Cancer is on the rise among dogs and other domesticated animals. Pet parents are looking for treatment methods that will offer relief while being gentle and entailing fewer side effects than conventional treatments. As CBD becomes more popular as an alternative for dogs with cancer and other illnesses, we can get a better understanding of the mechanisms behind such benefits of CBD oil.
While medical research is in its infancy, anecdotal evidence from dog owners, as well as preclinical studies, are promising. Scientists suggest that CBD can work effectively as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic agent. Both properties are invaluable for improving a dog’s quality of life.
Not to mention that CBD has been shown to trigger the death of cancerous cells (apoptosis).
In this article, we explain everything you need to know about using CBD oil in dogs with cancer. We’ll cover the scientific research as well as the best brands for your dog to choose from in 2020.
Top 5 Best CBD Oils for Dogs with Cancer
- Editor’s Choice: Royal CBD
- Best Value: Gold Bee
- Runner Up: CBD Pure
- Best THC-free: Hemp Bombs
- Best Price: CBDistillery
Not all CBD oils are made the same. Some products are infused with the full-spectrum of cannabinoids, while others focus on making CBD oils from isolate. Regardless of the product type, your decision should always result from careful research including the product’s hemp source, extraction methods, third-party testing, and additional ingredients used in the formula.
To save you time on comparing different brands and products locally, we’ve prepared a list of the top 5 brands selling affordable premium CBD oils online. Each of these companies ships its products to all 50 states.
Check out this section if you’re looking for the best CBD oil for dogs with arthritis.
1. Royal CBD (Editor’s Choice)
|Total CBD||125 mg, 250 mg, 500 mg (full-spectrum)|
|CBD per Serving||4 mg – 17 mg|
Why Royal CBD is the Best CBD Oil for Dogs with Arthritis:
After receiving rave reviews for its CBD oil selection for humans, Royal CBD has now incorporated the same artisan quality into CBD oil for dogs. The available strengths are calculated for the average weights of dogs, so they aren’t as potent as the oil drops for people. Royal CBD caters to dogs of all sizes, from extra small to large canines.
You can choose from 125 mg, 250 mg, and 500 mg bottles. Depending on the selected option, Royal CBD pet oil contains:
- 4 mg CBD / mL
- 8.5 mg CBD / mL
- 17 mg CBD / mL
The company makes premium CBD oil sourced from organic, American grown hemp and extracted using supercritical CO2 technology. The oil is suspended in MCT carrier oil to improve its absorption and create a full-spectrum product that will leverage the entourage effect. The Royal CBD pet line is free of synthetic additives; even the bacon flavoring is natural.
Royal CBD products are extensively tested in third-party laboratories for their CBD content and purity.
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2. Gold Bee (Best Value)
|Total CBD||300 mg and 600 mg (full-spectrum)|
|Available Flavors||Peanut Butter|
|CBD per Serving||12 mg – 24 mg|
About Gold Bee
Just like Royal CBD, Gold Bee CBD oil has implemented their craft production standards into its CBD oils for dogs. The hemp used for Gold Bee’s extracts comes from organically grown hemp sourced from Colorado and California farms.
The company’s products are made with supercritical CO2 and suspended in an organic carrier oil to provide the full range of the phytonutrients from hemp and increase the efficacy of CBD. This CBD pet oil is available in a peanut butter flavor to suit even the fussiest dogs.
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3. CBD Pure (Runner Up)
|Total CBD||100 mg|
|CBD per serving||3.3 mg|
About CBD Pure
If you think Royal CBD’s or Gold Bee’s products are too potent for your dog, you can go for the CBD Pet 100 oil from CBD Pure. This brand has formulated a CBD oil that is specifically designed to work with small and extra-small dogs. It’s a premium product sourced from American hemp and extracted with CO2. The CBD-rich extract is suspended in hemp seed oil, which may taste more nutty and earthy than the products from the aforementioned brands.
This isn’t a full-spectrum product; it’s CBD isolate, meaning it doesn’t contain any compounds other than CBD. Given this, this product will not produce the entourage effect that many users seek in hemp-derived CBD. However, some people may prefer CBD isolate over full-spectrum products because they might be afraid of the trace levels of THC present in whole-plant CBD oils. While 0.3% of THC isn’t enough to produce psychoactive effects in dogs, you can go for isolate if you think it’s “safer” in some way.
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4. Hemp Bombs (Best THC-free)
|Total CBD||125 – 1000 mg|
|Available Flavors||Beef, Chicken|
|CBD per serving||4 – 133 mg|
About Hemp Bombs
Hemp Bombs is a brand that specializes in making CBD isolates for both humans and dogs. Similar to the other companies mentioned in our list of the best CBD oils for dogs with cancer, this company uses the same formula as it does for humans — but in lower concentrations.
Hemp Bombs CBD pet oil comes in in three potency options: 125 mg, 250 mg, and 1000 mg. The strongest version contains 33.3 mg of CBD/mL, which makes it a good option to consider for large dogs. If you’re looking for larger amounts of pure CBD per serving and don’t mind the lack of the synergy from other cannabinoids, Hemp Bombs is a great alternative to companies selling full-spectrum CBD pet oils.
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5. CBDistillery (Best Price)
|Total CBD||150 mg – 600 mg|
|Potency||8.3 – 166 mg/mL|
CBDistillery is one of the pioneer brands in the American CBD market. Aside from selling a wide selection of CBD products for humans, this company also offers CBD oil for dogs in two potency options: 150 mg and 600 mg of CBD per bottle. These oils are made from non-GMO outdoor-grown hemp, extracted with CO2, and infused with the full-spectrum of cannabinoids for the entourage effect.
CBDistillery CBD pet oil smells pretty earthy and looks greenish, which indicates it has been infused into hemp seed oil. As such, the product may leave a botanical aftertaste, so your pup may not necessarily like it. This is actually our primary concern about CBDistillery: the company doesn’t have any flavored CBD oils for dogs.
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Why Some People Are Turning to CBD for Dogs with Cancer
In an article published by the American Kennel Club (AKC), we can read that there isn’t enough scientific information on treating dogs specifically with cannabidiol.
However, anecdotal evidence from dog owners suggests that CBD can help with many problems canines deal with at some point in their lives. This includes anxiety, neuropathic pain, mobility problems, and seizures.
Dr. Jerry Klein, who is the Chief Veterinary Officer at AKC, says CBD is used in dogs due to its benefits for cardiovascular health as well as due to its ability to control seizures, reduce anxiety, inflammation, and modulate nausea.
Klein adds that CBD also has certain anti-cancer properties, although the data mostly comes from in-vitro studies.
Still, there has been some evidence pointing to CBD as a potential anti-cancer agent, such as the subsequent studies demonstrating its efficacy in stopping the spread of tumors or destroying cancer cells.
Studies that Investigated CBD’s Anti-Cancer Potential
In a study published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, researchers have shown that CBD could stop the migration of tumoral cells (1).
Findings published in the Breast Cancer Research and Treatment Journal in 2010 shed new light on CBD’s anti-cancer properties. The research result indicated that CBD could reduce tumor growth and decrease its size in lung cancer in mice (2).
Then, a 2016 study performed by Mellar Davis provided more explanation on the reason why CBD could potentially help inhibit the growth of harmful cells in tumors (3).
Although the above studies didn’t focus on cancer in dogs, the results are still promising because all mammals have the same endocannabinoid system.
How CBD Oil Could Help Dogs With Cancer
Studies report significant similarities between the histology, biology, and presentation of many canine cancers and those present in humans.
CBD’s potential benefits for dogs with cancer may be related to how the endocannabinoid system (ECS) functions in dogs in humans. In short, it functions similarly in the bodies of both species.
In a 2017 study published in the PLOS One Journal, the authors concluded that many human conditions share visible similarities with their animal counterparts.
This study investigated the spatial distribution of the CB1 cannabinoid receptor in the central and peripheral nervous systems of healthy dogs and juxtaposed them with that of other animals, including humans (4).
The similarities were also highlighted in the review of existing studies published in the Animals (Basel) Journal. According to the author’s research, it’s clear that the ECS is not only present in most animals, but it also plays a critical role in maintaining homeostasis for most organ systems (5).
Interestingly, the first study conducted on CBD oil use in dogs comes from the 2017 Cornell University study, where the research team tested the efficacy of CBD oil for dogs with osteoarthritis.
The study concluded that hemp-based CBD products can reduce the severity of symptoms such as arthritis, inflammation, anxiety, phobias, digestive problems, and itching.
According to the results, CBD oil could help relieve a range of physiological and mental conditions in dogs on top of helping them maintain their natural balance within their bodies.
This would support anecdotal reports of CBD oil’s benefits for pain and anxiety, which are two common side effects of cancer in dogs.
CBD can also stimulate appetite or rectify its loss by interacting with the endocannabinoid system, which helps bring a dog’s natural microbiome in the gut.
The next section will explain the mechanisms behind the benefits of CBD oil for dogs with cancer.
Everything You Need to Know About CBD Oil, Endocannabinoid System, and Cancer
Although there has been no research on the specific mechanism through which CBD could help dogs with cancer, the understanding of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) could explain why CBD could ease certain cancer symptoms like inflammation and pain, as well as trigger cell death (apoptosis) in different types of cancer.
The ECS uses cannabinoids to maintain the internal balance between biological processes in a dog’s body. Studies have pointed to cannabinoid agonists and modulators as alternative tools for reducing tumor growth and proliferation, as reported in a 2016 study that investigated the anti-cancer properties of cannabinoids (6).
The Role of Cannabinoid Receptors in Cancer
Cannabinoids produce many of their physical and psychological effects by interacting with two types of cannabinoid receptors — CB1 and CB2.
The structure of the CB1 receptor is similar in all mammals. This fact was mentioned in a 2019 study on the endocannabinoid systems of animals. CB1 receptors are mostly found in the brain and central nervous system.
CB2 receptors typically occur in immune cells as well as in the peripheral nervous system. These receptors control the release of certain proteins that are responsible for cell migration.
A large share of the medicinal properties of cannabinoid compounds is manifested through the CB2 receptor.
A study published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation in 2017 showed that CB2 receptors take part in mitigating chronic inflammatory processes and thus may ease chronic pain (7).
Moreover, the ability of CBD to trigger cell apoptosis is also attributed to its indirect activation of the CB2 receptors. Cannabinoids are often prescribed to patients as a way to reduce the severity of the side effects of chemotherapy, such as nausea, pain, and vomiting (8).
Although the safety of CBD has been already established in humans, no research has investigated its safety in dogs yet. We encourage you to always check with your veterinarian first before adding CBD to your dog’s routine.
The Pros and Cons of Using CBD Oil for Dogs with Cancer
- Hemp-derived CBD oil is legal and widely available in many countries. You can buy it without a prescription somewhere locally or from a trusted online supplier.
- CBD oil is easy to use with pets when you follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- CBD has no life-threatening side effects unlike traditional medications for dogs. Experts say CBD doesn’t cause damage to the gastrointestinal tract, kidney, or liver, and the dogs won’t get high off of it (9).
- Research regarding the use of CBD in dogs with cancer is limited, and no longitudinal studies on its efficacy have been conducted.
- Veterinarians can’t officially recommend CBD due to its classification by the Drug Enforcement Administration. The agency treats CBD as a schedule 1 substance.
- California is currently the only state where veterinarians are able to discuss cannabis with their clients. As a result, most vets aren’t up to date with the latest scientific findings on CBD.
- CBD may interact with medications prescribed by veterinarians. The CBD industry is also unregulated, which poses a risk of buying a mislabeled product that can adversely affect your four-legged friend.
- There are no dosage guidelines when it comes to using CBD in dogs with cancer. Wrong dosing may cause side effects such as dry mouth, drowsiness, and changes in appetite on top of low blood pressure.
CBD vs. Other Alternative Treatments for Dogs with Cancer
According to a German biochemist Johanna Budwig, flaxseed oil could be a natural alternative for stopping cancers from growing. She invented the Budwig diet, which involves eating flaxseed oil with milk and cottage cheese.
Studies on flaxseed in animals have also shown that it may help reduce cancer growth. The oil’s potential as an alternative cancer treatment is the reason why some pet parents make a transition to the Budwig Diet with their dogs.
However, keep in mind there’s not enough quality research on the topic, and we still need high-quality evidence that would support the anecdotal and preclinical evidence.
If you want to try the Budwig diet for your dog, you can add CBD oil to its core to enhance the tumor-shrinking properties of flaxseed oil. CBD has been repeatedly shown to help with different cancer symptoms.
Still, we advise you to check with a veterinarian to discuss different treatment strategies if your dog has cancer.
How to Choose the Right CBD Product for Dogs with Cancer
Once the pet owner and the veterinarian have decided they should try CBD as a supportive treatment for the dog, there are a few things to remember before you start shopping for CBD oil.
There’s a large degree of difference when it comes to the quality of CBD oils. The better the quality of the ingredients, the higher the chance of easing the symptoms.
According to an article posted by Veterinary Cannabis Education and Consulting, pet owners should follow 8 steps when shopping for CBD online or in-store:
- Legality: Hemp-derived CBD products are legal in all 50 states. They can be found in pet stores and online and you don’t need a prescription to buy them. Meanwhile, products with higher THC content are available in dispensaries; however, high-THC products are reserved exclusively for humans, as THC can be toxic to dogs. Always check with your local laws before buying CBD oil.
- Brand reputation: companies with a well-established reputation will be more expensive than your average online vendor because they have high ethical standards and provide top-shelf products. Look for premium brands that offer various discounts on their CBD oils. This way, you can save money on high-quality supplies.
- Cannabinoid spectrum: Cannabis plants contain more than 400 active compounds, all of which contribute to the entourage effect. This phenomenon refers to the synergy achieved by all chemicals from hemp; these chemicals amplify each other’s benefits while modulating potentially unwanted effects. That’s why full-spectrum products are the preferred option among consumers.
- Laboratory testing: only purchase products that have been tested and guaranteed to be free of contaminants. Every CBD company out there has an option to send their product samples to third-party laboratories for content analysis. These independent labs check the CBD content of the product and look for potentially dangerous chemicals, such as pesticides, heavy metals, or mycotoxins. If a product passes the test, it should receive a Certificate of Analysis. Reputable brands make these certificates available on their websites or on request.
- Extraction method: CO2 is the safest method to extract CBD oil used in animals. Alternatively, you can choose tinctures that have been extracted with alcohol. Other methods, such as hydrocarbon extraction, may leave behind a toxic residue in the final product that may cause adverse reactions and be dangerous for your dog’s health.
- Formula: CBD oil is one of the most effective forms of cannabis to use in dogs with cancer. You can also try edibles such as CBD-infused pet treats if your dog dislikes the flavor of natural CBD oil.
- Avoid synthetic additives: products that contain ingredients like colorings, preservatives, and other synthetic compounds may adversely affect your dog’s health. For example, some CBD products may contain Xylitol as a sweetener, which is extremely toxic and addictive for dogs.
- The THC content: full-spectrum hemp extracts contain only trace amounts of THC — up to 0.3% — so they won’t get your dog high, nor will they produce toxicity. However, you must make sure that what you’re buying is actually a hemp-derived product. CBD oils extracted from marijuana plants will contain a considerable amount of THC, which is a big no-no for dogs.
CBD Dosage: How Much CBD Oil Should You Give to Dogs with Cancer?
There are no official dosage recommendations for using CBD oil in dogs with cancer. However, you can find some dosing guidelines based on the experience of pet owners and veterinarians.
It’s best to start at low doses to see how your dog responds to CBD. Observe the dog’s behavior, and if you notice positive changes in its behavior, note them down and put the dosage next to it. If you think your dog needs more CBD oil to ease the symptoms of cancer, you can readjust the dosage and monitor the effects throughout another week. Repeat that process until you find a dose that works for your dog.
CBD has a remarkable safety profile, but it is your responsibility to inform your veterinarian about a plan to add CBD to your dog’s treatment if the dog is taking any medications.
As mentioned, CBD may interact with many pharmaceuticals, which can bring about unwanted collateral damage. Cannabis is also not recommended if an animal is immature or pregnant.
CBD oil is usually sold in bottles, with a glass dropper attached to them. The dropper helps you measure out the desired does and makes it easy to administer the oil. If you know how many milligrams of CBD are in one milliliter — which is precisely the size of the dropper — you’ll be able to easily gauge the right dose.
Of course, higher doses will work better with larger breeds, whereas smaller dogs will need less CBD in their routine to experience the benefits.
The amount of CBD oil that could help your dog will also vary depending on its age, metabolism, and severity of symptoms.
Different Ways to Administer CBD Oil to Dogs with Cancer
Every dog will respond differently to CBD products, and sometimes, it takes time to figure out the right format and dosage for your best friend — especially if you’re looking to address specific symptoms.
CBD is available in many forms. Most commonly, companies sell CBD for pets in a liquid formula (CBD oil) or as pet treats that contain a pre-measured dose of CBD.
CBD oil provides the most consistent, accurate dosing, while edibles are better for fussy dogs who turn their noses away upon the smell of the oil-based liquid.
Does CBD Oil Have Any Side Effects?
CBD oil is safe for dogs and poses a minimal risk — just like for humans. The biggest concern about CBD products for pets derives from the lack of regulation in the CBD industry. There’s a risk of buying mislabeled products that often contain less CBD than advertised. Some of these products can be dangerous for your pet’s health.
However, CBD itself has no serious side effects. If they occur, they are mild and include:
- Dry mouth
- Changes in appetite
- Lowered blood pressure
CBD won’t get your dog high regardless of the dose. That being said, we advise you to use it with caution and under the supervision of your veterinarian.
CBD vs. THC: Understanding Cannabis Plants
Cannabis sativa L. is one of the oldest medicinally used plants known to humans. Sativa means “useful” in Latin, and is a term that commonly appears when discussing plant names.
Both hemp and marijuana plants belong to the cannabis genus.
When most people hear the word “cannabis,” they automatically associate it with marijuana and the high-inducing cannabinoid THC.
However, THC is only one of the 115 identified cannabinoids in cannabis.
Not to mention that it occurs in different ratios depending on which type of cannabis we’re talking about.
Marijuana is naturally high in THC, hence it’s signature high.
But when it comes to hemp plants, they only contain a trace amount of this cannabinoid. Hemp comes with higher concentrations of CBD, the second major cannabinoid.
How Common is Cancer in Dogs?
It’s estimated that 1 in 3 dogs will develop some form of cancer in their life. 1 in 4 dogs will suffer from neoplasia, the abnormal growth of cells or tissues within the body. The main cause of death for dogs older than 2 years is cancer, and 50% of dogs over the age of 10 are likely to develop it.
Common Cancer Types in Dogs
The most common types of cancer include melanoma, mammary cancer, and lymphoma.
Lymphoma can affect the lymph nodes, as well as the gastrointestinal tract, bone marrow, and the spleen.
Melanoma appears on the skin, particularly inside a dog’s mouth.
Mammary cancer attacks the mammary glands.
Other common types of cancer in dogs are bone cancer, mast cell tumors, and Hemangiosarcoma, which is a kind of cancer found in the heart or spleen.
Final Thoughts: Is CBD Oil a Viable Treatment Support for Dogs with Cancer?
As the CBD market continues to grow thanks to the new scientific discoveries made about CBD every month, the use of CBD oil has become more widespread among dog owners who want to treat their dogs in a natural and safe way.
Studies have shown CBD has therapeutic effects in both humans and dogs, making it a viable option for a general wellness boost, as well as for dealing with serious health problems.
It’s essential to note that the aforementioned studies regarding the anti-tumor effects of CBD were conducted on rodent and human models, not in dogs. Nevertheless, since the ECS is the same throughout all mammalian creatures, these studies show a high degree of relevance when it comes to domesticated animals.
The CBD market is largely unregulated when it comes to labeling products and manufacturing standards. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is looking to evaluate the safety and efficacy of cannabis-derived products like CBD oil.
The best you can do if you’re a pet owner who has a dog with cancer is to check with a veterinarian who will be knowledgeable about using cannabis in pets before giving CBD oil to your four-legged friend or supporting its therapy with cannabidiol.
- Massi, Paola et al. “Cannabidiol as potential anticancer drug.” British journal of clinical pharmacology vol. 75,2 (2013): 303-12. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2125.2012.04298.x
- McAllister, Sean D et al. “Pathways mediating the effects of cannabidiol on the reduction of breast cancer cell proliferation, invasion, and metastasis.” Breast cancer research and treatment vol. 129,1 (2011): 37-47. doi:10.1007/s10549-010-1177-4
- Davis, Mellar P. “Cannabinoids for Symptom Management and Cancer Therapy: The Evidence.” Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network: JNCCN vol 14,7 (2016) pp 915–922.
- Freundt-Revilla J, Kegler K, Baumgärtner W, Tipold A (2017) Spatial distribution of cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) in normal canine central and peripheral nervous system. PLoS ONE 12(7): e0181064.
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- Niu J, Huang D, Zhou R, et al. Activation of dorsal horn cannabinoid CB2 receptor suppresses the expression of P2Y12 and P2Y13 receptors in neuropathic pain rats. J Neuroinflammation. 2017;14(1):185. Published 2017 Sep 12. doi:10.1186/s12974-017-0960-0
- Soderstrom, K., Soliman, E., Van Dross, R. “Cannabinoids Modulate Neuronal Activity and Cancer by CB1 and CB2 Receptor-Independent Mechanisms. Frontiers in Pharmacology, Oct 2017.