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CBD Oil for Dogs

Pet Health and Safety  •   Maggie Dean  •   Apr 22, 2019


What is CBD oil?

Cannabidiol, most commonly referred to as “CBD”, is a non-intoxicating compound derived from the flowers and buds of cannabis or hemp plants. The low psychoactive components of this oil extract have deemed it safe for use in children and pets. CBD interacts with neurotransmitter receptors, potentially affecting neurologic conditions from epilepsy to depression. As an all-natural oil extract, CBD has become a popular holistic treatment that can be either topically applied or orally administered.

Remember, cannabidiol is not to be confused with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or “THC”. The psychoactive elements of THC are what make marijuana consumption unsafe for use in pets, creating inebriation that is harmful and distressing. Essentially, THC produces a “high” when consumed, while CBD does not.


CBD Oil Research Developments

As a relatively new treatment option, CBD oil is still being researched in depth. The AKC Canine Health Foundation is currently funding a clinical trial study of the drug’s effectiveness on epilepsy in dogs. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study will soon prove or disprove the potentially life-saving effects of CBD on dogs suffering from drug-resistant epilepsy. This groundbreaking study could be the first large-scale examination supporting the anecdotal evidence that CBD works.

Studies also must specify the difference between two forms of the oil: hemp-based CBD or medical marijuana-based CBD. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine committee recently reported on the therapeutic applications of medical marijuana-based CBD for humans, while hemp-based CBD has been extensively studied in animals. There are sizeable ongoing medical advancements being made to investigate both forms and their differing effects.

In the veterinary world, the jury is still out. Opinions vary due to the limited information available about the treatment.


What are the benefits of CBD oil for pets?

Most notably, there is strong evidence that CBD oil has been effective in treating epilepsy in children and dogs alike. Studies in animals performed by Cornell University support the alleged benefits, including using CBD oil as:

  • neuropathic pain relief
  • relief from drug-resistant epilepsy
  • antipsychotic
  • antidepressant
  • anti-anxiety
  • sleep aid
  • anti-inflammatory
  • arthritic pain management
  • anti-nausea
  • relief from some gastrointestinal issues

While traditional methods of pain relief can lead to liver or kidney damage, CBD oil produced no harmful reactions when dosed correctly. The AKC’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Jerry Klein, predicts that we will see an increase in research and use of CBD because of its recent legalization and efficacy.


Risks of CBD Use in Pets

Currently, there is only one CBD-based medication that is approved for consumption by the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA). This limitation on federal regulation can lead to variation in product quality, making the proper dosage determination difficult. While CBD is nontoxic for animals, trace amounts of THC can accompany unregulated CBD oil. These trace amounts are typically harmless, but can lead to a fatal overdose in pets if measured erroneously. If your pet is unable to stand or eat after treatment involving a hemp or cannabis product, seek emergency veterinary care immediately.

One of the more obvious qualms with cannabis products is legality. As of the beginning of 2019, 30 states have legalized use of cannabidiol in the US, while its use is entirely legal in Canadian provinces. For the United States, this means limited access as some states allow hemp and marijuana growth, some allow their importation, and some strictly prohibit any form of the plant.


The information provided in this blog is intended for educational purposes only and should not serve as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your veterinarian. Always consult your veterinarian with questions about your pet’s health and before initiating any treatment regimes.

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