There are several benefits of CBD for animals, such as pain management, reducing anxiety, managing seizures, stimulating appetite, skin health, support during cancer treatment, and more. CBD for animals helps with several common health problems and is a natural alternative with wide safety margins and few benign side effects. 

Animal CBD is a natural compound sourced from hemp. Hemp cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids) interact with the endocannabinoid system, thus promoting health and well-being in animals.  

CBD products formulated for animals come in various forms and are readily available on the pet market. 

Listed below are the benefits of CBD for animals. 

  • Pain Management: CBD has potent anti-pain features and helps animals with acute and chronic pain episodes.
  • Anxiety and Stress Reduction: CBD promotes natural relaxation and helps calm stressed animals with situational and habitual stress.
  • Seizure Management: CBD supports balance in the brain and reduces the intensity, frequency, and duration of seizures in animals.
  • Anti-inflammatory Effects: CBD works against inflammation on several levels and helps with inflammatory problems like allergies and arthritis. 
  • Support for Aging Pets: CBD helps senior animals with age-related ailments such as reduced appetite, poor sleep, and achy joints. 
  • Appetite Stimulation: CBD suppresses nausea and vomiting, which results in an improved appetite in animals. 
  • Nausea Relief: CBD for animals reduces nausea, which is not directly harmful but uncomfortable. 
  • Skin Health: CBD promotes hydration and reduces inflammation, resulting in healthier skin and a more substantial barrier against irritants and allergens.  
  • Support During Cancer Treatment: CBD has anti-tumor effects, boosts the effects of traditional cancer treatments, and alleviates their side effects. 

1. Pain management

Pain management benefits includes different approaches that help alleviate pain. CBD for animals has anti-pain features and is essential to pain management strategies. Cannabinoids reduce pain associated with surgeries, arthritis, neuropathic conditions, cancer, etc. 

CBD works on several levels to reduce pain. CBD changes how the brain responds to “feel-good” chemicals such as serotonin, directly preventing pain. CBD, for animals, at the same time, inhibits anandamide deactivation, resulting in reduced pain sensation. 

Dog in pain

CBD for animals is beneficial for various types of pain. A study, “Antinociceptive effects of minor cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids in Cannabis,” 2022 showed that CBD helps with “acute, inflammatory, neuropathic, muscle and orofacial pain.”

Frontiers in Veterinary Science published a study, “The role of cannabinoids in pain modulation in companion animals,” in 2022. The study authors describe CBD as “an effective therapeutic alternative in the multimodal management of pain in dogs and cats.”

CBD has an entourage effect with some mainstream anti-pain medications. For example, arthritic dogs require lower doses of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain control when supplemented with CBD. Similarly, CBD enhances the effectiveness and attenuates tolerance associated with long-term opioid use when combined with opioids (morphine). 

2. Anxiety and stress reduction

Anxiety is described as “a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear.” Anxiety is a common condition in modern pets and harms the overall quality of life. 

Cannabinoids have a robust anxiolytic effect and promote natural calmness and relaxation. CBD for animals is beneficial in managing pets with situational and chronic stress. 

For example, CBD helps dogs with separation anxiety and dogs stressed by car rides. A study titled “A single dose of cannabidiol (CBD) positively influences measures of stress in dogs during separation and car travel,” published in 2023, showed that CBD benefits anxiety control.  

CBD supports calmness and reduces aggression in dogs in certain situations. Scientific reports issued a study, “Cannabis sativa L. may reduce aggressive behavior towards humans in shelter dogs,” in 2021, showing that dogs treated with CBD were less aggressive with the staff, which indicates a calmer mood. 

CBD for animals works on anxiety and stress reduction on various levels. CBD has a unique ability to bind with 5-HT1A serotonin receptors and mimic the effects of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that promotes happiness and is popularly known as the “feel-good” or “happy” chemical. 

A study, “Anti-Aversive Effects of Cannabidiol on Innate Fear-Induced Behaviors Evoked by an Ethological Model of Panic Attacks Based on a Prey vs. the Wild Snake Epicrates cenchria crassus Confrontation Paradigm” from 2012 showed the CBD’s anxiolytic effect. 

Swiss mice were given CBD in the study and then introduced to a snake. The group of mice pre-treated with CBD showed reduced defensive behaviors, which is considered to be “a clear anti-aversive effect, decreasing explosive escape and defensive immobility.” 

CBD for animals shows an excellent therapeutic opportunity for pets with post-traumatic stress. Science Direct published a study, “A current overview of cannabinoids and glucocorticoids in facilitating the extinction of aversive memories: Potential extinction enhancers,” and concluded that CBD helps with “modulation of emotional states and extinction of aversive memories in animals.”

3. Seizure management

Seizures are violent episodes of shaking and trembling caused by excess electrical energy in the brain. The mechanism through which CBD helps is not understood, but there is evidence that cannabidiol in canine epilepsy has a “therapeutic potential.” 

Studies show that CBD supplementation reduces seizures’ frequency, duration, and severity. CBD for animals helps with seizure control on several levels. CBD “reduces neuronal excitability” by affecting GPR55 and TRPV1 receptors and inhibiting adenosine transport. 

Decreased seizure intervals were seen in a 2019 study, “Cannabidiol as a potential anti-epileptic dietary supplement in dogs with suspected epilepsy: three case reports.” 

The same year, in an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) study, 89% of dogs supplemented with CBD had reduced seizure frequency. The study noticed a potential dose-dependent efficacy. 

CBD for animals is safe and beneficial with other anti-seizure medication (ASM). A 2022 study, “Safety and efficacy of cannabidiol-cannabidiolic acid-rich hemp extract in the treatment of refractory epileptic seizures in dogs,” showed CBD is safe to combine with ASM. 

4. Anti-inflammatory effects

Inflammation is an immune response that aims to reduce infection and repair damaged tissue. Inflammation can impact essential nutrients and intensify tissue damage. CBD for animals is beneficial because it has anti-inflammatory features. Inflammation is common in animals with various conditions, including arthritis and allergies. 

Pet CBD reduces COX-2 (cyclooxygenase-2) expression, as shown in a 2021 study, “Effect of Cannabidiol (CBD) on Canine Inflammatory Response: An Ex Vivo Study on LPS Stimulated Whole Blood.” 

COX-2 is one of the two cyclooxygenase enzymes regulating the production of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are hormone-like chemicals that trigger inflammation. 

CBD reduces the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Pro-inflammatory cytokines are naturally occurring substances that support inflammation (tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, and interferon-gamma). 

A study, “The Effects of Cannabinoids on Pro- and Anti-Inflammatory Cytokines: A Systematic Review of In Vivo Studies,” showed CBD consistently reduced the levels of pro-inflammatory chemicals. 

COX-2 triggers inflammation, and pro-inflammatory cytokines support it. CBD affects both processes, thus both preventing and reducing inflammation. 

A 2004 study, “Oral anti-inflammatory activity of cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive constituent of cannabis, in acute carrageenan-induced inflammation in the rat paw,” showed that CBD has a time and dose-dependent beneficial effect on two main inflammation symptoms – pain and edema (swelling). 

A 2021 study, “The anti-inflammatory effects of cannabidiol and cannabigerol alone, and in combination,” cannabinoids reduced airway inflammation in guinea pigs when used alone and when combined. 

5. Support for aging pets

Aging pets experience pain, inflammation, reduced appetite, poor sleep, and cognitive decline. CBD for animals benefits and supports aging pets and helps with common age-related issues. 

CBD for aging pets is beneficial for arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a widespread problem in senior pets. CBD manages the two main aspects of arthritis, pain and inflammation. Cornell University says that the use of CBD in arthritic dogs results in reduced pain and increased mobility.

Aging Pets

CBD helps with cognitive issues through its neuroprotective and pro-neurogenic properties. In theory, CBD helps delay the onset of cognitive dysfunction in senior dogs, the canine equivalent of the neurodegenerative Alzheimer’s disease in humans. 

CBD promotes high-quality and restful sleep. A study, “Age-related changes in sleep-wake rhythm in dogs,” found that senior dogs experience poor sleep. A human study, “Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series,” demonstrated CBD’s ability to reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality.  

6. Appetite stimulation

CBD stimulates appetite, increasing food intake, which is essential for proper nutrition and support during animal recovery times. 

CBD, unlike THC, does not directly affect appetite; however, it boosts overall animal food intake through different mechanisms. 

Cannabinoids help relieve nausea and vomiting while supporting digestive health and calming the nervous system. The overall balance of these factors results in increased appetite. 

The most beneficial and effective appetite-stimulating cannabinoid (other than THC, which is toxic to pets and must not be used) is cannabigerol. Studies show that “cannabigerol is a novel and well-tolerated appetite stimulant in pre-satiated rats.” 

7. Nausea relief

Animal CBD provides nausea relief. Nausea is a common issue in pets, resulting from various health conditions or side effects of specific treatments or drugs. 

CBD has a “therapeutic potential” and benefit in managing nausea and vomiting. A study, “Cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive component of cannabis and its synthetic dimethyl heptyl homolog suppress nausea in an experimental model with rats,” showed the CBD’s nausea relief effect. 

Cannabinoids, unlike anti-nausea medications, do not lose the ability to prevent nausea effects over time, meaning CBDs are beneficial for pets with chronic conditions resulting in nausea and vomiting. 

A study, “Evaluation of repeated or acute treatment with cannabidiol (CBD), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) or CBDA methyl ester (HU-580) on nausea and/or vomiting in rats and shrews,”  showed that tested animals do not develop tolerance to CBD supplements. 

8. Skin health

CBD for animals is beneficial for skin health and helps treat skin issues. Compared to humans, most animals have fewer and thinner skin layers rich in cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), allowing CBD to easily penetrate the skin, interact with the receptors, and promote skin health. 

CBD for animals helps keep the skin moist and hydrated. A human study titled “Cannabinoids in Dermatology: a scoping review” 2018 showed that CBD enhances the production of fat molecules that hydrate and protect the skin. 

CBD for animals boosts skin health additionally through its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties. 

The anti-inflammatory effects of CBD are confirmed in many papers, including a 2021 study on guinea pigs, “The anti-inflammatory effects of cannabidiol and cannabigerol alone, and in combination.”

According to a 1998 study, “Cannabidiol and (-)Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol are neuroprotective antioxidants,” CBD’s antioxidant features are 30-50% stronger than those of vitamins C and E combined. 

CBD’s antibiotic, antiviral, and antimicrobial features were researched and described in a 2020 study, “The Antimicrobial Activity of Cannabinoids.”

9. Support during cancer treatment

CBD is an excellent supportive therapy for animals with cancer. Cancer treatment in animals is multimodal and includes various approaches. CBD is ideal for cancer treatment in animals because it helps trigger apoptosis, inhibit angiogenesis, and prevents metastasis. 

Apoptosis is natural and programmed cell death. Cells undergo apoptosis when they are damaged or no longer functioning. Cancer cells are not inclined to apoptosis (cell demise), unlike normal cells, unless triggered. 

CBD’s ability to induce apoptosis is shown in dogs and described in a study, “The effect of cannabidiol on canine neoplastic cell proliferation and mitogen-activated protein kinase activation during autophagy and apoptosis” 2020.  

Angiogenesis is the process of forming new blood vessels. New blood vessels are necessary for tumor nutrition and growth. Therefore, managing angiogenesis is a vital part of cancer treatment. 

The CBD’s effect on impeding angiogenesis is shown in a study titled “Cannabidiol inhibits angiogenesis by multiple Mechanisms” 2012.   

Metastasis is the process of cancer cells spreading throughout the body. The metastasis (depending on size and location) is more severe than the primary tumor in some cases. 

CBD helps prevent cancer cells from spreading. A study, “GPR55 signalling promotes proliferation of pancreatic cancer cells and tumour growth in mice, and its inhibition increases effects of gemcitabine” on mice, showed that cannabidiol stops metastasis. 

How Does CBD Benefit Animals with Skin Conditions?

Listed below are the CBD benefits for animals with skin conditions.

  • Overall Skin Health: CBD supports overall skin health and demonstrates potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-pruritic features that boost skin robustness and wellness. 
  • Reduced Itchiness: The Canadian Veterinary Journal published a study, “Effects of cannabidiol without delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol on canine atopic dermatitis: A retrospective assessment of 8 cases,” 2022, showing that CBD reduces itchiness in dogs with allergies. 
  • Skin Issues Control: The reduced itchiness as a feature is helpful to animals with various skin conditions like dry skin, skin irritation, allergic skin diseases (including canine atopic dermatitis), and skin tumors. 
  • Anti-Skin Cancer Effect: A study titled “Cannabidiol and Minor Phytocannabinoids: A Preliminary Study to Assess Their Anti-Melanoma, Anti-Melanogenic, and Anti-Tyrosinase Properties,” 2023 showed that CBD has “anti-melanoma effects.” 

Cannabinoids work through the endocannabinoid system to benefit pets with skin conditions. CBD for animals is natural and safe to combine with other treatments targeting the skin. 

Can CBD Improve Quality of Life for Aging Animals?

Yes, CBD improves the quality of life for aging animals. A study, “Effect of Cannabidiol on the Long-Term Toxicity and Lifespan in the Preclinical Model Caenorhabditis elegans,” showed that CBD extends the “mean lifespan up to 18.3%” and increases “late-stage life activity by up to 206.4%.” The increased longevity and activity indicate a better life quality. 

CBD improves the dog’s quality of life by helping with common conditions in aging animals, such as osteoarthritis, decreased appetite, and poor sleep. 

Does CBD Have Any Impact on Regulating Sleep on Animals?

Yes, CBD has an impact on regulating sleep in animals. A study, “Effects of acute systemic administration of cannabidiol on sleep-wake cycle in rats,” 2013 showed that CBD supplementation increases the total sleep time. 

The study found that rats taking CBD experience increased sleep latency (time necessary to fall asleep) during light periods of the day.  

The effects of CBD on sleep regulation are studied in humans too. A study, “Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series,” reported better sleep scores in patients receiving CBD. 

Cat dog sleeping

Another study, “Effects of Cannabinoids on Sleep and their Therapeutic Potential for Sleep Disorders,” summarized the “modulatory effects of cannabinoids on sleep physiology” and supported its potential role in managing sleep disorders. 

Can CBD be a Helpful Support During Cancer Treatment for Animals?

Yes, CBD for animals is a helpful support during cancer treatment because of its anti-tumor effects.  

The groundbreaking study demonstrating CBD’s anti-cancer effect, “Antineoplastic Activity of Cannabinoids,” was published in 1975. The first dog-specific study, “The effect of cannabidiol on canine neoplastic cell proliferation and mitogen-activated protein kinase activation during autophagy and apoptosis,” came in 2020. 

Research on different animal models between those two dates and newer findings indicate that CBD has beneficial antiproliferative and tumor-shrinking effects. 

CBD improves the efficacy of mainstream cancer treatments like chemotherapy. A study, “Combination therapy with cannabidiol and chemotherapeutics in canine urothelial carcinoma cells,” from 2021, showed that CBD boosts the effects of chemotherapy drugs. 

A study, “Cannabinoids: the lows and the highs of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting,” 2019 demonstrated that CBD helps control the side effects of chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy in animals is linked with several side effects. They occur in all pets but are widespread in dog and cat breeds with MDR1 gene mutations. 

Does CBD Have Any Side Effects if Used in Cancer Treatment for Animals?

Yes, CBD has side effects if used in cancer treatment for animals. The side effects of CBD for animals are present in rare cases. 

CBD is usually well-tolerated by pets. The possible adverse events are mild and temporary, especially compared to mainstream cancer treatments’ side effects (chemotherapy and radiation). 

CBD causes side effects like dry mouth, stomach upset, lethargy, and drowsiness when first introduced and if given in large doses. The adverse events of CBD diminish once the pet gets used to the CBD or when the dose is modified. 

Is there any Research to Support the Benefits of CBD for Animals?

Listed below are the research to support the benefits of CBD for animals. 

  • Pain Management: Frontiers in Veterinary Science published a study, “Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs,” 2018 showing CBD helps with pain control. 
  • Decreased Inflammation: Veterinary Sciences’ study “Effect of Cannabidiol (CBD) on Canine Inflammatory Response: An Ex Vivo Study on LPS Stimulated Whole Blood” 2021 demonstrated that CBD helps reduce inflammation. 
  • Anxiety Relief: Frontiers in Veterinary Science released a study, “A single dose of cannabidiol (CBD) positively influences measures of stress in dogs during separation and car travel,” in 2023, demonstrating CBD reduces anxiety. 
  • Seizure Management: The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association published a study, “Randomized blinded controlled clinical trial to assess the effect of oral cannabidiol administration in addition to conventional antiepileptic treatment on seizure frequency in dogs with intractable idiopathic epilepsy,” 2019, showed that CBD helps with seizure control. 
  • Reduced Itchiness: The Canadian Veterinary Journal issued a study, “Effects of cannabidiol without delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol on canine atopic dermatitis: A retrospective assessment of 8 cases,” 2022 showing that CBD suppresses itchiness. 
  • Anti-Cancer Potential: Plos One completed a study, “Combination therapy with cannabidiol and chemotherapeutics in canine urothelial carcinoma cells,” in 2021, demonstrating the CBD’s potential to help with cancer 

author avatar
Ivana Crnec, DVM OneVet
Ivana Crnec got her veterinary degree at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Bitola. She then continued her education at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Zagreb, Croatia, where she specialized in domestic carnivores.