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CBD for Dogs

All you need to know about how CBD (aka cannabidiol, a safe, non-toxic compound found in cannabis) can help your dog

By: Peter Nolan-Smith

Last Updated:



CBD for Dogs Everything You Need To Know

Lulu the Chihuahua was struggling with major skin and joint issues. Most problematically, the then six-year-old dog was suffering from knee dysplasia, severely limiting her movement around the house. Her owner, Sian Thomas, consulted a vet but Lulu wasn’t a candidate for surgery, and Sian was concerned about Lulu’s pain level. That's where CBD for dogs comes into play.

“She was torn up, a mess and a half, the tiny little thing,” Sian said. 

On the advice of the staff at the animal rescue where she adopted Lulu, she began administering 300mg of CBD oil, a cannabis extract, into her dog's mouth each day with a dropper. In less than a month, Lulu was back up and running. 

For the unfamiliar, CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabis compound derived from hemp. Unlike THC, it’s non-psychoactive, meaning it won’t get you or your dog high. What it does seem to do is help with all manner of ailments, from pain to anxiety to seizures. 

On her CBD regimen, Lulu was so energized that she started running around with Sian's other dog, a five-month-old puppy. That is why CBD for dogs is all about.

“He had full puppy energy and she kept up with him,” Sian marveled, adding that the CBD oil cleared up the tiny dog's skin issues as well.

“It made her skin wonderful. It turned me into a believer,” said Sian, who was never one to partake in marijuana. “You know I was like, ‘this isn’t real, it can’t be happening.’”

Her positive experience with her dog led her to suggest CBD therapy for a family member as well.

“Now, we’ve even given it to my granddad who has a failed knee replacement to help him heal too.”

Lulu and her human companion aren’t the only ones seeing first-hand results when it comes to treating certain chronic conditions in canines with CBD.

Chris Arzberger started to consider taking CBD for his own anxiety, and while doing research found numerous products and testimonials from people having success using CBD on their animals. It couldn’t have come soon enough as his Pug, Oscar, and Boston Terrier, Felix, were dealing with serious health problems.


The ABC’s of CBD

CBD is something that’s popping up more and more on shelves. From the beauty aisle to the pet store, the hyped compound is being seen in everything from craft cocktails to medicinal body oils. And now, there is space opening up for CBD to help dogs across North America. Both recreational and medicinal use of marijuana and marijuana-derived products are legal in Canada, and, as of December 2018, with the passing of the Farm Bill, it is federally legal both to possess and use hemp and its derivatives (including CBD) in the United States as well. 

What the heck is CBD?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of hundreds of phytocannabinoids found inside cannabis sativa. Historically it is a lot less famous than its wild cousin, THC, the chemical in the plant that causes the high feeling. THC has been hogging the attention so much that illegal growers have been breeding CBD out of cannabis for generations. This is because not only is CBD non-psychoactive, it can also have a calming effect—bad news for those seeking a “high”, but ideal for tackling anxiety and pain without any psychotropic effect.

CBD has also shown promise in treating epilepsy, arthritis, and reducing inflammation—a condition that’s being linked to numerous ailments in humans and dogs alike. The current research suggests that there is a real future in developing treatment in canines and many practitioners are already seeing results in their clinics.


At 13, Oscar was having issues moving around the house and would remain immobile for most of the day until begrudgingly and painfully getting up when prompted to do so. Meanwhile, Felix suffered from canine intestinal lymphangiectasia, a disease that prevents him from processing fat and results in gastrointestinal distress.

It was the promise of a potential treatment for Oscar’s arthritis that persuaded Chris to try CBD on his dogs. 

“He would walk with a heavy limp and refused to go on walks,” Chris said of his dog Oscar. “If he did get the motivation to go on a walk, he wouldn't last long and we would have to tuck him into the compartment underneath our daughter's stroller."

In a matter of mere days after the first treatment, Oscar’s limp had gotten better and within a few weeks, he started running around the house again. Even the patio stairs, a long-standing source of trouble for the dog, were no longer an obstacle. 

“When I would come home from work or if it was time for dinner he would start jumping around like a puppy. It was quite remarkable,” said Chris.  

While CBD has completely replaced Oscar’s glucosamine tablets, Chris is hoping CBD can assist Felix as well. The Boston Terrier’s prescription medications help but come with some serious side effects. 

“He is losing muscle mass, has the need for frequent urination, and occasionally gets the shakes,” Chris reports. After introducing CBD, he says he has “slowly started to lower his medications and he hasn't had a relapse. We plan on continuing to lower his prescription medication."

Nugget was another dog with a chronic illness. Suffering from liposarcoma of the leg, the nine-year-old Chihuahua could hardly walk. His owner Marni Eton could not afford the chemo or radiation therapy that could have potentially prolonged her companion’s life.


Does CBD for dogs help with pain?

There is currently little evidence in the research that CBD has a direct impact on pain, however, there are many dog owners reporting success in using it to treat chronic pain conditions in their dogs. 

Does CBD for dogs help with anxiety?

This is another one that the data just isn’t in yet from clinical trials, though many dog owners, including some of those interviewed for this article, report success using it for that purpose. 

How can CBD help dogs with cancer?

CBD is regularly being used in hospice care for dogs. While not shown to be an effective treatment for curing forms of cancer in clinical studies, clinicians and frontline workers are finding success in using it to manage the symptoms and increase quality of life in terminal dogs.

How is CBD best administered?

A simple eye dropper seems to be the simplest method. It can also be added to food. Some companies sell THC-infused dog cookies or treats.

Dr. Stephanie McGrath, a veterinarian at Colorado State University conducting clinical research into CBD, told Modern Dog she had tried a solution that was applied through the skin, though it was not particularly effective. 


CBD is not a cure for cancer, but Marni says it was able to provide her dog comfort near the end of his life. 

“It was the first time in a long time to see some of that pain ease,” she said of the treatment. “It sure made a difference in his pain level.”

There is an absence of long term data on CBD use in dogs, but owners are reporting more and more success with CBD in tackling a variety of ailments. We spoke with veterinarians, vet techs, and owners to cut through the hype and find out what’s actually known about the compound.

Can CBD be used instead of prescription drugs?

CBD is primarily an alternative to other anti-inflammatories on the market. While non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like Metacam are typically cheaper than CBD products, they come with a long list of side effects.

Some owners have transitioned their dogs off of anti-inflammatories completely while using CBD. Veterinary technician Keli Omalley-Izumine, also the co-founder of the LA-based Rock and Roll Rescue dog shelter, specializes in providing care to abandoned and terminally ill canines. She says that CBD has increased the quality of life for her dogs. 

“It was something I’d been hearing over the years in veterinary medicine,” she said. "There was a hype but honestly, I never really believed in it.”

That was until a rescue of hers, Stevie, developed a serious form of cancer. Although an operation removed much of it, the cancer quickly grew back. Keli credits CBD with not only improving Stevie's health, but allowing her to outlive her six-month survival window by two years and counting. 

Remember though, removing your pet from any medication should not be taken lightly and should be done only under the advice of a veterinarian.

What are the risks?

CBD appears to have no reported side-effects on dogs. In humans, the World Health Organization (WHO) has found there are no adverse side effects from the use of CBD.

Too much CBD will eventually reach a toxic level in dogs, however, according to Dr. McGrath, though unlike THC, dogs appear to have a very high tolerance.

She reports using 300 mg daily in her research on a variety of sizes of dogs (“Chihuahuas to Saint Bernards”), the dosage she says, in hindsight, was fairly low. Keli, at Rock and roll Rescue said they give their cancer patients up to 1,400 mg with no visible negative effects. (Dosage is of course dependent on the size of the dog.)

Watch for symptoms of toxicity like vomiting, shaking, listfulness, and a distant look in their eyes.

Who should consider giving CBD to their dogs?

One of the areas where the drug has proven truly effective has been in the treatment of epilepsy in dogs and people alike. Research out of the Colorado State University is showing positive results when it comes to the treatment of conditions like arthritis, but most notably in epilepsy, though this data has yet to be peer-reviewed.

CBD For Canines!
These CBD products are formulated especially for dogs

Medix CBD’s Oil for Dogs is infused with a smoky bacon flavour your dog will love. Great for anxiety, insomnia, and pain relief. $50/ 500mg,


Soothe your dog’s aches and pains with Odessa’s Essentials’ CBD Recovery Bar. Scored into six easy-to-break pieces, this CBD bar allows your dog to relax and recover in comfort. $8,


Made specifically for the smaller, more sensitive breeds, Suzie’s Toy Breed CBD Oil supports health, relieves anxiety, and aids in the treatment of chronic issues. $30/125mg,


Prevent and treat external inflammation, itching, and dryness with Dope Dog’s Soothing Suds CBD Shampoo. Great for hot spots, eczema, and much more. Made only with dog-friendly ingredients! $35/100mg,


Pharmaceutical grade and 100% THC free, Tuscan Natural’s CBD Coconut Oil helps keep your pup’s coat healthy and shiny. It’s made without pesticides, solvents, or GMO’s to ensure there are no dangerous side effects. From $26,


This certified organic, vegan, non-GMO, Peanut Butter Flavoured CBD Oil from Paw CBD provides pain relief without the high. Available in several concentrations for the perfect puppy proportion! $28/150mg,


Blue Ridge Botanicals’ CBD Hemp Oil Doggie Drops have been shown to slow the spread of cancer and reduce the size of tumors. $17/150mg,


Honest Paws’ Creamy CBD infused Peanut Butter is sure to be a big hit with your dog. Made with premium ingredients, your dog will get the taste they love alongside the many health benefits. $37/453g,


Specially formulated to work quickly, Healthier Pet’s CBD Fish Oil Health Drops have all the added benefits of fish oils and is easy to digest. $45/250mg,


If your dog’s not a fan of taking medication try Canis World’s Bacon Flavoured Dog Hemp Oil Tincture. Made from American CBD isolate, it’s sure to entyce even the pickiest pooch. $88/100mg,


These CBD filled Meaty Steak Treats from Medipets CBD are a simple and delicious solution to anxiety caused by summer fireworks and thunderstorms. $40,


A combination of pharmaceutical human-grade sardine anchovy oil and USA grown hemp, Iceland Pure’s CBD Tincture is formulated specifically for pets for high quality results. $105/100mg,


Last Updated:

By: Peter Nolan-Smith
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