Is CBD Oil the Miracle Treatment for Disease in Dogs & Cats it is Often Touted to Be?

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The short answer to this question is no, however, the complete story of CBD oil use in veterinary medicine for treatment of disease in dogs and cats is a bit more nuanced than that. Cannabidiol, aka, CBD, is the oil extracted from the flowers and buds of the cannabis plant. Known for having medicinal properties, it has become a rather popular mode of self treatment for pet owners seeking alternative therapy modalities. The question remains, however, does it really work?

First, let us consider what it is used for. In veterinary medicine, CBD oil is most commonly used as adjunctive therapy for pain management, seizure management, appetite stimulation, and anxiety. “Adjunctive therapy” is the key phrase here, as it is not effective used alone for any of the above mentioned conditions.

Next, let us consider the source of the CBD oil. With the FDA not paying any attention to this branch of pharmaceuticals, a company could literally put olive oil into a product, call it CBD, and no one is the wiser. Thus, quality of product MATTERS A LOT. I would not advise, for example, purchasing CBD oil from a gas station minimart, as many pet owners literally do.

Lastly, for all of the aforementioned conditions in dogs and cats, the most effective CBD oil incorporates the “entourage effect,” where a certain amount of the psychotropic component of the cannabis plant, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is added back to the CBD oil. Therefore, in addition to using a reputable veterinary grade CBD product, I also advise choosing a product with a maximum allowable amount of TCH in an over the counter CBD product, 0.3%.

With all the in place, in my experience, here is the real efficacy of CBD oil in the most common conditions it is used for in veterinary medicine:

  • Pain management – Limited effectiveness, may offer benefit when used in combination with other pain management modalities.
  • Seizure management – I have never seen any improvement including when used adjunctively with other anticonvulsants.
  • Appetite Stimulation – Can be moderately helpful in dogs, ineffective in cats.
  • Anxiety – Moderate benefit in dogs, ineffective in cats.

In conclusion, CBD can be of moderate benefit when used adjunctively for certain conditions in veterinary medicine. It is not the magical elixir of life as some have been led to believe. Quality of product and appropriate use are key to administering it successfully.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms. He is the author of The Man In The White Coat: A Veterinarian’s Tail Of Love. In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a globally recognized expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , general partner of Grant Animal Clinic, and runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care.  Dr. Welton fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.