As with any pet wellness trend, our excitement and hope are accompanied by tens of thousands of unanswered questions. Those that rush to mind first when it comes to CBD oil for our furry friends are: what is THC? is THC safe for pets? What does CBD do? Is CBD safe for dogs? Can animals’ overdose on CBD? Do vets recommend CBD oil? Could CBD kill my cat or dog? and, how long does CBD last in our pet’s system anyway?

If any of these resonate with you, then I have definitely gone through what you are experiencing.

Of course, you want to do what’s best for your pup or kitten and want to make sure that they have the best care available. This leads me nicely to my first question: What do I need to know about CBD oil?

What is CBD and what does it do?

CBD, alternatively known as cannabinoids, is one of many compounds found in the cannabis plant. CBD oils are oils sold containing varying concentrations of CBD depending on your needs. The possible therapeutic uses of CBD have fascinated society for centuries powering continuous research into the field.

All cannabinoids, produce effects in mammals’ bodies by attaching to certain receptors; CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors.

The CB1 receptors (mainly found in the brain) mainly control coordination, movement, pain, emotions, mood, thinking, appetite, and memories. It is important to note that THC attaches to these receptors which is what produces the psychotropic ‘high’.

CB2 receptors are primarily found in the immune system affecting inflammation and pain.

CBD works, not by attaching to these receptors but to direct the body to use more of its own cannabinoids.

Is CBD safe for dogs?

Yes. CBD is often used as a therapy for a variety of conditions thanks to ongoing studies in this field. These conditions range from pain management, arthritis, seizures, cardiac benefits, anti-nausea effects, appetite stimulation, anti-anxiety impact, and for possible anti-cancer benefits, although it is important to understand that there’s no conclusive data on this use.

The AKC Canine Health Foundation is sponsoring an ongoing study, through the Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Their aim is to evaluate the use of CBD in treatment-resistant epileptic dogs.

It is important to note that CBD can interact with certain other medications, especially some anti-seizure and anti-cholesterol meds. So, despite being quite safe, it is important to talk it over with your family vet if you’re giving it to your pet.

Is CBD safe for cats?

Yes. Cats can be treated with CBD the main difference between them and their canine counterpart is that they metabolize CBD faster and so may need more doses during the day than dogs of the same size.

Although there have been no scientific studies that specifically investigate the impact of CBD on cats, their endocannabinoid system works very much in the same way as that of dogs and so can also benefit from taking CBD. I would remind you that it is only prudent to use it under veterinary supervision as perhaps the bigger issue, from a medical perspective, is making sure that your cat is dosed appropriately and the CBD oil is having the affect you want it to have.

Can animals’ overdose on CBD?

Despite sharing the same endocannabinoid system as us, dogs have far more cannabinoid receptors than we do. This is great, they get twice the response with only a fraction of the dose. In other words, a little goes a long way.

As long as the product quality is good there is no need to give your furry friend a high % of CBD. Any extra CBD consumed by them that is not absorbed into their bloodstream will be excreted through the urine. So, by overdoing it you will just be throwing your money away.

One possible side effect that is important to keep in mind is that if your dog experiences diarrhoea from consuming CBD oil, reduce the dose or stop altogether.

Do vets recommend CBD oil?

According to the World Health Organization, CBD is well-tolerated by animals. However, as it is processed by the liver, I would recommend speaking to your family vet.

It is important to understand that vets are not allowed to prescribe or dispense CBD and should not encourage or instruct their clients to purchase CBD products.

However, they are free to talk to you about the potential risks and benefits of any treatment plan you may have mapped out.

Can CBD kill my pet?

CBD won’t kill your pet. However, do look at the THC content of all CBD products.

Legally, human CBD products must contain no more than 0.2% THC, which, in theory, should be safe for animals. However, I wouldn’t take any chances.

THC is toxic in dogs so I would stick to CBD pet care products that contain 0.0% THC and observe your pet for any symptoms of THC poisoning; vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, restlessness and trouble standing. 

Don’t price shop. The best way to avoid potentially harmful ingredients is to only purchase products that come with a certificate of analysis (COA).

The first thing you should be looking at is the batch number on the product’s label or packaging matches that on the COA and then ensure that the levels of THC are 0%. Here is an example of a COA with 0% THC.

You also want to ensure that the products are organic, GMO free, contain no heavy metals and do not include xylitol in the ingredients section. Xylitol is a sugar free additive which causes insulin release in dogs.

How long does CBD last in our dogs and cat’s system?

CBD stays in the human body long after its observable effects have worn off. Depending very much on your pets’ weight, diet, activity level, biochemical makeup and dosage frequency, CBD can stay in their body anything from 24 hours to 1 week after dosage.

What’s important is that you find the correct dose for your pet and watch them closely the first few times they try CBD. Expect to wait 30-minutes before your pet feels the therapeutic effects. These effects will last anything between 4 to 6-hours.

Is THC safe for pets?

Unlike CBD, THC ingestion can cause serious problems for your pet. Remember that, although not lethal, it is toxic, very much like chocolate is. Yet, unlike chocolate which attacks their insulin level, THC will make them high and these effects can be long lasting.

During episodes of THC intoxication, your pet may have difficulties standing eating. If this happens and you suspect possible intoxication, take your pet to the vet immediately. Other side effects of THC are depression and extreme thirst. It is always advisable to monitor your pet closely to avoid complications.

The best way to control THC levels is to stick to oils and avoid treats. THC toxicity often occurs when your pet has eaten that contains other ingredients such as chocolate, coffee, or raisins.

What are signs your dog ingested THC?

If you suspect that your pup shows THC any of the side effects mentioned above, you will want to look out for the following signs:

  • excessive drooling;
  • abnormal gate;
  • leaking urine;
  • slow heart rate;
  • glazed over eyes, dilated pupils;
  • severe ataxia (incoordination);
  • falling over  

As dogs have more receptors in the brain than humans do, they are more sensitive to THC and its side effects. It is important that you purchase from a reputable brand and are aware of what you need to be looking out for.


You may be looking for alternative natural approaches to look after your pets. This may be due to them not tolerating non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, getting stomach upset from the medication they are on or because you are concerned about their overall well-being. Whatever the reason, CBD may be a good alternative.

But, is THC safe for pets? It’s important to remember that THC is toxic in dogs and cats and so, you want to ensure the quality of the CBD oil you purchase. As we still know very little about it, it’s really important you use CBD products with caution until research provides us with more information.

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