As the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana use for humans is becoming more prevalent across the country and globally, CBD oil for dogs has become a heavily debated issue. Holistic vets and some pet owners have been advocating for the use of CBD oil to treat a variety of ailments in dogs. But does it really work?
Though there have not been many studies surrounding the use of CBD oil in dogs, many pet owners have seen success with supplementation. Read more to find out if CBD oil could be right for your dog.
A Note From the Editor
This article is meant to provide you, the reader, with a more informed decision when purchasing CBD oil. This article is not meant to diagnose, treat, or serve as medical advice. Should your pet have a medical issue, please seek advice from a Veterinarian immediately. This content uses referral links. Please read my disclosure policy for more info.
What Is CBD?
There are more than 85 different cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. The two most well known are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is found in both industrial hemp and marijuana. Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive. It’s now legal in most states, unlike marijuana.
CBD is the most abundant cannabinoid, constituting up to 40% of cannabis resin, while hemp oil contains only trace amounts of THC (less than .3%).
How Does CBD Work?
When consumed, CBD interacts with the body through the endocannabinoid system. Humans and other mammals, like dogs, have specific cannabinoid receptor sites. These receptor sites lie in the brain, central nervous system, peripheral organs, and immune cells. Cannabinoids work by initiating compounds naturally produced in our bodies, called endocannabinoids, which when activated help maintain internal health and stability. Simply put, they facilitate communication between cells when there is a deficiency or a problem. Different cannabinoids work most effectively on different receptor sites, thereby causing different effects and types of relief.
Studies in humans have shown that many cannabinoids have anti-inflammatory effects, which can help with pain, tumors, seizures, muscle spasms, skin conditions, appetite stimulation, IBS, and anxiety. Because dogs have similar endocannabinoid systems as humans, it is believed that “CBD has much the same effect in animals as it does in people,” says Dr. Gary Richter, a California-based holistic veterinarian and author of “The Ultimate Pet Health Guide.” One study in particular found that the CBD “binds to these [endocannabinoid] receptors for a longer duration [in dogs], and evokes long-lasting therapeutic response without causing toxic effects.” 
What are the Benefits of CBD Oil For Dogs?
Although scientific research on CBD for pets is limited, the evidence suggests that treating animals with CBD oil can be both a safe and beneficial option for a wide range of ailments.
We cannot stress this enough, but always consult your veterinarian before supplementing with CBD oil. Just note that in the United States, it is still illegal for vets to prescribe cannabis or its derivatives to patients. In some cases they may not even be familiar with CBD or its success stories or may even be negatively bias towards the idea.
Pain and Arthritis Relief
- CBD oil has shown success in treating both chronic pain and arthritis as well as acute ailments like sprains and strains.
Treatment for Seizures and Epilepsy
- One study conducted in Colorado showed such promising results that there are now more clinical studies underway to determine the efficacy of CBD for treatment of epilepsy in dogs.
- CBD has been shown to help with anorexia in dogs, most likely by relieving symptoms of stomach pain, inflammation of the digestive system, pain in the mouth or throat, or advanced periodontal disease. CBD also boosts appetite by suppressing nausea.
- Anxiety can be difficult to diagnose especially when you do not know the trigger. Common signs your dog is suffering from anxiety are: panting, pacing, whining, shaking, barking, or aggression. CBD is can alleviate anxiety by helping to control generalized stress as well curb obsessive behaviors.
Fight Cancer and Tumors
- Cancer cells, unlike normal healthy cells, do not die on their own when old or damaged. This is why they grow and divide to form tumors. CBD has been shown in scientific studies to cause apoptosis, or cell death, and stop the growth of tumors.
What is the difference between Hemp and Marijuana?
While both are considered cannabis, they are very different in both cultivation process and application. Marijuana is used for medicinal or recreational purposes, whereas hemp is processed to be used in dietary supplements, skin products, fabrics, and even food.
Hemp has less than .3% THC, meaning it is not psychoactive, or it won’t get your dog high like marijuana. Marijuana should NEVER be given to dogs as it can pose a serious health risk.
What’s the difference between Hemp Oil and CBD Oil?
Hemp oil is pressed from the seeds of the hemp plant, and does not contain the same amount of cannabinoids found in cannabis oils extracted from the whole plant. Hemp oil does have trace amounts of CBD, but medicinal CBD oil extracts should contain between 3% and 30% CBD.
To add to the confusion, some manufacturers label their CBD products as hemp oil, and many use hemp oil as a carrier base. There is some debate about the effectiveness of CBD derived from industrial hemp versus CBD derived from marijuana plants, however it should be noted that neither of these products should contain more than .3% THC when used purely as a CBD supplement.
 Harvey DJ , et al. (n.d.). Comparative metabolism of cannabidiol in dog, rat and man. – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1806942
 Efficacy of Cannabidiol for the Treatment of Epilepsy in Dogs. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://csu-cvmbs.colostate.edu/vth/veterinarians/clinical-trials/Pages/efficacy-of-cannabidiol-for-the-treatment-of-epilepsy-in-dogs.aspx
 Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs13311-015-0387-1
 Cannabinoid-induced apoptosis in immune cells as a pathway to immunosuppression. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3005548/