CBD for Pets: How to Use CBD Oil for Dogs & Cats

CBD for Pets
jen keehn

Written by Jen Keehn

Updated January 28, 2021

Dr. El-Hajj

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Sandra El-Hajj

With all the fuss accompanying CBD and its numerous products comes health benefits. While we, as humans, have the option of making our own decision in this regards, animals wait for us to make it for them!

But, guess what? Our beloved dogs and cats have an endocannabinoid system just like we do. So, what does that mean? Great News! This means our pets can share in the same benefits of CBD as humans.

While it might not work for every pet, the results can be life-changing for many. This article will portray the reasons why you should or shouldn't consider CBD for your pets. It will also explain about the many health advantages this cannabis ingredient has for your dog or cat.

Just like humans, pets have an endocannabinoid system just like that will respond to CBD and cannabis products similarly to humans.

The endocannabinoid receptors that make up the ECS play a role in managing our pets’ appetite, pain-sensation, mood, memory, and in regulating the effects of things like THC and CBD1

THC and CBD are two major compounds known as cannabinoids. They are found in the cannabis plants and are responsible for the majority of the medicinal benefits that pets can experience. THC has anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and appetite-stimulating properties, but is also the compound that makes you feel high. CBD, on the other hand, is non-intoxicating and won’t get users high. CBD has many medicinal benefits including anti-inflammatory, antipsychotic, antioxidant, and anticonvulsant properties2.  

But there is an important detail that dog owners, in particular, must know: there is a greater concentration of cannabinoid receptors in the brain of a dog than there are in other animals or humans.

This higher concentration of cannabinoid receptors in a dog’s brain can make them develop a bad reaction to THC such as poisoning. If your dog unexplainably starts vomiting, becomes lethargic, develops diarrhea and has problems standing; then, you may be facing THC poisoning! Dogs can develop a condition called static ataxia from a THC overdose which makes them unable to preserve equilibrium while standing3

Some claim that THC can kill your dog. According to a study published by the Journal of Topics in Companion Animal Medicine explained that the minimum lethal oral dose for THC, in dogs, is 3 g/kg body weight4.

Dogs can benefit from very low amounts of THC; but, you need to be very careful as the dose just needs to be delicately controlled. It should be just enough to offer medicinal benefits but not enough to get the dog high. Of course, the THC dose should never be even remotely near the level for an overdose. 

It’s also worth noting that drug interactions can happen with CBD oil for dogs. Therefore, if your pet is taking other medications, talk to your vet about drug interactions before you start using CBD for your pet.

What Are The Benefits Of CBD Oil For Pets?

CBD can benefit pets the same way it benefits humans. So, the health conditions of humans that CBD controls are the same for pets. These include:

These benefits can be accentuated in certain diseases more than others. For example, CBD is very effective in treating arthritis for dogs. Research is ongoing to prove how well CBD works in the treatment of specific conditions, but the above list shows its versatility and vast potential.

Is It Safe To Give My Pet CBD Hemp Oil That Has A Small Amount Of THC?

Yes, a small amount of THC in CBD hemp oil is safe for your pet and actually a good thing as it will provide an entourage effect. This means that the different cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds in the oil work together to provide more profound benefits for your pet.

THC is only a problem for animals if they have too much. If you decide to give your pet CBD, start with a low dose and work your way up slowly. It’s a good idea to work with a holistic veterinary doctor who has experience with dosing CBD and THC to make sure you are not using too much.

Will CBD Cause Any Side Effects For My Pet?

There is a low chance that your pet will experience any side effects due to CBD, and even if they do, it is extremely rare that it will be severe.  

The most common CBD side effects for pets is sedation or drowsiness. If your pet becomes too sleepy or sedated after their dose of CBD, you may simply need to reduce the dose for next time. Conversely, if your pet has trouble relaxing, then sedation may be helpful in that case5.

One way to avoid any negative reactions is to gradually wean your animal off of CBD if they no longer need it. This means you should not discontinue your pet’s CBD regimen abruptly, but do it slowly to avoid any negative symptoms. 

But overall, negative CBD reactions are very rare in mammals. CBD is not processed the same way THC is, making it a much more accessible compound.

The one severe and obvious side effect that you should keep an eye on is whether your pet is having problems walking. While this normally happens if a dog consumes high doses of THC, you may notice it with CBD products that may contain higher than recommended amounts of THC. If you notice anything alarming or unusual in your pet, seek medical attention immediately.

What Is The Best Way To Give My Pet CBD?

For pets, the best method of administering CBD is via sublingual tinctures. This means that it is easier to give your pet CBD oil than any other products on the market. 

CBD oil and sublingual tinctures are the best because:

All you have to do is drop the tincture into your pet’s mouth. Many pets will surprisingly enjoy the flavor of the CBD oil and be tolerant to the administration of the CBD. For those that don’t, you can consider adding some drops to their food while keeping an eye on the dose you need to administer.

Dogs and CBD

How Much CBD Should I Give My Pet?

Less is more when it comes to CBD. Start low and go slow.

You should start with a low dose and increase it slowly until you reach the desired effect.

Just like for humans, different conditions may require different dosing. When dosing CBD for pets, the best method is to begin at a low dose, observe what is happening for a few days to a week and then increase the dose, if necessary

In case you need to increase the CBD dose, you have to do it in slow gradual increments while observing the effects on your pet. Carry on with this method until until you feel that your pet is getting the right dose for his condition.

As we learn more about CBD through ongoing research, dosing will eventually become more standardized. Veterinarian, Dr. Robert J. Silver, has his own recommendation when it comes to dosing CBD for your pet. 

This is what he proposes: 

Range of dosing: 0.05 mg per lb twice daily to 0.25 mg per lb twice daily.

Notice how small those dosages are. Dr. Silver advises pet parents to start at Tier 1 twice daily and observe over a week. It may not even be necessary to go to tier 2.

But if it is, go on to Tier 2 twice daily and observe the effects for another week. If it is necessary to go higher, you can safely bump up to twice daily in Tier 3.

Here are some examples at Tier 1 dosing:

*When in doubt, always start with a low dose.
*Keep in mind that every brand’s mg per drop content will be different. You will need to do some simple calculations to figure out the mg per drop of the brand you choose.

Our CBD Oil for Pets Recommendations

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What Pet CBD Hemp Oil Should I Look For?

You should search for your pet’s products the same way you do it for your own products. When it comes to the best CBD oil for your pet, we recommend the following:

If you are ready to give CBD a try, there are many different reliable companies out there to choose from that fit these criteria. CBD for pets can come in the form of a tincture, treat/edible goodie, capsules, and even a topical solution for skin problems. As we mentioned above, the CBD hemp oil products will likely be the best for your pet.   

Many of the online CBD companies will provide you with the proper/suggested dosage amount for your pet, usually depending on the weight and severity of the condition. However, if the company you are looking at does not provide any dosage information, that’s a red flag. 

Again, while CBD has little to no recorded adverse effects, you want to find a company that has your pet’s best interests at heart, and providing proper dosage is part of that. 


1Hartsel J.A., Boyar K., Pham A., Silver R.J., Makriyannis A. (2019) Cannabis in Veterinary Medicine: Cannabinoid Therapies for Animals. In: Gupta R., Srivastava A., Lall R. (eds) Nutraceuticals in Veterinary Medicine. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-04624-8_10 

2Publishing, H. (n.d.). Medical Marijuana: Facts about cannabis, THC, and CBD. Retrieved January 28, 2021, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/medical-marijuana-facts-about-cannabis-thc-and-cbd

3Kosecki, D. (2019, September 13). Should you give your pets CBD? It depends. Retrieved January 28, 2021, from https://www.cnet.com/health/is-cbd-safe-for-pets/#:~:text=Legally%2C%20CBD%20products%20must%20contain%20no%20more%20than,as%20vomiting%2C%20diarrhea%2C%20lethargy%2C%20restlessness%20and%20trouble%20standing.

4Fitzgerald, K., Et al. (2013). Marijuana Poisoning (Publication). Retrieved January 28, 2021, from Topics in Companion An Med website: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/6163/c1cbc0d95ad49086079fdb4d827b61018e2d.pdf

5Staff, A. (2020, October 29). CBD Oil For Dogs: What You Need To Know. Retrieved January 28, 2021, from https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/cbd-oil-dogs/#:~:text=Possible%20Side%20Effects%20of%20CBD%20in%20Dogs%201,owners%20have%20used%20CBD%20to%20treat%20anxiety.

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