Hemp derivatives are perfectly safe for treating sick dogs

Q: A few months back you wrote about using CBD oil to help dogs with pain, anxiety, cancer and other problems. If CBD oil doesn’t get dogs high, how exactly does it work? Isn’t it toxic? Isn’t it illegal?

khuly (2).JPG
Dr. Patty Khuly has a veterinary practice at Sunset Animal Clinic in South Miami.

A: Medicinal cannabidiol (CBD) is a molecule in the closely related hemp and marijuana plants that’s distinct from the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC), also contained in both plants.

The THC gets you high and is especially toxic to dogs. The CBD does not get you high and is perfectly safe for dogs and humans. In fact, we’ve learned that most of the medicinal effects of these plants aren’t related to the high at all.

A sense of well-being and relaxation, along with some anti-inflammatory effects, are among the CBD molecule’s effects on the body. Again, these have nothing to do with the high we associate with marijuana. Rather, they have more to do with how the molecule binds to a wide variety of cell receptors in the body, many of which mitigate inflammation and improve happy neurotransmitter function.

Despite the attention CBD is currently enjoying, hemp derivatives (including CBD) have been used in dogs for decades. It’s only now, however, that we’ve gained a better understanding of how it works on the body, how it’s most effectively prepared, and which conditions it’s best used for.

Unfortunately, misconceptions about CBD persist. Apart from the misconception that CBD gets you high, or should get you high to work effectively, the most common misconception is that CBD is always derived from the marijuana plant. In fact, most CBD comes from the less expensive and easier-to-grow hemp plant. Which only makes sense. Why buy an illegal plant when you can buy one that’s legally grown?

Which raises the legal issue …

Though I’ve never heard of any law enforcement action against any veterinarian or pet owner, CBD usage is still technically illegal in states where marijuana and all its derivatives (including CBD) is illegal. These include Idaho, Nebraska and South Dakota. All other states, including Florida, now allow products derived from the hemp plant, like CBD oil, to be sold legally.

One additional comment:

Though veterinarians now use this product safely on patients with arthritis, cancer, anxiety and seizure disorders, its degree of efficacy — along with its correct dosing — is still being investigated. So be sure to talk with your veterinarian about whether it’s right for your pets and how much to administer before trying it out.

Dr. Patty Khuly has a veterinary practice at Sunset Animal Clinic in South Miami. Her website is Send questions to