Many pet owners have shown an interest in CBD oil for dogs as a natural way to enhance the health and wellbeing of their pets. As it can for humans, CBD, or cannabidiol, can offer a wide range of health benefits for animals. Here we'll offer background information on CBD oils for dogs as well our recommendations for the best brands and products.
To help clarify any misconceptions about the use of CBD on animals, we wanted to outline important information regarding effects, dosing, and scientific research related to CBD use on pets. Those that have personally tried CBD for their pets say it has the potential to reduce pain, anxiety, inflammatory conditions, and seizures, among other advantages.
It's worth doing your own research to find the best CBD solution for your pet, since they now come in CBD treats, shampoos, peanut butters, and more. Our article will recommend the best CBD oils for dogs and will also provide important information for you to consider about giving CBD to your pets.
Our Top Picks for Dog CBD Oils
- NuLeaf Naturals Pet CBD - Best Organic Oil
- Medterra Pets CBD - Best Price
- Honest Paws USDA Organic CBD Oil for Dogs - Best Variety
- CBDistillery CBD Pet - Best Satisfaction Guarantee
Below is our list of the best CBD oil products for dogs. Each of these brands has exhibited a commitment to third-party lab testing and creates products we think you and your pet can trust.
How We Review CBD Oil for Dogs
To create our list of best CBD tinctures for dogs, we evaluated each brand and product on six specific categories that we use for all of our reviews.
- Value — Is the brand's pet CBD oil affordable and does it work as advertised?
- Strength — How many total milligrams of CBD does each dose of CBD oil contain? Is it full spectrum, broad spectrum, or CBD isolate?
- Source — Where does the company get its hemp? Is it grown in the USA?
- Flavor — Do they flavor their CBD oil? If so, do they use natural ingredients?
- Transparency — Can you view third-party lab test results and information about their extraction process?
- Customer Experience — Do they offer a satisfaction guarantee? What do customer reviews say about the product?
Learn more about our picks for best CBD oils for dogs below.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn a commission.
NuLeaf Naturals makes dosing easier, as the oils all come in a consistent strength. NuLeaf Naturals offers a clean, natural way to try plant-based relief for your pet. All products are also certified as organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture —the only dog CBD products to bear that distinction.
Strength: 3mg full spectrum CBD per dose, available in 300mg, 900mg, and 1800mg size bottles
Why buy: USDA certified organic; full spectrum CBD oil; Co2 extraction method from hemp grown in Colorado; third-party lab tested with results available online.
All Medterra pet products are THC free and this CBD oil comes in a natural beef flavor. Concentrations available are 150, 300, and 750 milligrams per bottle. As with Medterra's human-focused products, these oils are made with Kentucky-grown hemp.
Strength: 150mg, 300mg, or 750mg broad spectrum CBD per bottle.
Why buy: THC-free broad spectrum CBD; natural beef flavoring; organically grown, non-GMO hemp from Kentucky; U.S. Hemp Authority Certified;
Honest Paws is a brand specifically dedicated to high-quality CBD products for pets. They sell everything from CBD peanut butter and treats to shampoo and more. Their Wellness line of USDA Organic CBD Oil for Dogs is made from full spectrum hemp and can help boost your dog's immune system as well as their physical and mental wellbeing. Since it's made from organic hemp, you can trust that it is free from preservatives, additives, pesticides, soy, corn and GMO products.
Strength: 125mg per bottle (for small dogs), 250mg per bottle (for medium dogs), 500mg per bottle (for large dogs)
Why buy: USDA certified organic; full spectrum quality CBD oil; easy to access lab results online; tincture makes it simple to apply CBD with a dropper in your dog's food.
CBDistillery CBD products are processed in cold-pressed hemp seed oil. This is meant to aid in the dog's digestion of the product. They have a 150-milligram tincture for small to medium sized dogs and a 600-milligram pet CBD oil made for larger breeds — each is affordable when compared to other brands on the market.
Strength: 5mg or 20mg full spectrum CBD per serving, available in 150mg and 600mg size bottles
Why buy: Non-GMO industrial hemp grown in the U.S.; full spectrum CBD oil; cold-pressed hemp seed oil; U.S. Hemp Authority Certified; 60-day money back guarantee; third-party lab tested with easily accessible results.
About CBD for Dogs
When it comes to cannabis, dogs have a slightly different endocannabinoid system than humans. Canines have a higher concentration of CB1 receptors in the cerebellum than any other species, and THC is a partial agonist of these receptors. This means that dogs have increased sensitivity to THC, but since CBD is different compound it does not have much direct action with these CB1 receptors. Since CBD oils made from hemp have high amounts of CBD and extremely low amounts of THC, it's unlikely that CBD would harm your dog. Any product high in THC should probably be avoided unless otherwise recommended by a trusted vet.
While THC may have medicinal value in certain cases, it can produce a psychoactive effect that might actually increase anxiety in animals when administered in high doses. If you want to introduce cannabis extracted ingredients into your dog's diet, it's generally safer to use CBD dominant extracts.
Although THC and CBD can be used in conjunction for therapeutic purposes, it's more difficult to obtain extracts with a high concentration of THC — unless you live in one of the few states that allows for recreational marijuana use. Cannabis extracts that are high in CBD and low in THC are preferred, as they are considered to be widely available and legal in more areas. Lab test results, especially from a third party lab, can determine the percentage of CBD and THC within a cannabis extract. This way, you can ensure that any cannabis extract given to your dog is accurately labeled and contains only CBD extracted from hemp.
CBD Oil for Dogs FAQs
What are the benefits of CBD oil for dogs?
There are plenty of personal stories about the health benefits of CBD on pets, but what science is there to back up these claims?
One survey from the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA) included responses from more than 600 pet owners, and found that the most successful uses of CBD in pets were:
- Pain relief
- Sleep aid
- Anxiety relief (including thunderstorm or firework phobia)
- Nervous system support
- Reduced inflammation
- Reduced seizures
- Preventing vomiting and nausea
- Mitigating muscle spasms
- Helping with digestive tract issues
- Skin condition treatments
On top of these findings, a recent scientific study conducted by Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine has shown that CBD oil helped decrease pain, and increase activity, in dogs suffering from osteoarthritis.
How do I choose the right CBD product for my pet?
With increased popularity in CBD and hemp products, new sellers are popping up everyday. There are a range of CBD products designed for pet owners, including:
- Sprays (oral and topical)
- Dog treats
- Balms, salves, and other topical treatments
It can be difficult to distinguish between the quality of different brands and what product is best suited for your pet. You'll want to do your homework before buying anything. We recommend using CBD products that are intended for pets, as well as brands who use third-party labs to verify CBD potency and test for the presence of any pesticides, microbials, or solvents.
Most quality CBD pet products will have dosing guidelines, which makes it easier for owners to give their animal the right amount. But these guidelines are often coming from the company, not a veterinarian, so keep this in mind.
It's important to take existing medications into consideration before using CBD on your pet, as it may alter the efficacy of these treatments for certain conditions. According to Dr. Tim Shu, CEO and founder of VETCBD, "CBD has been shown to be very safe across a wide range of doses in multiple animal species. But if an animal is on other medications, especially ones with narrow therapeutic ranges, a pet owner should discuss the concurrent use of CBD with their veterinarian prior to starting."
Using CBD products designed for human consumption can be a bit more difficult, and they may include ingredients that are not healthy for dogs or cats to ingest. Currently, there are no pet products certified by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
What should I look for in CBD for my dog?
Here are four important factors to consider when shopping for a CBD oil for dogs:
- CBD products extracted from hemp: CBD can be extracted from hemp or marijuana, as both plants are from the cannabis family. Marijuana plants contain more THC than hemp plants, so it's likely that marijuana extracted CBD products will have a higher concentration of THC. CBD oils extracted from hemp can sometimes still contain trace amounts of THC. Some brands distill out these cannabinoids and terpenes to create a CBD isolate, but we recommend using full-spectrum CBD extracts for a synergistic effect and greater therapeutic value.
- The product's origin story: Since cannabis is a hyperaccumulator, it absorbs the elements of the ground within which it was grown. This is of particular concern when it comes to CBD oil because heavy metal toxicity can be prevalent, and you certainly don't want to feed your pet anything toxic. Even "natural" doesn't always equal safe. Make sure you know where a product's hemp was sourced and how it was grown.
- Is it infused with oil? CBD oil for dogs is easy to add into your pet's food without them detecting a difference. For ease of absorption, look for a CBD product that's infused with olive oil. Olive oil is rich in unsaturated fats, and healthier for your pet than other options like coconut oil.
- Is it made with CBD or hemp seed oil? Hemp seed oil is not the same as CBD oil, and this can cause some confusion. Hemp seed extract is pressed from the seeds of hemp to produce an oil that may help give your dog a shinier coat or better skin, but it does not contain any cannabinoids. Some products contain both.
Our curated list above features some of our favorite CBD brands selling trusted pet products.
Is CBD safe for dogs?
In the emerging CBD space, it helps to look to medical professionals, review sites, and other experts to help you decide if CBD is the right fit for your dog.
The American Kennel Club says "while there's no definitive scientific data on using CBD to treat dogs, there's anecdotal evidence from dog owners suggesting it can treat pain, especially neuropathic pain, as well as helping to control seizures."
There is also some compelling research now being done on CBD's effects on canines. For instance, a study conducted by Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine showed that treatment with CBD oil resulted in decreased pain for dogs with osteoarthritis.
And in a survey collected by the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, data from over 600 pet owners found that CBD use in animals also seems to yield positive results. These owners found success using CBD for anxiety relief, sleep assistance, nervous response support, treating skin conditions, reducing nausea, and preventing inflammation in dogs.
What are the side effects and risks?
The biggest risks to pets when given CBD are usually caused by an overdose of the compound. Some adverse side effects, such as an upset stomach or drowsiness, may occur in rare instances — but these can likely be avoided by supplying the proper dose.
If you're using a product that includes THC, you increase the risk that your pet may have a negative reaction. Dogs that suffer from too much THC intake develop static ataxia, which is specific to canines and results in loss of muscle coordination, balance, and problems controlling their bowels or bladders. For this reason, proper dosing of CBD and THC products is extremely important.
How much CBD should I give my dog?
Since official dosing recommendations from the veterinary community are limited, it's always best to start small. You can increase dosage slowly to gage your pet's response, and once you notice positive improvements in their condition, you can stick to this dose amount. Most products come with dosage recommendations and guidelines, depending on the size of your pet.
A general guideline is 0.2mg of CBD per pound of body weight per day.
Final Thoughts on CBD Oil for Dogs
Although CBD is generally considered to be safe for pets, it has not been approved by the FDA for this purpose. For this reason, it's important that you do your research and find a CBD product that you trust with verifiable third-party lab testing results.
As with anything you give your pet, it's important to recognize when something's off. If you are concerned about how your dog or cat is responding to CBD, contact your veterinarian and discontinue use of the product until professional guidance has been given.
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By Deborah Moore, Michael Simon and Darryl Knudsen
There's some good news amidst the grim global pandemic: At long last, the world's largest dam removal is finally happening.
A young activist for a free-flowing Salween River. A team of campaigners and lawyers from EarthRights International joined Indigenous Karen communities on the Salween in 2018 to celebrate the International Day of Actions for Rivers on March 14. This year, EarthRights joined communities living in the Eu-Wae-Tta internally displaced persons camp for a celebration in solidarity with those impacted by dam projects on the Salween River. EarthRights International<p>The dam removal project is a sign of the decline of the hydropower industry, whose fortunes have fallen as the <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-46098118" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">troubling</a> cost-benefit ratio of dams has become clear over the years. The rise of more cost-effective and sustainable energy sources (including wind and solar) has hastened this shift. This is exactly the type of progress envisioned by the <a href="https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/read/17023836/dams-and-development-a-new-framework-for-decision" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">World Commission on Dams</a> (WCD), a global multi-stakeholder body that was established by the World Bank and International Union for Conservation of Nature in 1998 to investigate the effectiveness and performance of large dams around the world. The WCD released a damning landmark <a href="https://www.un.org/press/en/2000/20001117.dam.pressconferencepm.doc.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">report</a> in November 2000 on the enormous financial, environmental and human costs and the dismal performance of large dams. The commission spent <a href="https://www.un.org/press/en/2000/20001117.dam.pressconferencepm.doc.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">two years</a> analyzing the outcome of the trillions of dollars invested in dams, reviewing dozens of case studies and testimonies from over a thousand communities and individuals, before producing the report.</p><p>But despite this progress, we cannot take hydropower's decline as inevitable. As governments around the world plan for a post-pandemic recovery, hydropower companies sense an opportunity. The industry is eager to recast itself as climate-friendly (<a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/how-green-is-hydropower-1919539525.html" target="_self">it's not</a>) and <a href="https://www.hydropower.org/covid-19" target="_blank">secure</a> precious stimulus funds to revive its dying industry — at the expense of people, the environment and a truly just, green recovery.</p>
Hydropower’s Troubling Record<p>The world's largest hydropower dam removal project on the Klamath River is a significant win for tribal communities. But while the Yurok and Karuk tribes <a href="https://www.karuk.us/images/docs/press/bring_salmon_home.php" target="_blank">suffered</a> terribly from the decline of the Klamath's fisheries, they were by no means alone in that experience. The environmental catastrophe that occurred along the Klamath River has been replicated all over the world since the global boom in hydropower construction <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/hydropower" target="_blank">began</a> early in the 20th century.</p><p>The rush to dam rivers has had huge consequences. After decades of rampant construction, only <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/05/worlds-free-flowing-rivers-mapped-hydropower/" target="_blank">37 percent of the world's rivers remain free-flowing</a>, according to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1111-9" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">one study</a>. River fragmentation has <a href="https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/70/4/330/5732594" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">decimated freshwater habitats and fish stocks</a>, threatening food security for millions of the world's most vulnerable people, and hastening the <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffopperman/2020/10/13/freshwater-wildlife-continues-to-decline-but-new-energy-trendlines-suggest-we-can-bend-that-curve/?sh=f9d175a61ee4" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">decline of other myriad freshwater species</a>, including mammals, birds and reptiles.</p><p>The communities that experienced the most harm from dams — whether in Asia, Latin America or Africa — often lacked political power and access. But that didn't stop grassroots movements from organizing and growing to fight for their rights and livelihoods. The people affected by dams began raising their voices, sharing their experiences and forging alliances across borders. By the 1990s, the public <a href="https://tinyurl.com/y55lnlst" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">outcry</a> against large dams had grown so loud that it finally led to the establishment of the WCD.</p><p>What the WCD found was stunning. While large dam projects had brought some economic benefits, they had also <a href="https://www.irn.org/wcd/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">forcibly displaced an estimated 40 to 80 million people in the 20th century alone</a>. To put that number into perspective, it is more than the current population of present-day <a href="https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.TOTL?locations=FR" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">France</a> or the <a href="https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.TOTL?locations=GB" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Kingdom</a>. These people lost their lands and homes to dams, and often with no compensation.</p><p>Subsequent research has compounded that finding. A paper published in <a href="https://tinyurl.com/c7uznz" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Water Alternatives</a> revealed that globally, more than <a href="https://tinyurl.com/yxw8x7ab" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">470 million people living downstream from large dams</a> have faced significant impacts to their lives and livelihoods — much of it due to disruptions in water supply, which in turn harm the complex web of life that depends on healthy, free-flowing rivers. The WCD's findings, released in 2000, <a href="https://www.irn.org/wcd/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">identified</a> the importance of restoring rivers, compensating communities for their losses, and finding better energy alternatives to save rivers and ecosystems.</p>
Facing a New Crisis<p>Twenty years after the WCD uncovered a crisis along the world's rivers and recommended a new development path — one that advances community-driven development and protects freshwater resources — we find ourselves in the midst of another crisis. The global pandemic has hit us hard, with surging loss of life, unemployment and instability.</p><p>But as governments work to rebuild economies and create job opportunities in the coming years, we have a choice: Double down on the failed, outdated technologies that have harmed so many, or change course and use this transformative moment to rebuild our natural systems and uplift communities.</p><p>There are many reasons to fight for a green recovery. The climate is changing even <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-07586-5" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">faster</a> than expected, and some dams — especially those with reservoirs in hot climates — <a href="https://tinyurl.com/w6w29t8" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">have been found to emit more greenhouse gases than a fossil fuel power plant</a>. Other estimates have put global reservoirs' human-made greenhouse gas emissions each year on par with <a href="https://www.climatecentral.org/news/greenhouse-gases-reservoirs-fuel-climate-change-20745" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Canada's</a> total emissions.</p><p>Meanwhile, we now understand that healthy rivers and freshwater ecosystems play a <a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/b55b1fe4-7d09-47af-96c4-6cbb5f106d4f/files/wetlands-role-carbon-cycle.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">critical role in regulating and storing carbon</a>. And at a time when <a href="https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2019/05/nature-decline-unprecedented-report/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">biodiversity loss is soaring</a>, anything we can do to <a href="https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/70/4/330/5732594" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">restore habitat is key</a>. But with <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/271996520_A_Global_Boom_in_Hydropower_dam_Construction" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">more than 3,700 major dams proposed or under construction</a> in the world (primarily in the Global South, with over <a href="https://news.mongabay.com/2020/08/more-than-500-dams-planned-inside-protected-areas-study/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">500 of these in protected areas</a>), according to a 2014 report — and the hydropower industry <a href="https://www.hydropower.org/covid-19" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">jockeying</a> for scarce stimulus dollars — we must act urgently.</p>
Signs of Hope<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTcxMzUyMS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxOTcyNTc3OX0.EbqBVPs2kjhrY5AqnZXOb_GX-s6pw4qyJmmeISzKA6U/img.png?width=980" id="a81d0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="87bc79d69f72e9334a78da8e0355e6ae" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1620" data-height="1068" />
Fish catch at the Siphandone on the Mekong River, prior to the completion of the Don Sahong Dam. Pai Deetes / International Rivers<p>So what would a strong, resilient and equitable recovery look like in the 21st century? Let's consider one example in Southeast Asia.</p><p>Running through six countries, the Mekong River is the world's 12th-longest river, which is home to one of the world's most biodiverse regions, and includes the world's <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/places/greater-mekong#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">largest</a> inland fishery. Around <a href="https://tinyurl.com/y6jrarjo" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">80 percent of the nearly 65 million people</a> who live in the Lower Mekong River Basin depend on the river for their livelihoods, according to the Mekong River Commission. In 1994, Thailand built the Pak Mun Dam on a Mekong tributary. <a href="https://tinyurl.com/y5ekfp4h" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Six years later</a>, the <a href="https://tinyurl.com/yxcvs6up" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">WCD studied the dam's performance</a> and submitted its conclusions and recommendations as part of its final report in 2000. According to the WCD report, the Pak Mun Dam did not deliver the peaking energy service it was designed for, and it <a href="https://tinyurl.com/y38p3jaw" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">physically blocked a critical migration route</a> for a range of fish species that migrated annually to breeding grounds upstream in the Mun River Basin. Cut off from their customary habitat, fish stocks plummeted, and so did the livelihoods of the local people.</p><p>Neighboring Laos, instead of learning from this debacle, followed in Thailand's footsteps, <a href="https://tinyurl.com/y4eaxcq2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">constructing two dams on the river's mainstem</a>, Xayaburi Dam, commissioned in 2019, and Don Sahong Dam, commissioned in 2020. But then a sign of hope appeared. In early 2020, just as the pandemic began to spread across the world, the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/20/cambodia-scraps-plans-for-mekong-hydropower-dams" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cambodian government reconsidered its plans to build more dams on the Mekong</a>. The science was indisputable: A government-commissioned report showed that further dams would <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/16/leaked-report-warns-cambodias-biggest-dam-could-literally-kill-mekong-river" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reduce the river's wild fisheries, threaten critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphins</a> and <a href="https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/2013WR014651" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">block nutrient-rich sediment from the delta's fertile agricultural lands</a>.</p><p><a href="https://data.opendevelopmentmekong.net/dataset/4f1bb5fd-a564-4d37-878b-c288af460143/resource/5f6fe360-7a68-480d-9ba4-12d7b8b805c9/download/volume-3_solar-alternative-to-sambor-dam.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Studies</a> show that Cambodia didn't need to seek billions of dollars in loans to build more hydropower; instead, it could pursue more cost-effective solar and wind projects that would deliver needed electricity at a fraction of the cost — and <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/press-releases/wwf-statement-on-cambodian-government-s-decision-to-suspend-hydropower-dam-development-on-the-mekong-river" target="_blank">without the ecological disasters to fisheries and the verdant Mekong delta</a>. And, in a stunning reversal, Cambodia listened to the science — and to the people — and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/20/cambodia-scraps-plans-for-mekong-hydropower-dams" target="_blank">announced</a> a 10-year moratorium on mainstream dams. Cambodia is now <a href="https://www.voanews.com/east-asia-pacific/cambodia-halts-hydropower-construction-mekong-river-until-2030" target="_blank">reconsidering</a> its energy mix, recognizing that mainstream hydropower dams are too costly and undermine the economic and cultural values of its flagship river.</p>
Toward a Green Recovery<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTcxMzUwOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTMwMjk0M30.0LZCOEVzgtgjm2_7CwcbFfuZlrtUr80DiRYxqKGaKIg/img.jpg?width=980" id="87fe9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e6b9bfeb013516f6ad5033bb9e03c5ec" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="2100" data-height="3086" />
Klamath River Rapids. Tupper Ansel Blake / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service<p>Increasingly, governments, civil servants and the public at large are rethinking how we produce energy and are seeking to preserve and restore precious freshwater resources. Dam removals are increasing exponentially across <a href="https://www.americanrivers.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/DamsRemoved_1999-2019.pdf" target="_blank">North America</a> and <a href="https://damremoval.eu/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/DRE-policy-Report-2018-digitaal-010319.pdf" target="_blank">Europe</a>, and movements advancing <a href="https://www.rightsofrivers.org/" target="_blank">permanent river protection are growing across Latin America, Asia and Africa</a>.</p><p>We must use the COVID-19 crisis to accelerate the trend. Rather than relying on old destructive technologies and industry claims of newfound "<a href="https://www.hydrosustainability.org/news/2020/11/12/consultation-on-a-groundbreaking-global-sustainability-standard-for-hydropower" target="_blank">sustainable hydropower</a>," the world requires a new paradigm for an economic recovery that is rooted both in climate and economic justice as well as river stewardship. Since December 2020, hundreds of groups and individuals from more than 80 countries have joined the <a href="https://www.rivers4recovery.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Rivers4Recovery</a> call for a better way forward for rivers and natural places. This paradigm will protect our rivers as critical lifelines — supporting fisheries, biodiversity, water supply, food production, Indigenous peoples and diverse populations around the world — rather than damming and polluting them.</p><p>The promise of the Klamath dam removals is one of restoration — a move that finally recognizes the immense value of free-flowing rivers and the key role they play in <a href="https://f.hubspotusercontent20.net/hubfs/4783129/LPR/PDFs/Living_Planet_Report_Freshwater_Deepdive.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">nourishing both the world's biodiversity and hundreds of millions of people</a>. Healthy rivers — connected to watershed forests, floodplains, wetlands and deltas — are key partners in building resilience in the face of an accelerating climate crisis. But if we allow the hydropower industry to succeed in its <a href="https://www.world-energy.org/article/12361.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cynical grab for stimulus funds</a>, we'll only perpetuate the 20th century's legacy of suffering and environmental degradation.</p><p>We must put our money where our values are. Twenty years ago, the WCD pointed the way forward to a model of development that takes humans, wildlife and the environment into account, and in 2020, we saw that vision flower along the Klamath River. It's time to bring that promise of healing and restoration to more of the world's rivers.</p><p><em>Deborah Moore is a former commissioner of the <a href="https://www.water-alternatives.org/index.php/alldoc/articles/vol3/v3issue2/79-a3-2-2/file" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" style="">World Commission on Dams</a>. Michael Simon was a member of the <a href="https://www.hydrosustainability.org/assessment-protocol" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" style="">Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Forum</a>. Darryl Knudsen is the executive director of <a href="https://www.internationalrivers.org" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" style="">International Rivers</a>.</em></p><p><em>This article first appeared on <a href="https://truthout.org/articles/damming-rivers-is-terrible-for-human-rights-ecosystems-and-food-security/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Truthout</a> and was produced in partnership with <a href="https://independentmediainstitute.org/earth-food-life/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Earth | Food | Life</a>, a project of the Independent Media Institute.</em></p>
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