If you have recently started treating your dog with CBD oil, or are about to start, you probably are wondering how you can tell whether the CBD is having positive results.
As I discuss in a number of articles on this site, research into CBD for dogs is still not very extensive.
As a result, there is not a lot of guidance directly from research to tell you what to look for.
In Will CBD Affect Your Dog’s Behavior?, I talked about some of the different ailments which you might be using CBD to treat, and specific behavioral changes which you can look forward to indicate whether the CBD is working or not for specific conditions.
In this article, I would like to provide a brief but more general discussion of signs that CBD is benefiting your dog, behavioral and otherwise.
To review, here are some of the conditions you might be thinking about using CBD to treat in your pet:
- Acute injuries
- Arthritis pain and stiffness
- Hip dysplasia symptoms
- Immune problems
- Anxiety and depression
- Problems involving appetite
- Symptoms of cancer
It is also possible that you’ll be trying to treat more than one of these conditions at a time.
Here Are Some General Signs to Look for Which Indicate That the CBD Treatment Might Be Working:
- If you are treating a condition which manifests with obvious, visible signs of surface-level inflammation on the skin, you might see a decrease in symptoms such as redness or swelling. Your dog’s coat may also become fuller, softer and silkier.
- A broad range of health conditions which may respond to CBD treatment are characterized by stiffness of the muscles or joints. If your dog is moving with more ease and comfort and is showing a greater range of motion, this might be a sign that the CBD is doing its job at reducing internal information.
- Blood tests which measure inflammatory markers might show a decrease in those markers after you begin CBD treatment compared to the period beforehand.
- If your dog has a condition such as epilepsy which results in seizures, you might notice less severe seizures or seizures which have decreased in frequency.
- A dog which has not been eating and drinking as usual may return to healthier and more balanced intake levels for food and fluids.
- Dogs which have become withdrawn and lethargic may become more sociable and involved again. They may be more active all around, and may become more interested again in going on walks and playing games.
- Your dog’s sleeping habits may also become more balanced. A dog which has not been getting adequate sleep could begin sleeping more soundly. A dog which has been sleeping excessively could return to more normal waking hours.
- Aggressive behavior, growling, yelping, urinary incontinence, excessive grooming, panting, trembling, and other signs of stress, pain, or anxiety might start decreasing.
Along with the absence of negative signs and symptoms, you can also be on the lookout for positive changes as well. The following may indicate that your dog is happy and healthy:
- A happy dog usually has relaxed ears, as well as relaxed eyes and regular blinking. The mouth may be just slightly open, and the tongue may hang out. Body posture likewise should be relaxed, and the tail should be in a neutral or raised position.
- A happy dog may roll over onto its back and wiggle around a lot.
- Not only do happy, healthy dogs eat well, but they typically are enthusiastic about doing so.
- If you have observed your dog with care, you may have noticed the difference between happy barks and distressed barks. See if happy vocalizations have increased.
- If your dog is happy, you can expect your pet to initiate play more often. This might be expressed by hopping or dancing around. Raising hindquarters up in the air while lowering the front part of the body also is an expression of playfulness.
- Dogs which are not feeling well may be touch averse, but those which are happy typically enjoy physical contact and seek it out. They also are more likely to press into your hand as you pet them.
It is important to remember that correlation does not equal causality.
For this reason, the best way to take observations is only to test one independent variable at a time.
So if you are thinking about trying out multiple treatments, try to resist the urge to test them all simultaneously.
If the only change you made is introducing CBD oil and you are noticing some of the positive signs mentioned above, there is a good chance that the CBD is indeed benefiting your pet.
I can tell you that when we started treating our dog Big Nellie with CBD oil for her joint problems, we noticed a lot of improvements.
She became more active and involved, and spent more time playing and was able to go for longer walks outside.
We also noticed that she seemed to be moving more fluidly, and that her posture had improved while she was walking.
Additionally, she became more sociable, and we saw a lot more signs of overall happiness in her behavior and demeanor.
Those improvements compounded gradually with time. We didn’t really see the full results until she had been taking the CBD oil for a few months.
While we obviously cannot prove that it was the CBD that make the difference, it was the only major change we made during that timeframe, so I feel quite confident asserting that it was the game-changer.
I cannot even begin to convey what a relief it was finally feeling like we had a happy dog who was able to get more joy out of life.
What Are Some Signs That CBD Oil Might Be Doing More Harm Than Good?
Most dogs tolerate CBD oil very well, and show few or no side effects.
A few possible side effects of CBD according to the American Kennel Club’s interview with Dr. Jerry Klein include:
- Dry mouth, resulting in increased thirst
- Reduced blood pressure, resulting in faintness or dizziness
- Possible issues with the liver processing prescription drugs
Some dogs may also experience an allergic reaction to CBD.
If side effects are mild and benefits outweigh them, it might make sense to continue using CBD anyway.
Obviously, if your dog is experiencing any sort of extreme reaction (like an allergy attack) to CBD, you should discontinue use immediately.
If you are uncertain as to the best course of action, you should consult with your veterinarian. Your vet probably cannot legally recommend CBD to you, but he or she should be able to tell you whether CBD is wrong for your dog based on allergies, health conditions, or medication use.
Have we seen any of these side effects with Big Nellie? Honestly, not really. At times, she does seem a bit thirstier than usual, but nothing excessive.
She actually does sleep more, but this is actually a plus in her case, because her joint pain was keeping her awake before.
The whole Marijuana/Hemp/CBD industry is new for most of us right now. There are laws and rules that can change almost daily, and this may attract some rather shady individuals. What can you do to avoid scams?
Most Dogs Should Show Signs of Benefiting from CBD
Although there are situations in which CBD may result in more drawbacks than benefits for dogs, most canines should display few or no side effects while also showing improvements in terms of appearance, behavior, and observable physical symptoms.
Keep careful notes before and after treating your dog with CBD oil, keeping your observations as objective as possible.
After a few days, review your findings, and do so again after a couple of weeks.
Hopefully, your observations will be able to tell you whether CBD oil is the right treatment for your pet.
If you need help choosing a CBD oil product which is ideal for your dog, take a look at our product recommendations from top CBD pet brands.