Wellness Rx Report: CBD Oil and Pets

Wellness Rx Report: CBD Oil and Pets


CBD is attracting considerable public interest because of its promise in treating various physical and mental health issues in people and pets. Hemp and cannabis are two different varieties of the C. sativa plant with hemp containing more CBD and minimal THC.

Most CBD products are made from hemp plants as they contain far more CBD and almost no THC, which is the compound that creates the ‘high.’

Hemp Oil is the newest natural remedy to hit the mainstream market. Hemp Oil is produced by extraction from hemp plants and contains over eighty compounds or cannabidiols. CBD oil is the most commonly extracted cannabidiol from the hemp plant. Isolate CBD Oil does not contain the cannabidiol THC, the psychoactive ingredient that produces an altered state of consciousness, or any of the other cannabidiols. 

*THC can sometimes be toxic to dogs and cats, especially in high doses, so caution should always be made with product selection. Always speak to your vet before using any new supplement with your pet.

CBD oil can be taken as an edible, placed onto a treat or in the pet’s food, taken as a sublingual tincture (under the tongue) or applied topically. Products can be pure CBD oil (isolate; no THC; odorless/tasteless) or a mixture of CBD oil with other extracted cannabidiols and terpenes (full-spectrum oil; less than 0.3% THC or broad-spectrum oil; only a minute trace of THC) to try to enhance the therapeutic benefits for the animal. 

The source of the extract hemp plants is important to know especially if pesticides have been used. The final product make-up will determine bioavailability or the amount of active ingredient that enters the bloodstream. The higher the bioavailability, the less product is needed to achieve results. Many animal experts are now recommending the administration of under the tongue CBD tinctures to best maximize bioavailability or absorption versus edibles like gummies or treats.

CBD oil works primarily by calming down the brain and spinal cord by impacting cannabinoid receptors that are widely distributed throughout the central and peripheral nervous system. Hence, it helps to stabilize neuro-inflammation in the brain and reduce overall neuro inflammation throughout the body. Reduced inflammation improves the immune system, increases body and mind detoxification & reduces pain. While humans and animals both have these cannabinoid receptors, there is a greater concentration of receptors in the brain of a dog than there are in other animals or humans. This is why dose administration in dogs is important and why THC can be toxic to dogs in high doses.

The goals for CBD oil treatment in animals range from reduced body pain especially osteoarthritis, reduced inflammation or better mobility, digestive system issues such as nausea, improved relaxation and sleep quality, improved clarity of thought, enhanced energy, treatment of phobias or anxiety such as separation anxiety or noise aversion, cardiac benefits and treatment of chronic conditions such as epilepsy and certain cancers (acute pain and potential reduction of cell proliferation when taken along with cancer drugs). For cats, CBD Oil may prove effective in helping to relax the pet when they are exceptionally tense, exhibit dilated pupils and are looking like they are ready for the hunt.

While CBD oil is generally well-tolerated and proven to be very safe in both humans and animals, and serious adverse effects are rare, it should be avoided or used with caution by high-risk groups such as very young animals. CBD oil is also a potent inhibitor of certain enzymes in the liver that metabolize about a quarter of all drugs. This could increase the effectiveness of certain medications taken by animals such as phenobarbital or anti-seizure drugs. Your Vet may recommend reducing the daily dose of the prescription medication while the pet is taking CBD Oil or to report any side effects.

While studies on CBD oils effectiveness primarily in dogs is ongoing, there is still little hard evidence that has been produced to date that validates its effect in humans and animals. 


*The taste and smell of the product in animals and the administration can be important. Many pet owners are finding that under the tongue tinctures with measured glass droppers are easy to use and pure isolate CBD oil provides the most exact CBD dose delivery, no THC exposure, and it’s tasteless composition allows for easy administration. Adding flavoring for a pet’s preference is also easy to do. Most pet CBD oil products on the market today contain full-spectrum CBD oil to maximize benefits especially with pain. While trace or small levels of THC appears to be providing few problems, caution is advised especially if there is any risk of the pet receiving higher doses than anticipated (i.e. spillage). For pets that don’t like under the tongue administration, try placing CBD Oil into an empty food dish & let the pet lap up.

*Cannabidiol research is now recommending a dosage of 2 mg. CBD oil per 2.2 pounds of body weight for dogs twice daily. For cats, depending on the weight, age, overall health and the underlying issue being treated, we recommend starting with a 1 to 2 mg. dose per 10 pounds of body weight. For horses, we recommend dosing according to the underlying issue being treated: 25 mg./day for general health; up to 80 mg./day for anxiety and 100-200 mg. daily to alleviate chronic pain. Rapid elimination in dogs may necessitate a more frequent dosing schedule that could go up to 4 times a day. In general, a CBD isolate oil should remain effective for at least 4.2 hours and a full-spectrum or broad-spectrum oil may last a little longer. 

*High quality CBD oils should provide access to certificates that confirm or validate its contents including THC level or any contaminants. Pet owners must also evaluate all additives to the CBD oil to ensure compatibility and no harm to the animal. For example, grapeseed oil is ok for humans but toxic to dogs. 

*Finding the right dosage for the animal (their “sweet zone”) is critical to success. Under the tongue CBD oil works quickly (within 5-15 minutes). Edibles can take at least 40 minutes to become effective. Most experts recommend starting at a low starting dose, keeping a journal to observe the pet and then increasing dosage if no side effects. While side effects are very low at recommended dosing, side effects that may be observed at higher dosing is dry mouth (reduced saliva; increased thirst), lower blood pressure (light-headedness), stomach upset and diarrhea, weight loss, drowsiness and long term use could produce liver enlargement. For cats, the most common side effects are GI upset and some sedation. On the positive, all CBD oil products have reverse tolerance. That is, once you find the dosing regimen for your pet, you never have to increase dosage and over time you will experience the same benefits at lower doses. We also recommend using a CBD oil prior to an event that historically has produced or triggered an anxiety attack in the animal. For cat owners, they may want to experiment giving CBD Oil before they go to work if the cat will be alone all day.

*If you decide to stop the use of CBD oil for your pet, don’t stop abruptly. Rather start to reduce the dose and wean off slowly.

*Laws & regulations on CBD oil use with pets remains hard to predict especially in states that haven’t released guidelines. Veterinarians have been placed in a difficult situation and are often advised not to recommend CBD oil for their pet owners and not to sell the products directly from their offices. While they may provide a personal opinion on the use of a CBD oil product, they are strongly advised to refer the pet owner to another source.

*As CBD oil use becomes more mainstream and objective research increases, the benefits for animals, especially reduced pain, body inflammation, body detoxification and reduced anxiety, could start to demonstrate expanded therapeutic benefits for chronic conditions and life-threatening conditions like cancer and the taking of cancer-drugs.


The use of high-quality CBD oil by motivated pet owners can clearly produce positive benefits in a short period of time with few side effects. While CBD oil might not work for every pet, the results can be life changing for others.