How Does CBD Work in a Pet’s Body

A cat lying on a puppy and looking at the camera.

Jogging on the beach with your dog is one of those exhilarating experiences that make you feel totally alive and in the moment. Seeing that wagging wet tail, hearing him or her bark at the seagulls, and chase the waves forward and back on the shore. Sadly, for around 20% of dogs in the United States, this scenario simply isn’t possible due to pain from canine osteoarthritis.

When we understand the pet endocannabinoid system and the essential role it plays in keeping our pets happy and healthy, it can become easier to see why our pets are suffering and also to glimpse the light at the end of the tunnel — a future in which you can run and play on the beach with your best friend. Read on to find answers to “What does CBD do for dogs?” and how you can support your four-legged friends with CBD to live a happier life and age with dignity.

Understanding the Pet Endocannabinoid System

Cannabinoids are compounds that we often associate with humans and medicinal and recreational use throughout the millennia. However, the vast network of cannabinoid receptors that permeates every part of our bodies is actually one that we share with the animal world — including dogs and cats. According to an article in the Animals journal, published in 2019, all vertebrate and invertebrate animals have an endocannabinoid system, including:

  • vertebrates
    • mammals
    • birds
    • reptilesfish
    • fish
  • invertebrates
    • sea urchins
    • leeches
    • mussels
    • nematodes

Keeping this in mind, the pet endocannabinoid system is not that different from our own. After all, dogs, cats, and humans are all part of the family of mammals!

What the Pet Endocannabinoid System Does

To answer the question, “What does CBD do for dogs,” we first need to understand the role that the endocannabinoid system plays in the body. Made up of the body’s own cannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, and enzymes, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is really a large communication network that exchanges messages between the body and the brain, and works to maintain and restore homeostasis. Put simply, the ECS works to keep your body in the zone where it should be so you can find your coast no matter what is going on around you.

For animals, the pet endocannabinoid system essentially does the same thing that it does in humans, except for one very important difference:

In dogs, the concentration of CB1 receptors at the back of the brain is far greater than that found in humans. In fact, government studies have shown that dogs “have large numbers of cannabinoid receptors in the cerebellum, brain stem, and medulla oblongata.” While it may seem like a trivial detail, this difference is vitally important because the brain stem controls basic functions like heartbeat and breathing. While intoxication with THC might not be that big of a deal in humans, in dogs, intoxication can have deadly effects. That’s why it’s critical to understand the differences between CBD and THC, and to understand what products are best for your furry friends.

CBD and the Pet Endocannabinoid System

CBD oil dropped into an amber bottle with a dropper.

Fortunately, cannabidiol and the pet endocannabinoid system are a totally different story — provided that the CBD is pure and organic. What CBD does for dogs is it helps boost their endocannabinoid system so that their bodies and brains can function optimally. In many cases, anecdotal reports have described CBD as giving their pets relief from:

  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Irritability
  • Nervousness
  • Seizures
  • Dry skin

While these effects mirror the evidence that we have for rodents and humans, clinical studies on the “What does CBD do for dogs” issue have focused on CBD’s effects on pain and immobility in dogs diagnosed with osteoarthritis. Here are three of the most famous studies on the topic:

  • The first study, published in 2018, was a “randomized placebo-controlled, veterinarian and owner blinded, cross-over study” in which dogs were given placebo oil or CBD oil at a dose of 2 mg/kg every 12 hours for four weeks. After this time, the treatments were swapped over after a two-week washout period. Both the owners and the veterinarians of the dogs noticed decreased pain and increased activity when the dogs were taking the CBD oil, and no difference with the placebo. These results indicate that CBD might help boost the pet endocannabinoid system in cases of canine osteoarthritis.
  • The second study, published in April 2020, compared liposomal CBD preparations to non-liposomal CBD preparations in dogs suffering from canine osteoarthritis. Using a similar time period to the first study (four weeks per treatment with a two-week washout period), the researchers were able to observe that 20 mg of liposomal-encapsulated CBD was as effective as the highest dose — 50 mg — of non-liposomal or “naked” CBD. They also observed that higher doses of CBD reduced pain and increased mobility more than lower doses.
  • The most recent study, published in 2020, followed similar parameters with 20 large dogs that were diagnosed with canine osteoarthritis. After one month of high-dose CBD treatment, the dogs had significantly increased mobility and quality of life compared to placebo or low-dose CBD. Interestingly, the dogs that took the higher doses of CBD continued to improve in the two weeks following the end of the treatment. As the research designer, Matthew Halpert Ph.D., explained: “This would tell us that the CBD was in fact addressing the underlying inflammatory issues. It wasn't just masking the pain.”

Which CBD Product is Best for the Pet Endocannabinoid System?

Older husky lying down looking up

If you would like to try giving your pet CBD oil to see how it might help boost his or her health, please keep in mind that a CBD preparation for pets needs to be specially formulated to take the unique needs of dogs and cats into account.

  1. For starters, CBD for pets must be completely free from THC to prevent intoxication and possible death.
  2. Then, the product must be free from anything else that could irritate your pet, including fragrances, preservatives, pesticides, and other contaminants.
  3. Finally, the flavor of the oil needs to be appealing to pets so that they’ll eat it up happily and find out what CBD does for dogs first-hand.

To help you out, the EndoCoast team has created a full-spectrum Bacon CBD Oil For Pets with only pure, THC-free hemp extract, kosher fractionated coconut oil, and a natural bacon flavor. Every dropper contains 50 mg of full-spectrum hemp extract — which means that your pet is benefitting from the vitamins, lipids, and other nutritious ingredients along with CBD, while staying safe from pesticides, herbicides, and other contaminants.

Once extracted using a clean supercritical CO2 process, every batch of CBD oil targeted at the pet endocannabinoid system is then 3rd-party tested to ensure his or her safety and give you peace of mind that you’re treating your pet to the best. Shop our pet CBD online today and please share your story if CBD has helped your pets get back on their feet!