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A Vet Weighs in on CBD Oil for Dogs

Honest Paws logo Presented By Honest Paws May 15, 2019
(Courtesy of Honest Paws)
This article is presented by Honest Paws, providing pet owners with all natural, lab-tested CBD oil, infused chews, and other treats for dogs and cats.


With a growing list of potential health benefits and no known side effects, CBD is gaining in popularity among US consumers and their pets. While the research is more robust for humans, promising results are starting to come in for the use of CBD in treating ailments of cats and dogs.

With CBD products for pets easily available online from companies like Honest Paws, more and more pet parents are finding they have questions about this cannabinoid.

CBD Oil for Dogs?

A recent Cornell University study found that once the right dosage is determined for a pet, cannabidiol can improve pain stemming from arthritis. In addition, some consumers have had success in using CBD oil for dogs to help relieve a variety of ailments. It was that sort of success in fact, that led to the founding of Honest Paws.

The company was born when co-founder Chelsea Rivera saw its effects firsthand in her dog Baby Rose. Now 13 years old, Baby Rose is healthy and thriving, but that wasn’t always the case. From a young age, the malti-poo suffered from serious seizures. In her efforts to treat this condition, Chelsea decided to try CBD. A month later, Baby Rose’s seizures had stopped, and her health and quality of life was on the upswing. Having seen the impact that it had for her pup, Rivera and her co-founders started working to bring CBD to more pet owners.

In most states, veterinarians are not allowed to prescribe or recommend a cannabis product for your pet. But some vets have seen the benefits of CBD in animals up close and have opinions about its use. For example, Dr. Gary Richter, a holistic veterinarian practicing out of Oakland, California, found that cannabis had extraordinary results for his own dog, Leo, who also suffered from seizures.

We asked Dr. Richter about what is understood about cannabis for pets and how to safely unleash the benefits of CBD for your furry friends.

dog posed next to Honest Paws CBD oil

(Courtesy of Honest Paws)

What conditions may CBD be beneficial for in dogs?

“While I cannot personally prescribe it, I have seen CBD and other forms of cannabis be a very effective alternative treatment option,” said Dr. Richter.

While current research on CBD for dogs is focused on arthritis, many pet owners—and vets—have found it to be effective for other off-label uses.

According to Dr. Richter, “it can help with everything from pain and soreness to stress and anxiety, upset stomach…and seizures.”

What’s the difference between CBD and cannabis?

“People don’t understand the difference between CBD and medical cannabis,” explained Dr. Richter. “CBD is a single component found within cannabis.”

Before it’s used in pet products, CBD is extracted from hemp cannabis. While cannabis flower can be toxic to dogs, “CBD from hemp is considered to be very, very safe,” according to Dr. Richter.

What should people look for in CBD products for their pets?

Getting products that have been transparently tested is key, says Dr. Richter. “Ask for a certificate of analysis to show the product contains what it claims on the label,” he advises. “Check the [certificate] to confirm there are no pesticides, fungicides, fungal toxins, etc.”

CBD oil and hemp cannabis flower

(Courtesy of Honest Paws)

Can CBD oil interfere or interact with other medications?

“[CBD] can absolutely be used in conjunction with traditional medicine or, in some circumstances, it can replace the need for Western medications,” said Dr. Richter.

It’s always best to discuss with your own vet to determine whether CBD is a good fit for your pet, though. If your vet is not well-versed in CBD, the Honest Paws team recommends that you seek counsel from a holistic vet who has experience recommending cannabis-derived products for pets.

What do we understand about CBD oil dosing in dogs, and what are we still learning?

There’s going to be a certain amount of trial and error in finding the right therapeutic dose for your pet, but a good starting point is going to depend on your pet’s size and age, and what you’re treating with CBD.

To get you started, you can plug some factors into a calculator like the one developed by Honest Paws. As when discussing prescription interactions, it’s worthwhile to find a veterinarian versed in CBD who can offer experienced insights on dosing issues.

How can I get my dog to take their CBD oil?

“The most effective way to administer cannabis to pets is orally, either with an oil or given as treats,” said Dr. Richter. While snacks like Honest Paws dog treats can be an easy starting point, Dr. Richter says oil is typically a more effective way to administer CBD.

“CBD is not particularly well absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract so ideally an oil is best, as some of it will be absorbed transmucosally—through the tissues in the mouth,” explained Dr. Richter. That’s why Honest Paws also offers an array of CBD oil for small, medium, and large dogs—as well as CBD oil for cats.

Are there any potential side effects of CBD oil that we know about?

The currently known side effects of CBD are mild. “As long as the product is of high quality, the worst side effect is likely to be a little drowsiness if the dosing is too high,” said Dr. Richter.

  • Bobbi Brandon

    I have a very reactive, anxious dog. I have spent 3 years trying to find ways to help her feel more relaxed. After trying a number of prescription medications without success, about a year ago I decided CBD was worth a shot.
    Here are some of the things I learned:
    Not all CBD oil is created equal. Some brands are processed and prepared differently, so you want to do your research to find what you want to give your pet. Also, there are different strengths available and you want to choose according to the condition you are attempting to treat.
    Make sure the company you are buying from is completely open and honest about their product. A refusal to give you all the information you need to make an informed decision should be a major red flag.
    You’ll probably need to experiment a little with dosages. Companies give you a recommended dosage that usually has a fairly wide range. And giving more doesn’t necessarily mean better!
    When I first saw some improvement in my dog’s reactivity and startle reflex, I thought “great! Maybe I can eliminate the problem completely if I give her a higher dosage” Wrong! While that may work for some dogs, I learned that mine has a “sweet spot” dose that works best. When I gave her more, her anxiety actually increased as did her startle reflex. The good thing was that she didn’t have any overdose issues at all, though some higher doses made her sleep more. She still startled unbelievably frequently, even in her sleep.
    I’ve not found anything that eliminates her problems completely. I am glad to see that she is far more easily redirected from things she reacts to, she has far fewer nightmares so her sleep has improved, and she seems just generally happier.
    I am continuing to try different brands, just to find the one I think works perfectly for her. I’ve found some definitely work better than others, which I theorize has to do with the plant strain it comes from.
    She’s never “high””stoned” or any of those things one associates with marijuana. THC is toxic to dogs, so always check content of whichever one you choose.

  • ExpertM16A2

    Cats and dogs getting treated with CBD is awesome. Glad to hear that it works for them too.

  • Can you clarify what is meant by flower can toxic to dogs? Is this more about potency or are there specific terpenes that are toxic to dogs? Thanks!

  • Mark S.

    I actually use Honest Paws and can attest to it being an excellent brand. I’ve spent a great deal of time and money on many brands and founds these guys were the most consistent brand. That said, I’ve only used their bites, tinctures and peanut butter.