Proponents say CBD is helpful for pets' anxiety and other conditions. Opponents say the products aren't regulated. CBD for dogs is the way to go as a lot of pet owners recommending it for its significant positive impact on their dog's health.
CBD for Pets – Top 3 Pros and Cons
Source: Austin Community College Vet Tech Program, “Veterinary Tech Students from Austin Community College Are Involved in Helping with Heartworm, FeLV, FIV, and Socializing and Cleaning up the Animals at Bastrop Animal Control and Shelter,” flickr.com, Nov. 10, 2014, creative commons license
When people talk about giving marijuana to pets, they are really talking about the use of CBD products derived from hemp. The California Veterinary Medical Board explains that CBD is the “abbreviation for cannabidiol, which is one out of 60 naturally occurring compounds present in cannabis. It is the second-most prevalent cannabinoid in both hemp and marijuana and is nonpsychoactive.” CBD extracted from hemp contains less than 0.3% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the compound in marijuana that causes the high. 
THC is toxic for cats and dogs even in small amounts. The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center reported a 765% increase in calls regarding animals ingesting marijuana from 2018 to 2019. 
In 2020, pet owners spent about $99 billion on their furry friends, a growth of 12 times over 2019 as more people worked from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. The market for CBD products aimed at companion animals jumped from $32 million in 2018 to $400 million in 2019. During the pandemic, in 2020 sales rose to $426 million and are expected to jump to $629 million in 2021.    
A survey found that 11% of dog owners and 8% of cat owners gave CBD to their pets in 2019, often in the form of pet treats, tinctures administered under the tongue, and salves or creams applied topically. Reasons cited for giving CBD to companion animals included caring for aging pets and treating conditions such as anxiety, pain, and seizures.    
Is CBD Good for Pets?
A majority of veterinarians agree that CBD helps animals.
A Veterinary Information Network survey found that 79% of vets with clinical experience using cannabis products said CBD was somewhat or very helpful for chronic pain in animals; over 62% said it was helpful for managing anxiety. Over 80% of those vets said there were no reports of adverse effects aside from sedation. 
A study published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science found that 82.2% of veterinarians agreed or strongly agreed that there are medicinal uses of CBD products for dogs from a medical standpoint. 
Jeffrey Judkins, DVM, holistic veterinarian at Animalkind Veterinarian Clinic, said that CBD is “100% non-toxic. You can’t overdose on CBD. It might make pets sleepy, but there’s no toxicity.” Judkins reported success in using CBD to alleviate pain and anxiety in animals, stating, “Recently I was able to significantly reduce the amount of a narcotic pain drug a dog was being given (with adverse side effects) by substituting a cannabis product.”  
Studies about CBD use in pets have had positive results.
A clinical trial found that 89% of dogs who were given CBD oil experienced fewer seizures. Researchers at Cornell University who performed a double-blind cross-over trial on dogs with osteoarthritis found “a significant decrease in pain and increase in activity” with CBD oil. There were no observed side effects from the CBD treatment. Studies on laboratory animals have shown benefits for cardiovascular health, the respiratory system, and cancer and pain treatment.   
While experts acknowledge that research in this area is preliminary, they speak positively about the results to date.
Stephanie McGrath, DVM, neurologist at Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, stated, “We saw a correlation between how high the levels of CBD were in these dogs with how great the seizure reduction was. It’s really exciting that perhaps we can start looking at CBD in the future as an alternative to existing anticonvulsive drugs.” 
Pet owners report success in treating their animals with CBD.
Many pet owners swear by the use of CBD to treat ailments such as anxiety, pain, digestive issues, and inflammation. Their positive experiences are reflected in the growing market for CBD pet products. The industry was estimated at $400 million in 2019, and could jump to $1.7 billion by 2023.  
A study of people who gave their dogs CBD found that less than 5% reported any side effects, and the most common side effect was lethargy (a lack of energy). 
Joshua Hartsel, PhD, chemist and CEO of Delta-9 Technologies, stated that since all mammals have an endocannabinoid system, “the same or similar benefits of cannabinoids found in humans can also be applied to most veterinary species.” In fact, people have been giving medical cannabis to pets and farm animals since the 1800s. 
CBD pet products are unregulated.
The lack of regulation means pet owners could be buying CBD with unlisted ingredients that are potentially toxic to their pets, such as THC. Experts say these products are in need of testing for the presence of heavy metals, pesticides, and THC. “It’s really the Wild West out there,” said S. David Moche, MBA, CEO of a veterinary medicine company that sells CBD products.   
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that 70% of the CBD products they analyzed didn’t match the concentration listed on the label, and 21% of their samples contained THC despite it not being on the label. 
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said in a statement, “We want to stress that FDA has not approved cannabis for any use in animals, and the agency cannot ensure the safety or effectiveness of these products.” According to the FDA, animals who ingest cannabis could suffer negative side effects such as “lethargy, depression, heavy drooling, vomiting, agitation, tremors, and convulsions.” 
There isn’t enough scientific evidence to support giving CBD to pets.
Research in this area is so new that no one knows the long-term impacts of CBD use in companion animals, or what an effective and safe dose would be. 
Sue Lowum, DVM, a veterinarian and associate professor at the University of Minnesota, said she wouldn’t recommend CBD for pets because “We just don’t have enough information at this point to draw any legitimate conclusions… there is no assurance the CBD oil they purchase is safe or effective.” Veterinarians’ knowledge about CBD use in pets is purely anecdotal at the moment because of the limited scientific evidence available.  
Further, researchers found that some seller’s websites contain “blatant lies” about CBD.  The American Veterinary Medical Association stated, “While both marijuana and industrial hemp products are available, no studies, doses, or uses in veterinary medicine have been determined… AVMA cautions pet owners against the use of such products.” 
Using CBD instead of traditional medicine may harm animals.
A phenomenon called the “caregiver placebo effect” may cause pet owners to misread their animals’ response to CBD. This might lead to suffering in animals that could have been helped by veterinarian-prescribed medications with scientifically proven effectiveness. 
Alex Avery, BVSc, veterinary surgeon and founder of Our Pets Health, said, “Because we are so invested in our pet, we really want to see them improve and likely believe the treatment will work… There is a real risk we will see improvement even when it is not there.” 
Much of what we know about therapeutic CBD is specific to humans, and its effects on companion animals could be quite different because they don’t metabolize it the same way. CBD could also cause dangerous interactions with pharmaceutical drugs prescribed by a vet.   
Click for an Encyclopaedia Britannica video about the chemistry of marijuana
and how its potency and safety is determined.
1. What is the difference between anecdotal evidence and scientific evidence? Should one be trusted more than the other?
2. Should veterinarians be legally allowed to talk about cannabis with their patients? What reasons might there be to restrict those conversations?
3. Would you give your pets CBD products for medical reasons? Why or why not?
1. Learn about the debate from Mercey Livingston’s CNET article.
2. Explore the difference between CBD and THC for dogs at Pet MD.
3. Consider the debate via a Washington Post article by Maura Judkis.
4. Consider how you felt about the issue before reading this article. After reading the pros and cons on this topic, has your thinking changed? If so, how? List two to three ways. If your thoughts have not changed, list two to three ways your better understanding of the “other side of the issue” now helps you better argue your position.
5. Push for the position and policies you support by writing US national senators and representatives.
Pros and Cons of Cannabidiol: CBD For Dogs
CBD for dogs is the way to go when talking about Marijuana for Pets. Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is the second most common active ingredient in Cannabis.
With many pet owners recommending it for its significant positive impact on their dog’s health, CBD products like hemp oil and treats have gained popularity.
However, Marijuana for dogs is a big topic and is a big decision for some dog owners. Below, we’ll be able to help you see the benefits and disadvantages of CBD for dogs.
What is CBD for Dogs?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound found in marijuana and hemp plants. Unlike Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is a non-psychoactive compound. People or pets like dogs will not get ‘high’ from it.
According to many dog owners, CBD has a lot of health benefits for dogs. However, THC is toxic to cats and dogs, even in small dosages.
Since the legalization of marijuana, according to ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center, there’s been a 765% increase in calls about pets’ accidental intake of marijuana from 2018 to 2019.
Pros of CBD
Humans are not the only ones who benefit from using CBD. It’s been shown in pets that CBD may have fantastic health benefits.
CBD Helps the Endocannabinoid System
Recent studies have shown that CBD may have a lot of positive effects on dogs’ health. It can reduce seizures, pain, and inflammation.
Dogs, just like humans, have the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS is responsible for regulating the dog’s mood, behavior, and many more.
When CBD interacts with the ECS, it mimics the effects of cannabinoids that can reduce different types of pain in the body.
Moreover, a great example is when a dog has arthritis, or joint pains takes CBD, the ECS will boost Cannabinoid Type 2 Receptors (CB2) to regulate the inflammation.
Furthermore, there are other possible effects of CBD on the ECS are:
- Good mood
- Proper sleep
- Relaxed Muscles
- Reduce Inflammation
- Strong immune system
CBD Can Reduce Anxiety Levels
In times of thunderstorms and fireworks, our dogs and cats tend to hide under the bed. CBD can be great (as long as your veterinarian says its okay) for these times of year to decrease stress and anxiety.
Two of the easiest ways to administer, we recommend using chews or tincture drops.
CBD and Its Use for Fighting Cancer
Cancer in dogs includes Canine Lymphoma, Melanoma, Mast Cell Tumors, Bone Cancer, Hemangiosarcoma, and Mammary Cancer.
However, CBD alone will not be able to cure cancer. CBD can be a supplemental treatment for pups undergoing cancer treatment regimens.
Moreover, in rare cases, CBD has shown to slow down the growth of cancer cells that can work more effectively with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
This is where the Endocannabinoid System comes in again. The ECS has receptors (CB1&CB2) that regulate what the dog is experiencing.
However, always consult with your vet first before using CBD for pets. They will know what’s best for your pup.
CBD Can Reduce Chance of Seizures
Furthermore, recent studies have shown that CBD can also help reduce the chances of seizures in dogs with epilepsy or other neurological disorders. About 89% of dogs taking CBD products reduced the frequency of attacks.
Like the cancer category above, it is best to consult with your vet first rather than rushing into things.
Cons of CBD
Furthermore, there can still be downsides to using CBD. Too much CBD can lead to a disadvantage rather than the Pros above.
You, as the owner, have the responsibility to make sure that they are just taking enough doses of CBD to not overdose.
Moreover, there’s about 40% of CBD products contain THC. THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol is the psychoactive compound found in marijuana that triggers the ‘high’ effect on people.
CBD Can Cause Less Energy
Over usage of CBD can get your dog lethargic or depressed. You’ll notice that your pup is less energetic and enthusiastic than before.
You’ll see that your pup may be experiencing drowsiness. Check up on your dog frequently as they can also share low blood pressure with too much CBD.
Other Physical Side Effects of CBD and Dogs
Too much CBD can also lead to excessive drooling, vomiting, shaking, and nervousness in his surroundings. It is essential to use only a few drops of CBD oil directly into your pup’s mouth three times a day.
Commonly Asked Questions about CBD in Dogs
Is it okay for dogs to use CBD Every Day?
CBD is safe to be taken every day but with low amounts, and it all depends on the situation on why they are taking it.
Studies have shown that dogs that suffer from arthritis can be given CBD twice a day with proper dosage to relieve the pain. Taking a safe amount of CBD oil every day can help your dog live happier and with less pain.
Is CBD safe for Senior Dogs?
Yes, it is safe for old dogs to take CBD oils. This will help ease the uncomfortable pain that they’re experiencing due to old age. Senior dogs are more prone to cancer, arthritis, heart, kidney, or liver diseases.
As stated above, CBD can help fight cancer cells and relieve pain on inflamed joints.
Do dogs get addicted to CBD?
No, CBD doesn’t pose any threat of addiction to dogs. However, there are still disadvantages to too much intake of CBD. A few of them have less energy, excessive drooling, and vomiting.
Pros and Cons of CBD for Dogs: Conclusion
CBD is not just for humans anymore. Studies have shown that dogs can also gain significant benefits from CBD oils, CBD treats, or other CBD products. There are more Pros than Cons when it comes to this natural medicine.
Moreover, the benefits of CBD for dogs are helping the endocannabinoid system, reducing stress and anxiety, fighting cancer cells, reducing chances of seizures, and many more. For example, CBD is great for relieving pain or easing the body with inflammations.
Hemp oils have gained popularity due to many pet owners recommending them. However, marijuana for dogs is a complex subject.
There are CBD products that contain THC. THC is a compound of marijuana that can be toxic to dogs. You, as the owner, have the responsibility to check the ingredients of the CBD products that you’re buying.
Above all, we all want what’s best for our pups. They are part of the family, and we’ll treat them like one. Low amounts of CBD can help your dog live a long and happy life.