CBD and Your Pet - Where to Start

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CBD and Your Pet - Where to Start

(photo credit Cody @ colorcophoto

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CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis plants. It’s been gaining in popularity with people suffering from a wide range of conditions, and the trend has sparked for our furry friends too. With CBD having an extremely low health risk with massive potential for health benefits, this compound is being hailed for its medicinal promise.

Unfortunately, there are not enough studies or research being done in the area of CBD for pets because the federal classification put on CBD is the same as THC, a Schedule 1 substance. There’s also the red tape of getting a trial or study approved by the federal government, with the information being required for approval not being known until the studies have been completed.

Some clinicians and pet owners are moving ahead anyways, despite these unknown elements. Clinicians who are eager to get the scientific research needed to know dosing levels, safety concerns, and potential benefits. Pet owners who are desperate to find anything that may provide some kind of relief from a wide range of conditions. The feedback from a good portion of these individuals is they believe they notice a positive result with their cats and dogs.

Last summer the American Veterinary Medical Association stated it wants the DEA to declassify marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, so research opportunities can be sought out for the potential of medical uses in veterinary and human uses. A bill introduced in September by Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch (r) would lead the way for more clinical research.

"We lack the science to support use of medical marijuana products like CBD oils, not because researchers are unwilling to do the work, but because of bureaucratic red tape and over-regulation," Hatch said.

The Science Behind CBD

To understand how CBD works in the body, we need to take a look at something all vertebrates have, the endocannabinoid system.The endocannabinoid system, or ECS, helps maintain cell and body homeostasis. The ECS system can affect inflammation and pain, carcinogens, sleep, mood, appetite, motor control, and other things. It also produces cannabinoids naturally found in our bodies.

It has been found that CBD affects the endocannabinoid receptors located in the central nervous and peripheral nervous systems. These receptors are key players in the function of maintaining the homeostasis of the body. When CBD is introduced into the body, it can both upregulate and downregulate the endocannabinoid neurotransmissions when needed to help maintain the body’s homeostasis. This helps keep the body in a healthy state and balanced.

This is unlike pharmaceuticals, which most only trigger an upregulation or downregulation. This can take the body’s systems out of its normal homeostatic state. For those who have tried CBD for relief of a physical or emotional condition, results have been mixed. However, the results are also mixed with the pharmaceutical options as well. When you compare the potential side effects of both options, it’s clear to see CBD has far less potential or serious effects.

So what does this mean for our furry friends? As we stated earlier, all vertebrates have endocannabinoid systems, making CBD a promising choice for them as well. Dogs specifically have endocannabinoid receptors that are similar to those of us humans. Theirs however, tend to be heavily concentrated in certain parts of the their brains, which can have an increased sensitivity to the toxicity of some cannabinoids, THC being one of them.

2016 Survey from American Veterinary Medical Association

In 2016, the AVMA conducted a survey that included 632 pet owners. The survey found a little more than half of the respondents had seen an improvement in their pets’ conditions after using CBD. 72% of dog owners said they used a hemp / CBD product with their dogs. 16% used it with their cats.

Out of the people who used hemp / CBD products, 64% of dog owners and 66% of cat owners felt they helped moderately to a great deal. The survey also found of those taking these products, 49% of the dogs had reduced anxiety, and it helped 56% of the cats with their inflammation. Sedation and overactive appetites were the most common reported side effects, at 20% for the dogs and 15% for the cats.

Starting CBD for Your Pet

Step 1. Start at the recommended beginning dosing

  • 0.05mg per pound of dog or cat’s body weight - twice daily

Do this for one week, making notes of any changes in your pets mood or condition. If you aren’t seeing the desired effect, move to step 2.

Step 2. Increase dose to 0.125mg per pound of weight - twice daily

Do this for one week, again making notes of any changes in your pets’ mood or condition. Move to step 3 if you’re not seeing the desired effect.

Step 3. Increase dose to 0.25mg per pound of weight - twice daily

If your dog is suffering from severe conditions like arthritis or epilepsy, you’ll most likely find yourself using the higher dosing. Just like humans though, it may not work for your pet as well as it does for others.



Additional Tips

Be sure to look at the actual amount of CBD in each dose. For example, if there is a CBD product that has a total weight of 1 gram and says there are 20 milligrams of CBD, that product is 20% CBD. So if you’re trying to give 10mg of CBD to your pet, you would give them 50% of the entire product.

When purchasing CBD from a company, you want to find out where they purchase their hemp. Some source their hemp from overseas, and oftentimes have high concentrations of pesticides and heavy metals. Make sure the company you buy CBD from sources their hemp from the USA. Be sure the company also tests their products and upheres to a high quality standard.

CBD Studies and Research

Study - Researchers sought to find out if CBD had any effect on the escape response in rats.

Conclusion - The findings of this study suggest regular use of CBD creates an anti-panic effect, due to the decreased escape responses in the rats.


Evaluation - Researchers examined the neuroprotective effect of CBD in rats with Parkinson’s disease.

Conclusion - The evaluation showed CBD and other cannabinoids can provide neuroprotection against the progression of degeneration of certain neurons that occur in Parkinson’s. There was also promise shown of more potential benefits with CBD affecting the activation of CB2 receptors, although more research in this area must be done.


Comparison - Researchers compared the use of CBD and antiepileptic drugs in seizures in rats.

Conclusion - This comparison showed that CBD is an effective anticonvulsant with moderate and severe seizures.


New Research for CBD Is Here

Although presently there is very little research and studies on what effects and possible benefits CBD might have for our pets, there are those that are pushing forward to get those answers. Currently, as of February 2018, Colorado State University is running two studies on how CBD affects dogs with epilepsy or osteoarthritis. CSU first studied the effects of CBD on dogs, to make sure it was tolerable and safe. Of the 30 dogs assessed, although diarrhea was a common side effect, CBD was found tolerable.

With the positive results of the first study, researchers have now moved into the second clinical trial with dogs suffering from osteoarthritis or epilepsy. These studies are currently underway, and everyone is excited about the information that will come from this research.

CSU CBD for Dogs with Osteoarthritis Study

24 dogs in the study

Given either CBD or placebo

Double-blind method (neither researcher nor pet owner know if dog is receiving CBD or placebo)

Activity monitors on the collars tracks mobility and vitals

Owners are required to walk their dog 15 minutes daily

Subjects must have gait analysis done every 2 weeks


CSU CBD for Dogs with Epilepsy Study

34 dogs in the study

Given either CBD or placebo

Double-blind method (neither researcher nor pet owner know if dog is receiving CBD or placebo)

Owner maintains daily seizure log

Subjects are assessed and blood tested every four weeks