Summary

  • CBD oils for dogs are not currently regulated by the FDA. Owners need to practice caution when selecting products for their pets to use.

  • As long as oil is high quality and contains less than 0.3% THC, dogs should be fine with either full spectrum, broad spectrum, or isolate CBD oil.

  • Full spectrum oil may (minorly) increase the risk of mind-altering effects. Keeping oil hemp-sourced and THC levels low (below .3%) protects dogs against any kind of psychoactive high. However, full spectrum oils have been known to act as sedatives or mental relaxants.

  • Full and broad spectrum oils may be associated with increased gastrointestinal irritation and diarrhea. Though, no link has been proven.

The most important thing to consider when picking CBD products for your pooch is quality. In a market that’s currently unregulated by the FDA, it pays to be meticulous about ingredient lists, picky about CBD sources (organic hemp is best), and in the know about extraction methods.

Beyond the quality of CBD oil, the next purchasing question you’re likely to come up against concerns ‘spectrum.’ As an extract of the cannabis plant, CBD oils can contain certain subsets of cannabis constituents, with spectrum referring to the diversity of constituents contained inside the bottle.

Here are the definitions of ‘full spectrum,’ ‘broad spectrum,’ and ‘pure isolate’ CBD oils, as well as which type of CBD your pup may prefer!

Note: whatever type of CBD you give your dog, the lower the THC content, the better. Dogs should never consume CBD with a THC concentration above 0.3%.

Full spectrum CBD oil

Full spectrum CBD oils (should) contain all of the cannabinoids and constituents that naturally occur in the cannabis plant. This makes full spectrum products typically high in CBD, but dog-friendly products should still only contain trace amounts of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC (ideally less than 0.3%).

What are also those cannabinoids and constituents? Depending on your source of information and the classifications used, there can be anywhere from 80 to 120 cannabinoids and organic compounds contained within the cannabis plant. You should expect a heady mix of:

CBD (Cannabidiol) This cannabinoid should remain the major component of any CBD oil
THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) This psychoactive cannabinoid is responsible for creating a high. Dogs don’t like it above 0.3% concentration, and it can be dangerous for your pooch in higher amounts.
CBG (Cannabigerol) A lesser-known cannabinoid that works on inflammation, pressure, and nausea.
CBN (Cannabinol) A cannabinoid closely related to THC that’s thought to stimulate appetite and produce a mild psychoactive effect.
Terpenes These highly aromatic organic compounds come in different combinations and profiles depending on the strain of plant, but all contribute to the aroma and flavor of cannabis and CBD oil. Research also suggests that terpenes can act on the bioavailability and potency of cannabinoids.

How will this type of CBD affect my dog?

Full spectrum oil is heavily associated with the entourage effect. This still-contested theory is that cannabis compounds have an amplifying or symbiotic effect on each other. So when taken as a single, full-spectrum product, each constituent has a stronger effect than when isolated and taken alone.

A 2011 review from the British Journal of Pharmacology found minor evidence that taking terpenes and cannabinoids together (full spectrum) may heighten commonly sought benefits such as pain, inflammation, and anxiety reduction. Although not at all relevant to dogs, other studies suggest that taking CBD and THC together may help mitigate possible negative effects of THC on mental wellness.

Additionally, some believe that full spectrum oils with particularly pungent terpene profiles may irritate your dog’s stomach, upping the chances of one of CBD’s most common side-effects—diarrhea.

Giving your dog full spectrum CBD oil means introducing them to cannabis’s entire roster of constituent parts and wellness benefits. At the same time, full exposure increases the risk of the entourage effect and the possibility that your dog will experience some kind of psychoactive response. While keeping THC levels below 0.3% should ensure your pup is safe from any sort of mind-altering experience, full spectrum oils are more likely to induce sleepiness, lethargy, stomach issues and overall mental relaxation.

Broad spectrum CBD oil

man holding full oil dropper and bottle

A step down from full-spectrum are broad spectrum CBD oils. These products will contain some combination of terpenes and cannabinoids, which can vary from CBD plus a few flavorful terpenes, to pretty much everything minus the THC.

Most broad spectrum oils are created by isolating individual cannabis compounds and reconstituting them according to manufacturer recipes, which technically makes them isolate CBD oils. But the term broad-spectrum is used to signal to owners that they’re giving their dogs more than just CBD.

In other words, think of broad spectrum oils as filling in the middle ground between two extremes: oils that have highly isolated CBD and very little else, and oils that replicate the full profile of cannabis constituents.

Some broad spectrum products will have been made specifically to circumvent state or federal prohibitions on THC, whereas others will be designed to heighten the effects or flavor of a particular cannabinoid—it really all depends on what the manufacturer is intended to achieve with their broad spectrum oil.

How will this type of CBD affect my dog?

The main benefit of broad spectrum CBD oil is its consistency. Manufacturers make broad-spectrum oils in order to control the ratio of cannabinoids and compounds in their products. When compared to full spectrum oils, the difference in predictability can be quite marked.

Unlike full-spectrum CBD, however, broad spectrum oils are often developed using more intensive extraction methods, which means that your product has spent more time undergoing artificial processes. This isn’t a safety issue—but may not be desirable depending on personal preferences.

Giving your dog broad spectrum CBD oil of any kind lowers the chances of a negative psychoactive effect in their dog, which may give owners peace of mind. At the same time, broad-spectrum oils have a lower entourage effect, while still containing possibly digestion-irritating terpenes. So, there’s a sense in which broad spectrum oils may be a ‘best of neither worlds’ situation.

Isolate CBD oil

shaggy dog on grass with soap bubble

At the opposite end of the rainbow is isolate or pure isolate CBD oil. Here, extensive extraction methods have been applied to cannabis to derive as close to 100 percent pure cannabidiol molecules from the plant as possible.

Depending on the type of extraction used, isolate CBD oil can be extremely pure, to the extent that it contains zero THC or other cannabinoids. This should give owners worried about potential mental effects the ultimate peace of mind—as hemp-derived isolate CBD is incapable of producing a psychoactive response.

With nothing to factor in besides the CBD itself, isolate oils are arguably the easiest for owners to handle and use, because dosages can be followed without making adjustments for the possible effects of other cannabinoids or compounds.

How will this type of CBD affect my dog?

Isolate CBD is generally the most-recommended form of CBD for dogs, probably because owners and healthcare professionals gain confidence from the clarity/simplicity of ingredients and the total lack of THC – as well as the ease of dosing.

Beyond its simplicity, taking isolated CBD may reduce the chances of side effects such as GI issues that can be caused by other cannabinoids or additives in carrier oils. Finally, isolate CBD is also your best bet for very high dosages, as it allows your dog to consume large amounts of CBD without taking on serious concentrations of other cannabinoids.

Giving your dog isolate CBD oil is a great entry point into the world of cannabis supplements. With little-to-no taste or smell, zero risks of psychoactivity, and super accurate dosing, isolate CBD is the safest and most reliable way to access the benefits of these plants.

So which type of oil is best?

A look at our current reviews of the best CBD Oil for Dogs shows that we’re happy to recommend oils of all types and spectrums. But as a general rule, pure isolate CBD oil, derived from an organic hemp source, is a good starting point for any owners interested in trying out CBD products with their pets.

If your dog responds well to isolate CBD oil, by all means, start exploring products with more adventurous profiles and ingredient lists—all the way up to full spectrum offerings. It really depends on the personal tastes and thresholds of your pup.

As long as oils are very low in THC content (which some human-designed products can be), you can feel confident in giving your dog CBD oil according to a sensible dosage guide, such as the one we recommend.