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CBD for Dogs

Myth or Medicine: A veterinarian's guide to understanding cannabidiol for canines.

CBD for Dogs

Whether your dog suffers from a medical condition, chronic pain, anxiety, or you're simply looking to accelerate their recovery after a long hunting trip, CBD may be the remedy you've been searching for. (Shawn K Wayment photo)

After a memorable desert quail hunt in southern Arizona, my hunting partner and I met up at the local Mexican dive with another group of dyed-in-the-wool desert quail hunters to discuss the events of the day and to compare notes. Between eating delicious Chile Rellenos and slurping Mexican lager and listening to the Mariachi quartet, we somehow got on the subject of how tough gun dogs are to be able to run 100-150 miles in a weekend—weekend after weekend for the entire September through February gunning season. I’ve always said that “God made bird dogs tough!” Our discussion turned to a recent seminar I had attended on CBD oil and its benefits for our hunting dogs. 

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring chemical compound found in both hemp and marijuana plants. Currently, there are at least 85 known cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant with CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) being the most prominent ones. CBD is completely free and independent of THC—the cannabinoid causes the psychoactive or high feeling associated with marijuana. Cannabis-derived medicine dates back 5000-plus years when the Chinese recognized its healing abilities for human ailments such as malaria, gout, and osteoarthritis. It wasn’t until about 1839 that an Irish medical researcher, William O'Shaughnessy, published a study on the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis. O’Shaughnessy’s research was very controversial at the time due to the psychoactive effects and the stigma of marijuana. In 1942, an American chemist, Roger Adams, isolated Cannabidiol but it took several more years before scientists identified THC as the culprit for causing the euphoric effects associated with marijuana usage. Because of THC’s euphoria, research on the medical usage of the plant was limited until around 1978 when New Mexico passed the 1978 Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act—a bill which legally recognized the medicinal value of cannabis. The 2018 Farm Bill federally legalized hemp-derived CBD products across the entire United States. This bill didn’t legalize marijuana, but rather the medicinal usage of zero percent THC CBD oil and other CBD products with THC levels less than 0.3 percent.

English setter with quail
CBD has a wide range of benefits and therapeutic properties to enhance your gun dog’s health at home and performance in the field. (Shawn K Wayment photo)

The Endocannabinoid System

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) within our bird dogs is identical to the ECS system found in humans as well as many other mammals. There are two types of cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2, found within the body that interact directly with cannabinoids. Both receptor types are found throughout the body in numerous organ systems and tissues like the brain, lungs, liver, gastrointestinal tract, vascular system, bones, skeletal muscle, nervous tissue, and reproductive organs. CBD can be given to dogs for a wide variety of medical conditions because the receptors are located throughout their bodies. Recently, I treated my own dog for a vascular accident (stroke—called geriatric vestibular disease) to the middle ear causing her severe dizziness, nausea, and loss of appetite. I doubled her dosage of CBD oil and I was amazed at her recovery from the stroke. In my practice, I have also used CBD oil for pets with idiopathic epilepsy, cancer, and severe osteoarthritis with great results.   

CBD Benefits for Dogs

Our bird dogs are super athletes. They push themselves to the absolute limit both physically and mentally every day of the hunting season. I’ve started giving all of my dogs CBD oil daily even during the off-season because of the benefits of cannabinoids and their ability to reduce oxidative stresses on the body. CBD is good for muscle recovery as well as for pain management by reducing the inflammatory process thereby directly reducing swelling and pain. A 100-mile weekend of chukar chasing in Idaho’s rim rock country causes exertion and strain on their muscles leading to muscle damage and breakdown. CBD is rich in anti-inflammatory properties as well as antioxidants that will significantly speed up the recovery process.   

X-ray of canine hip dysplasia
CBD products may ease your dog’s discomfort from hip dysplasia and other mobility issues such as osteoarthritis.. (Shawn K Wayment photo)

Administering CBD post-exercise will also increase our bird dogs’ appetite, reduce metal stress, and help them sleep better at night before the next day of hunting. Remember, there are numerous CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain and central nervous system where CBD can improve how their brains respond to mental stressors and anxiety which can ultimately aid in a more rapid recovery rate. Other current uses of CBD in the canine veterinary world include treatment for cancer, autoimmune diseases, aggressive behaviors, seizure management, appetite stimulation, anxiety, and weight gain, along with arthritis and inflammation.  

How to Choose a CBD Product for Your Dog

While there are a variety of CBD products available for your dog, including oil tinctures, dog treats, capsules, salves, and others, not all CBD products are created equal. The global CBD pet market in 2019 was valued at 27.7 million dollars and is estimated to grow by 40.3 percent by 2027. I’ve found that not all canine CBD oil preparations are created equal, and everyone is out to capitalize on a growing industry because of increased pet owner awareness. I am currently using Dr. Jamie Gaynor’s CBD oil preparation from Peak Therapeutics. 

Dr. Gaynor is a world-renowned veterinary anesthesiologist and a certified veterinary pain practitioner. Dr. Gaynor’s website and products can be found at or he can be reached at (970) 884-3422. I’m using his Healthy Pet formulation in the green box and am giving all my dogs (including my 1 and ½ year old pup) 5 mg or 0.05 mL (equal to about 1 drop per 10 pounds) per 10 pounds of dog body weight twice daily mixed on their food. My 47-pound English setter gets 5 drops twice daily on her food. I prefer the oil tinctures because of their ease of administration.  

Dr. Gaynor's Heathy Pet formulation CBD oil
Dr. Gaynor’s Healthy Pet formulation is the author’s preferred CBD product. (Shawn K Wayment photo)

Before choosing a CBD product for your dog, it is always a good idea to consult with your own personal veterinarian prior to starting any therapy including CBD oil or other over-the-counter products like SAMe, fish oils, elk antler velvet, or glucosamine and chondroitin. Your veterinarian can help you select the most appropriate CBD product and assist you with proper dosing for your dog(s).

With so many therapeutic benefits, CBD may provide the extra support your hunting companion needs during their post-hunt recovery, help relieve pain or anxiety, or provide comfort in recovering from a field trauma or chronic medical condition. 

English pointer and hunter in desert
The rugged desert terrain can wreak havoc on the pads and feet of our gun dogs; consider using topical CBD products to help them recovery faster. (Shawn K Wayment photo)
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