Head to Tail Canine Nutrition


As on owner of 4 dogs ranging from 3 years to 9.5 years of age I have found the use of full spectrum CBD oil very helpful.

My oldest dog suffers from anxiety and joint pain. This was a long-standing issue.  However, since being on a regular dose of CBD oil, she is much more relaxed, even during thunderstorms. She is also now able to play ball vigorously without discomfort. I do add an extra dose of CBD oil if she has been playing too long with my son, but this is minimal to keep her pain free.

Our Border Collie came into rescue at 9 months of age with a crushed hip and femur head and had lost her muscle mass in that area. Surgery removed as much of the bone splints and arthritis as possible yet two years ago, I notice she was partially lame and having difficulty keeping up with our other dogs while on walks.     Since starting her on medical cannabis oil, her pain seems like a distant memory and she is her old self again!

My athletic Papillion recently had a minor soft tissue injury that affected his sacrum. The full spectrum CBD oil along with physiotherapy, acupuncture, and chiropractic care, have kept him comfortable and has contributed in his recovery.

It is important to keep track of when our pets are having bad days. If they have increased pain, it is suggested to micro dose throughout the day to keep the issue at bay.  Cannabis generally more effective when given in small doses throughout the day if possible.

Cannabis for pets can be a great part of their daily health plan.  As the demand for cannabis grows in the Canadian pet world so does the questions and concerns.  There is a lot of misleading  information out there and I hope to clarify some of it.


     Hemp VS Cannabis; there are 2 types of cannabis plants: hemp plants and drug plants.

Hemp seed oil is an Omega fatty acid supplement and is great source of fibre. Some may lead you to believe it contains medicinal CBD. However, Hemp is legally defined as a cannabidiol plant that contains less than 0.3% THC and therefore, has none of the psychoactive effects. (MD 20)

The drug plant on the other hand, contains all of the medical and recreational properties.  As said by Raphael Mechoulam, cannabis is a “pharmacological treasure trove.”  Let’s get into the science behind it.


      All creatures that have a spine, have receptors for CBD and THC.  This system, called the endocannabinoid system or ECS, is the most widespread system in the body. When we ingest plant cannabinoids like THC and CBD, they’re essentially flipping the same switches that our own endocannabinoids would normally interact with. (MD 28) That’s why cannabis has so many potential medical benefits: our bodies are already set up to receive its components.  The brain of the dog has the most abundant receptors for THC* out of all creatures tested so far but no one seems to know why as of yet but this explains why dogs are so sensitive to THC. * (R. Silver 47)

In the book Cannabis Revealed, by Dr. Bonni Goldstein, she explains the importance of the endocannabinoid systems job is to regulate the most important pathways in the body, including:


Functions of the ECS:  

1)PROTECT nervous tissue from trauma and inflammation

2)  To FORGET emotional trauma and those memories.

3) RELAX THE BODY and the mind so it can repair and restore itself.

4) SLEEP so that the body will repair, renew and restore itself.

5) EAT so that the body will be nourished and supported. (D. R. Silver 31)

     Entourage effect; means that the cannabinoids work better together than when isolated from one another.  The synergy can enhance effects or amend effects beneficially. In other words, a full spectrum cannabis product works more effectively than an isolate.

I attended a conference in Saskatoon recently where I had the privilege of meeting and learning from Dr. Robert Silver DVM, MS, CVA, on the subject of cannabis for pets.  He has many years of experience with medical cannabis in his Colorado clinic due it’s legalization nearly10 years ago. He shared with us what to look for when purchasing Hemp or Cannabis products.  The term “full spectrum” refers to the fact that the product is not and “isolate”, containing only one cannabinoid such as what we are seeing in some products. The THC has been removed almost completely, but the other cannabinoids and terpenes are still enough to create the “entourage effect“.

When reviewing a product you are considering to purchase for your pet take the time to ask the company for a certificate of analysis that tells you exactly what cannabinoids and terpenes it contains along with lab data showing that it is clean of any contaminants such as microbials, heavy metals, and pesticides.  Also ask for any studies associated with the product to show its effectiveness on humans or pets.  Most products are supported by anecdotal evidence; given enough support from their clients, this creates enough evidence for many people while we wait for studies to be completed.

Terpenes consist of over 200 components and are responsible for aroma and some medicinal activities of cannabis whereas THC and CBD are odorless. (R. Silver 18)

Medicinal properties of terpenes:

     What about toxicity of THC? There is a common fear that THC is toxic to dogs.  Putting this into perspective you can also say the water is toxic to dogs.  All things in moderation. Dr. Richter, DVM, shared with Leafly that “there is no reason to think that THC is beneficial in people when it’s somehow poison to dogs and cats.” (Peters) When dosing dogs with a full spectrum containing THC medicinal cannabis it is advised to “start low and go slow”.  Always start with a very low dose and gradually work up to your pets optimal dose by slowly increasing every 4-6 days.  This is very individual so it is important to watch your pet for signs of improvement and stop at that dose.  Dr. Silver has noted there have only been 2 cases of dogs dying from an overdose and in both cases these dogs had eaten a pan of chocolate brownies made with cannabis butter as many of you know, chocolate is toxic to dogs.

What are the most common signs of excess cannabis exposure in pets? (CVMA)

What about Cats?


So far cannabis looks to be beneficial in dogs but what about cats? In an article by ElleVet they write that dosing for cats is very different than dogs.  They completed a 3 month study to ensure that cannabis was safe and effective on cats. They found it is not only safe, but offers another avenue for pain as cats traditionally have very few options for pain relief.  They go on to say that “feline anxiety and lower urinary tract issues associated with anxiety are another treatment area where we have had extremely positive results” (ElleVet)

In an article by Leafly; The Science Behind Giving CBD and Cannabis to Cats and Dogs they write that “cats respond better to cannabinoid medicine than dogs.” (Peters)

POTENTIAL Veterinary Applications for Phyto-Cannabinoids Based on Documented Research (D. R. Silver 33)

In an interview with Leafly, Dr. Richter’s states;  “While I am certainly a person who’s a proponent of the research, just because the research isn’t there doesn’t mean you can or should ignore something that’s completely obvious and right in front of your face.” (Peters)


What can our Veterinarians do?

“It is important to note that although veterinarians are currently not legally allowed to prescribe any cannabis products to pets however, pet owners who choose to use cannabis products for their pets, are encouraged to discuss their use with their veterinarian.” (CVMA)


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Works Cited

CVMA. 18 Sept 2018.

ElleVet. https://ellevetsciences.com/blogs/news/feline-mobility-oil-study. 20 June 2018.

MD, Bonni Goldstein. “Cannabis Revealed.” Goldstein, Bonni. Cannabis Revealed. 2016.

Peters, Alexa. https://www.leafly.ca/news/health/what-science-says-about-giving-dogs-cats-cannabis-cbd. 11 October 2018.

Silver, Dr. Robert. Medical Marijuana & Your Pet The Definitive Guide. 2015.

Silver, Robert. “Medical Marijuana & Your Pet The Definitive Guide.” Silver, Robert. Medical Marijuana & Your Pet The Definitive Guide. 2015.