How Much CBD Should I Give My Dog?

Sophia Delphi May 23, 2022 - 19 min read
Fact Checked
Man feeding his dog CBD

So, you’ve just bought a bottle of CBD oil for your dog but aren’t sure where to start with the dosage?

Glad you’ve just stopped by — this article will help you figure out how much CBD you should give your dog.

Each of our team members has a dog and is obsessed with it. Together, we’ve prepared a complete guide to the best CBD dosage for dogs. This way, you won’t be throwing blind guesses anymore.

But, before we get down to the numbers, let’s make sure you understand why you’ve bought that CBD for your dog in the first place.

Why Give CBD to Dogs?

A better question is: why not?

Like humans, dogs have the endocannabinoid system (ECS) — a master regulatory network present among all mammals.

The ECS controls a vast range of biological processes; its main role is to promote and maintain balance (homeostasis) between the remaining systems and organs throughout the body.

Functions controlled by the ECS include:

  • Stress responses
  • Immune function
  • Body temperature
  • Appetite
  • Fertility
  • Sleep cycles
  • Mood
  • Memory
  • Hormone signaling
  • Pain perception
  • Neurogenesis (formation of new neural connections)

A dysfunctional ECS has been linked to a lot of disorders and diseases that have no clearly understood the cause, such as migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, type 1 diabetes, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, poor recovery from trauma, and hypersensitivity to pain (hyperalgesia).

There’s even a medical term called “clinical endocannabinoid deficiency”. In simple words, this condition means your body is deficient in endocannabinoids, your innate molecules similar in their molecular structure to plant-derived cannabinoids.

Since cannabinoids from cannabis can modulate the activity of the ECS and mimic the actions of endocannabinoids, it’s only within reason to assume there must be, at least, some benefit for dogs.

What You Need to Know Before Giving CBD to Your Dog

CBD can be helpful in a wide range of canine health conditions, from anxiety to joint pain to inflammatory diseases and even cancer.

That being said, successful supplementation with CBD requires the dog parent to have, at least, a general idea of CBD dosage and other principles.

Otherwise, you might be throwing blind guesses and wasting your money down the drain.

Here are the core principles of figuring out the best CBD dosage for your dogs:

1. Choose the Appropriate Consumption Method

One of the driving factors behind the effective CBD dosage for dogs is the type of product you’re using — and, of course, the brand you’ve bought it from.

CBD products for dogs are available in 4 main types:

  • CBD oil
  • CBD capsules (rare)
  • CBD treats (edibles)
  • CBD topicals

CBD oils are by far the best choice for dogs because they come with the highest bioavailability, meaning your dog needs less CBD to achieve the desired effects.

However, not every dog is a fan of the earthy aromas and flavors of full-spectrum CBD oil, which is why many dog parents are now turning to CBD dog treats.

CBD treats are convenient, fun to eat, and provide a fixed dose of CBD per serving; no need to play with droppers and measurements here.

However, one downside of CBD dog treats is that they’re much slower.

That’s because they need to pass through the liver, where they also lose some of their potency.

While CBD oil usually takes 15–30 minutes to kick in, treats have a delayed onset; your dog may notice the effects after 30–90 minutes from eating the treat.

On the other hand, these effects are extended in time — lasting up to 12 hours.

Topical CBD products, such as creams and roll-on sticks, are better suited for localized problems, such as inflammation, pain, and joint stiffness. Since CBD interacts with cannabinoid receptors under the skin, it can provide relief from discomfort in problematic areas within 30-40 minutes from application.

2. Know Your Pet’s Weight

It goes without saying that the CBD dosage for your dog will vary depending on its size and weight.

But how do you know how much CBD you should give your dog based on these parameters?

In essence, larger dogs will need more CBD to achieve the same results as smaller breeds. Some manufacturers offer their own dosage instructions based on the dog’s weight, making it easier to start your journey.

Later in the article, we provide specific CBD dosages for dogs depending on their size.

3. What’s the Severity of Your Dog’s Symptoms?

Last but not least, the severity of your dog’s condition and symptoms will also affect the dosage.

The more severe the symptoms, the larger the dose your dog will likely need to relieve the discomfort.

For general supplementation and mild symptoms, low doses should perform well, but when it comes to severe anxiety, joint pain, or epilepsy, you’ll need to increase the dosage and monitor your dog’s response until you hit the right amount of CBD.

Basic CBD Dosage Instructions for Dogs

The exact amount of CBD you should give your dog for basic supplementation or mild conditions will vary depending on the product’s potency.

But, if you’re not trying to treat any condition, you can measure the dose using drops.

Generally speaking, 2–4 drops administered two to four times a day are recommended.

And what about other forms?

A CBD treat or capsule will contain between 5 and 20 mg of CBD each. Using that range and your pet’s weight, you can easily calculate the CBD dosage for your dog — taking into account your product’s bioavailability.

Always check if your CBD brand provides dosing recommendations and specific serving sizes at the back of the package. If it does, treat these instructions as a point of reference.

Calculating CBD Dosage for Dogs Based on Their Weight

Finding the best CBD dosage for your dog can be a challenge because even large dogs are 2–3 times smaller than humans. Fortunately, you can make it easier by knowing the exact size of your dog.

Some people prefer to go with very small amounts at first, regardless of the dog’s size. That’s because there’s still a stigma surrounding cannabis and pets, mostly due to trace amounts of THC in full-spectrum CBD oils.

You can start with as little as 1 mg and gradually work your way up to the effective dose without using too much CBD oil and exposing your dog to the side effects of CBD.

Here’s how you can calculate your dog’s CBD dosage based on its size.

1. Small (2 – 15 lbs)

For very small dogs, you’ll need the least amount of CBD, which may sound like a good thing at first.

But there’s one small caveat.

Small breeds have an incredibly fast metabolism.

Therefore, you’ll need to use smaller doses more frequently — approximately every 3 or 4 hours per day instead of 1 or 2 with larger dogs.

For conditions involving pain, the starting dose of 1 mg may be enough for the beginning, especially if the symptoms are mild.

Behavioral conditions, such as anxiety, may require a slightly smaller dose (½ mg). If you don’t see any results, add a couple of drops for the next 3-5 days and observe the results.

If you plan to give your dog CBD for routine supplementation, start giving it twice daily.

Each time you want to add more CBD, you can use 2 mg increments until your dog finds the relief it needs.

On the whole, it’s best not to exceed 15 mg CBD doses in very small dogs.

Keep in mind that these are all general figures that shouldn’t be taken as veterinary recommendation or medical advice.

2. Medium (15 – 30 lbs)

Having examined different CBD dosages for medium dogs, we observed relatively good results with 2 mg of CBD as a starting dose; from there, users can increase the amount by 3 mg until they observe a positive change in their dog’s symptoms.

The above data comes from studies that have investigated the use of CBD for pain and arthritis.

Psychological conditions and poor appetite may require half that dose (1 mg CBD).

Most medium-sized dogs should benefit from this range. If your dog suffers from anxiety, you can increase the doses by no more than 2 mg, using a maximum of 3 doses per day.

The maximum dose of CBD for dogs of this size to avoid side effects is around 20 mg per day.

3. Large (30 – 60 lbs)

Larger dogs are the most “costly” when it comes to CBD dosage because they need the highest doses.

But what’s the best starting dose of CBD for dogs with general pain?

Usually, dog parents start with a 1–3 mg range, depending on how strong the pain is.

If you’re not seeing any change in your dog, you may start increasing the dosage by 3 mg.

For behavioral problems, such as anxiety, panic, or short attention spans, the recommended starting dosage is 1 mg up to three times a day.

Make sure to monitor your dog’s behavior to notice when the effects of CBD are starting to work.

Again, if you don’t see any results, increase the dose by another 3 mg — until you reach a maximum of 30 mg per day.

4. Giant (60+ lbs)

Owners of giant dogs should follow the same guidelines as for large dogs. With very large dogs, you can expect to use a much higher dose, so it’s better to use highly concentrated oils to make the supplementation more affordable from the monthly perspective. If your dog doesn’t experience any relief from its symptoms, you can increase the dosage in 5 mg increments.

Recommended Dosage for All Forms of CBD

As mentioned earlier, CBD oil is just one of many forms of CBD. There are also capsules, treats, and topicals — all of which call for different dosing measurements.

Now, if you’re seeing a cutscene from “The Matrix” and your forehead is sweating from even thinking about these complicated calculations, it turns out the dog’s bark is worse than its bite.

Here’s a simple guide on how to find the right CBD dosage with the most popular products for dogs.

1. CBD Oil

Most CBD oils for dogs are available in three strengths: 150 mg, 300 mg, and 600 mg CBD per bottle.

Here’s a quick cheatsheet on different CBD concentrations; how much CBD they contain per drop and how much sits in every milliliter.

Per Drop Per 1 mL
150 mg CBD Oil 0.25 mg 10 mg
300 mg CBD Oil 0.50 mg 20 mg
600 mg CBD Oil 1.00 mg 40 mg

CBD Oil Dosage Chart for Dogs

Small Dogs (2 – 15 lbs) Medium Dogs (15 – 30 lbs) Large Dogs (30 – 60 lbs) Giant Dogs (60 – 150 lbs)
Mg of CBD per Dose 0.5 – 3.75 mg 5 – 7.5 mg 7.5 – 15 mg 15 – 40 mg
150 mg CBD 0.05 – 0.4 mL

(2 – 16 drops)

0.5 – 0.75 ml

(20 – 30 drops)

0.75 – 1.5 mL

(30 – 60 drops)

1.5 – 4 mL

(60 – 150 drops)

300 mg CBD 0.03 – 0.2 mL

(1 – 8 drops)

0.25 – 0.4 mL

(10 – 16 drops)

0.4 – 0.75 mL

(15–30 drops)

0.75 – 2 mL

(30 – 80 drops)

600 mg CBD Not suitable 0.1 – 0.2 mL

(4 – 8 drops)

0.2 – 0.4 mL

(8 – 16 drops)

0.4 – 1 mL

(16 – 40 drops)

Calculating the Dose of CBD Oil Yourself

As soon as you get a good grasp of the above pattern, you may want to start experimenting with different dosages yourself.

There’s a simple calculation you can use to figure out the best starting dosage for your dog:

0.25 mg x 1 lb of bodyweight = Regular Starting Dose

For example, if your dog weighs 10 pounds, the formula looks like this:

0.25 mg x 10 lbs = 4 mg of CBD

Now you need to decide on the potency of CBD oil you’ll be using with your dog. This will require knowing how much CBD is in every milliliter of the oil.

Just a quick reminder, here’s the breakdown based on common CBD oil strengths:

  • 150 mg = 10 mg per mL
  • 300 mg = 20 mg per mL
  • 600 mg = 40 mg per mL

In the next step, you’ll need to figure out the amount of CBD oil that meets your dog’s recommended dosage:

[the amount of CBD pe mg] / [mg CBD per mL] = Dose in mL

Let’s say you’ve purchased some 300 mg CBD oil. The formula would be:

4 mg CBD / 20 mg/mL = 0.20 mL of a 300 mg CBD oil.

Now you can translate that amount into drops. Since droppers usually have about 40 drops per mL, the equation will be:

[Dose in mL] x 40 = Dose in Drops

So, for your dog, this would mean:

0.20 x 40 = 8 drops

Easy, right?

It may get some time until you master the math equation, but once you’ve done it, you’ll be able to effectively manipulate the dosage to achieve the best results for your furry friend.

Ideally, the dog should be able to hold CBD oil under its tongue for one minute to allow the contents to be absorbed through the capillary glands in the mouth.

But not every dog likes licking CBD oil up, mostly due to its distinct botanical taste.

If that’s your story, you may want to switch to oral forms of CBD.

2. CBD Capsules

Although not as common as oils and treats, CBD capsules for dogs are typically available in the same standard concentrations: 150, 300, and 600 mg of total CBD.

How much CBD is in one capsule? That depends on the potency of your bottle.

Here’s what it looks like:

  • 150 mg: 1 capsule carries 5 mg of CBD
  • 300 mg: 1 capsule carries 10 mg of CBD
  • 600 mg: 1 capsule carries 20 mg of CBD

When it comes to finding the best CBD capsule dosage for dogs, we recommend following the instructions provided by the manufacturer. The dose can vary significantly depending on how the capsules were made, and what additional ingredients are in the formula.

You can give your dog CBD capsules using one of the following methods:

  • The Mixing Method: open the capsule and combine its content with your dog’s food.
  • The Sneaky Method: Wrap the capsule in some bacon or other treat.
  • The Veterinarian Method: Pop the capsule into your dog’s mouth and hold it shut for a few seconds. That’s what vets do if nothing else works.

Now to the treats.

3. CBD Treats

Treats are by far the most fun method of giving CBD to dogs.

Find us a dog that doesn’t like treats and we’ll do whatever you want — seriously.

A regular bag of CBD dog treats contains about 30 pieces, but this can vary depending on the brand you’re buying from.

Treats are a great way of supplementing CBD to your dog, but finding the best dosage can be difficult.

Different producers make all different strengths, and there’s no standardization of dosages.

The most common dosage is 5 mg of CBD per treat, but this still needs to be confirmed with the product’s certificate of analysis.

4. CBD Topicals

CBD topicals are useful for addressing localized discomfort and improving joint mobility in dogs.

The optimal CBD dosage for dogs and topicals depends on the severity of pain and inflammation, as well as on the potency of your cream.

Topical products are the least researched type of CBD, although recent studies suggest that it can help with a range of inflammatory skin conditions, such as atopic dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis.

A consultation with a CBD-friendly vet should help you decide on the dose.

Topicals are very easy to apply. All you need to do is to rub the cream or roll-on to the problematic area and wait until it gets absorbed into the skin.

This form of CBD may need more time to take effect, so observe your dog’s response within an hour after applying the product.

Is CBD Safe for Dogs?

CBD is considered safe according to a critical review of its safety profile and side effects. Even health agencies such as WHO acknowledge cannabidiol as a safe and non-toxic substance that holds many health benefits.

As long as you avoid extreme amounts of CBD, your dog shouldn’t experience any adverse reactions at all.

But in case you went too far with the dosage, you may expect the following side effects:

  • Changes in appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Diarrhea
  • Problems with coordination

Other than that, there’s nothing life-threatening about CBD oil. You can give it to your dog regularly without worrying about building tolerance or experiencing severe reactions, especially when you consider the safety profile of popular pharmaceuticals.

Speaking of pharmaceuticals, there’s one thing you need to know about using CBD in conjunction with other medications.

CBD Drug Interactions: Ask for a Vet’s Recommendation

The vast majority of pharmaceutical drugs are processed by a specialized system of enzymes known as the Cytochrome P450 (CYP450). These enzymes control the metabolism of drugs by breaking them down and helping your body flush them once they’ve been used.

CBD is a potent inhibitor of the CYP450 system, which is no wonder considering the multitude of its therapeutic actions in the body.

So, when your dog takes CBD alongside other medications, it may either slow down or speed up the metabolism of these drugs. This, in turn, may result in a toxic buildup of the substance in your dog’s bloodstream, or lead to subtherapeutic effects where your dog doesn’t feel any effects at all.

If your dog is taking any medications, talk to your vet before introducing CBD. Doing so will help you establish the right dosage for both CBD and the drug to avoid negative interactions.

CBD Dosage Guide for Dogs

Start with a Very Low Dosage

If you’ve never given your dog CBD oil before, starting with the lowest possible dose will help you accurately monitor the dog’s response. Depending on its size, you may start with 1–5 mg of CBD per serving. From there, you can increase the dose until you see the desired effects.

Be Consistent

While some of the benefits may be noticed right away, other cases require more patience from dog parents. With severe endocannabinoid deficiencies, CBD oil needs to level them by improving the signaling of ECS and inhibiting the enzyme that breaks down these molecules.

It’s generally recommended to give your dog two weeks of consistent supplementation before evaluating the results. And by two weeks, we mean two weeks with one or two different doses each.

Don’t give up if you don’t see the results after the very first dose. Patience pays off.

Experiment with Different Servings

If a one-size-fits-all CBD dosage for dogs existed, you’d know it long before reading this article. In fact, you wouldn’t need to read it because you’d already have the answer.

But, since there’s no universal CBD dosage for everyone, trial and error is inevitable. Factors such as your dog’s weight, metabolism, symptoms, and overall health will all impact the effectiveness of CBD.

As mentioned earlier, start with the lowest recommended dosage and adjust by ½ serving as needed. If you notice any side effects, decrease the dose and observe your dog’s behavior.

FAQ: CBD Dosage for Dogs

1. CBD Oil or CBD Treats?

There’s no ideal answer to this question. Both products have their pros and cons.

CBD oils are better if you’re looking for greater control over the dosage and your dog doesn’t fuss over the flavor of such products.

Chews, on the other hand, work better for picky dogs and for dog parents who want to shed the burden of measuring off their shoulders.

Just remember that due to lower bioavailability, CBD treats will require a higher dose to produce the same effects as CBD oil.

2. How Long Does it Take for CBD to Kick in?

Anywhere between 15 minutes and 2 hours. As a rule, oils tend to work faster than treats because they use a different route of administration and contain fewer ingredients that the liver needs to process.

3. How Long Does CBD Last?

Again, that depends on the selected format, but usually, the effects of CBD last between 4 and 12 hours.

For CBD oils, the duration of effects is between 4 and 6 hours.

Chews and capsules are closer to the upper limit.

The overall duration of CBD in your dog’s body is driven by its size, activity level, breed, severity of symptoms, and metabolism. In general, younger dogs digest food faster than older ones.

4. Can My Dog Overdose on CBD?

If you mean a lethal overdose, then no, your dog can’t die from taking too much CBD. That’s because CBD doesn’t interfere with the receptors in your dog’s brain stem that control respiratory functions.

But, as for a general overdose, it’s, by all means, possible and we’ve already mentioned some of the most common side effects.

Just in case you forgot (CBD is also good for improving memory in humans – just saying), the side effects of CBD include dry mouth, appetite fluctuation, a drop in blood pressure, dizziness, and diarrhea.

5. How Do I Know if the CBD Oil for My Dog is Legit?

Now that’s the trickiest part.

Since the market is unregulated, there are no standards regarding the quality and labeling of CBD products.

This means that CBD brands don’t need to be honest with you when it comes to the potency and purity of their products.

Safety is paramount when it comes to giving supplements to dogs, so make sure to check if your vendor provides up-to-date certificates of analysis (COA) from a third-party laboratory. These documents contain a complete report about the product’s contents, including results for pesticides, heavy metals, solvents, and mycotoxins.

If a company keeps these certificates undisclosed, don’t waste your time with it.

Key Takeaways on the Best CBD Dosage for Dogs

Every dog is different. They come in all sizes and shapes, which means there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to CBD and dogs.

It may take some time until you figure out the right CBD dosage for your dog — just as it took the time to figure it out for yourself.

We hope this article has cleared the fog surrounding different dosages for dogs. CBD is safe and natural, so no worries if your dog gets a little more than needed while you’re experimenting.

Just remember to consult your vet whenever you’re not sure if your understanding of different dosages is correct. A consultation with a qualified professional is always a good idea, especially when it comes to the safety of our four-legged friends.