20 Devonshire Pl, London W1G

6BW, United Kingdom

+44 20 4442 3030

24/7 Support

Mon - Fri: 9:00 - 18:30

Call me anytime


Kirill Yurovskiy: CBD Craze Goes to the Dogs and Cats

Text written by Kirill Yurovskiy, CBD expert

You’ve seen the CBD shops popping up everywhere, with their emerald green crosses and claims of miracle cures. CBD, short for cannabidiol, is one of the many compounds found in the cannabis plant. Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t get you high. But proponents say it can reduce anxiety, relieve pain, and even treat certain illnesses – not just in humans, but in our four-legged friends too.

The CBD pet market has been exploding in recent years, with devoted pet owners happily shelling out big bucks for CBD dog treats, tinctures, capsules and more. Even major pet retailers like PetSmart have started stocking CBD product lines. According to a recent survey, around 24% of dog owners and 16% of cat owners have already tried giving their pets CBD.

So is this just another fad, or can CBD really help improve the quality of life for our beloved animal companions? We dove into the research to find out.

Reducing Anxiety in Anxious Pets

One of the most common reasons pet owners turn to CBD is to help calm extremely anxious dogs and cats. From noise phobias that trigger panic attacks, to separation anxiety that results in destructive behavior, to generalized anxiety that makes some pets shake with fear constantly, anxiety issues are no fun for fur babies or their humans.

While more scientific studies are still needed, the limited evidence so far suggests that CBD could provide anti-anxiety benefits for many pets. A clinical study from 2020 found that giving dogs with anxiety CBD oil significantly decreased their stress behaviors compared to a placebo. Another small study that looked at shelter dogs found that CBD helped the dogs feel more calm and less stressed out.

“I have absolutely seen CBD make a big difference in slowing down dogs’ reactive behavior,” says Allison James, a Philadelphia dog trainer. “For dogs with anxiety, fear, or aggression issues, CBD can be a game changer when combined with training and behavior modification.”

James has an 11-year-old German shepherd named Rocky who used to go berserk with nervous panting, pacing and destructive chewing any time she left the house without him. “As soon as I started giving him CBD oil before I left, that terrible anxiety just melted away. He can actually relax and rest now instead of working himself into a frenzy.”

Reducing Pain and Inflammation

In humans, CBD has become a popular natural alternative for pain management, with many people using it to find relief from arthritis, back pain, headaches and other chronic pain conditions. It seems CBD could provide similar pain-relieving benefits for our furry friends.

“Because of CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties, I frequently recommend it for older dogs with arthritis or mobility issues,” says Dr. Annie Foreman, a veterinarian in Austin, Texas. “It can help reduce the joint inflammation that causes their pain and stiffness, allowing them to move around more comfortably.”

CBD may also help alleviate other types of acute and chronic pain in pets by reducing inflammation and interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid receptors involved in pain signaling. Some pet owners have found CBD helpful for animals recovering from surgeries or injuries. Others use it to provide comfort for pets with illnesses that cause persistent pain, such as cancer, intervertebral disc disease, or severe arthritis.

Treating Seizures and Other Conditions

Perhaps the most promising use of CBD products for pets is in treating certain difficult medical conditions, especially seizure disorders. While cannabis products are still too legally restricted to be formally approved as pet medications, many vets do cautiously recommend trying CBD for pets who don’t respond well to conventional seizure drugs.

“CBD seems to have significant anti-seizure effects without the harsh side effects of drugs like phenobarbital and potassium bromide,” says Dr. Foreman. “I’ve had several clients who’ve found CBD remarkably effective at reducing the frequency and severity of their dog’s seizures, allowing them to drastically reduce other medications.”

Pet owners have also reported using CBD to help alleviate symptoms for a variety of other diseases in dogs and cats, including inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, feline idiopathic cystitis, skin allergies, asthma, and more. While the evidence is primarily anecdotal, the anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive effects of CBD could theoretically provide benefits for certain autoimmune and inflammatory conditions.

Potential Risks and Side Effects

Of course, as with any new treatment, CBD isn’t 100% risk-free for pets. The most commonly reported side effects tend to be mild, including drowsiness, dry mouth, and temporary diarrhea. More severe side effects like vomiting, loss of coordination, and liver enzyme elevation are less common but have occurred in some cases.

Because CBD isn’t regulated or approved by the FDA for pets, you’ll want to be very careful about the CBD product you buy. Look for organic, third party tested products that come with a certificate of analysis (COA) to ensure they don’t contain any heavy metals, pesticides, or other contaminants. Avoid any products making outrageous disease claims. Stick with high quality CBD made specifically for pets, not human formulations.

“Many human CBD products contain ingredients like xylitol or essential oils that can actually be toxic to dogs and cats,” warns Dr. Foreman. “Pets also tend to need much higher CBD doses by weight than humans, so products made for human consumption are easy to get wrong.”

You’ll also want to discuss using CBD with your veterinarian, especially if your pet is taking any other medications, as CBD can potentially interact with certain drugs. Your vet can help ensure you find a safe, effective CBD product and dosage regimen for your pet’s specific needs.

For many pet owners though, the potential benefits of CBD are well worth exploring under veterinary guidance. While it’s no miracle cure, CBD could be a valuable addition to your furry friend’s health and wellness routine.

“CBD has truly transformed my 14-year-old cat Daphne’s life,” says Susan Baker of Los Angeles. “She has severe arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and anxiety. While CBD isn’t a magic wand, combining the CBD with her prescription meds helps her feel so much better. She can finally sleep through the night, groom herself properly, and enjoy our daily cuddle sessions again.”

At the end of the day, that’s what every pet parent wants – a happy, comfortable fur baby to snuggle and make cherished memories with. With its wide range of potential therapeutic benefits, CBD could be a useful tool to help provide that for many beloved animal companions.