CBD for Dogs: What is it and how does it work?

CBD for Dogs: What is it and how does it work?

This blog is for educational purposes only. The VMD considers that veterinary products containing Cannabidiol are veterinary medicines that require a prescription in the UK.

cbd for dogs

What is CBD and how does it work?


See how CBD can make a difference to your four-legged friends in a variety of ways.


  • CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is a non-intoxicating compound present in the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa). 
  • CBD is safe, natural, and typically causes no side effects. 
  • Like humans, dogs can benefit from CBD’s positive effects on stress, anxiety, pain, inflammation, seizures, and osteoarthritis.¹ 
is it safe to give cbd to my dog

CBD for Dogs

The appeal of CBD has transcended humans. Thanks to its therapeutic properties and non-intoxicating nature, it is now used to help dogs, cats, rabbits, and even horses overcome a range of medical conditions using the power of cannabis.

To those unfamiliar with the cannabinoid hemp industry, the idea of giving CBD to a pet that has separation anxiety, pain, or inflammation may seem absurd. But once caring pet owners appreciate how CBD for dogs positively affects them, it makes sense to use this natural remedy rather than potentially hazardous prescription medications.

Harnessing the power of CBD to help dogs live their best lives is still a new concept, meaning that large-scale research is somewhat inadequate. However, preliminary studies look promising, and UK vets may now prescribe CBD for dogs. In fact, many pet owners see life-changing results after giving their pets CBD². Since giving CBD to dogs is a recent innovation, in this article, we cover the fundamentals.

cbd for dogs

Potential Benefits of CBD for Dogs

Research indicates that CBD may offer wellness-supporting benefits for your canine friend.

CBD for Osteoporosis in Dogs

Osteoarthritis is a common bone condition that frequently affects man’s best friend.

Some research ¹ estimates that as many as 1 in 5 dogs over a year old suffer from this painful disease.

A recent 2020 study¹ examined the effect of CBD on dogs with osteoarthritis in a double-blind test over four weeks. Some of the dogs were given a placebo and showed no change in their condition over the study.

However, the dogs given large doses of CBD demonstrated improved mobility and quality of life, which the authors attributed to CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties.

CBD for Seizures in Dogs

Seizures are another frequently encountered issue in dogs. In 2019 the first veterinary-specific use of CBD for seizures was evaluated and published. While the study² concentrated on dogs already taking anti-epileptic drug therapy, the results are promising and showed a statistically significant 89% reduction in seizure frequency in dogs receiving CBD.

These findings could potentially lead to a canine version of the United States Food and Drug Administration approved drug Epidiolex, a CBD-based drug used to treat certain types of seizures in humans.

cbd dosage for dogs

CBD for Anxiety in Dogs

Many dogs suffer from anxiety, even though their owners might not necessarily recognise the symptoms.

Often, dogs become extremely agitated and upset when their owners leave the house, sometimes leading to destructive behaviours or incessant barking.

In humans, using CBD for anxiety is widespread. In a large survey of CBD users, around 60%⁹ of them harness the power of CBD specifically to manage their anxiety and report that it works exceptionally well, in addition to helping with pain, insomnia, and depression.

The majority of veterinarians¹⁰ agree that CBD works well for stress relief. If your canine friend is chronically anxious or becomes stressed because of specific events, like fireworks, offering CBD oil for dogs could be an effective solution.

Is CBD Safe for Dogs?

Yes, CBD is widely considered safe and an effective therapy for dogs.

In 2017, the World Health Organization³ released a statement saying that CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.

There are only rare cases of humans and animals experiencing side effects. Overall, CBD is considered safe for dogs, and the UK Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD)⁴ classifies CBD as veterinary medicine.

What is CBD?

CBD stands for cannabidiol. It’s one of over 100 bio-active chemical compounds known as cannabinoids produced by hemp plant flowers.

Each of these constituents has unique properties. Hemp is a strain of the Cannabis sativa plant that must contain less than 0.2% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the intoxicating component in cannabis that induces a “high.”

In contrast, CBD lacks this effect because of the way it’s metabolised. Unlike THC, cannabidiol is non-intoxicating and, therefore, safe for your pet. CBD exerts its effects in humans, dogs, and other animals because of the endocannabinoid system (ECS).⁴ Scientists describe¹ the ECS as a complex network of neurotransmitters, receptors, and enzymes that help regulate essential bodily functions like mood, appetite, memory, inflammation, pain response, and the sleep-wake cycle.

Check out our other blog articles to learn more about CBD’s safety for pets, CBD for Cats and CBD for Horses


The body produces natural cannabis-like neurotransmitters called endocannabinoids.

The two we are most familiar with are anandamide and 2-AG. Endocannabinoids send signals to receptors throughout the body to release chemicals that help people and pets deal with external events, like injuries and stress.

Cannabinoid (CB) Receptors

CB receptors are responsible for releasing chemicals that keep our bodies in homeostasis or balance.

The two we currently understand are CB1⁴, found chiefly in the brain and central nervous system, and CB2, primarily located in the liver and immune system. Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t bind directly with CB receptors. Instead, it interacts indirectly and may modulate other non-cannabinoid receptors. It is the action of binding with CB1 that creates the intense intoxicating effects of THC. Because CBD doesn’t bind to receptors, it cannot cause intoxicating effects.


CBD also works its magic on ECS enzymes. When pet owners use CBD oil for dogs, it inhibits the enzymes that typically break down endocannabinoids, thereby allowing them to have more of an effect on the body. CBD helps create a healthy flow of neurotransmitters that can activate receptors and balance many bodily processes.

Different Types of CBD

CBD is currently being used as an all-encompassing term for hemp-derived cannabinoid products with high concentrations of CBD.

However, whole-plant extracts are broken into two groups, full-spectrum and broad-spectrum. Full-spectrum CBD products contain a mixture of naturally occurring plant extracts (such as terpenes and other cannabinoids) and up to 0.3% THC or more.

While broad-spectrum CBD products also contain many plant compounds, they are either completely free from THC or contain negligible (trace) amounts, i.e. less than 0.3%.

All Naturecan’s CBD products contain non-detectable levels (<0.01%) of THC.

dog encannabinoid system
Zia Sherrell

%d bloggers like this: