How to Administer CBD for Pets: CBD Bioavailability

How To Give Your Best CBD

When it comes to choosing a CBD for pets product, and administering CBD for pets, there’s so many options! We are asked all the time about how to administer CBD for pets. What is the best way to give CBD to pets? Should you use a CBD tincture or CBD salve or CBD treat? Can you put CBD oil on food or directly into their mouth? Many of these questions lead back to CBD bioavailability for dogs and pets. Let’s discuss the best ways to administer CBD for dogs, cats and pets,

What is CBD Bioavailability?

Administering and dosing CBD is all a matter of bioavailability. In layman’s terms, CBD bioavailability is the absorption rate of CBD into your pet’s body. Bioavailability refers to the amount of time, and at what rate, something is absorbed into your bloodstream and how much is excreted without effect. This is important because bioavailability affects how much to give in one dose, and how quickly your pet can feel the effects. So when choosing a CBD product for your pet, bioavailability is important.

Are All Ways of Administering CBD the Same?

Administering CBD to dogs and cats can happen in a few different ways, each with a different level of bioavailability. When looking for a CBD product for your pet, you might see CBD capsules, CBD tinctures, CBD topicals, CBD treats, and more. This can be confusing for pet parents who don’t understand the differences between various CBD administration methods. However, there are important differences, including how quickly the body can access the medicine, and how much is absorbed into their system. Depending on how you apply your pet’s CBD, it’s possible that up to 80% of the supplement could go to waste! 

Absorption Rates of CBD vs. Traditional Prescriptions

Unlike many conventional oral medications, research has proven that CBD is effectively and quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. A study by the Department of Pharmacy, School of Pharmacy at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel, concluded that “CBD was observed to have a large volume of distribution [in dogs studied].”

In a study conducted by the Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy, dogs were found to have a substantial amount of receptors in their endocannabinoid system, specifically in the spine, allowing dogs to use CBD more effectively. That means that when administered into the gums, ear, or with food, it is absorbed in the system effectively. This is far better than many medications, which must be broken down by several of the body’s systems to take effect.

What are the Best Ways to Give CBD to Dogs, Cats & Pets?

There are so many different CBD products for pets on the market, from tinctures to salves to treats and more. Let’s get into the differences and the best ways to give CBD to your dog, cat or other pets.

CBD Tinctures: Administering CBD Oil for Dogs & Pets

CBD oil, or CBD tinctures, consist of a blend of CBD oil and a carrier oil. This mixture allows for a convenient way to give your pet CBD, with several methods of administration. CBD tinctures are easy to give to your pet, allowing for straightforward dosing, and are known for their rapid absorption and enduring benefits. Reputable CBD oils will also come with a Certificate of Analysis, so you can know exactly what is in your CBD pet product.

1. Transmucosal Administration: CBD Oil Directly on the Gums

The best way to give CBD to dogs is directly onto the gums. This method works best because the medicine is absorbed through the mouth’s mucous membrane (transmucosal), and the full spectrum hemp extract (CBD) then goes directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive tract altogether. This also minimizes the number of active compounds, or cannabinoids, that are lost or killed off in the digestive tract.

CBD tincture safety tip: make sure to thoroughly wipe off your dropper before putting it back into the bottle. While we love puppy kisses, doggy drool can cause a full spectrum hemp extract (CBD) tincture to become less effective as the bacteria in the saliva can break down the formula.

2. Oral Administration: Adding CBD Oil to Food or Treats

Until recently, adding CBD oil to treats or food were thought to take longer to show effect and be generally less effective. This is because they must go through the digestive tract and filtration processes like the first pass of the liver. This results in less medicine reaching the parts of the body where your pet needs it most.

However, new research has shown that there are even more receptors in the GI tract than previously thought. Also, since we are now coming to a higher understanding of the importance of the Enteric Nervous System, we know that CBD / FSHE being able to make direct contact (via oral administration) with the gut will have great benefit. This is especially true for pets dealing with GI issues like IBD, enteritis, or cancer of the GI tract.

Not to mention that even with anxious dogs, oral administration of CBD via food or treats can still be necessary. Since the gut is an extension of our nervous system (and almost all mood disorders coincide with GI problems), CBD / FSHE will help naturally balance the GI tract and microbiome while also calming the nervous system. This makes it have short- and long-term benefits for anxious or stressed pets. When it comes to oral administration of CBD, considering what type of benefit you want to achieve and how fast it needs to be seen is essential.

3. Transdermal Administration: Rubbing CBD Oil into the Ears

If you cannot get your pet to take a CBD tincture orally or on their food, try applying it to the soft skin of your dog or cat’s inner ear flap! This is known as transdermal administration. Transdermal administration is the least preferred of all methods because it is the least bioavailable option and will take the longest to reach the bloodstream. Despite this drawback, it still has been proven to be a beneficial method. We recommend you apply the oil to your finger (or use an empty essential oil roller ball) and rub it into the area where the fur stops growing. Special cat tip: Cats can also be given CBD on their paw pads since they are much more blood vessel rich than dogs’ paws.

Related: CBD Dosage for Dogs, Cats & Pets

Micro-Dosing CBD Oil for Dogs

Whether you administer your CBD oil directly to the gums, with food, or on the ears, we recommend micro-dosing CBD oil for pets. Rather than one large daily dose, we recommend splitting up their optimal daily dose, into 2-3 micro doses a day. By breaking up your dog or cat’s dose through the day or ‘micro-dosing,’ the CBD will stay at a higher concentration in your pet’s body for longer.

According to a recent study, the half-life of CBD taken orally by a dog is about 4-6 hours. They demonstrated that an oral CBD tincture reached peak concentration in the blood around 2 hours after administration. By around 6-8 hours, the medicine was nearly back to base levels.

Micro-dosing CBD oil for dogs and pets, allowing for a constant concentration of CBD in the bloodstream is especially helpful for dealing with anxiety, aches, pains, and seizures. In our post here, you can read more about micro-dosing and dosing in general.

Topical CBD for Dogs & Pets

Did you know that, like humans, the largest organ in a dog’s body is its skin?

Not only is cannabis effective internally, but another effective way to give our pets CBD is by applying it topically to their skin! That’s right, dogs and cats have the same receptors on the surface and throughout their skin that interact with CBD and other compounds in the cannabis plant.

At our animal rescue, we see a lot of different animals, each with its own set of challenges and issues. One of the main things we help them with are diseases and infections that affect the skin. On a daily basis, I help dogs and other animals on the farm with their bug bites, scratches, dry paws, even tumors, cysts, and other gag-worthy growths and gashes.

dog skin layers CBD bioavailability topical cbd for dogs cbd salve skin issues

Research has shown that dogs have three distinct layers of skin. Each layer of skin is full of the same CB1 and CB2 receptors found in the internal organs and throughout the central nervous system. This makes it possible for the skin to absorb the compounds and use them in higher concentrations in the exact place where they are hurting. So all those incredible anti-inflammatory and regulatory benefits are something a lot of pets could benefit from in helping with issues affecting the skin.

Because the body has CBD receptors both inside and outside, it’s an excellent way for us to target our pets’ ailments systemically and right at the source of the problem. Take, for instance, one of our most dramatic turnarounds. Daisey’s mast-cell tumor was treated internally with our Heal tincture and externally with the Remedy salve. By targeting her cancer in more than one way, we could remedy the disease’s main sites and support the immune system at the same time.

Tips for administering Topical CBD Salves for Pets:

Try to apply the CBD salve as close to the surface of the skin as possible. It’s crucial that when you’re applying a topical, it gets to the skin’s surface, where it will be absorbed and put to work. Your pet’s hair follicles have the ability to wick the CBD downward, but it’s good to get as close as possible to the source of the problem. If you’re looking to get at a place with a lot of fur on it, part their fur and apply it to the base of the hair follicles and get as much on the actual skin as possible. Don’t worry about the salve getting in their coat. Think of it as a moisturizing hair mask with excellent medicinal benefits!

Always choose a topical CBD that is non-toxic if ingested. All of CBD Dog Health’s CBD salves are made entirely from natural, human-grade ingredients that, if ingested, will only benefit your pet more. Our formulas and the essential oils we use are designed for the skin’s surface but are completely safe if your pet licks it off. Just make sure you let it soak in for at least 5-10 minutes before they make a treat out of their skin remedy!

CBD Treats for Pets

CBD dog treats can be an excellent way to get your dog to enjoy the numerous benefits of CBD oil. However, CBD treats, like CBD oil added to food, have to pass through a dog’s gastrointestinal system, which is an acidic and harsh environment. This can result in less CBD being absorbed compared to a tincture being given along the gumline (transmucosal administration). However, as we mentioned above, the GI tract is still rich in CBD receptors.  

CBD treats can be a great option if your pet has a gastrointestinal problem like IBD. CBD treats can also be a great choice as an introduction to CBD for pets, or if your pet is dealing with a milder issue such as allergies, or their issue is intermittent or situational, such as noise anxiety or stress before a grooming appointment. 

Another great use of CBD treats is for pets who may be unwilling to allow you to administer a tincture in their mouth, or refuses to eat food with CBD oil. One consideration is how quickly you want to see the results after administering CBD to your pet. Since treats must be digested, they do take more time to work, compared to CBD oil applied directly to the gums. So you need to be mindful of this when giving treats. If going on a car ride, for example, give the treat 45-60 minutes before the trip. This will allow the CBD to be absorbed fully and yield the most significant benefit. 

Choosing the Right CBD Product for Your Pet

Now that we’ve gone over the different ways you can administer CBD for pets, you can better choose the right product for your pet. For serious ailments, we always recommend a CBD tincture, which will be best absorbed by your pet’s body. While CBD tinctures have the best bioavailability, CBD salves and CBD treats are an excellent choice for many pets! For skin issues, a topical CBD product is a great choice, and is even better when paired with a tincture, to work both internally and externally. CBD treats for dogs and pets are an excellent option for introducing pets to CBD, or for pets with milder ailments, gut issues, or those who do not like CBD oil.

As always, make sure to do your research when choosing a CBD product for your pet, look for a Full Spectrum Hemp Extract product, with a certificate of analysis, ensuring the purity and potency of any product. For more tips on choosing the right CBD product for your pet, check out our CBD guide for Pet Parents.