The CBD Solution: Is it Right for Your Pets?

CANNABIS CULTURE- What do you do when your beloved pet has been diagnosed with a chronic health issue, and the pharmaceutical drugs prescribed to treat it have nasty side effects?

Many people have begun to give their pets CBD tinctures and treats as an alternative to chemical pharmaceutical patent drugs. Keep in mind, every animal is different, but CBD medication may help your pets, without the chemical hangover.

“Cannabis is medicine,” says Dr. Tum Shu, a practicing California Veterinarian. “As with all medications, quality, safety, and efficacy are the most important factors. As veterinary professionals we formulate our products with those key factors in mind. Formulation and dosing for animals is important as their sizes and conditions can vary greatly.”

Shu’s research is at the tip of the spearin CBD’s usefulness for pets. Shu, who also has a history in general practice with human patients, happens to be the founder and CEO of VETCBD. This California-based company offers pet owners the opportunity to provide premium, non-psychoactive cannabis to dogs and cats. VETCBD treatment is formulated specifically for pets by Dr. Shu. VETCBD’s product is a tincture, made with California grown, organic medical marijuana

But, as often happens in cannabis research, there is a catch. Due to current laws, VETCBD products and medicines are only offered at their company dispensaries. And much of the rest of the North American continent refuses to accept CBD as an appropriate, natural therapy for pets.

Currently, it is illegal in the United States for a veterinarian to prescribe medical marijuana to their patients. As such, the majority of Veterinarians remain in the dark about CBD treatments. Some veterinarians even stand against the treatment of animals with CBD due to reasons ranging from the lack of acknowledge research to the stigma connected to CBD and cannabis medication.

Dr. Shu’s studies and research explains that animals, like humans, possess endocannabinoid systems which interact with cannabinoids within their bodies. Cannabinoid receptors exist within mammals, birds, reptiles and fish.

Research has shown that canines can metabolize cannabinoids, however, a canine’s metabolizing process is different than a human’s. Cannabinoids have been shown to react with the CB1 and CB2 receptions in dogs, binding loosely but for an extended amount of time. This proves that the positive therapeutic effects are long lasting. Once CBD are completely processed, they safely pass through the dogs’ liver and digestive system. Without the damaging effects often left by pharmaceuticals.

CBD treatments in the form of dog treats are also beginning to hit the market in a big way. Homemade recipes that can safely be given to your dog can found easily at the click of a mouse. A word of caution for when it comes to making the tasty antidotal treats at home, take extreme care to the amount and dosage of CBD to the batch of treats which can cause dangerous and possibly even deadly results.

For pet owners that aren’t interested in baking the treats themselves, it’s just as simple to research nearby dispensaries that supply the pre-made treats, and brands like the Canadian company Bully Bits, that produce safe CBD treats available for purchase. Either way, this provides an easier way for the pet owner to supply their furry companion with the medicine, while giving a tasty treat for the dog to munch on and enjoy.

Holistic pet supplement companies and their investors are already putting much of their trust, and money, on the success of CBD treatments for pets. Veterinary associations are slowly beginning to address the possibility of this alternative medicine. The California Veterinary Medical Association has recently turned one of their focuses on the use of cannabis as animal medicine. The American Veterinary Medical Association, or AVMA, has also begun pushing for further research into the subject by the federal government.

Dr. Shu himself has been researching the medical uses of cannabis over the past 5 years. With those studies, and through review of medical literature along with the application of his personal veterinary experience Dr. Shu founded VETCBD so that animals could medically benefit from cannabis.

 CBD has multiple beneficial properties and can help treat pain (most notably in arthritic patients), anxiety, nausea, and some inflammatory conditions such as allergies and inflammatory GI conditions. In some patients it decreases the frequency, duration or intensity of seizures. The neurological benefits of CBD appear to extend beyond just seizures. Owners have also reported improvement in pets with cognitive disorders. He also found that not just dogs and cats benefit but have seen benefits in various species such as ferrets, birds and rabbits.

Dr. Shu also makes sure at VETCBD that safety is not at all forgotten. “As cannabinoid therapy for animals is relatively new, education of proper cannabis use by veterinary professionals is crucial. At VETCBD we are staffed with veterinary nurses who help educate the public and provide phone and email consultation to pet owners who have questions regarding the use of cannabis in their pets.”

As with any medicine, there is always the risk of side effects with use. Some research has been conducted on treating animals with marijuana. However, marijuana contains THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis. Because of the strong psychoactive effects, most research has been concluded to be unsafe, at least until more research can be conducted. According to the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, marijuana toxicosis in animals increased alongside medical marijuana use in Colorado. Marijuana toxicosis is when psychoactive prosperities in marijuana cause anxiety, abnormal behavior, diarrhea, vomiting and other negative effects. In some rare cases, ingesting strong doses of marijuana has resulted in the death of the animal patient. Alternatively, based on the available evidence (both anecdotal and otherwise), the side effects related to CBD treatments are both rare and mild.

It should be made clear that treating animals with CBD is much different than treating an animal with medical marijuana. The psychoactive affect is eliminated in CBD. Most research found that when an ailing pet engaged in the treatment with only CBD, the majority yielded incredibly positive results.

According to the AVMA, CBD has been used to treat a variety of ailments in animals. This list includes many symptoms that humans also treat with CBD themselves such as pain, inflammation, seizures, cancer and its associated issues, phobias, digestive issues, and anxiety.

Below, Dr. Shu and VETCBD has offered further information and details regarding the CBD treatment of these ailments.

Frequently prescribed medications fall into three categories of sedatives, anxiolytics, and antidepressants.

Although sedatives may relax the body, they don’t take away the mental anxiety. The pet is anxious yet unable to manifest anxiety. Your pet’s mind may still be racing, but his or her body is lethargic and sluggish. This can make the anxiety even worse once the sedatives wear off. Anti-anxiety drugs are designed to specifically relieve anxiety, but can give your pet negative side effects such as abnormal behavior, dull mentation, or hyper-excitability.

Antidepressants involve an entirely different set of chemical reactions in the body. A lot of antidepressants require to extremely careful measurements and dosage based on how a human’s mind and body feels and thinks. Research has been able to provide the information that these types of medications can cause side effects like sedation, increased heart rate, anorexia, nausea, lethargy, and anxiety.

CBD is currently used by many patients (human and animal) who seek an alternative form of therapy without unwanted side effects. Compelling research “indicate[s]that CBD causes a selective anxiolytic effect” [1] and “CBD [was]associated with significantly decreased subjective anxiety.” [2] Furthermore, studies indicate chronic use of CBD has not been shown to elicit negative side effects and does not induce tolerance.

When it comes to nausea, common drugs prescribed can have side effects including sedation, hyperactivity, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, inappetence, and low blood pressure.

CBD is currently used by many patients who seek an alternative form of therapy without the unwanted side effects.

Compelling research studies have shown CBD to be powerful and effective in preventing and suppressing nausea. [3] Further, research has shown that CBD suppresses nausea caused by a disease or medication and nausea that pets can feel in response to a conditioned event. Researchers found that “the expression of this conditioned retching reaction was completely suppressed by pretreatment with…cannabidiol (CBD).” [4] Furthermore, studies indicate chronic use of CBD has not been shown to elicit negative side effects and does not induce tolerance.

While there is currently no cure for arthritis, there are different treatment options to relieve your pet’s pain. The most commonly prescribed treatment of arthritis in pets are NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. While a pet is taking these prescription drugs, it is very important to closely monitor their liver and kidney function.

Side effects of these medications can include ulcers of the stomach and intestines, liver or kidney damage, loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Other drugs that are often prescribed for arthritis are opioids, which are pain relief medications, most commonly used being tramadol. Some of the side effects that may occur in pets taking opioids include drowsiness, weakness, loss of appetite, and constipation.

Please note that if you have a pet suffering from arthritis, customizing the home can also help ease your pet’s pain. This can include providing your pet with softly padded places to lay down and relax, a warm environment, and access to stairs.

CBD has been shown to have potent anti-arthritic therapeutic action, resulting in both joint protection and clinical sign improvement. [5] “Oral CBD has a beneficial action on two symptoms of established inflammation: [swelling and sensitivity to pain]” [6] Furthermore, studies indicate chronic use of CBD has not been shown to elicit negative side effects and does not induce tolerance.

Common prescription drugs may be useful in controlling seizure activity for your pet, but they can cause undesirable side effects such as lethargy, agitation, drowsiness, central nervous system depression, weight gain, anxiety, and liver toxicity.

Compelling research has shown that CBD may inhibit both seizure activity and the severity of such activity [7] and [8]. Study results have “point[ed]to CBD being of potential therapeutic use…in the treatment of epilepsies.”[9] Studies also indicate that the use of CBD in conjunction with certain anti-seizure medications may enhance the anticonvulsant effects of those drugs.[9] Furthermore, studies indicate chronic use of CBD has not been shown to elicit negative side effects and does not induce tolerance.

Treatment of seizures is very important as even short seizures can cause lasting and permanent brain injury. Unfortunately, there is no cure for epilepsy. However, with treatment and careful monitoring, seizure activity can be controlled. Both the number of seizures, the animal’s personal experiences, and the frequency at which they occur can be minimized.



  1. Guimarães, F., Chiaretti, T., Graeff, F., & Zuardi, A. (n.d.). Antianxiety effect of cannabidiol in the elevated plus-maze. Psychopharmacology, 558-559.
  2. Crippa, J., Derenusson, G., Ferrari, T., Wichert-Ana, L., Duran, F., Martin-Santos, R., . . . Hallak, J. (2010). Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder: A preliminary report. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 121-130.
  3. Parker, L., Mechoulam, R., & Schlievert, C. (n.d.). Cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive component of cannabis and its synthetic dimethylheptyl homolog suppress nausea in an experimental model with rats. NeuroReport, 567-570.
  4. Parker, L., Kwiatkowska, M., & Mechoulam, R. (2006). Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol, but not ondansetron, interfere with conditioned retching reactions elicited by a lithium-paired context in Suncus murinus: An animal model of anticipatory nausea and vomiting. Physiology & Behavior, 66-71.
  5. Malfait, A., Gallily, R., Sumariwalla, P., Malik, A., Andreakos, E., Mechoulam, R., & Feldmann, M. (2000). The non-psychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an oral anti-arthritic therapeutic in murine collagen-induced arthritis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 9561-9566.
  6. Costa, B., Colleoni, M., Conti, S., Parolaro, D., Franke, C., Trovato, A., & Giagnoni, G. (2004). Oral anti-inflammatory activity of cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive constituent of cannabis, in acute carrageenan-induced inflammation in the rat paw. Naunyn-Schmiedeberg’s Archives of Pharmacology, 294-299.
  7. Jones, N., Hill, A., Smith, I., Bevan, S., Williams, C., Whalley, B., & Stephens, G. (2009, November 9). Cannabidiol Displays Antiepileptiform and Antiseizure Properties In Vitro and In Vivo. Retrieved December 3, 2015, from
  8. Consroe, P., Wolkin, A. (1977). Cannabidiol–antiepileptic drug comparisons and interactions in experimentally induced seizures in rats. The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapuetics, 201(1), 26-32.
  9. Jones, N., Glyn, S., Akiyama, S., Hill, T., Hill, A., Weston, S., . . . Williams, C. (n.d.). Cannabidiol exerts anti-convulsant effects in animal models of temporal lobe and partial seizures. Seizure, 344-352.