CBD – Is it Safe? Does it Work?


Always on the lookout for new and better treatments, I follow the research. At the recent conference of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine in Philadelphia I listened as experts presented their findings on CBD.

The biologically active components of the hemp plant, cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) are fascinating. Rather than THC, the ingredient in marijuana that’s used for human pain and the recreational buzz, CBD and CBDA are extracted from certain strains of hemp. For dogs with arthritic pain it’s been added to medications like carprofen with some benefit. Research in rats has found that CBDA inhibits vomiting and may reduce inflammation and anxiety.

There are currently two pilot studies using a mixture of CBD and CBDA “showing a 30–40% reduction in seizure incidence” in dogs whose epilepsy was not adequately controlled with other medications. There is also clinical evidence supporting the use of CBD/CBDA to reduce itching in allergic dogs. Rather than decreasing the inflammation, a neurologic effect may be responsible for the improvements.

People with day-to-day anxiety have shown improvement with CBD but pets don’t appear to get as much relief. One study of dogs in an animal shelter suggested mild improvement in aggression. Supplements like CBD, with or without CBDA, can’t do it all. Prescription medications are generally safe and often effective, along with research-based behavior modification, for treatment of anxiety-related aggression in cats and dogs.

Don’t assume that supplements are risk-free. Prescription drugs are subjected to a lot more scrutiny. Studies using CBD for 6 months in dogs and for 3 months in cats have shown no adverse symptoms but rises in liver enzymes have occurred. If you take the CBD path for your pet you’ll want to have lab values monitored.

Will they get high on CBD? Not to worry; your pets won’t become pot heads. By law, these supplements can contain no more than 0.3% THC. ElleVet provides reliable products, meant just for dogs and cats, that contain both CBD and CBDA. You can order online but get your veterinarian’s advice first.


For help with behavior problems, you can sign-up for a Zoom Group Conference on my website, drjeffnichol.com.

Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in-person and in groups by Zoom (drjeffnichol.com). Each week he shares a blog and a video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Post pet behavioral or physical questions on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.