CBD Oil for Pets

Updated April 22, 2019

This article was scientifically reviewed by YourDNA

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Although cannabis has yet to be FDA-approved for pets, many veterinarians are now suggesting CBD oil treats for pets that suffer from a range of ailments or diseases. Here at YourDNA.com, we’ve done the research on why science believes CBD oil may just be the natural health remedy you’ve been looking for to help your pet feel better or recover from a health challenge.

What's in this Guide?

Disclaimer: Before You Read

It is important to know that your genes are not your destiny. There are various environmental and genetic factors working together to shape you. No matter your genetic makeup, maintain ideal blood pressure and glucose levels, avoid harmful alcohol intake, exercise regularly, get regular sleep. And for goodness sake, don't smoke.

Genetics is a quickly changing topic.

What Is CBD Oil?

Researchers have identified about 104 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. In 1940, one of these cannabinoids, called Cannabidiol, was found to have amazing health-enhancing properties.

Clinical research on Cannabidiol has shown it to have a broad spectrum of therapeutic benefits, including having a positive influence in reducing anxiety, enhancing cognition, and providing relief for pain and mobility disorders.

Hemp Oil vs. Marijuana: Knowing the Difference

Over many years, the common language distinction between cannabis, hemp, and marijuana, has become so confused in articles, blog posts, social media, and conversations that many people even consider the three to be synonyms.

In actuality, Cannabis Sativa is the source of both hemp and marijuana. Moreover, according to the December 2018 Farm Bill, any cannabis plant that has less than 3 percent Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is not considered marijuana, but hemp.

Cannabis, a family of plants, has two classifications: one is Indica and the other is Sativa. Hemp comes only from the Cannabis Sativa family while marijuana can come from either the Cannabis Indica or the Cannabis Sativa family. Because both hemp and marijuana can come from the Cannabis Sativa family, they are superficially similar; but if you take a closer look, you’ll see that they are both physically different.

Physically hemp has thin leaves while marijuana has broad leaves.

Cannabis has more than a hundred compounds called cannabinoids but only two have garnered the most attention from researchers: tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and cannabidiol, or CBD. This is because they both provide the human body with therapeutic benefits.

However, while THC creates a psychoactive effect, inducing a state of euphoria, CBD does not.

Hemp and marijuana both have THC, but hemp has a low concentration, usually less than 0.3 percent, while marijuana has higher concentrations, ranging from 15 to 20 percent, if not more. Since hemp has such a low amount of THC, the only noticeable effect is a sense of focus and calmness.

However, unless one purchases a full-spectrum CBD oil, many CBD products extract the THC, leaving only pure CBD. Sometimes, too, there is confusion between hemp oil vs. CBD oil. Often these are the same thing because CBD oil is extracted from hemp.

Is Pet CBD Oil the Same as Human CBD Oil?

If you are buying CBD products for your pets, you want to get CBD extracts, that is, pure CBD. This is because there is a slight difference between how humans and animals respond to cannabinoids.

Humans benefit from the medicinal qualities of both THC and CBD, but animals may have an adverse reaction to high amounts of THC.

So, while it is safe to share pure CBD oil (that is a CBD extract) designed for humans with your pet, it is not a good idea to share a full-spectrum CBD oil, which contains a number of cannabinoids, including THC.

In most cases, high-quality CBD products for pets don’t have delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, that is, THC, because they are based on hemp rather than marijuana and even the small traces of THC prevalent in hemp have been removed.

So, all things considered, it is best to get CBD oil that has been specifically packaged for pets. The FDA not only has different labeling requirements for these products but CBD oil for pets is also more appealing to your pet.

For instance, CBD oil packaged for dogs may have flavoring, like bacon, added to it, to make it more appealing, as well as cod liver oil, for additional health benefits.

Can I Give My Pet Human CBD Oil?

If you are giving your pet a pure CBD extract designed for human beings, it will still provide positive, healing benefits, provided that your pet is a mammal.

It will also not be toxic in any way, regardless of whether your pet is, say, a dog, a cat, or a horse. However, if your pet is a reptile, it is not clear that it will have any effects at all, as the research on CBD oil has been based on the mammalian endocannabinoid system.

The reason why CBD oil will work for all mammals is that we all share the same endocannabinoid system. Cannabinoids interact with this system, which is located in the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system, to maintain biochemical balance and normal health.

How Does CBD Affect Pets?

CBD oil may either provide comfort if the ailment is incurable, relieving the symptoms of the illness, or it may help the immune system to restore health if the ailment is curable.

For best results, work with a veterinarian to determine the right dosage for the disease and how to administer the CBD oil. For instance, if you are giving your dog CBD oil because they are suffering from separation anxiety or general nervousness, the dosage should be enough to help them calm down and it could be administered by crushing CBD pills and sprinkling this over its food.

Among other things, CBD oil can help with seizures, nervousness, poor appetites, and inflammation. Based on human studies and anecdotal evidence from pet owners, it is also believed that CBD can offer cardiac and anti-cancer benefits.

Is CBD Safe for All Types of Animals?

CBD oil is non-toxic and it is usually well tolerated by mammals. While side-effects can occur, they are usually minimal and temporary as the body gets used to the new substance.

What Types of Animals Can Benefit from Taking CBD?

All mammals have an endocannabinoid system that responds to the healing properties of CBD. Consequently, CBD for pets pain relief will work well with cats, dogs, horses, hamsters, and rabbits. It also works well with farm animals like cows, sheep, and goats.

Is CBD Legal for Pets?

Since CBD products are derived from hemp oil and hemp is legal in all fifty states for both human and animal consumption, CBD is generally considered legal for animals, with each state having its own interpretation about legality.

Are CBD Products for Pets FDA Approved?

At the present time, the FDA has only approved CBD for humans who have a rare form of epilepsy. This is because they have acquired enough scientific-based evidence to convince them that EPIDIOLEX, a prescription pharmaceutical formulation of purified cannabidiol (CBD), is an effective anti-epileptic drug.

Based on questions from NBC News, Lindsay Haake, an FDA spokesperson has said: “the FDA has placed no restrictions on extra-label use of Epidiolex in animals.”

Benefits of CBD Oil for Animals

CBD oil can help animals in the same way that it helps humans, addressing a wide range of health problems.

Besides using CBD oil for pain, it can also be used to relieve anxiety, fight cancer, treat epileptic seizures, relieve pain, mitigate inflammatory bowel diseases, reduce chronic inflammation, suppress autoimmune disease, help with neurodegenerative diseases, promote cardiovascular health, improve appetite, and assuage nausea and vomiting.

Limitations of Medical Marijuana for Pets

While medical marijuana relieves the same health issues in pets that afflict human beings, it does contain high amounts of THC that are not well tolerated by animals.

Recent research on the effects of marijuana on pets has shown a toxic reaction to THC. However, CBD appears to show only positive benefits.

So, it is better to give your pet pure CBD oil, which means that all the THC has been removed. While not fatal, dogs exposed to marijuana, may exhibit symptoms like lethargy, depression, drooling, tremors, agitation, and vomiting.

Possible Side Effects of CBD in Animals

While there is insufficient scientific data on the side effects of CBD usage for pets, according to the AKC, potential side effects based on how CBD affects humans include dry mouth (research has shown decreased saliva production and increased thirst in dogs), lowered blood pressure, and slight drowsiness.

Are There Long-Term Effects?

While human studies speculate there is the possibility that CBD oil may increase liver enzymes, which is a marker of liver inflammation, this is not conclusive. It is also not clear if this precaution applies to pets.

Risks of Using CBD on Your Pet

The risk of using CBD on your pet is the possibility of side-effects. In humans, researchers have noticed a variety of side effects:

psychological side-effects like anxiety and changes in mood, cognitive effects like dizziness and drowsiness, and gastrointestinal effects like dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Dangers of a CBD Oil Overdose

There are no known cases of CBD overdose. This is attributed to the fact that CBD isn’t toxic. The National Cancer Insitute explains, “Because cannabinoid receptors, unlike opioid receptors, are not located in the brainstem areas controlling respiration, lethal overdoses from Cannabis and cannabinoids do not occur.”

CBD Oil for Pets Dosage

Since the correct dosage makes all the difference in how effective CBD is, always get guidance on it from your vet. Generally, speaking, it is best to start with a low dose, evaluate tolerance for a few days, then increase dosage if it is insufficient.

According to Dr. Cornelia Wagner, a veterinarian in Portland, OR, start with 0.05 mg per kilogram each day and gradually increase the dosage to 1 mg per kilogram each day.

Success is based on dosing, but since this is never clear, experimentation is necessary to achieve a dose amount that provides a positive effect.

How to Add Cannabis Oil to Your Pet’s Diet

While it is possible to buy CBD pills, CBD dog treats, or CBD gummies, a tincture may be the best solution as it will allow you to adjust doses by the drop into your pet’s favorite foods.

Where to Find CBD Oil for Pets

Obtaining high-quality cannabis depends on the state you live in as there are different laws restricting sales. While some states have a medical cannabis card, these are only for human beings, and there are none for pets.

For this reason, it’s best to speak to a local veterinarian familiar with CBD as they may be in a position to recommend a reputable manufacturer or dispensary about the best organic CBD oil for pets.

Sometimes it’s possible to find some good vendors online if you do a generic search, say, for the best organic CBD oil for pets. At other times, it’s a good idea to research CBD oils based on the pet and the disease.

For instance, if a dog has arthritis, research the best CBD oil for dogs with arthritis, or if a dog has cancer, research best CBD oil for dogs with cancer. Narrowing your search results can help you find the correct information sooner.

Some general purchasing guidelines are to buy organic because non-organic CBD may contain solvents or pesticides, and to avoid price shopping because the purest oils cost more to manufacture. Also, ask the manufacturer for a certificate that discloses the amount of CBD in a product.


When it comes to evaluating CBD for pet’s pain relief veterinarians often rely on how CBD affects human beings. While there is some research on CBD for dogs and cats, there is a dearth of studies on more unusual pets, say, CBD for goats or CBD for birds.

For the main part, studies have been focused on the benefit of CBD oil for dogs, and even this is done based on specific illnesses. For instance, The AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) sponsored a study in 2017 to evaluate the effect of hemp oil on dogs as an epileptic treatment.

These are some things that you should keep in mind if you and your veterinarian decide a cannabis treatment might help your pet and are researching either hemp for pets or medical marijuana for pets. At the current time, CBD for pets research is in its infancy, but as the medical benefits of CBD become better known, more research is likely to occur.

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