Answering frequently asked questions about CBD for dogs and cats

These days, pet parents have a lot of questions about CBD for their pets. These FAQs will help you provide the answers they’re seeking. 

Educating your clients on the ins and outs of CBD for pets is likely to become a big part of your job in the upcoming years – if it hasn’t already. Pet parents are curious about this popular health solution, and for good reason. Cannabidiol has shown promise in reducing anxiety and fear-based behavior, easing arthritis and joint pain, and even providing some relief for dogs and cats with cancer and epilepsy. Equipping yourself with the knowledge to answer their questions is the best way to ensure they use it safely and effectively. Here are the answers to some FAQs.

Q: What is CBD?

A: After THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD (cannabidiol) is the second most active ingredient extracted from hemp and marijuana plants. Unlike THC, it provides its health benefits without the undesirable psychotropic side effect.

Q: Is CBD extracted from hemp the same as the CBD in marijuana?

A: Cannabaceae is a family of plants that contains the genera Cannabis, and the species Cannabis sativa describes both hemp and marijuana plants. CBD is a molecule contained in both plants – so essentially CBD is CBD, regardless of its source. CBD extracted from marijuana is illegal, however, whereas CBD extracted from hemp is federally legal, with that legality varying state-to-state.

Q: What is the difference between CBD full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolate?

A: Full spectrum CBD includes all other beneficial components of the hemp plant: flavonoids, terpenes, essentially fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals; however, it also can include < 0.3% THC. Broad spectrum CBD is essentially the same as full spectrum, but without THC. An isolate is the purest form (> 99% pure) of the molecule, where CBD is extracted from the plant and utilized alone, without THC.

Q: What is the endocannabinoid system, and how does CBD interact with it to provide health benefits?

A: The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex cell-signaling pathway present in all animals. It helps maintain balance of biological functions, including sleep, mood, appetite, memory, pain, metabolism, cardiovascular and liver function, and fertility, and is activated when the system is stressed or challenged. The ECS is comprised of three components: endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes. Two naturally occurring endocannabinoids that our bodies make are anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). AEA and 2-AG bind to receptors called CB1 and CB2. CB1 is located primarily in the central nervous system, and CB2 is primarily in the peripheral nervous system and immune cells. The enzymes are responsible for breaking down endocannabinoids after they have bound the receptor and provided their effect.1 CBD is a botanical cannabinoid, like AEA and 2-AG. Instead of binding to CB receptors, it prevents the reuptake and breakdown of AEA, raising its concentration in the brain and potentiating its activity.2 There are many mechanisms by which CBD provides health benefits, and its ECS interaction is just one of those ways.

Q: How bioavailable is it?

A: When taken orally, most CBD does not survive the harsh acidic environment of the stomach and may even degrade into psychotropic byproducts like THC. Even at low concentrations these byproducts can be harmful because animals have a lower threshold for toxicity than people. If it survives passage through the stomach and arrives in the small intestine, absorption into the blood stream is limited due to CBD’s lipophilic – or fat-loving – nature, which the digestive tract cannot efficiently absorb.3 CBD that does not get absorbed by the intestine is excreted in the feces. Therefore, CBD contained in a small water-soluble molecule, like those developed using nano-domain technology, is preferable for more rapid intestinal absorption, achieving greater bioavailability and health benefits.


1Lu, H., & Mackie, K. Review of the endocannabinoid system. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging. 2020.

2Di Marzo, V., & Piscitelli, F. The endocannabinoid system and its modulation by phytocannabinoids. Neurotherapeutics. 2015; 12: 692-698.

3Miller, S.A., Maguire, R.F., Yates, A.S., O’Sullivan, S.E. Review- Towards better delivery of cannabidiol. Pharmaceuticals. 2020; 13: 219.

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