It’s time we address the elephant in the room: while we love the effect that CBD has on our pets, sometimes getting it into their mouths and onto their gums is akin to wrestling an alligator. We are asked all the time if you can just put the CBD oil directly on a treat, or if there is an easier way to administer CBD.

Before you can figure out the easiest way to get CBD into your pet’s system, there are a few things to understand.

What is bioavailability?

Administering and dosing CBD is all a matter of bioavailability. In layman’s terms, 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 effects how much to give in one dose, and how quickly your pet can feel the effects.

Aren’t 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. Some companies sell capsules, while some stick with tinctures and topicals, and while it may seem that it is all the same, the difference lies in how quickly the body can access the medicine (i.e. the bioavailability).  Depending on how you apply your pet’s tincture, it’s possible that up to 80% of the medicine could go to waste!

Avoid putting it on the food

Capsules  and other food products will take longer to show effect and are generally less effective. This is because they must go all the way through the digestive tract and filtration processes like the first pass of the liver. This results in less of the medicine reaching the parts of the body where your pet needs it most. There is definitely reason to believe that treats are an effective way to administer CBD, seeing as the stomach and GI system is full of cannabinoid receptors. Tinctures, however, can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream by a variety of methods with greater efficiency and speed.

Absorption rates of CBD vs. traditional prescriptions

Unlike many traditional oral medications, research has proven that CBD is effectively and quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. A study conducted 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, which allows dogs to more effectively use CBD. 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 have to be broken down by several of the body’s systems in order to take effect.

 

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How to administer CBD into the gums

The best way to administer CBD is directly on to the gums. This method works best because the medicine is absorbed through the mucous membrane (transmucosal) in the mouth 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.

 

How to administer CBD into the ears

For some pet parents, giving a tincture orally just isn’t practical. Luckily there we’ve got options!

Try applying your tincture to the soft skin of your dog or cat’s inner ear! This is a great alternative way to access the bloodstream quickly, while avoiding the digestive tract. We recommend you apply the oil to your finger and rub it into the area where the fur stops growing. This is an especially good option for cat parents who have a hard time getting close to their pets’ mouth.

Don’t forget to micro-dose

By breaking up your dog or cat’s dose though the day or, ‘micro-dosing’ the CBD will stay at a higher concentration in your pet’s body for longer.  In fact, the half-life of CBD taken orally by a dog is about 4-6 hours, according to a recent study. They demonstrated that an oral tincture reached peak concentration in the blood around two hours after administration. By around 6-8 hours, the medicine was nearly back to base levels.

This is especially helpful for dealing with anxiety, aches, pains, and seizures. You can read more about micro-dosing, and dosing in general in our post here.

Remember: whether you dose once a day or multiple times, make sure to fully wipe off your dropper before putting it back into the bottle. While we love puppy kisses, doggy drool can actually cause a full spectrum hemp extract (CBD) tincture to become less effective as the bacteria in the saliva can break down the formula.

Topicals

Did you know that similar to humans, the largest organ in a dog’s body is their skin?

Not only is cannabis medicine effective to use internally for system wide, internal treatment; 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 the other compounds found in the cannabis plant.

On our animal rescue, we see a lot of different animals, each with their own set of challenges and issues. One of the main things we end up treating for are diseases and infections that specifically effect the skin. On a daily basis, I am treating for bug bites, scratches, and dry paws; even tumors, cysts and other gag-worthy growths and gashes.

Dog SKin

Research has shown that dogs have three distinct layers of skin. Each layer of skin is full of the same CB1 and CB2 receptors that are found in the internal organs and thought 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. All those awesome anti-inflammatory and regulatory benefits are something a lot of pets could benefit from in helping with issues effecting the skin.

It’s a great way for us to be able to target our pets ailments both 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 were able to heal the main sites of the disease and support the immune system at the same time.

Daisy

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Some tips for administering a salve or other topical cream:

Try to get it as close to the surface of the skin as possible

  • It’s important that when you’re applying a topical, it gets to the surface of the skin where it will be absorbed and put to work. Your pet’s hair follicles do have the ability to wick the CBD downward, but it’s good to get as close a possible to 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 amazing medicinal benefits!

Choose a topical that is non-toxic if ingested

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

All the same things that you look for to make sure a tincture is good go for topicals!

  • I’m sure you’ve read my other blogs where I talk about the different ways we can make sure we are using a great CBD product. The same things got or oils as do for salves. Make sure, they are full-spectrum, with a COA. Organic ingredients and limited processing are the best for a top of the line product.

 

About Author Angela Ardolino
Angela Ardolino is passionate about animals and has dedicated her life to providing all-natural relief to pets of all ages and breeds. Ardolino has worked with animals for over 20 years and operates Fire Flake Farm, a rescue farm in Lutz, FL. A medical cannabis expert, Ardolino holds a degree in the therapeutic uses of cannabis from the University of Vermont School of Medicine and is the founder of CBD Dog Health. Combining her background in broadcast journalism and her passion for pets, Ardolino is the host of a pet-centric podcast, “It’s a Dog’s Life” on Cannabis Radio. Additionally, she is the owner of Beautify the Beast, a natural pet salon and spa. Ardolino has five dogs and up to 10 residing on her farm who she is fostering or boarding. Visit www.AngelaArdolino.com and www.CBDDogHealth.com to learn more.

Contributing Writer Carter Easler 
Carter is a life-long animal lover from Toronto, Canada currently residing in Brooklyn, NY. Coming from a family of veterinarians, he grew up surrounded by animals. He is a graduate of The College of Integrative Veterinary Therapies, ‘Medical Cannabis for Pets’ program. Carter’s passion for cannabis activism started when he was in high school. After learning about the senseless prohibition and incredible diversity of cannabis’s utility, he was inspired to get involved.