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CBD Dosing 101: Determining What Your Pet Needs

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You know that CBD oil can help with a range of health conditions and you would like to offer it to your pet. 

But the sheer number of products on the market and the differing amounts of cannabidiol in each have made it impossible to decide what—and how much—to give your four-legged friend. 

If the process of choosing a product and calculating the correct CBD dose for your dog or cat has you stressed, don’t worry—determining CBD dosing is easier than you think.

CBD Dosing for Pets: General Tips and Guidelines 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not released an approved standard for CBD dosing for pets. In the absence of federal guidelines, companies depend on clinical research and expertise to make dosing recommendations.

Some CBD dosage calculators use just two factors to determine how much CBD oil you should offer your pet: the species (cat or dog) and their weight.

Age is an important factor to consider in CBD dosing because it affects metabolism. Younger dogs tend to be more active and have faster metabolisms, which uses the cannabinoids more quickly than older, less active dogs with slower metabolisms. Even though older dogs may have more health issues, they need lower doses of CBD oil to achieve results.

How Much CBD Oil Should I Give My Dog?

In dogs of all ages, it is better to start with lower doses of CBD oil. Starting with the maximum dose of CBD oil in the hopes of getting instant results can have the opposite effect. 

It’s not dangerous but it can overwhelm a dog’s system and leave them feeling unwell. A “low and slow” approach helps prime your pet’s cannabinoid receptors, making the active ingredients more effective. 

Start with a single dose (based on the recommendations for age and weight included in the dosing chart). 

For the first 3 days: Offer CBD oil or CBD soft chews just once per day.

After 3 days: Increase the dose to twice per day. 

This conservative approach might seem counterintuitive, but it leads to greater results.

Some dogs will not need more than the starting dose while others will require gradual increases depending on the severity of their health conditions. 

If you increase the dosing to twice per day after the 3-day introduction and are not seeing results, it’s safe to increase the dose by 0.25 milliliters per day.

CBD Dosing Example for Dogs

For instance, the recommended dose of hemp oil (800 milligram) is 0.75 milliliters for a two-year-old Golden Retriever weighing 60-pounds. That suggested dose goes down with age. 

For a dog that is the same weight and breed, but is over 10 years old, the recommended dose of hemp oil is just 0.25 milliliters.

Dog BreedWeightAgeSuggested Dose (800 mg)
Golden Retriever60 lbs.1-4 years old0.75 ml
Golden Retriever60 lbs.5-9 years old0.50 ml
Golden Retriever60 lbs.+10 years old0.25 ml

How Much CBD Oil Should I Give My Cat?

Cat receiving dose of hemp oil

Cats are a different species and require specific dosing instructions. 

A 10-pound chihuahua and a 10-pound tabby cat might require the same starting dose but cats tend to need lower doses and less cannabidiol to experience positive results. 

That’s why the 400 milligram CBD oil is recommended for cats. The 800 milligram CBD oil is too much for cats. 

CBD Dosing Example for Cats

Similar to the dosing instructions for dogs, the recommended dosing for cats is based on their age and weight—the older a cat, the lower the dose. 

A cat weighing under 25 pounds should get a starting dose of 0.5 milliliters if they are between the ages of 1 and 4 and a dose of 0.25 milliliters if they are over the age of 5.

Cat BreedWeightAgeSuggested Dose (400 mg)
Maine Coon18 lbs.1-4 years old0.50 ml
Maine Coon18 lbs.5-9 years old0.25 ml
Maine Coon18 lbs.+10 years old0.25 ml

CBD Soft Chews: How is Dosing Different?

Both CBD oil tinctures and CBD soft chews contain cannabidiol, but their doses are different.

CBD oil comes with a dropper that can be used to give a precise dose to pets and the amount can be increased in incremental doses. 

In comparison, each soft chew contains 450 milligrams of CBD. The treats can be broken apart to offer pets less than 450 milligrams. It is not possible to be as precise about dosing with soft chews.

CBD oil must be given with food and is often used at home, whereas the chews can be offered on the go. Many pet owners offer both the oils and the treats, choosing CBD oil when their dog or cat needs a higher, more precise dose and the treats for times when a little CBD is needed to help provide some calm in a stressful situation.

How Long Does it Take for CBD to Start Working in Pets?

Just as dosing varies between pets, the amount of time it takes to see results varies, too. Some pets owners will notice a difference after the first dose while others require several doses to experience a response. 

Age, size and metabolism all play a role in how quickly CBD will start working for your particular pet.

Can Pets Take Too Much CBD?

Cannabidiol is considered relatively safe and effective in pets. Research published in the journal Animals found that CBD oil is well-tolerated and safe at a dose of 2 mg/kg in dogs, and that side effects in cats were relatively uncommon (1). A separate study showed that the most common adverse effect reported in dogs was diarrhea, although some dogs also developed abnormal liver values during treatment (2).

Following the “low and slow” approach to dosing and using the suggested dosing chart as a guide will help pet owners choose the right dose for their dogs and cats. 

What to Do if You Have Questions About CBD Dosing

If you have questions about CBD dosing, call your veterinarian. Your veterinarian knows your pet and your pet’s history, and may be able to help guide you or direct you about the right dose for your dog or cat. 

If you are worried about potential side effects, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center has help available via its hotline.