It’s normal to be cautious about giving your dog any substance that may have an effect on their body—in fact, we think it’s a sign of a conscientious owner.

When it comes to non-prescribed therapeutics and supplements such as CBD products for dogs, it’s important to be as informed as possible about the facts. So, to help you make a decision about whether CBD is right for your dog, here are some of the most common questions and concerns we’ve encountered, and their answers.

How is pet CBD different from human ‘weed’?

Unlike recreational cannabis, which is created from marijuana plants, CBD for pets is made from industrial hemp. Hemp is a non-psychoactive form of cannabis, which contains 0-0.3% of the compound responsible for causing a high—THC. So, no matter how CBD oil is made, as long as it’s sourced from industrial hemp, it cannot create a mind-altering experience like many human strains of weed can.

This is why we also recommend that owners only give their dogs pet-specific CBD products. While there are many hemp-based human CBD oils, some CBD products intended for humans do contain THC.

Other differences between pet CBD and human cannabis products include the amount of attention growers pay to breeding and developing plant strains. Full-spectrum pet CBD (see below) is made from plants that have been intensively cultivated by botanists to provide the most therapeutic formula of CBD and other cannabis compounds as possible.

In this way, any reputable pet CBD producer will have your dog’s needs in mind right from the beginning, when they cultivate the hemp plants. In the industry, this kind of attention to detail is often termed ‘seed-to-shelf.’

Can my dog overdose on CBD?

Theoretically, yes. Studies performed on animals like monkeys and mice have shown that high doses of CBD and other cannabis compounds are sometimes associated with organ dysfunction.

However, it’s important to note that the doses used in these studies were extremely high—often hundreds of times higher than those recommended in our CBD oil for dogs dosage guide. This may be more CBD than is present in an entire bottle of pet product, so even if your pup managed to consume a bottle of CBD in one sitting, they would likely be fine (though, we wouldn’t recommend it).

This reveals one of the benefits of CBD when compared to traditional medication. Whereas the pharmaceutical nature of anti-inflammatories such as NSAIDs means that there are always potentially dangerous chemicals at play, plant-based therapeutics like CBD have a far more predictable and tolerable profile.

Why isn’t CBD oil FDA approved?

The food and drugs administration won’t undertake the process of testing, regulating, or monitoring CBD products until the status of CBD is fully clarified at a federal level—and right now, that status remains murky.

While amendments to the 2018 Farm Bill allowed industrial hemp to be bought, sold, and cultivated across state lines, it’s individual states that still have final authority on CBD’s legality. What’s more, CBD is yet to be officially separate from THC-containing cannabis by some parts of the civil infrastructure, which means that it can’t be treated as a different substance by many professional institutions including…

Why doesn’t my vet recommend CBD?

…The veterinary industry is currently prevented from incorporating CBD into practice thanks to the lack of FDA involvement. Like physicians, veterinarians who are part of an established practice can’t make up prescriptions that include substances not green-lighted by the FDA.

Now, some veterinarians are interested in the benefits of CBD. But the majority of those surveyed do seem to be open to the idea of CBD treatment for pets and are at least willing to consider using the substance in future treatment, such as:

CBD oil for dogs with Arthritis

CBD oil for dogs with Cancer

CBD oil for dogs with Anxiety

Part of this openness towards CBD is due to the number of first-hand owner experiences that vets are exposed to in their daily work. In a survey of veterinarian views on CBD, 63% reported they were asked about CBD oil at least once a month, 75% have observed CBD helping to reduce anxiety and seizure frequency, and many others commented on CBD’s ability to mitigate acute and chronic pain.

Does it matter which brand of CBD I buy?

Yes, for two reasons. The first is a question of quality. Partly due to the current lack of federal regulation, there’s a huge difference between good quality CBD oil brands for dogs and the worst CBD brands. Read our article on how to spot a trustworthy (or untrustworthy) CBD brand.

Those at the lower end simply import CBD powder from unknown sources and mix it with wholesale oils. Testing has shown that such products, especially those sold on Amazon, may not even contain any active cannabis compound. At the premium end, CBD manufacturers develop their own proprietary strains of hemp and grow them on family-owned organic farms.

The best producers will also use premium CO2 extraction methods to distill CBD, which produces a cleaner, more effective product than by using ethanol or solvents.

How do I tell a good CBD brand from a bad CBD brand?

When we create our CBD product reviews, we’re basing our judgments on a few different key factors. The first is whether a brand submits their products for independent testing, and makes the results of those tests public in a Certificate of Analysis.

Related: How we scored our top CBD oils for dogs

A Certificate of Analysis (CoA) should fully break down the contents of a CBD extraction. That means all of the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and any impurities or toxic substances, making it simple to spot the best CBD extractions. Often, there’s a clear link between the quality of a CoA, and whether a brand sources its hemp from a USDA-certified organic farm, and uses CO2 rather than ethanol extraction

Alongside extraction quality, it’s important to study the type of extraction performed. A full-spectrum extraction is preferable to a broad-spectrum or CBD isolate oil, as it contains a more complex cocktail of cannabinoids, like CBN, CBG, and CBD-A. Studies suggest that delivering CBD alongside other complementary cannabis compounds increases its potency, in something called the entourage effect.

Finally, the choice of carrier oil can be a good signal of a manufacturer’s attention to detail and the level of care they take in developing their product. An organic oil that’s rich in fatty acids might cut into a brand’s profit margin, but it will help your pup to metabolize CBD more efficiently, as well as having dietary benefits in its own right.

Check out our comprehensive list of best CBD oils for dogs in 2021