Cannabidiol (CBD) has recently become legal in New Zealand, and you may wonder if this product could benefit your dog. CBD oil has been touted as a treatment for a wide variety of human medical conditions, including seizures, insomnia, and anxiety. While many dog owners are asking their veterinarian about using CBD to treat their pet’s medical conditions, few veterinary-specific studies are available to answer these questions. However, several recent studies provide encouraging results. Keep reading to find out more about CBD oil for dogs in New Zealand.
What is CBD oil?
CBD is a phytocannabinoid found in all cannabis plants, including marijuana and hemp. Marijuana is defined as a cannabis plant that contains more than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), while hemp is defined as a cannabis plant that contains 0.3 percent or less THC. Most CBD products are derived from hemp, meaning they are not psychoactive, and cannot cause you or your dog to experience a high. According to a 2017 World Health Organization (WHO) report, CBD in humans has not shown any indications that the product could potentially cause dependence, and no evidence of public health-related problems has been observed associated with pure CBD.
Most CBD products are derived from hemp, meaning they are not psychoactive, and cannot cause you or your dog to experience a high.
How does CBD affect dogs?
In humans, CBD affects the endocannabinoid system, a complex biological system that impacts several processes, including appetite, sleep, mood, and memory. The endocannabinoid system functions using receptors, enzymes, and endocannabinoids.
- Receptors — Two types of endocannabinoid receptors exist throughout the body, and provide a place for the endocannabinoids to bind. CB1 receptors are found primarily in the central nervous system, and affect coordination, movement, pain, appetite, memory, and mood. CB2 receptors are found in the peripheral nervous system, and influence pain and inflammation.
- Enzymes — Fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) are enzymes that break down cannabinoids.
- Endocannabinoids — After the enzymes break down the cannabinoids, endocannabinoids bind to the receptors to affect body functions.
Cannabidiol is believed to work similarly in dogs, and dog owners’ anecdotal evidence suggests that CBD oil for dogs could help alleviate pain and control seizures. Other possible CBD benefits for dogs include anti-inflammatory properties, cardiac support, anti-nausea effects, appetite stimulation, and anti-anxiety effects.
Research on CBD oil for dogs
A 1988 study performed by Mechoulam, Bialer, and Samara evaluated the pharmacokinetics (i.e., movement of drugs in the body) of CBD in dogs. In the study, six dogs were given two intravenous doses of CBD of 45 and 90 mg, and one oral dose of 180 mg. After intravenous administration, the CBD was rapidly distributed, followed by a prolonged elimination period. After oral administration, CBD could not be detected in three of the six dogs, and the maximum detection was only 19 percent in the other three dogs. Since this study was small, further research is required to determine how well dogs absorb CBD after oral administration. Current research that has evaluated CBD for dogs has focused on treating osteoarthritis, seizures, and noise-induced anxiety.
According to the researchers, more than 80 percent of the dogs taking the CBD oil showed significant improvement in pain levels and quality of life.
- Cornell University: Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs, 2018 — For this study, the researchers performed a double-blind placebo trial, meaning the veterinarian and dog owner did not know which patient was receiving the drug and which was receiving the placebo. Sixteen dogs received CBD oil or a placebo oil every 12 hours for four weeks. Veterinary assessments and owner questionnaires were completed before the treatment, and at weeks two and four, to measure the dogs’ mobility, activity level, and pain. According to the researchers, more than 80 percent of the dogs taking the CBD oil showed significant improvement in pain levels and quality of life.
- Colorado State University: Cannabidiol as a Treatment for Epilepsy in Dogs, 2018 — In this study, nine dogs received a chicken-flavored CBD oil, and seven dogs received a placebo oil. Researchers reported that seizure frequency was reduced in 89 percent of dogs who received the CBD oil during the clinical trial.
- Baylor College of Medicine: Cannabidiol as a Treatment for Osteoarthritis in Dogs, 2020 — In this double-blind study, 20 dogs affected by osteoarthritis were randomly assigned to receive a placebo, high-dose CBD, low-dose CBD, or CBD in a liposomal formulation to help absorption. The dogs were evaluated by veterinarians and their owners for pain and mobility levels. The dogs receiving high-dose CBD and CBD in a liposomal formulation showed significant improvement in their mobility and quality of life after one month.
- University of Kentucky: The Impact of Feeding Cannabidiol Containing Treats on Canine Response to a Noise-Induced Fear Response Test, 2020 — In this study, 16 dogs were randomly assigned administration of CBD, trazodone (i.e., an anti-anxiety medication), or a placebo. The dogs were then exposed to a three-minute fireworks track. The study’s results did not support that CBD could affect anxiety in dogs dosed at 1.4mg CBD/kg/day.
Other veterinary specific studies are planned or currently underway to help veterinarians and dog owners know how best to use cannabidiol, including Hale Animal Health’s clinical trials.
No specific veterinary studies have been conducted to determine CBD side effects in dogs, but they are likely similar to humans.
- Lethargy — CBD, especially in high doses, can cause sleepiness.
- Dry mouth — Human research has shown that CBD causes decreased saliva production, which would be manifested as increased thirst in dogs.
- Lowered blood pressure — High CBD doses can result in a temporary drop in blood pressure.
Hale Animal Health are conducting clinical trials right here in New Zealand and Australia to make sure our CBD products will be safe and effective.
The bottom line
Available research shows that CBD has promise as a beneficial tool for veterinarians to treat several medical conditions in dogs in New Zealand. However, without an approved dosing chart, the appropriate amount to administer is still unknown. This is one of the reasons why Hale Animal Health are conducting clinical trials right here in New Zealand and Australia to make sure our CBD products will be safe and effective. Always consult your veterinarian before giving your dog any new medication, and let them decide if CBD oil is right for your dog.
 Healthline.com (2020). Hemp vs. Marijuana: What’s the Difference? Accessed July 29, 2021. https://www.healthline.com/health/hemp-vs-marijuana#legality
 American Kennel Club (2021). CBD Oil for Dogs: What You Need to Know. Accessed July 29, 2021. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/cbd-oil-dogs/
 World Health Organization (2017). Cannabidiol Pre-Review Report. Accessed July 29, 2021. https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/5.2_CBD.pdf
 Health Europa (2020). CBD: Understanding How CBD Works With Our Bodies. Accessed July 29, 2021. https://www.healtheuropa.eu/cbd-understanding-how-cbd-works-with-our-bodies/96718/
 PubMed.gov (1988). Pharmacokinetics of Cannabidiol in Dogs. Accessed July 29, 2021. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2900742/
 Forbes (2018). Cornell University Research Could Help Hemp Entrepreneurs (And Make Dogs Feel Better). Accessed July 29, 2021. https://www.forbes.com/sites/julieweed/2018/12/13/cornell-university-research-could-help-hemp-entrepreneurs-and-make-dogs-feel-better/?sh=191b6094783c
 Colorado State University. News From the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (2018). Preliminary Data From CBD Clinical Trials “Promising.” Accessed July 29, 2021. https://cvmbs.source.colostate.edu/preliminary-data-from-cbd-clinical-trials-promising/
 Forbes (2020). CBD For Dogs? New Research Backs Canine Cannabis Use For Osteoarthritis. Accessed July 29, 2021. https://www.forbes.com/sites/emilyearlenbaugh/2020/07/01/cbd-for-dogs-new-research-backs-canine-cannabis-use-for-osteoarthritis/?sh=14ce702e40ac
 Frontiers in Veterinary Science (2020). The Impact of Feeding Cannabidiol Containing Treats on Canine Response to a Noise-Induced Fear Response Test. Accessed July 29, 2021. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2020.569565/full