top of page

CBD Pet Supplements

Updated: Nov 30, 2022

You’ve probably heard about the health benefits of CBD in humans, but did you know pet owners have been using CBD for over a decade to support their pets’ health?

In 2020, consumers spent $426 million on CBD products for pets. In 2021, that number was over $600 million.[1] CBD can help with a wide range of troubles like anxiety, occasional aches, and joint discomfort. It also promotes overall vitality.

You can find CBD everywhere from supermarket shelves to specialty pet stores. You’ll see it most often in the form of chews or bites, similar to other common multivitamins for pets. Pets can also take CBD oil drops––the most popular human vehicle for CBD. It just might be trickier to administer.

What is CBD?

At first, CBD as a supplement was a somewhat controversial topic, but education has cleared that up for the most part. Before diving into whether or not CBD is right for your pet, it’s important to understand what CBD is.

CBD is a single chemical found in cannabis. It can have enormous health benefits and increase overall vitality in humans and pets. CBD does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana.

There are many intricacies to truly understanding CBD, so let’s break down the main points.

What’s the difference between cannabis, hemp, and marijuana?

For clarification, both marijuana and hemp are derivatives of the cannabis plant. It’s a common misconception that hemp and marijuana are different species of the same plant. They actually are not. However, they are different in terms of how they are processed.

The primary difference between marijuana and hemp is the amount of THC that they are left with after processing––hemp has 0.3% or less THC content. Hemp has a wide variety of medical uses and can have a high concentration of CBD. Products that use “hemp” in the label should say that they contain less than 0.3% THC on the packaging, which is important to note as even a small amount of THC can be toxic to pets.

When shopping for pet supplements, keep in mind that hemp products contain different concentrations of CBD. Depending on whether it comes from the seeds or the plant (stems and leaves), the concentration and quality of CBD will vary.

Hemp seed oil vs. CBD oil

CBD oil contains a high percentage of CBD extracted from the leaves and stems of the plant.

Hemp seed oil, while it contains omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, does not have a high concentration of CBD because hemp seeds do not have a high concentration of CBD. Normally, a small amount of hemp seed oil is mixed with another oil and sold as hemp.

Broad-spectrum CBD oil vs. full-spectrum CBD oil

Some CBD oils still contain enough THC to be dangerous to your pet. For the most part, CBD products fall into one of two categories: broad-spectrum or full-spectrum.

Broad-spectrum CBD oil (also called broad-spectrum hemp extract) contains many compounds of the cannabis plant, but does not contain THC.

Full-spectrum CBD contains all the compounds of the cannabis plant, including THC. Keep in mind these terms are not currently regulated by the FDA or any entity, so check the ingredients and look for less than 0.3% THC if you are thinking about giving your pet a CBD supplement that isn’t specifically for dogs.[1]

Extract vs. Oil

If CBD concentration–with respect to the total weight of hemp material–is more than 80%, it’s called an EXTRACT not an oil. If the concentration is less than 80% it qualifies as an oil.

Check the label and ingredients

There aren’t a lot of regulations around how much CBD you have to have in order to use “CBD” or “hemp” in the label. Ergo, it can be tricky to know whether you’re getting your money’s worth or if someone’s just throwing a buzz phrase like “with hemp” on their product.

The key to shopping for pet CBD products will always be to check the ingredients. Specifically, you’re looking for less than 0.3% THC and at least 10 mg of broad-spectrum CBD or “broad-spectrum hemp extract.”

Will CBD really help your pet?

CBD products can provide relief from a wide range of ailments in dogs and cats:

1. Alleviates soreness and joint discomfort

CBD is a natural anti-inflammatory compound. It has been known to reduce the pain and swelling that accompany arthritis and other joint issues.[2] CBD supplements are a great natural option to increase mobility and help your pet stay active for life.

2. Decreases anxiety

If you want to help your pet keep calm through a move, a road trip, or while socializing another animal into the home, CBD Mega supplement can help decrease anxiety and promote calmness. It works because CBD interacts with endocannabinoid receptors that regulate mood.

3. Relieve gastrointestinal issues

Your pet’s tummy issues are often caused by anxiety (stress diarrhea, for instance) or inflammation of the stomach and intestines. CBD acts as a muscle relaxant to help dogs’ digestive systems, in addition to anti-inflammatory benefits.

4. Reduce seizures

Veterinarians will sometimes prescribe CBD for dogs who suffer from epilepsy. CBD is known to decrease the frequency of seizures and make them less intense, though evidence is mostly anecdotal and research around why CBD lessens seizures is ongoing.

5. Lessen allergies

Allergies usually manifest through inflamed sinuses. Since CBD is a natural anti-inflammatory, it can lessen the symptoms of an allergy by slowing down or preventing inflammation of the nose, ears, throat, and eyes.

Where can I get CBD for my pet?

CBD for pets is usually sold as oils, chews, and tasty treats. You can also find CBD pet products that include beneficial ingredients besides CBD which can deepen their therapeutic effects.

If you remember from my earlier blog about pet supplement labels and the National Animal Supplements Council (NASC), currently the NASC does support the use of CBD in Dosage Form Animal Health Products but does not support its use in Animal Feed Products such as food, treats, and feed supplements.

For example, pawTree’s CBD Mega™ includes ingredients like passion flower, valerian root, and ginger root, the combination of which creates a therapeutic “entourage effect” to help calm your pet, settle their stomachs, and reduce inflammation.

CBD Mega™ is a veterinarian-developed dog and cat supplement with organic broad-spectrum hemp extract. Each chew contains 15 mg of organic broad-spectrum hemp extract and is made from the stalks, stems, leaves and flowers of the hemp plant.

How does CBD work in pets?

Okay, we get it––CBD is a magic ingredient that treats all of the most common pet issues. But, how does CBD actually work?

In short, CBD is a cannabinoid—one of the hundreds of different cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids mimic the endocannabinoid chemicals that send signals throughout the body. Signals like, “Hey, we’re allergic to that,” will cause a reaction that makes you stop eating a food your body doesn’t play nice with.

Endocannabinoid chemicals talk to endocannabinoid receptors in the body, instructing different systems to speed up or slow down.

Depending on the chemical, those systems will respond in different ways. For example, THC (a psychoactive cannabinoid) causes a “high” when it comes in contact with those receptors. CBD does not. Instead, CBD helps the body stabilize and return to homeostasis when external or internal stress throws it out of balance. [2][3]

CBD’s natural benefits make it a more holistic option than medication. Where meds may fix one problem, but cause another, CBD nudges the entire body toward balance.

Giving CBD to your pet (dosage, how to administer, how often)

Should I only give my dog/cat CBD specifically formulated for pets?

Regular broad-spectrum CBD oil is perfectly safe for pets.[3] However, it’s smart to go with products made for pets. The reason is because CBD oil for people may contain higher amounts of THC that could be dangerous to cats and dogs. Always look for less than 0.3% THC if you’re giving CBD oil to your pet.

Can my dog or cat overdose on CBD?

While you should always follow the recommended dose on supplement packaging, there are actually zero negative effects to consuming too much CBD.

How quickly should it work/how to tell if it’s working?

Depending on the animal and the ailment, CBD can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few weeks of consistent use to take effect. You can tell if CBD is working by paying attention to your pet’s behaviors before and after you begin supplementing their diet.[3]

Your pet may show signs of drowsiness or “chillness” even if the THC level is 0.3% or less. Some pets are especially sensitive even to the tiniest amount of THC.

Consult your vet if your pet is overly lethargic after taking CBD. An alternative option may be to opt for CBD with less than 0.1% THC.

The pawTree CBD Mega™ is tested by third parties to ensure it has 0.0% THC. The FDA does not allow distributors to put that on their labels, however. Instead, the label includes the uncompromising quality standards pawTree holds for itself.

Be advised––depending on which state you live in, the laws around medical cannabis may be different. Some vets may not be allowed to prescribe or even mention CBD if they practice in a state that has not yet legalized medical cannabis. See this list of states and the years they legalized recreational and medical cannabis.

Ongoing research about CBD for pets

The wide-spread legalization of medical cannabis in the U.S. is still relatively new, even though it’s been legal in states such as California since 1996.

Currently, CBD is sold as an over-the-counter supplement for pets, but is not approved or regulated by the FDA.

The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine and the National Animal Supplement Council are currently researching ways to regulate CBD products for pets. This means regulations such as what you are and aren’t allowed to call “hemp” on the label, the minimum CBD requirements for broad-spectrum CBD oil, and so forth.

You can join the conversation by adding broad-spectrum hemp and CBD supplements to your pet’s diet and spreading the word.


[1] Medical News Today




About the Author

Kristi Diaz MD

Kristi is a retired anesthesiologist who loves helping people take good care of their pets.


9 views0 comments


bottom of page