CBD’s Paw Print on the Cannabinoid World

Written by Sabine Downer

As people discover the benefits of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD), they wonder if it could also benefit their animal companions. Human and animal bodies process cannabinoids differently though [3]. So, what do we really know about CBD’s paw print on the cannabinoid world?

Key Points

  • Giving your dog a larger single dose of CBD will not produce a stronger effect [3].
  • Dogs get more CBD from an oral dose than humans [3].
  • Dogs and cats need different CBD dosages [1].
  • Trace amounts of THC in CBD products can have adverse effects in pets [4].
  • Always talk to your veterinarian before giving your pet CBD.

As early as 1988, research on CBD for dogs was published [3]. This study tested pure CBD administered to dogs through IV or orally. The researchers found that the effects of CBD in dogs were not dose-dependent. That means that you don’t necessarily get more effectiveness by giving the dog more CBD. They also found that oral bioavailability (the amount of active CBD in the body) was 13% to 19%, which is better absorption than in humans.

People give dogs and cats CBD for disorders related to anxiety, seizures, cancer and pain [1]. A 2019 research paper explains that cats have a higher oral absorption rate than dogs. CBD overall appears to be well tolerated by adult dogs, but less is known about CBD for cats. That is why it is extremely important to talk to your veterinarian before giving your dog or cat CBD products. Only they can advise you on what the proper dosage is for your pet. Since CBD can have side effects and drug interactions, they will also be able to tell you if it is safe for your pet to take CBD.

Now that we’ve talked about CBD dosage for dogs and cats and how they absorb CBD, let’s consider if CBD actually benefits pets. In a 2018 study, dogs with osteoarthritis were given CBD oil and their pain levels were evaluated after four weeks [2]. Overall, the dog’s pain levels appeared to decrease and their activity levels improved. The dogs were also allowed to receive NSAIDs, fish oil, and/or glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate. This study is far from definitive, but it does give us insight that CBD paired with standard veterinary care can improve the dog’s health and relieve pain related to osteoarthritis.

Finally, it is important to pick the right CBD product for your pet. Your veterinarian is the most qualified person to make a recommendation. Much care is needed because even trace amounts of psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can give your dog side effects. While most CBD side effects are mild, humans can also tolerate THC better. A 2020 study observed that dogs given CBD that has trace amounts of THC had side effects like lethargy, hypothermia, and ataxia (loss of full control of bodily movements) [4]. So be on the lookout for such side effects, opt for CBD isolate for pets, and always talk to your veterinarian!



1- Deabold KA, Schwark WS, Wolf L, Wakshlag JJ. Single-Dose Pharmacokinetics and Preliminary Safety Assessment with Use of CBD-Rich Hemp Nutraceutical in Healthy Dogs and Cats. Animals. 2019;9(10):832. doi:10.3390/ani9100832

2- Gamble L-J, Boesch JM, Frye CW, et al. Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs. Frontiers in Veterinary Science. 2018;5. doi:10.3389/fvets.2018.00165 Accessed August 12, 2021. https://internal-journal.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2018.00165/full#h3

3- Samara E, M Bialer, R Mechoulam. Pharmacokinetics of cannabidiol in dogs. Drug Metabolism and Disposition. 1988;16(3):469-472. Accessed August 12, 2021. https://dmd.aspetjournals.org/content/16/3/469.short

4- Vaughn D, Kulpa J, Paulionis L. Preliminary Investigation of the Safety of Escalating Cannabinoid Doses in Healthy Dogs. Frontiers in Veterinary Science. 2020;7. doi:10.3389/fvets.2020.00051 Accessed August 12, 2021. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2020.00051/full

Image: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-person-love-people-6235648/ by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels.com

About the author

Sabine Downer