CBD oil for dogs: What to know about research into CBD oil for dog anxiety, pain, arthritis & cancer.
What does CBD oil do for dogs & cats?
Since the legalization of cannabis in Canada in 2018 there has been an explosion of cannabis products and their derivatives. CBD is an acronym for cannabidiol, and it is a natural substance found in both cannabis and hemp. CBD oil for dogs & cats is an extraction from typically the hemp plant. Anecdotally, CBD oils is said to help with pet’s anxiety, anti-inflammatory conditions such as pet pain management, seizures, cancer, arthritis & joint pain as well as digestive issues.
Does CBD get your dog or cat high?
For most pet owners, the first question they seem to have is won’t my dog or cat get high from taking CBD oil? Typically, the answer is NO depending on which plant the CBD is derived from. What gets dogs or cats high and is dangerous for pets is THC. THC also known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol is what is found in cannabis that has psychoactive properties and can result in pets in emergency clinic. Both THC and CBD can be extracted from cannabis. However, when we say CBD oil for dogs & cats, we are referring to extraction from hemp only. Note that to be classified as hemp, it has to have “no more than 0.3 percent (by dry weight) of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).”1
How is CBD oil extracted from hemp?
There are two ways of extracting CBD oil for pets from the hemp flower.
Solvents – using either petroleum or chemical forms of extraction such as hexane and butane. In the case of using chemical extraction, there will be residue left from these solvents. Alternatively, there are natural solvents like Olive oil, which can be used to extract CBD oil safely. Please make sure to ask the manufacturer, which solvent is used to extract your CBD oil for dogs & cats.
CO2 extraction –this uses carbon dioxide under high pressure and with low temperatures to isolate only CBD and strip away chlorophyll. According to information from a producer of pet CBD oil, this can result in a 99.9% purity in the CBD isolate.
Based on updated info from Health Canada in 2021, processes like CO2 extraction are not encouraged as phytocannabinoids such as cbd cbg cannot be identified on the bottle as it would breach the Cannabis Act. The extraction method that producers of pet Cannabis oil are currently using is a heat pressed then chilled and filtered method which is all organic
Is it better to have CBD isolate or full spectrum CBD oil for dogs or cats?
We believe in full spectrum or accompanying effects of whole foods and in the case of pet CBD oil, that will also be the case. A study conducted on this found “plant constituents improve the dose-response are supported by some recent reports showing that CBD in a standardized Cannabis sativa extract is more potent or efficacious than pure CBD. “The higher efficiency of plant extract might be explained by additive or synergistic interactions between CBD and minor phytocannabinoids or non-canna- binoids presented in the extracts”2
In Canada, some of these may be labelled as hemp terpenes despite having more than just terpenes. Paw Plus is an approved Health Canada cannabis oil for dogs and cats. Prior to Paw Plus, Creating Brighter Days Spectrum is an example for dogs & cats which anecdotally have been given great reviews by customers.
When would you use a full-spectrum CBD oil for dogs and cats? Generally, we’d suggest a full-spectrum CBD oil as it provides an “entourage effect.” As Health Canada rules do not allow the identification of phytocannabinoids, the full spectrum is known as cannabis oil for pets. This means that there will be other hemp terpenes, trace amounts of THC, cannabinoids and flavonoids. This is the idea of the synergistic interactions we spoke about earlier. We’d use the Health Canada approved cannabis oil for pets for acute cases eg. cancer in dogs/ cats, severe arthritis or anxiety . However, if all you can find is a CBD isolate, that could work.
Is pet CBD oil legal? Do vets recommend CBD oil for dogs & cats in Canada?
Depends on where you are located.
In the USA, CBD derived from hemp is legal based on the 2018 Farm Bill. It is also illegal to market CBD in the USA. It has to be approved by the FDA. Cannabis is still illegal in the USA. However, despite CBD oil being legal, there are limited studies on the impact on companion animals as CBD was illegal. This is because hemp and cannabis had been illegal in the US and that stifled research into pet CBD oils.
In Canada, the Cannabis Act made it legal to process CBD from hemp. However, the Cannabis Act does not include Canadian vets as practitioners and as such, your vet cannot prescribe CBD oil for your cat or dog. In addition, there are limited studies on the impact of CBD on pets.
However, before you utilize CBD oil for your cat or dog, we’d recommend you have a discussion with your vet about your intentions and the sources of your CBD oil. Despite, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) not favouring CBD oil for pets, most vets will have a candid conversation with you as they have your pet’s interest at heart.
How does CBD affect dogs and cats?
Without going into too much on the endocannabinoid system, think of the system as a signalling system in the brain and throughout the body. This system controls appetite, pain, nausea, memory, mood and inflammation.
Basically, CBD acts indirectly on receptors in the brain and throughout the body of the dog or cat. More research is being conducted to find out how.
Pros and Cons of CBD oil for dogs & cats
Anecdotally, CBD oil for dogs and cats has been reported by pet owners as helping the following conditions:
- Anxiety, noise phobia
- Pain / Inflammation & joint pain
- Nausea/ Loss of appetite / Digestive issues
- Epilepsy & seizures
A 2019 study entitled “Canadian dog owners’ use and perceptions of cannabis products” collected data on what pet owners are using cannabinoid treatments for.
They found that 79.8% of respondents had purchase cannabis products for their dogs. “The most common use of canine cannabis products was for pain relief (72.3%). This was followed by reduction of inflammation (47.0%) and relief from anxiety (39.8%).”3
For more info see “Perceived efficacy of hemp or marijuana products for pet health conditions, as compared to conventional medications.” Is there any scientific evidence of the efficacy of CBD oil for these conditions?
Does CBD oil help with dog cancer/ cat cancer?
As pets become a more integral family member, we are seeing or hearing of what seems to be an increasing amount of pet cancer. It would be factually inaccurate to say that cancer rates in dogs and cats are going up. This is partly because cancer is not very well reported in pets. When our pet passed away, the vets did not take information on the type of breed, what kind of cancer he passed away from etc. That tells me that this is likely the case for most pets who pass away from cancer in North America. As a result, there may not be an appropriate benchmark to use to estimate whether rates are going up or not. However, it seems to be more common to hear of someone you know having a pet pass away from cancer.
Anecdotally, at Moonlight Natural Pet Store we’d guestimate that of our older dog customers who pass away about 3 out of 5 have cancer. “Veterinarians know less about the specifics of cancer in animals because much less research has been done on malignancies in animals.”4 As such, cancer research and treatment for our pets is becoming increasingly important.
CBD oil for pets has been touted to be an effective treatment for pain management and nausea reduction with dogs or cats with cancer.
A study that looked at neuroblastoma (NBL), which is a common solid cancer in children found that both THC “and cbd in particular—reduced the viability of NBL cells.”5
In addition, the study concluded that CBD impeded the growth of tumours and could be used to reduce the chemotherapy dose and minimize toxicity. Basically, the study found that CBD can slow the growth of tumours.
Does CBD oil help dog/cat arthritis and joint pain?
We all get old and our pets are no different. When dog / cat arthritis or joint pain hits, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) tend to be the primary option that vets prescribe. A common NSAID would be Meloxicam. There are quite a few risks to using NSAIDs. For example, “more than one dose of meloxicam in cats can cause kidney failure or death.”6 Note that NSAIDs side effects range from vomiting, diarrhea, to stomach and intestinal ulcers, “kidney failure, liver failure and death.” 6
A study on osteoarthritic dogs found that CBD was perceived to make the dogs more comfortable and active. In addition, they found that “no significant difference was noted in BUN, creatinine, or phosphorus between dogs treated with the CBD oil vs. the placebo oil, while NSAID treatment resulted in a higher creatinine concentration.”7
However, one other portion of the study that needs to be noted was that the liver enzymes (especially ALP) seemed to rise for dogs on CBD. Note that besides the side effects of NSAIDs this doesn’t seem to be much but is a good thing to check for. “Another study demonstrated the mechanism by which CBD inhibits inflammatory and neuropathic pain, two of the most difficult types of chronic pain to treat.”
Does CBD oil help dogs with seizures?
For dogs with seizures, Gabapentin is used as a form of treatment. NSAIDs or opioids are sometimes prescribed with Gabapentin, which help with pain management as well. Note that Gabapentin is not FDA approved for dogs but has been used by vets in treatment of dog seizures and chronic pain.
There are quite a few side effects related to Gabapentin, as the drug is eliminated through the kidneys. There is also a recent FDA warning about severe breathing difficulty in humans due to Gabapentin.
CBD has been studied as an option for reducing dog seizures. “Dogs in the CBD group had a significant (median change, 33%) reduction in seizure frequency, compared with the placebo group.”8 Basically, the study found that dog seizures were reduced with CBD oil. Note that the Colorado State University study combined CBD oil with antiepileptic treatment and they stated that more research is required.
Does CBD oil calm separation anxiety, noise phobia and digestive issues in dogs & cats?
A study in 2014 found that CBD oil could decrease cat or dog anxiety. There is still more research that needs to be done for CBD oil in pets. For information on pet owners’ perception on the impact of CBD on these conditions, see here.
What you should do before giving CBD oil to your cat or dog?
Here are a few tips to consider when you are buying CBD oil for dogs and cats.
- Make sure it is derived from Hemp not Cannabis
- Opt for full spectrum CBD oil/ hemp oil where available
- Obtain certificates of analysis from the CBD oil manufacturer
- Purchase CBD oil for pets derived from organic products as hemp can be full of pesticides or toxins from the soil. Purchase organic cbd oil for dogs or cats.
- Utilize the liquid version of CBD oil as you can adjust the dosage
- Check for side effects such as dry mouth / excessive drinking, vomiting, impaired mental function, dizziness, overactive appetite. And if you use long-term, check the liver enzymes by getting blood work done.
How much and how often should you give CBD oil to a dog or cat?
Dosages are typically based on weight and what issue you are dealing with. Based on information from Paw Plus, under Health Canada rules, processes like CO2 extraction are not encouraged as phytocannabinoids such as cbd cbg cannot be identified on the bottle as it would breach the Cannabis Act. Thus, the dosages are vague.
Is CBD oil safe for dogs and cats?
A lot has been said about CBD being natural and as such there is an assumption that it cannot hurt. That is not the case.
Although, CBD is a derivative that is extracted, it is not in its natural form of hemp. You could overdo pet CBD Oil and as we said above, check for side effects.
Side effects of CBD oil for pets include dry mouth / excessive drinking, vomiting, impaired mental function, dizziness, overactive appetite. And if you use long-term, check the liver enzymes by getting blood work done.
Alternatives or enhancements to CBD oil for dogs/ cats
Potential treatments to Dog / Cat Anxiety along with or without CBD:
- For dogs, you could focus on training with a positive enhancement dog trainer or try a new sport such as “nose work”.
- Also, ensure that you are giving your dog the appropriate amount of exercise based on its breed and temperament.
- For both dogs and cats, you can try calming pheromone sprays or supplements such as Adaptil or Feliway. Examples of potential alternatives to CBD oil can include Naturpet Home Alone, which is a herbal formulation for pet anxiety or stress.
Potential aid to Dog Arthritis or joint pain along with or without CBD:
- Work to help mobility issues by placing no slip surfaces on floors lacking traction, or else try dog socks for arthritic dogs
- Help your pet stretch to prevent stiffness in joints. This can be done as preventive medicine. You could stretch the hip flexors and shoulder flexors gently and slowly. For the benefits and how to stretch your dog to prevent stiffness, see here.
- Naturpet also makes a herbal formulation called NaturPet Joint Care, which is helpful for easing joint inflammation. For long-term management, you might want to consider Fluid Recoverex-Plus aimed at arthritic dogs and with green lipped mussel.
CBD oil for dogs and cats in Canada will surely become even more popular as more studies get underway and Health Canada approves certain formulations. What is known now based on the research studies above looks promising. Always remember to do your research or consult a veterinarian when in doubt.
Please comment to let us know what you think about this guide? Is there something you would have liked us to include in this guide? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
- Overcoming the Bell-Shaped Dose-Response of Cannabidiol by Using Cannabis Extract Enriched in Cannabidiol PP> Vol.6 No.2, February 2015 Ruth Gallily, Zhannah Yekhtin, Lumír Ondřej Hanuš https://www.scirp.org/html/5-2500582_53912.htm
- Canadian dog owners’ use and perceptions of cannabis products. The Canadian Veterinary Journal = La Revue Veterinaire Canadienne, 30 Jun 2019, 60(7):749-Kogan LR, Hellyer PW, Silcox S, Schoenfeld-Tacher R 755https://europepmc.org/article/med/31281193#id576926
- Causes of Cancer https://www.merckvetmanual.com/special-pet-topics/cancer-and-tumors/causes-of-cancer.
- In vitro and in vivo efficacy of non-psychoactive cannabidiol in neuroblastoma>Pediatric Oncology Vol 23 (2016) > https://current-oncology.com/index.php/oncology/article/view/2893/2085
- Get the Facts about Pain Relievers for Pets https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/animal-health-literacy/get-facts-about-pain-relievers-pets#Effects.
- Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs Lauri-Jo Gamble, Jordyn M. Boesch, Christopher W. Frye, Wayne S. Schwark, Sabine Mann, Lisa Wolfe, Holly Brown, Erin S. Berthelsen and Joseph J. Wakshlag https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2018.00165/full
- Randomized blinded controlled clinical trial to assess the effect of oral cannabidiol administration in addition to conventional antiepileptic treatment on seizure frequency in dogs with intractable idiopathic epilepsy by Stephanie McGrath, Lisa R. Bartner, Sangeeta Rao, Rebecca A. Packer, and Daniel L. Gustafson. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, June 1, 2019, Vol. 254, No. 11, Pages 1301-1308 https://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/full/10.2460/javma.254.11.1301
- Antidepressant-like and anxiolytic-like effects of cannabidiol: a chemical compound of Cannabis sativa. http://www.eurekaselect.com/122699/article