Look for lab tests and analysis.The best CBD sellers have independent lab tests and verification for batches of their product, certifying the concentration of CBD and the quality of the product. They will gladly make - as visible as possible - a link to their third party certificate of analysis (COA) either on their listing online, on their product package, or both. Always look for products that have these tests, first to ensure what you think you’re dosing is what you’re actually dosing. Without lab reports the concentration from one bottle to another can vary greatly.  And second, as uncovered by a Cornell University Researcher, to make sure your CBD tincture actually contains CBD in it. You’d be shocked to learn that there are many unscrupulous sellers out there selling CBD products containing zero CBD.

“You’d be astounded by the analysis we’ve seen of products on the shelf with virtually no CBD in them… There are plenty of folks looking to make a dollar rather than produce anything that’s really beneficial.” Joseph Wakshlag, Cornell University veterinary researcher

Get a liquid. CBD oil found as an oil or tincture is usually the best option. Even if you plan to give it to your fur baby infused into a treat or spread throughout their food, you still want to start with the oil, to give yourself the flexibility to adjust dosages. CBD-infused dog treats and other products are harder to judge effectively, may contain other ingredients that are harmful, or might just be inconsistent. They also "go bad" sooner, losing potency over time.

Pick a dog-focused product. If you're giving CBD to your dog, you probably want a dog-focused product. CBD is the same, whether for dogs or for humans, so why go for a dog product? Two reasons. First, dog-focused products will generally have a dog-focused dosage chart or instructions. Additionally, they oftentimes come in dog-loved flavors. This nice feature helps with administration as some dogs are not very keen on the pure CBD taste. Secondly, many manufacturers will spend greater effort ensuring their CBD is free from THC or that it contains less than 0.3% when given to dogs.

 Check for best practices in manufacturing certifications.  A high-quality product is only the result of high-quality manufacturing practices. Manufacturers with excellence in manufacturing practices will usually have certifications on their manufacturing practices. These manufacturers will proudly exhibit these certifications, such as CGMP certified, on their product labeling. Keep in mind that the quality of the ingredients is as important as the manufacturing process that creates the product.

 Always know where your hemp was grown. This is different from where your CBD oil was made. That is, your cbd oil may be labeled as "made in the USA" or "product of Canada" but the big question is was it made with imported cbd or US cbd? You want to make sure that the plant used to extract the CBD oil was grown in US soil, rather than overseas where heavy metal contamination in soil is much more prevalent (China is a good example). US Reputable sellers and manufacturers of high-quality CBD oil will gladly disclose and certify the specific US state where the CBD used in production was grown. Always remember that not all CBD oils are created equal.

 Beware of "Made in the US" or "Product of the US" or "Product of Canada" product designations. All of these designations are essentially useless, and in many cases, intend to mask the non-US origin of the plant used in production. As indicated above, what you are looking for is to determine whether the plant used in production was grown in USA soil.

Last but not least read about the products extraction method. There are several methods to extract cbd oil from the plant. The most pure and safe is CO2 extraction. Other methods (butane and methane) are said to leave traces of contaminants in the final product.

Tell Us Your Tails

CBD is certainly not a new product, but it's hitting the mainstream more over the last few years. Many of you likely already have used or tried CBD for your fur babies, so why not tell us about it?

Dog with CBD Oil

Let us know the key details, like your fur baby's breed and size, and why you chose to give them CBD oil. Did it work? Were you skeptical until you saw it? Did you have any problems? What about those of you who haven't tried it before? Would you consider trying it now? We love seeing our followers talk about their furry friends, drop us a line!

Also, keep an eye on this space. We'll be releasing our own USDA-certified organic CBD oil for dogs and cats soon, and as soon as we do, we'll be sure to link it here for you. Then you can give us your review of our product too!

K Marie Alto
K Marie Alto

K. Marie is an animal lover, wife, kitty mom, dog auntie, writer and co-founder of Toe Beans, a proud American family-owned online boutique pet supplies store focused on the improvement of the life of furry family members via pet parent education, better products, and advocacy. She has over 20 years of experience as a pet momma. She loves sharing her personal journey and experience as a pet parent via her blog and Facebook page where she currently has more than 19K followers (@furrytoebeans) and counting :-).


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