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THC, CBD, and Dogs: Here’s What Leading Expert, Dr. Robert Silver, Thinks

Dr. Robert Silverleading experts on veterinary health and marijuana

THC, CBD, and Dogs: Here’s What Leading Expert, Dr. Robert Silver, Thinks

When it comes to veterinary medicine and CBD, one of the experts that really stands out is Dr. Robert Silver. A veterinarian who graduated from Colorado State University’s (CSU) College of Veterinary Medicine in 1982, Dr. Silver also obtained his BS in Animal Science in 1974 and his MS in cardiopulmonary physiology in 1976. He also went on to design nutritional and herbal formulas for RxVitamins for Pets.

Despite all these achievements, what Dr. Silver is perhaps most widely known for is his knowledge of CBD, cannabis, and veterinary medicine. His book, “Medical Marijuana and Your Pet,” is considered an excellent go-to resource for any pet owner that wants to support and protect their pets’ health.

He has a great deal of experience in using natural medications like CBD to help pets. He has helped many desperate pet lovers find relief with cannabis and cannabis-derived products. He’s found CBD to help dogs that suffer from conditions like:

  • Anxiety
  • Seizures
  • Pain
  • Inflammatory conditions
  • Digestive conditions
  • Cancer

According to a half-hour long interview with Dr. Karen Becker, he shares some of the most important things he knows about CBD for pets

CBD is quite safe when used correctly and in the correct circumstances. He notes that the most important thing when it comes to giving your pet CBD safely is choosing the best product.

As a pet owner, you need to look out for high-quality CBD products. Dogs in general shouldn’t be given THC because they are sensitive to some of the adverse effects of CBD.

In general, though, clinical studies have demonstrated that CBD is safe for dogs – even when given dosages that are four or five times higher than what would usually be prescribed. There are some side-effects of CBD for dogs when the dosages are particularly high, such as nausea and diarrhea, but at the prescribed levels, CBD should be safe.

What about CBD for cats? Dr. Silver notes that cats seem to respond well to CBD, and that they even seem to be less sensitive to THC than dogs. The problem? There is a lack of studies when it comes to CBD and cats. This is because cats are notoriously hard to study – it’s hard to train them or take blood from them, making it harder to verify the safety and determine the benefits of CBD for cats. It needs to be studied more, because we know cats metabolize medicine differently to how dogs metabolize medicine.

The interviewer, Dr. Becker, points out that CBD and cannabis enthusiasts believe that CBD works better when it works in combination with a tiny amount of THC. So should we give our dogs a tiny amount of THC with CBD if they’re so sensitive to THC?

Dr. Silver thinks it’s something of a myth that you need THC for CBD to work effectively. He believes broad- and full-spectrum works better than CBD isolate. This simply means that the full spectrum of cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes are present in the CBD.  However, he has dispensed thousands of THC-free CBD products to veterinarians, and he finds that THC-free CBD can work remarkably well on its own. Given that dogs are sensitive to THC, he’d recommend skipping it for now.

But dosage is of the essence. He finds that it’s best to start out with low doses of CBD for a few weeks – you can always increase it slightly at a later stage. Conditions like anxiety, in particular, responds well to low doses of CBD. This is because it seems to help the brain use serotonin – the happiness drug – better.

One challenge facing CBD-friendly veterinarians is the legislature on medical marijuana and THC. Some conditions seem to benefit from THC, such as severe pain – but the amount of THC in hemp-derived CBD products is too low to meet this need. As such, people turn to cannabis-derived CBD products, which sometimes have too much THC for their dogs, and this sends their dogs to the ER. So, veterinarians need to instruct their clients on using THC and monitor it carefully.

The unfortunate thing? Veterinarians don’t feel comfortable discussing THC with their clients because of the legislature. Legislature around medical marijuana doesn’t include veterinarians and animals, which means that veterinary medical boards are discouraging vets from getting involved in conversations around cannabis and THC.

So, desperate pet owners turn to other sources of advice: the internet, people who work at dispensaries aimed at humans not animals, and even human GPs. Unfortunately, because cannabis works differently in dogs than it does in humans, this can lead to dangerous outcomes. Fortunately, the legislature is moving in the right direction, Dr. Silver believes.

How should you give your dog CBD? Generally, he recommends giving CBD to your dogs using whatever method is easier for you. Tinctures are very convenient, he noticed, but sometimes dogs don’t like having liquid put in their mouths. Oral CBD isn’t always absorbed very well by the body. However, if you add it to the gums or mouth, it can be absorbed quite quickly due to the capillaries in the area.

He also notes that if you’re giving your dog CBD long-term, the delivery method isn’t super important as their blood levels even out after a week or longer. Choose what’s convenient for you and easier for your dog to ingest.

One thing is important, though: choose a good quality CBD product. You need to vet the company, he said. Ask for a certificate of analysis from a third-party lab to establish how much CBD is in each product. The report should also mention whether it contains pesticides, heavy metals, and so on. If a company doesn’t make their lab report easily available, Dr. Silver says, that’s a red flag.

It’s also important to store your CBD correctly. Keep it in the fridge. If you’re dropping CBD into your dog’s mouth using a dropper, don’t just put the dropper back into the bottle – clean it off first to prevent contamination. Or better yet, don’t put the dropper directly into your pet’s mouth!

As with most medication, it does have a limited shelf-life. Keeping CBD over a long period of time can also reduce its consistency, so if you’re only using a small amount of CBD, get a small bottle and use it within a few months.

Dr. Silver encourages pet owners to speak with their veterinarians before giving their dogs CBD. He also encourages us to stay informed about CBD and the latest research on medical marijuana and animals. You can read his blogging over at

Dr. Robert Silver

Dr. Robert SilverDr. Robert Silver is one of the leading experts on veterinary health and marijuana. After graduating from Colorado State University’s (CSU) College of Veterinary Medicine in 1982, Dr. Silver went on to study herbalism, nutrition and animal acupuncture. He came to believe that combining conventional veterinary medicine with alternative therapies was the most effective way to treat rare and difficult animal diseases and conditions. With this in mind, he opened one of the country’s first holistic veterinary practices, Holistic Wellness Center (later known as Boulder’s Natural Animal).

Dr Silver went on to design nutritional and herbal formulas for RxVitamins for Pets and authored the book, “Medical Marijuana and Your Pet.” While he’s retired from practicing day-to-day as a vet, he’s now considered the go-to expert when it comes to treating animals with CBD.

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