A Natural Cure for Pain, Anxiety, Seizures, and More?

A Natural Cure for Pain, Anxiety, Seizures, and More?
Effusive pet owners sing the praises of CBD


Jennifer McNamee still remembers that chilling phone call from her youngest daughter on September 5 of last year.

Home alone, 12-year-old Gracyn found the family’s three-year-old Labrador Retriever mix, Boomer, “on the ground and foaming at the mouth.”

“She was frantic,” says the Toledo, OH resident and mother of five. “She was home alone and didn't know what to do, but I remember her saying, ‘I think he is having a seizure.’ I felt so bad for her.” Jennifer called her husband and son, who rushed home until Jennifer could get there.

Jennifer was worried about Boomer, who she describes as her “best friend.”

“He is always by my side except for bedtime—because he hogs it—and when I go to work. My husband says that when I am gone, he just stares out the window waiting for me to get back. I love him to pieces— everyone in the house does.”

“My first thought was that he had consumed something toxic, as he has a fondness for garbage,” Jennifer says. 

When she called the vet’s office, they told her to document it. “If it was something toxic, he would continue to be ill. He was acting completely fine by the time I made it home.”

Eric and Jamie Wilborn with their dogs Imus, Jonas, and Goose. Beagle/hound-mix, Jonas, saw relief from his severe anxiety with the use of CBD. 

Exactly one week later, it happened again. 

“I was not home when it happened, but my husband was,” says Jennifer. “He said Boomer started dry heaving, then vomited, then went into a seizure. He snapped out of it within a couple of minutes. I called the vet back, and they had me bring him in the next day.”

Boomer was diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy and the vet prescribed phenobarbital, a medication used to control seizures. After some research about the side effects of the drug, Jennifer was concerned about the damage the drug can do to the liver.

“I did a search on natural ways to control epilepsy and came across an article on CBD. I then did another search for canine epilepsy and CBD oil and found that others were using CBD to control seizures in their dogs with great success.”

Believing that “natural is better—if possible—for everything,” Jennifer was open to the idea of using CBD for Boomer. 

“I have to hide it in cheese,” says Jennifer. “He does anything for cheese. I know that is not the ideal way to administer CBD, but it works best for him.” 

Jennifer is just one of scores of pet owners across North America who are trying cannabidiol—more commonly known as CBD—to treat their dogs’ ailments.

CBD for pets has become increasingly popular. But what is it?

"First and foremost, it is imperative to get our language straight when discussing cannabinoids,” says American Kennel Club chief veterinary officer Dr. Jerry Klein.


“We have gone five months seizure-free at his current (CBD) dose,” says Jennifer. “I think five months seizure-free is great!”


The cannabis plant can produce cannabinoids from the hemp plant or the marijuana plant, says Dr. Klein. Hemp contains low amounts—less than 0.3 percent—of tetrahydrocannibidiol (THC), which is the psychoactive component, and higher amounts of CBD. Marijuana has greater than 0.3 percent THC and lower amounts of CBD. THC and marijuana are toxic to pets and should never be given to pets, says Dr. Klein, who oversees a team of over 100 staff members at Chicago Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Center as the emergency department’s supervising veterinarian. CBD is derived from hemp and is non-psychoactive.

Dr. Klein sees the growing interest in CBD for pets firsthand. According to Dr. Klein, clients seem to have the most interest in discussing the use of CBD for pet issues involving pain (central pain, osteoarthritic pain, peripheral neuropathies and spinal pain) and anxiety.

But those aren’t the only uses for CBD. Other pet owners have used CBD oil on their pets for issues including arthritis, chronic pain, cancer, seizures and various behavioural issues, Dr. Katherine Kramer, the director of the Canadian Association of Veterinary Cannabinoid Medicine, previously told Modern Dog.

Even so, Dr. Klein—a member of professional organizations including the American Veterinary Medical Association; Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association and Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care Society—reminds that “the only scientific studies that have been published on the use of CBD in dogs has been regarding osteoarthritic pain and drug-resistant epilepsy (preliminary).

“Any other claims are at this time are strictly anecdotal, not scientific. This is very important to remember as many marketing claims of CBD products mark it as a cure or aid for a multitude of conditions and ailments,” he says.

Still, pet owners like Eric Wilborn have seen firsthand the difference that CBD has made to their dogs.

Eric and his wife, Jamie, have three dogs, “all rescues from local shelters (who) can be nervous,” says Eric.

In particular, their three-and-a-half-year-old Beagle/hound-mix, Jonas, suffers from severe anxiety, with nervous episodes typically brought on by storms, fireworks, construction, and other loud noises. 

“Jonas tries to run and hide anywhere he can,” says Eric. “We have rushed home during fireworks to be with them. Our town’s festival is held just a couple of blocks away from us and they do fireworks during the summer every year.”

But storms and wind noise are the worst for Jonas, says Eric, and in Bourbonnais—the area of Illinois where the family resides—they see quite a few storms. 

Jamie had success with a CBD tincture oil for herself, so the couple looked into giving a pet version to Jonas. 

“Our opinion only improved once we saw how Jonas reacted to it,” says Eric. They administer the oil before a noise event. After giving the tincture orally with its dropper, they see results within 15 to 30 minutes.

Those results were life changing. Not only was Jonas “more calm and chill,” Eric says, “he was able to endure noises much better. We were relieved and he was much happier. We felt like we could leave the house during these events without feeling so guilty.”

If they choose to use CBD, pet owners need to exercise caution, says Dr. Klein.

“Owners that choose to give CBD should remember that there is no current data on drug interactions and specific dosages for animals,” says Dr. Klein. “CBD products are υ not regulated for purity, concentration, and authenticity. Individual medical histories of each pet must be
considered prior to the administration of any drug, especially in dogs having heart and/or liver issues. The concern of proper dosing of any product for dogs is especially concerning as they can range in weight from as little as three pounds to over 150 pounds.”

“No product should ever be given to an animal for the first time and left alone for the first two hours, especially products not regulated for dogs or cats,” says Dr. Klein. “CBD products may take effect as early as 20 minutes or may show effects as long as two hours. Adverse reactions, such as severe lethargy or unresponsiveness, would need to be addressed as quickly as possible to prevent a possible tragedy.”

That said, Dr. Klein says that as a dog owner, he recognizes that there have been many anecdotal claims regarding the benefits of CBD for dogs in pain. 

When his own dog, Kong, suffered from spinal pain, Dr. Klein tried CBD oil “as the one last ditch effort to try after we had tried all other forms of both prescribed medications, invasive procedures, and alternative medicine.

“I used the product as directed in hopes of giving him some relief of his pain. After five days of CBD treatment, I can say I noticed one night of improved sleep.” He could not confirm the cause of the improvement. 

Others, like Jennifer, have noticed a more definite difference. 

“We have (gone) five months seizure-free at his current dose,” says Jennifer. “I think five months seizure-free is great!”

In addition to helping Boomer’s epilepsy, she believes that CBD oil contributed to easing the pain from his knee after a tibial-plateau-leveling osteotomy surgery in February 2019. 

“After his surgery, he stopped using his leg to get on or off the couch and would not jump to catch a ball,” Jennifer says. “The vet that did his surgery said he was all healed and to try glucosamine and chondroitin, which we did, but no change. Within months of starting the CBD, I noticed him using his leg to get up on the couch so I decided to toss the ball up in the air and he jumped up and caught it. We have discontinued the use of the other joint supplements. He clearly felt relief with his knee, and it was great to see him be able to be a dog again.”

Canine CBD

If your dog is experiencing hip or joint pain, try Grizzly Pet Product’s Hemp Enhanced Joint Aid Liquid. Its synergistic blend of five active joint support ingredients, wild fish oil, and organically grown hemp oil can help reduce stiffness, pain, and inflammation. $30, grizzlypetproducts.com


Jasper Sorën’s Canine CBD is a 3,000 mg CBD concentrate for dogs of all sizes. The double independent-lab-tested formula blends organic hemp oil with CBD isolate from Colorado growers. Start with a low to moderate daily dose and increase for an individualized treatment plan. $149, jaspersoren.com


Extra Strength Health Drops from Healthier Pet combine 99.2% pure CBD isolate with organic hemp oil and fish oil for added health benefits. Designed to work quickly, this formula helps treat an array of aliments. From $53, healthierpet.org


Iceland Pure’s Next Level Premier CBD Fish Oil combines CBD oil with fish oils for a unique formula offering a high absorption rate to relieve anxiety, lubricate joints, bolster immunity, and help battle cancer. From $82, icelandpure.com

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