How to give CBD oil to dogs?

by Apoorva Shivankar, M.D

How to give CBD oil to dogs?

CBD oil for dogs


Since 2018, when the farm bill was passed, there is no stopping for CBD. After proving its countless benefits in humans, it is now marching towards our besties, the canines and the results are mind-blowing. This wonder drug comes from the hemp plant of cannabis origin.

Though a cannabis compound, it is non-psychoactive due to a lack of sufficient amounts of THC to produce a ‘High Effect’. CBD is known to influence the strongest homeostatic regulator of the mammalian body, ‘THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM (ECS).’ This ECS is known to regulate mood, sleep, inflammation, appetite, and many more bodily functions via its widespread receptors, endocannabinoids and enzymes. Any deviation from normalcy symbolizes ECS deficiency. CBD compensates for this deficiency and effectively treats anxiety, depression, inflammation, sleep disorders, pain and whatnot.

What brings CBD products to the canine world is the presence of a similar endocannabinoid system here also. This grooves in a possibility of mirroring the health benefits of CBD in cats and dogs too, rejoicing the canine-lovers. Let’s check on,

Studies suggest that dog CBD oil can help in numerous health conditions:

  • Alleviate chronic pain and osteoarthritis in ageing animals with its anti-inflammatory or analgesic properties.
  • Treat neuropathic pains.
  • Ward off seizures.
  • Relieve anxiety (separation and travel anxiety, anxiety due to loud noises like thunderstorms, fireworks).
  • Ease out the signs of stress such as aggression, drooling, destructive behaviour, depression, panting, excessive barking, etc.
  • Induce relaxation.
  • Strengthen the immune system.
  • Improve appetite.
  • Resolve GI issues.
  • Promote sleep.
  • Calm down irritated/ itchy skin and promote skin health.

These claims are strongly backed up by the testimonials provided by several pet-owners world-wide.

Scientific back-up

  • Study published by Gamble LJ et al. in 2018 demonstrated that 2mg/kg CBD can effectively and safely reduce osteoarthritic pains in dogs.
  • A study published in 2019 showed a significant reduction in the seizure frequency in dogs treated with CBD.

Research in this direction is in a very preliminary phase and a big amount of work is still needed to make dog CBD a mainstream drug in managing dog issues.

How to give CBD oil to dogs?

By dealing with:

1. Dosage.

2. Administration.

CBD dosage is important

Correct dosage is imperative in order to enjoy full benefits whether its dog or us, actually more so critical in dogs as these poor fellows can’t vocalize if something goes wrong.

Here comes the CBD confusion

Hundreds of products, multiple concentrations and different combinations- store overloaded and so are our minds too. To add to this, thanks to the no approval status from FDA, there are neither any official guidelines for doses nor any regulations on the manufacturing, labelling or selling process of CBD oil. It’s all experimentation adding to the confusion/dilemma regarding how to calculate the correct dose for our precious pets.

Don’t panic, we have a step-by-step guide for you:

To begin with,


Bear in mind the 7 foremost considerations
  1. Dosage varies with the mode of administration:
    Sublingual oil is required in less dosage as compared to oral or oil-infused treats (as oral dose suffers first-pass metabolism).

  2. Type of CBD used.
    Full-spectrum CBD shows better impact than the isolates due to entourage effect and hence may need a lower dose.

  3. Label claims.
    To check how much CBD is present in the formulation.

  4. CBD quality.
    Better the quality more is the CBD true to its labelled concentration. So higher quality requires smaller doses.

  5. Weight and size of your dog.
    Lower the weight lesser is the dose needed.

  6. Severity to be treated.
    Mild pain can be managed with lower doses as compared to epilepsy or osteoarthritis.

  7. Response- best judge to determine apt dose.


Calculate the amount of CBD (in mgs) needed as per body weight.

There is no universal recommendation, but there is a thumb rule saying,

‘1-3mg of CBD oil per 10lbs of body weight. 0.1 -0.3 mg for 1pound, 2 times daily’

(Based on the dog studies for arthritis or seizures using high quality, full spectrum, CBD oil sublingually)

As my cutie pup weighs 40lbs, I will try CBD dose from 4mg to 12mg.

It is always advisable to start with the minimal dose (4mg), see the response and then if needed, progress gradually towards higher doses (12 mg) till you get the desired effect.


Decipher the tricky labels to convert these mgs into ml.

A manufacturer usually mentions the entire strength of the bottle instead of the concentration of CBD/ ml. You can do the mathematics:


  • Suppose the label of a 30ml bottle reads 300 mg, then


CBD mg /ml= Total CBD present / Total volume = 300/30=10mg/ml

Desired ml = desired mg/ CBD per ml = 4/10= 0.4ml

So, if my dog needs 4mg, I will give him 0.4 ml from this bottle.


  • Another form of label indicates CBD concentration in terms of dropper, viz.

‘full dropper (1ml) will give you 10mg’

This means,

1ml =10mg

For 4 mg, I will use = 4/10 =0.4ml


  • Some mention ‘formula strengths’ such as for a 30 ml bottle,

75mg formula =2.5mg of CBD per ml of oil

(75 mg in 30 ml. Therefore, 75/30= 2.5mg/ml)


  • 150mg formula = 5mg of CBD per ml of oil
  • 300mg formula=10mg of CBD per ml of oil
  • 600mg formula=20mg of CBD per ml of oil

As my 40-pound pet needs a dose somewhere between 4-12 mg, I will start with 2ml of 75mg formula or 1ml of the 150mg formula or 0.5ml of the 300mg formula or 0.25 ml of 600mg formula.



Convert ml to drops

A standard dropper produces 20 drops/ml.

1ml = 20 drops

No. of drops needed= desired ml x 20.

For my pet, I will start with 0.4 x 20= 8 drops.

I hope the picture gets clearer a little bit now.



  • The concentration differs from brand to brand. 5 ml of one brand may not contain the same CBD concentration as 5ml of others.
  • It is always recommended to consult your vet.

Administration: Another tough job

Imagine you are done with all the calculations, all set with the doses, standing in front of your pet, thinking how to administer it….

Directly into your dog’s mouth with a spoon or dropper? Try that. It’s not so easy. Dogs are smart and they hate medicines too.

We have some suggestions,

Transmucosal method

If your pet is co-operative, obedient types (very rare), lucky you.

Simply lift up their lip and apply it to their gums (transmucosal). According to experts, this is the most effective and inexpensive way with the highest bioavailability and rapid effects.

But my dear dog owners, if your pet is aggressive, don’t try these stunts.

We have alternatives.

Ear massage

Next best option is to rub CBD oil on the soft skin at the inner-side of your pet’s ear. It ensures absorption directly through the skin bypassing the digestive tract.

For the more finicky ones or the ones who are going through bad mood disorders, there are easier methods like

Add CBD oil to your dog’s favourite food.

This works best with picky eaters.

It has 2 advantages:

  1. Taste and texture of CBD oil will be masked.
  2. Dogs being great food-lovers, the sight of favourite food will calm them down.

The only drawback is that food has to pass through the first pass metabolism due to which:

  1. Effects are delayed.
  2. Bioavailability is lowered demanding a higher dose.


Dog treats

Treats are something pets love and can associate with.

With CBD assimilating in everything, dog treats are not an exception. Ample of dog treats like biscuits to chicken jerky infused with CBD oil are available in the market. These come in delicious flavours including chicken nuggets, salmon, coconut-infused or cheese-infused CBD oil, bacon, mint, and others. Select the one which appeals to your pet, use it as a reward treat and enjoy a win-win situation. While your dog thinks he is getting a reward, he is actually getting some supplements for the overall health.

Dog owners can even add the CBD oils themselves to the existing dog treats for their pets to relish on. Make sure CBD oil soaks in before serving. CBD oil mixed in coconut oil or peanut butter have shown higher acceptability in the canines. Coconut oil adds its own benefits to the mixture too.

Such CBD-enriched dog treats serve a most convenient way to inculcate CBD oils in the routine life for general health promotion.


CBD in water

Some pet owners also try fooling their furry friends by mixing high quality tasteless, odourless CBD oils with water. But then looking for tasteless, odourless CBD can itself be a big task and this orally administered mixture cannot match the rapidity and efficacy of sublingual oils. There also stands a possibility of inconsistency if your pet is not a frequent drinker (water).


CBD-infused topical oils can be massaged at the site of pain, inflammation, rash or itching similar to humans.


Once adjusted to a particular method, pet parents should consider micro-dosing. Micro-dosing refers to the splitting a particular dose into smaller units given at frequent intervals to ensure effective concentrations for longer durations. Micro-dosing is effective in managing chronic pain, anxiety, stress and seizures.


  1. Never try the direct or submucosal or massage method when your cute furry is in bad temper, agitated, frustrated or stressed out. Don’t force them. Try to calm them down by cuddling, playing, take them to places they love, comfort them by talking and then give CBD.
  2. As a preventive measure for travel or separation anxiety, give your dog CBD one or two days before the journey.
  3. While using a dropper directly, make sure you wipe it off after each use, as the bacteria from the mouth can contaminate and break down the CBD formula inside the bottle, reducing the effectiveness.
  4. Always check the dose.

But what about the safety?

Generally, CBD oil is considered to be well tolerated in both humans and dogs with only a few minor side effects such as diarrhoea, nausea, low BP, dry mouth or raised ALP liver enzymes seen with higher doses.

What makes CBD a good choice for dogs?

  • Natural
  • Safe
  • Effective
  • Pocket Friendly


Yes, the logics and testimonials depict immense potential in CBD for canine healthcare, but we still need much more direct studies to validate its role.


Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. Can we use human CBD oil to treat dogs?

Human and pet CBD oils are chemically the same but the oils for humans are quite concentrated and create dosing issues in pets. Pet CBD oils are specially crafted for animals with added flavours to attract them.

Q. Are the CBD products FDA approved for canines?

No, none. The FDA is still trying to learn more about CBD and its long-term effects, and is yet to approve CBD to diagnose, treat or cure any condition.

Q. Can Veterinarians Prescribe CBD for Dogs?

No, right now veterinarians are prohibited from prescribing them.

Q. How often can you give your dog CBD?

Being natural and well-tolerated, CBD products can be given as often as needed but with strict monitoring.

Q. Can CBD oil cause overdose?

No, excess CBD oil if any is excreted out by the body.


  1. Gamble LJ, Boesch JM, Frye CW, Schwark WS, Mann S, Wolfe L, Brown H, Berthelsen ES, Wakshlag JJ. Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs. Front Vet Sci. 2018 Jul 23;5:165. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2018.00165. PMID: 30083539; PMCID: PMC6065210
  2. Bartner LR, McGrath S, Rao S, Hyatt LK, Wittenburg LA. Pharmacokinetics of cannabidiol administered by 3 delivery methods at 2 different dosages to healthy dogs. Can J Vet Res. 2018 Jul;82(3):178-183. PMID: 30026641; PMCID: PMC6038832.
  3. McGrath S, Bartner LR, Rao S, Packer RA, Gustafson DL. 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. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2019 Jun 1;254(11):1301-1308. doi: 10.2460/javma.254.11.1301. PMID: 31067185.
  4. Vaughn D, Kulpa J, Paulionis L. Preliminary Investigation of the Safety of Escalating Cannabinoid Doses in Healthy Dogs. Front Vet Sci. 2020 Feb 11;7:51. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2020.00051. PMID: 32118071; PMCID: PMC7029731.





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