Exploring Dog Health: The Wonders and Dangers of Hemp and Cannabis

Your dog’s health and wellness didn’t end with the days of summer (we hope!). As a patient, you may know dogs have an endocannabinoid system.

But it’s not the same as ours.

That means you must take precautions if your dog has a health problem and you want to explore hemp-derived CBD as a wellness option.


Where do you begin when vets legally can’t prescribe it or even advise?

And do you keep your leafy medicine in a safe place away from your canine (s)?

We’ll explore:

  • Exploring CBD as a possibility for your dog’s wellness plan
  • Review studies that show those possibilities
  • Precautions for buying and dosing
  • How and Why you need to keep medical cannabis away from your dogs


Now let’s get to it!


Exploring cannabis as a possibility for your dog’s wellness plan

You may consider CBD for your poocheroo for:

  • Anxiety
  • Pain (arthritis)
  • Noise phobias (fireworks, sudden sounds)
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Epilepsy
  • Inflammation


And there are pet parents who’ve definitely had luck with it. But given the lack of formal studies, it’s at your discretion that you explore hemp (NOT marijuana—more on why below) for your dog.

The night is gray and full of questions when your vet legally can’t guide you. So the next best thing is to arm yourself with enough knowledge and the patient to experiment.

Our Executive Vice President Tracey explores CBD with her elderly bully of a dachshund named Little Man. But even she leans on research and steady doses to help her brown mini-loaf with stubby legs.

Pictures of Peake ReLeaf Puppers
Peake ReLeaf Puppers pictured clockwise: Bella, Little Man, Cookie, Pie the Adventure Pug, and Leo


What do vets say about hemp CBD for dog health?

When January 1, 2020 rolls around, veterinarians in California can discuss CBD with dog owners.

Gary Richter is an Oakland-based vet who sees the benefits for pupperonis. He just wants everyone to know that it won’t fix everything.

He warns against THC, which can create an unpleasant sensation for dogs and negative effects. He witnessed the death of a beloved pet who choked on his own vomit after consuming THC.

Another vet, Mark Verdino, MD of North Shore Animal League America, gives his jumpy senior a dose at night for relaxation. He recommends choosing a veterinary-specific product from a well-known manufacturer.

He notes that usage can get expensive. Especially for a large dog: a month’s worth can push upwards to $300-400.

Overall, at the time of writing, there are very few studies on CBD oil’s effects on dogs. And Dr. Verdino says that we really don’t know if the cannabinoid helps with pain. Or just makes our dogs not care about their ailments.

As he says, “We don’t know, but they seem to be less reactive to low level pain stimuli.”


And how about research studies?

It’s important to understand the pharmacokinetics of CBD (Cannabidiol) to better your chances of a positive experience. Per Google, it’s “the branch of pharmacology concerned with the movement of drugs within the body.”

According to the study “Pharmacokinetics of Cannabidiol in Dogs”, there has yet to be proof that CBD works as an anti epileptic or anticonvulsant alone in humans or animals. The dogs tested were under poly therapy, which means they were still taking anti-epileptic drugs like phenytoin, phenobarbital, primidone and carbamazepine.

This shows that combining CBD with the prescriptions can increase the therapeutic index of the drugs. So CBD expands the effectiveness of a typical dose.

dog and doctor_Light Field Studios_Getty Images
Photo by Light Field Studios/Getty Images

The study “Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs” shows that hemp-derived CBD appears to have short-term benefits. Dogs could receive NSAIDs, fish oil, and/or glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate before and during the study period.

So again, CBD wasn’t the only tested substance (though showing positive effects).

A vital point for this study?

They fed dogs the CBD oil via olive oil.

CBD is a fat-loving cannabinoid, which may have increased absorption rate and kept doses consistent during the study. So it may be best to give your fur baby oil-based CBD with food for best results.

For your dog’s biology, studies suggest she’ll need a frequent dosing schedule, typically aligned with when she goes out for a poop. The study’s dose schedule was twice a day. But realistically, you may dose 3-4 times depending on how often you take your dog out to make waste.


Precautions for buying CBD for your pet’s problems

Your veterinarian is liable if they prescribe anything cannabis-related to your dog. So unfortunately, you must wade this gray area with caution.

It goes beyond what the studies say: you need to make sure you’re buying a safe product and that you take your time with dosing.

Preventivevet.com encourages ElleVet Sciences and Applied Basic Sciences Corporation’s CBD products because “their products undergo double-blinded, placebo-controlled university-run scientific study to prove efficacy and safety.”

These companies set the standard for further product research. So think about these before buying:

  • Do diligent research when reading reviews
    • Read negatives reviews first
    • Read impartial reviews
    • Avoid health claims and cure-alls
  • Don’t automatically trust products with “natural” in the name
    • Check the hemp product processor
    • “Natural” can still mean naturally toxic for your dog (ex. Xylitol is highly toxic for canines though it’s a “natural” sweetener for us)
  • Document usage: record your dog’s progress before and during product usage with video or journal


Understanding proper dosing

Piggy-backing off of documenting usage, where do you start with dosing?

You’ll want to work with a holistic dog professional for this part. Dosing requires two parts: knowing your dog and knowing the product. So keep these in mind before you click buy or grab a product in the store.

Knowing your dog:

  • What are all of her health conditions?
    • CBD can interact with multiple ailments
    • CBD can interact with medications
  • What’s his activity level?
    • May affect how he reacts to CBD
  • What’s his weight and size?
    • You need to account for potency based on weight

Knowing the product:

  • Is it free of toxins?
    • Research all ingredients
  • What’s the CBD potency in the treat, oil or capsule?
    • It can differ by company


Canine Journal offers additional details on starting dosing and how to measure potency in CBD oil. Be sure to check it out.


How and why to make sure your dog doesn’t eat your resin, edibles and other favorite medicines

Though dogs are also mammals with an endocannabinoid system, their body requirements differ from ours. Dosing can be very sensitive for dogs.

dog photo_Monica Clicks_Getty Images
Photo by Monica Clicks/Getty Images

And similar to how we can have a great time with chocolate but it’s toxic for our fur babies, medical cannabis and too much CBD can yield similar results.

Over 6 years since cannabis legalization has sprouted up across the country, Pet Poison Helpline received an uptick in cannabis-related cases. A 448% increase to be exact!

Here are warning symptoms to watch out for:

  • Sedation/lethargy
  • Dilated pupils
  • Difficulty walking
  • Vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Tremors
  • Low/high blood pressure
  • Lightheadedness/disoriented
  • Drowsiness/altered sleep patterns
  • Vomiting
  • Agitation
  • Vocalization (whining, crying)


These symptoms can occur between 5 minutes and 12 hours from ingestion and may last for 30 minutes to a few days. It all depends on how much your dog consumed.

If your pet is showing symptoms of cannabis toxicity, take her directly to the vet. They have the proper resources/supportive care to level out your pet.

So tools to regulate your dog’s body temperature, keep her well-hydrated, and provide medication that brings comfort. All while monitoring her throughout the experience.

So keep your medicine locked away and do NOT smoke near your pet.

For emergencies, call your vet or Pet Poison Helpline.



PLEASE stay as informed as possible when experimenting with your dog’s wellness. Cannabis offers plenty health-wise, but be cautious.

Stay diligent in your research according to what we’ve provided. And find a holistic vet to work with if you’re just starting out.

And keep in mind where you leave your medicine.

Share your experiences and studies you like with us!

Featured image provided by Crystal Sing

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