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Why Use CBD For Pets? Here’s What Emerging Research Is Saying

With new CBD products coming out every day, the health and wellness industry has jumped on the CBD train, full steam ahead. But what about our feline and canine friends? Can they receive health benefits from CBD oil for pets? 

In this guide, we’ll give you the lowdown on what CBD is, its safety for pets, and what the research says on why you could use CBD oil for pets. 

What is CBD? How Is It Used? 

In every human body, there’s an endocannabinoid system (ECS), a series of receptors that sends signals to the brain and body. The ECS helps regulate important functions that affect mood, movement, allergies, and inflammation. 

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the many chemicals found in the cannabis plant. It’s thought that CBD acts on the ECS to deliver a range of desirable health benefits. Manufacturers extract the CBD from the plant to offer products like tinctures, oils, chews, and much more. 

Why Use CBD Oil For Pets? 

The mainstream use of CBD products in pets is still a fairly new idea, and we need more studies to confirm its medical benefits. Recommendations are often based on a vet’s experiences or word of mouth from other pet parents who have found success. 

However, emerging research conducted using dogs suggests that CBD may help with both seizures and inflammatory pain. 


When used in combination with traditional anti-seizure medications, a study showed CBD treatments to drastically reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures in dogs. However, the placebo group also had decreases in seizure activity, so further research is needed. 

The only FDA-approved CBD product for humans is Epidiolex, used to help rare, treatment-resistant types of epilepsy. Scientists theorize that CBD blocks nerves in the brain from firing too much and lowers the number of seizure-inducing electrolytes. This gives CBD the potential to help treat other neurological conditions too, in both animals and humans. 


In a study from 2018, researchers wanted to test the anti-inflammatory and anti-pain potential of CBD oil when used on dogs with osteoarthritis. They found that 80 percent of dogs experienced an improvement in their pain levels and mobility. 

One of the most widely believed properties of CBD is its ability of reduce inflammation in the body. As arthritis is an inflammation of the joints, it’s no surprise that researchers are paying special interest in this area. But being an anti-inflammatory has a whole host of other potential applications. Just ask the humans and pet owners who successfully treat many types of pain and skin conditions with CBD oil. 

Anecdotal findings

A lot more peer-reviewed, rigorous scientific testing needs to take place before we’ll know the full potential of using CBD oil for pets. In the meantime, pet owners anecdotally endorse CBD to improve the symptoms of numerous conditions, including: 

  • Anxiety
  • Chronic pain
  • Nausea and reduced appetite
  • Cancer
  • Cardiac conditions
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Poor sleep

Is CBD Safe For Dogs and Cats? 

The FDA hasn’t yet approved any CBD products as being safe for ingestion by pets. 

However, although they’re in early stages so far, veterinary studies published in the last four years have been promising. They show that CBD products have a wide margin of safety for use in both cats and dogs. In the osteoarthritis study mentioned earlier, when given lower levels of CBD, the four dogs with osteoarthritis displayed no side effects. And in a study from 2020, even at high doses, 20 dogs experienced only mild after effects from CBD. 

When side effects are observed in animals taking CBD, they’re very similar to those experienced by humans. These are usually mild, improve in time or with adjusted dosage, and include: 

  • Dry mouth
  • Change in appetite
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Lowered blood pressure

On a side note, CBD products will not get your pet high. THC is the psychoactive chemical in cannabis. Legal CBD products in the US are required to contain less than 0.3 percent of THC. 

What Forms of CBD Can You Buy For Cats and Dogs? 

There are a variety of CBD products on the market, each designed for a different purpose. They’re usually administered by the mouth, where the pet either swallows or absorbs the CBD under the tongue. These are the most popular types of CBD products for pets. 

CBD oil

CBD oil for pets is usually administered as a tincture, so the oil is dispersed into the pet’s mouth using a measured dropper. In this form, you can easily start at a low dose and adjust it by changing the number of drops you give. And as the oil is absorbed under the pet’s tongue, it can offer relief to symptoms much more quickly than a pill or topical product. 

CBD topicals

CBD topicals are often designed to offer localized relief to conditions like muscle aches and skin issues. The CBD can be applied directly to a pet’s fur, as close to the skin as possible for maximum absorption. CBD is picked up this way by cannabinoid receptors found in the pet’s skin. Pet owners just need to make sure their pet doesn’t lick the site for at least 45 minutes. 

CBD treats, chews, and pills

CBD extracted as oil can then be suspended in a gel capsule or soaked into a pet treat. As long as your pet is food-motivated, disguising CBD as a tasty treat or dropping a capsule into their meal is an easy way to administer it. The CBD is then absorbed in the digestive system and can pass into the bloodstream. 

Tips For Using CBD On Pets

If you and your vet agree to try a CBD product for your pet’s wellbeing, be aware that not all CBD on the market is created equal. Look for a high-quality CBD product if you want a better chance of success. It should: 

  • Be formulated for your pet’s specific needs
  • Contain organic CBD oil, free of pesticides
  • Often come at a higher cost
  • Be certified by the manufacturer, with information on the amount of CBD in the product
  • Have little or no THC—preferably lower than 0.3 percent
  • Not contain harmful ingredients to your pet, if choosing a human CBD product
  • Be able to be easily divided, so you can start at a very low dose and work upwards gradually (if necessary)

Using CBD For Pets

It’s important to remember that every pet’s ECS and body functions a little differently, so results from CBD can vary. Talk to your vet if you have any questions about how your pet is responding to CBD oil.  

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