Discover your dog’s perfect CBD productSearching for the right CBD product for your dog? Take this 10-second quiz now!

CBD and Pets: Can it help my pet | Dr. Katie Woodley holistic veterinarian

Dr. Katie Woodley holistic veterinarian

As a holistic veterinarian, one of the most common questions I get from my pet parents is about CBD. There are constant news stories on how CBD cured seizures, cured cancer or helped someone’s anxiety. Of course, hearing all of these success stories will naturally make someone want to use it on their pets. So how does this translate over to our pet’s health and helping their ailments?

is CBD effective ?

I found out firsthand how effective CBD can be for our pet’s health.  When my 11-year-old German Shepherd, Finn, started having seizures, I knew that most likely the cause was not going to be good news.  Unfortunately, we diagnosed a brain tumor and was told that he had weeks to live if we didn’t put him on high doses of steroids, seizure medications and look at doing radiation and even brain surgery.  I immediately knew that radiation and brain surgery were not something I wanted to do due to the side effects, but we started him on prednisone and seizure medications.  He did horrible!  I’ve never seen my dog so sick in his entire life – he could barely stand, had diarrhea, was vomiting and wouldn’t eat.  I decided that week that I would not be using these medications, even if it meant his life would be shorter.  I would not have the last part of his life feeling horrible.

Finn had previously been on CBD for knee injuries and aging in general, but we increased his dosage and added in additional Chinese herbal medications.  Even though I prepared myself for the possibility of having to put him down in the next few days to weeks, he has done amazing and surprised even the specialists!  He has had a few seizure episodes since his diagnosis, but at the time of this article we are at 9 months post-diagnosis.  CBD is a great treatment option for conditions ranging from osteoarthritis to seizure treatment to cancer treatment, amongst many others.

Many people get confused when we talk about CBD because they think it’s cannabis which can be psychoactive for pets.  Cannabis contains many active phytochemicals.  These chemicals are called phyto-cannabinoids and include CBD and THC.  There are about 100 known cannabinoids that are present in the cannabis plant. CBD is the non-psychoactive compound, whereas THC is the psychoactive molecule which is the compound that gives people a “high”.

All mammals have an endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is a system of receptors that are present throughout the nervous system and a variety of cells throughout the body.  This system has its own neurotransmitters that act on these receptors.  The phytocannabinoids (THC and CBD) also act on these receptors.  The endocannabinoid system has an important part in many physiologic functions and maintaining homeostasis (balance) in the body.

The two most common receptors we focus on when we are using THC and CBD products are the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body.  CB1 receptors are present in the central nervous system and function to regulate mood, cognition, decrease pain and inflammation.  These receptors are responsible for the psychoactive effects of THC.  CB2 receptors are present in the peripheral nervous system, immune and lymphatic system, and have a great effect on immune system modulation and anti-inflammatory effects.  Because of the way THC and CBD affect the different receptors, we can use different ratios of THC and CBD to create different results in the body.  There is no fatal dosage that can be given to dogs and cats; however, we can create side effects if we use the incorrect dosage of especially the THC component.  Thus, it is important to work with a veterinarian who has experience in using CBD products.

Some of the common medical uses CBD is being used for including pain control, anti-anxiety, seizure control, anti-cancer, diabetic control, neuroprotective, anti-nausea and anti-inflammatory.  Due to the federal law, veterinarians are still not allowed to prescribe or recommend it.  In Colorado, we can recommend harm reduction, which means if a client brings up CBD to the veterinarian, we can discuss it openly and honestly.  Make sure your vet knows if you are using it on your pet, and if they disagree or do not know enough, find someone who can help you!

What are some of the safest and most effective ways to use CBD on your pets?

Confirm what type of product is being used in the product.  What amount of THC and CBD is present in the product?  On the label, you will see this listed as a concentration or mg/ml.  You can have high amounts of THC in the product compared with CBD, but if it is a very dilute concentration, you will not see the affects you want if you are wanting to use THC.  Most pet products are a hemp product, meaning there is almost no THC or <0.3% THC present.  It’s important to know that the product is not made from industrial hemp.  Industrial hemp is the plant that is grown for fiber.  It is a very low yield plant for CBD and tends to be sprayed with pesticides and fertilizer.  You want to ensure medical grade hemp is being used.  This type of plant is genetically developed and grown for not only the cannabinoids but the terpenes.  Also, ensure that the product is organic.  There are enough chemicals already present in our environment, and we should not be adding anymore into our pets’ bodies if we can avoid it.

important link – Dogs CBD Lab Results: Why They Are Important & How to Read Them

With CBD, we want to ensure the whole plant is being used, not just an isolate. When using plants as medicine, the whole plant is always more effective due to a concept called the entourage effect.  The entourage effect is essentially the additive effects of all the components within the plant come together synergistically for the most beneficial result. You will notice the terminology “full spectrum” being used on products, which is what you want.  Using the plants’ compounds together also makes these products safer and have less side effects than conventional medicine, because they balance each other in the body.

Check the company’s certificate of analysis (CoA).  This information is important, because it will tell you how many cannabinoids are present (full spectrum), what chemicals are used to extract the beneficial components, the residual solvent test (if these chemicals are still present), pesticide test (organic), and the terpene profile.  You should be able to obtain all this information off the company’s website, and if not, the company should give you this information over a phone call or an email.

Cheaper is usually not the best in this industry.  Many people end up wasting a large amount of money on products that are a very low concentration and not the therapeutic dose that is needed for the condition that the pet parent is trying to treat.  The amount of CBD present should be listed on the front of the product, usually in mg/ml.  A syringe that has the mls on it is very important to ensure the correct dosage is being used.

There is a lot of hype around CBD treats right now.  However, tincture form is more readily absorbed through the mucous membranes versus digesting a treat.  Studies have shown that oral absorption is poor, so when we are using it in treat form, it is not very clear on how much is being absorbed and available to the body.  With the tinctures, it also easier to adjust the dosage and you can work your way up to a higher dosage if needed.  CBD is typically very safe for pets; however, some pets can be more sensitive than others.

CBD is potentially a very beneficial supplement for your pet.  There are veterinarians who are knowledgeable and willing to help so you can help your pet achieve optimal health and well-being.  This supplement is one of many in the holistic industry that can create lasting health and help especially when there may be no other options for your pet.

If you have a pet that is battling disease and conventional medicine is not helping or there are side effects that are making your pet sick, partner with a holistic veterinarian to find solutions to help your pet thrive!

Dr. Katie Woodley

Dr. Katie Woodley is a holistic veterinarian

Dr. Katie Woodley is a holistic veterinarian who partners with pet parents to ensure their pets have access to holistic medicine to live a long and healthy life regardless of location.  She graduated from Massey University in New Zealand and has been practicing veterinary medicine for over 10 years.  She is the owner of The Natural Pet Doctor and practices in the Northern CO area but also offers phone consultations for pet parents in areas where there are no holistic practitioners close by.  She is passionate about changing the veterinary industry and partnering with veterinarians to integrate holistic medicine into treatment plans and wellness plans to help pets thrive.

Make sure to check out Dr. Katie, The Natural Pet Doctor, at for upcoming pet parent events and webinars to help your pet thrive naturally and connect with other holistic minded parents who want the best for their pets.

Contact Dr. Katie Woodley :

More Articles


Choose the right product for your dog

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
Does your dog suffer from:
has your dog a dietary limit:
  • YES
  • NO
Your dog weight is:
  • Under 20 ibs
  • Over 20 ibs
Searching for right products