CBD for Dogs: Q&A with an Expert Veterinarian

CBD for Dogs: Q&A with an Expert Veterinarian


As a relatively new phenomenon and one with no official regulatory body to monitor it, there remain many questions among dog parents about the efficacy, benefits and safety of CBD for dogs — particularly given its popular association with recreational cannabis or marijuana.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is the second most prevalent active ingredient in cannabis (marijuana). The CBD extract we use in our pet treats is derived directly from the hemp plant, a cousin of marijuana, that we grow here on our farm. One of hundreds of components in marijuana, CBD does not cause a "high" by itself. 

In order to learn more about CBD for pets, we went to the Dog Food Advisor website. They interviewed renowned veterinarian and Professor & Dean Emerita at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Dr. Eleanor Green (EG)— an advocate of CBD for animals and consultant to leading animal CBD producers Chou2Pharma.

We have picked out what we see as the highlights in the interview. See the link at the end of the citation to the full interview transcription on the Dog Food Advisor (DFA) website. 

Key points in the interview: 

CBD for pets targets pain, discomfort, and inflammation from osteoarthritis - common in most aging pets. It also targets behavior such as anxiety and stress induced by vet visits, car rides, thunderstorms, and the like.

Many of the current go-to medications for these conditions have potential adverse side effects with chronic use or at high doses, whereas CBD shows few adverse side effects. 

Interview highlights: 

DFA: What sparked your interest in working with CBD?

EG: I immediately saw many possibilities for CBD to help veterinarians make the lives of animals better. Animals across all species experience pain, discomfort, and inflammation commonly. There are existing, effective FDA-approved medications available with more receiving approval over time.

The development of new products is an indication of ongoing need. Like almost all drugs, some of our quality, go-to medications for pain have potential adverse side effects, especially with chronic use or at high doses. While more research is definitely needed for CBD and other hemp products, the evidence so far shows few adverse side effects...

What are the other health benefits or uses of CBD for our dogs?

Cannabinoid health supplements for pets can support hip and joint, digestive health, immune health, senior/geriatric health, brain health, and so much more.

Looking at the drug studies, we’ve seen cannabinoids used for anxiety, osteoarthritis, pain, and epilepsy. As I said, there are more than 120 cannabinoids! All unique. We are at the tip of the iceberg.

It’s also important to note that in the current regulatory environment, companies and veterinarians are not allowed to claim benefits for specific diseases and veterinarians are not allowed to prescribe cannabinoids [with minor exceptions in some states, details of which can be found here]. That will change with FDA approval of products. For now, we’ll work with animal health supplements.

DFA: Why are some veterinarians reluctant to prescribe CBD for pets?

EG: My interest in CBD was further heightened when I began to learn about the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS is present in all mammals, playing an important role in homeostasis, which means keeping the body balanced for optimal function.

The ECS isn’t taught in veterinary schools, so there’s a fleet of graduates and longstanding veterinarians untrained in this area, unless they’ve actively sought information. The result is veterinarians unable to effectively advise clients who want to use CBD/hemp for their animals. I strongly believe that veterinarians should be the trusted source of information about cannabinoids to offer sound advice to clients, veterinary organizations, animal industries, legislatures, regulatory bodies, and the public.

The challenge of navigating this booming industry is only increasing for both veterinarians and clients, especially in the wake of growing client interest. Fortunately, there seems to be a trend of increasing interest from vets in the ECS, its function in animals, the use of products that influence the ECS, and guidance for clients who want CBD for their animals. They may see the value of CBD within their own practices and should be able to guide clients on how to use products for their animals.

It’s important to note that hemp and cannabis are not new. The use of cannabis for medicinal purposes dates back to ancient times. Interestingly, marijuana was legal in the US around the turn of the 20th century. With prohibition, awareness of cannabis and cannabinoids waned.


Which format is most effective in your opinion?

When made to the right standards, they can all be effective. The different formats typically lend themselves to the owner’s preference or the animal’s needs. Some dogs won’t swallow a pill, so oil might be best. What we do know is cannabinoids are absorbed through the mucus membranes readily, so oils can act quickly when administered under the tongue or on the gums — again, if formulated well and to the best standards.

So, something like Chill [Chou2 Pharma’s relaxation and calming formula], can be given at the onset of a thunderstorm or right before a vet visit, again under the tongue or on the gums, and it can act quickly — within 15 minutes.

It isn’t necessarily the format of administration, but the format or treatment of the molecules. If you’re giving something to a dog orally, to be swallowed and digested, that product will have to pass through the highly acidic upper GI tract.

If you don’t protect those cannabinoid molecules, they risk being destroyed before they even enter the animal’s system. This is one reason why some might say CBD doesn’t work for their dog. And this is one of the unique steps Chou2 Pharma takes – protecting and encapsulating the molecules moving through the digestive tract (so, the soft chews), to improve bioavailability and absorption in the system.

Would you use one type of CBD product for all dog ailments, or would you use a combination of oil, chews, balm, etc.?

It’s very situation-dependent, or based on an owner’s knowledge or preference, which is where a veterinarian can really provide great guidance. For me, it’s more about the cannabinoids used and the purity of those molecules and products. Format matters less if the products are well-designed, as noted above.

Do you advise CBD be used only under veterinary instruction, or is it okay for pet parents to buy CBD products for their dog without speaking to a veterinarian?

In the interest of the health and welfare of the pet, anything given to an animal ought to be under the supervision of a veterinarian. The veterinarian knows the complete health status of the animal, so they should be made aware of everything that’s happening.




To read the full interview transcript of "CBD For Dogs: Q & A with an Expert Veterinarian," visit the full article on the Dog Food Advisor website.

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