Safe and effective use of CBD oil in dogs with cancer

CBD Oil for Dogs with Cancer: An Owner's Guide to Safe and Effective Use

Written by: Vanessa Celemen



Time to read 16 min


Cancer remains a prevalent diagnosis among dogs, with various types such as canine lymphoma, melanoma, mast cell tumors, bone cancer, hemangiosarcoma, and mammary cancer being common.

While it's important to understand that CBD is not a cure for cancer and should not be seen as a miracle solution, it can be a valuable addition to the treatment plans for dogs undergoing cancer therapies.

CBD isn't capable of eliminating or directly treating cancerous tumors, but it has shown potential in some instances to slow down the proliferation of cancer cells.

This can be particularly beneficial when used alongside treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Moreover, CBD plays a significant role in enhancing the life quality of dogs diagnosed with cancer.

For dogs battling cancer, CBD can provide relief from pain, inflammation, anxiety, nausea, and seizures. It has also been observed to stimulate appetite in dogs experiencing a decrease in their desire to eat.

As a palliative care option, CBD is especially valuable for older pets where aggressive and invasive treatments might not be the preferable path.

In summary, CBD offers a supportive role in the overall cancer treatment and care for dogs, focusing on comfort and symptom management.

Dog in Vet Clinic

Do Veterinarians recommend CBD for Cancer in Dogs?

Regarding the utilization of CBD for treating cancer in dogs, veterinarians' opinions and recommendations can greatly differ. This variation is influenced by several factors, including legal constraints, individual experience, and their level of understanding regarding CBD.

  • Variability in Veterinarians' Opinions: Veterinarians' views on using CBD for cancer treatment in dogs can differ significantly due to legal restrictions, personal experience, and their understanding of CBD.

  • Legal Constraints: In many regions, laws limit veterinarians' ability to discuss or recommend CBD. California is an exception, but generally, veterinarians cannot initiate conversations about CBD with pet owners.

  • Owner Responsibility: It often falls on dog owners to initiate discussions about CBD as part of their dog's cancer treatment plan.

  • Role of Integrative Veterinarians: Seeking advice from integrative veterinarians can be beneficial. They combine traditional veterinary medicine with alternative therapies and might have more insight into CBD's benefits and its integration with other cancer treatments.

  • CBD's Benefits in Cancer Symptoms: Integrative vets can guide on how CBD may help reduce cancer-related symptoms in dogs such as pain, inflammation, stress, nausea, and seizures.

  • Guidance on CBD Usage: These veterinarians can advise on appropriate CBD dosage, how to incorporate it into the treatment schedule, and monitor potential interactions with conventional cancer therapies.

  • Emerging Area of Study: The use of CBD in veterinary science, especially for cancer treatment, is a developing field with ongoing research to understand its effectiveness and safety.

  • Diverse Views among Veterinarians: Some veterinarians are knowledgeable and open to using CBD, while others may be cautious or have limited experience.

In summary, for those interested in integrating CBD into their dog's cancer treatment, consulting with an integrative veterinarian who has expertise in both conventional and alternative medical practices is advisable. Such a veterinarian can offer a comprehensive and well-informed viewpoint on the potential benefits and risks of using CBD in cancer treatment for dogs. 

Sick Dog

What does CBD do for Dogs with Cancer?

Dogs, like all mammals, have an endocannabinoid system, a widespread network of receptors playing a key role in regulating bodily functions such as pain, anxiety, and nausea. CBD, or cannabidiol, interacts with this system, mirroring the effects of the body's natural cannabinoids. This interaction is beneficial in managing various types of pain, offering relief to dogs.

  1. Symptom Relief: CBD is beneficial in reducing symptoms like arthritis, inflammation, and other pain-related issues common in dogs with cancer, improving their quality of life.

  2. Seizure Management: For certain types of cancer that may cause seizures in dogs, CBD is recognized for its ability to reduce the frequency, severity, and duration of these seizures.

  3. Not a Cure for Cancer: CBD is used for symptom management, not as a cure for cancer. Its role is to enhance the quality of life and comfort of dogs undergoing cancer treatment.

  4. Holistic Approach: Using CBD in treating canine cancer is part of a comprehensive, holistic approach aimed at improving life quality and reducing discomfort.

  5. Veterinary Supervision: It's crucial to incorporate CBD into a dog’s cancer treatment plan under the guidance of a veterinarian, preferably one knowledgeable in integrative medicine combining conventional and alternative treatments.

  6. Customized Guidance: Such veterinarians can provide tailored advice on CBD dosage and monitor the dog’s response to ensure optimal outcomes.

  7. Cancer Treatment Approach: The overall approach to treating cancer in dogs may include surgery, chemotherapy, medications for side effects management, and sometimes, natural supplements like CBD, as recommended by a veterinarian or veterinary oncologist.

Treating cancer in dogs usually involves a multifaceted strategy. Growing research suggests that CBD oil can be a valuable component in a veterinarian-approved cancer treatment plan for dogs. Here's an insight into how it integrates into canine cancer therapy:

1. It May Support Anti-Tumor Medication

CBD has shown promise in potentially reducing tumor sizes, exhibiting anti-tumor properties in various human cancer types, including:

-Brain and spine tumors
-Lung cancer
-Colon cancer

As this research has indicated that CBD not only has tumor-reducing capabilities on its own but may also boost the effectiveness of radiation therapy. This synergy could mean that lower doses of radiation might be used without compromising its effectiveness.

A notable recent study highlighted that mice with pancreatic cancer treated with both CBD and gemcitabine (a chemotherapy drug) experienced a threefold increase in survival rate compared to those treated with gemcitabine alone. This finding suggests a potential benefit in combining CBD with traditional cancer treatments.

As more and more research on the science of cancer emerges, what researchers are coming to realize is that the body’s endocannabinoid system (yes, your dog has one, too) is intimately related to cancer. That is, the parts of the central and peripheral nervous system’s complex signaling process related to the development of cancer actively respond to cannabinoids such as CBD.

It Can Reduce Pain and Inflammation

Managing pain and inflammation is a critical component of cancer treatment in dogs, as these symptoms can arise from both the disease itself and the side effects of treatments.

  • Traditional prescription pain medications, while effective, often come with undesirable side effects. Opioids carry risks like increasing tolerance and potential overdose, and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) have been linked to severe side effects in some dogs, including gastrointestinal issues, liver and kidney failure, and in extreme cases, death. These risks can be especially pronounced in older and immune-compromised dogs.

  • Research highlights the capacity of CBD to significantly reduce both pain and inflammation. It may also complement other pain medication mechanisms, potentially reducing the need for higher doses of conventional pain medications. This aspect of CBD is particularly beneficial, as it could allow for effective pain management without relying heavily on more traditional, potentially riskier medications.

  • Studies indicate that CBD has a robust safety profile in both humans and dogs. It tends to produce fewer and less severe side effects compared to other pain management drugs commonly prescribed in veterinary medicine. This safety aspect makes CBD an appealing option for managing pain and inflammation in dogs with cancer.

3. It May Boost the Immune System

The intricate connection between the endocannabinoid system and the immune system is a key aspect in understanding how CBD might benefit dogs with cancer. This link is so significant that it has led some researchers to refer to a combined term, the “immunocannabinoid system,” highlighting the interplay between these two systems.

  • CBD's role in modulating immune function is multifaceted. One of its notable abilities is to reduce oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a critical biological process that, when unbalanced, can harm the body's cells and tissues.

  • It involves the production of free radicals and the body's ability to counteract their harmful effects with antioxidants. By reducing oxidative stress, CBD can help the body more effectively combat pathogens without causing additional damage to healthy tissues.

  • Cannabinoids, including CBD, have been recognized for their role in regulating gut health. Gut health is intrinsically linked to the immune system; a healthy gut contributes to a robust immune response. This regulation is especially important in dogs with cancer, as maintaining a strong immune system is crucial in fighting the disease and managing the side effects of cancer treatments.

    By potentially boosting the immune system, CBD may offer an additional layer of support in managing cancer in dogs. Its ability to alleviate oxidative stress and regulate gut health, along with the broader modulatory effects on the immunocannabinoid system, underscores CBD's potential as a complementary therapy in canine cancer treatment.

    However, as with any supplement or medication, it's important to consult with a veterinarian to determine the most suitable approach for each individual dog's needs and health condition.

4. It May Aid in Sleep Regulation

  • THC and CBD Effects: THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) are the two most well-known cannabinoids, with differing effects on sleep. Hemp strains used in pet CBD products typically have only trace amounts of THC.

  • THC and Sleep: THC is often associated with sleep-inducing effects.

  • CBD and Wakefulness: Contrary to THC, CBD is thought to act as a wake-promoting agent, which might seem counterintuitive for improving sleep.

  • Daytime Alertness and Sleep Quality: Research suggests that CBD oil might improve sleep quality at night by promoting alertness and activity during the day, thus helping to establish a more natural sleep-wake cycle.

  • Mixed Research Results: The research on cannabinoids' specific roles in sleep regulation has yielded mixed results, and much remains unknown.

  • Clinical Practice and CBD: In veterinary medicine, the use of CBD in cancer treatment plans often involves a trial-and-error approach to find the best administration time (day, night, or both) for aiding sleep in canine patients.

    This approach allows veterinarians to tailor the treatment to the individual needs and responses of each dog, considering factors such as the dog's overall health, cancer type, stage, and other treatments being administered. As the understanding of cannabinoids and their interaction with the endocannabinoid system evolves, so too will the strategies for using CBD oil to enhance sleep and overall well-being in dogs with cancer.

    5. It May Help with Nausea and Appetite

    A common challenge in treating cancer in dogs involves managing symptoms like a weakened appetite and persistent nausea, which can sometimes lead to anorexia.

    • Symptom Management Challenges: A major issue in canine cancer treatment is managing symptoms like reduced appetite and persistent nausea, leading to conditions like anorexia.

    • Cancer-Induced Cachexia: This severe metabolic disorder, characterized by the excessive breakdown of muscle and fat tissue, can lead to significant appetite loss and accounts for up to 20% of deaths in canine cancer patients.

    • Benefits of Cannabinoids: Oncologists are increasingly interested in cannabis-based treatments due to the potential benefits of cannabinoids in improving appetite and reducing nausea.

    • Role of the Endocannabinoid System: Present in all mammals, this system plays a vital role in regulating metabolism and gut health. It is densely populated in the gut with receptors and enzymes that support healthy gut flora.

    • Brain-Gut Pathway Involvement: The endocannabinoid system is closely involved in the brain-gut pathway, which regulates various biological systems. This pathway is a key area of ongoing research.

    • Interaction of Cannabis Components: Active components in cannabis, especially CBD, interact with the endocannabinoid system, offering a potential method to alleviate nausea and stimulate appetite in dogs undergoing cancer treatment.

    This approach is especially valuable in managing cancer-induced cachexia and other appetite-related issues that can significantly impact a dog's health and quality of life. By improving appetite and reducing nausea, CBD can contribute to maintaining a healthier weight and better overall condition in dogs with cancer.

    CBD Hemp

    Pet CBD is NOT the Same as Medical Marijuana

    Understanding the distinction between pet CBD and medical marijuana is fundamental for pet owners, particularly those considering CBD for pets with health conditions like cancer.

    • While medical marijuana is a popular choice for humans undergoing cancer treatment, it's not a viable option for pets due to the presence of THC. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive element in marijuana that can be harmful to animals like dogs.

    • This is where pet CBD, predominantly derived from the hemp plant, a variant of the Cannabis Sativa species, comes into play. Hemp is naturally abundant in cannabinoids, which are compounds that have shown potential benefits in managing a range of symptoms in pets. Crucially, hemp contains only trace amounts of THC, generally below 0.3%.

    • This minimal THC content is what legally differentiates hemp-derived CBD products from marijuana, making them safe and legal across all states in the U.S., according to the 2018 Farm Bill Act. Additionally, these CBD products are legal in more than 40 countries globally, reflecting their growing acceptance and use.

    • The concern about whether CBD can cause a 'high' in pets is a common one among pet owners. The answer is quite reassuring: since hemp-derived CBD contains only trace amounts of THC, it does not have the psychoactive properties that cause the high associated with marijuana. This means that pet owners can use CBD products for their pets without worrying about any intoxicating effects.

    • The history of CBD use dates back to ancient civilizations and even Scandinavian traditions, indicating its long-standing presence in various cultures. However, its resurgence in popularity and acceptance in recent years is largely attributed to scientific advancements that have shed light on its potential therapeutic benefits, especially in the realm of veterinary care.

    • The legal classification of industrial hemp plants, which contain less than 0.3% THC, as legal substances under U.S. law has been a significant milestone. This classification has facilitated the broader and more legal utilization of CBD in pet care, allowing pet owners to explore this option for various health conditions, including cancer, without the legal and psychoactive concerns associated with medical marijuana.

    In summary, pet CBD offers a safe, non-psychoactive, and legal alternative to medical marijuana for pets, making it a viable option for pet owners looking to support their pets' health, particularly in managing conditions like cancer. The growing body of research and historical context of CBD use further underscores its potential in the realm of pet health and wellness.

    Benefits of CBD Oil For Dogs With Cancer

    Inhibit the formation of blood vessels that feed tumors (angiogenesis)Trigger death of cancer cells (via apoptosis)Understanding the benefits of CBD Oil for dogs with cancer requires a deeper look into a vital biological process known as apoptosis, or programmed cell death. Apoptosis is a critical mechanism by which cells that are damaged or no longer needed are eliminated from the body.

    • One of the hallmarks of cancer is the ability of cancer cells to evade this process, allowing them to survive and proliferate uncontrollably. This unchecked growth and spread of cancer cells, known as metastasis, is a significant challenge in cancer treatment.

    • The endocannabinoid system, present in all mammals, including dogs, plays a crucial role in maintaining the body's balance or homeostasis. This system, through its network of receptors and signaling molecules, regulates various physiological processes, including pain, inflammation, and cell growth.

    • In a healthy state, the endocannabinoid system contributes to the elimination of faulty cells, thus preventing disease. However, in the case of cancer, the rapid multiplication of cancer cells can overwhelm this system, leading to an imbalance that the body struggles to correct on its own.

    • Research into the use of CBD oil for dogs with cancer has shown promising results in addressing this imbalance. Studies indicate that CBD oil can interact with the endocannabinoid system in ways that are beneficial for managing cancer. Specifically, CBD has been found to:

    According to research, CBD for dogs with cancer has been shown to:

    Inhibit tumor growth (via apoptosis) : : CBD can promote apoptosis in cancer cells, thereby inhibiting tumor growth. This action helps in controlling the size and spread of tumors.

    Trigger death of cancer cells (via apoptosis) :By inducing apoptosis, CBD facilitates the natural death of cancerous cells, which the cancer cells typically resist.

    Inhibit the formation of blood vessels that feed tumors (angiogenesis) :

    CBD can hinder the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) that feed tumors, thereby limiting their growth and ability to spread.

    Discourage the spread of cancer from one part of the body to another (metastasis) :

    CBD may help in preventing the spread of cancer from the original site to other parts of the body.

    Beyond these direct effects on cancer cells and tumors, perhaps the most significant benefit of CBD oil for dogs with cancer is its impact on overall quality of life. Dogs undergoing cancer treatment often experience pain, loss of appetite, anxiety, and other symptoms that can significantly affect their well-being.

    CBD oil can help manage these symptoms, providing comfort and improving the quality of life for these pets.

    While CBD oil is not a cure for cancer, its potential to support conventional cancer treatments and improve the quality of life for dogs with cancer makes it a valuable consideration in comprehensive cancer care.

    As with any treatment, it's important to consult with a veterinarian to determine the most appropriate approach for each individual dog's needs and condition.

    CBD Dose

    Dosing CBD Oil For Dogs With Cancer

    When it comes to dosing CBD oil for dogs with cancer, it's important to tailor the dosage to suit your pet's unique needs rather than solely relying on their size and weight. The effectiveness of the dosage should take into account various individual factors including the dog's endocannabinoid system, age, metabolism, the nature of the disease, and other specific health conditions.

    Personalized Dosing Approach

    Since every dog is different, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't apply to CBD dosing. Factors like how the dog's body responds to CBD, its metabolism, and current health status play a significant role in determining the right dose.

    Trial and Error Method

    During the initial phase, a trial and error approach is often recommended. This involves starting with a low dose and gradually increasing it, while closely observing your dog's response. This method helps in identifying the optimal dose that provides the maximum benefit with minimal or no side effects. 

    Hemp extract is extremely safe, even at high levels. The most common, however unlikely, side effects you may see are sleepiness or loose stools/diarrhea.

    Starting Low and Going Slow

    The adage “start low and go slow” is particularly applicable when considering Full Spectrum Hemp Extract CBD oil for dogs.

    Begin with a small dose and increase it slowly over time. This cautious approach helps in assessing how your dog reacts to CBD and avoids potential side effects. The old saying “start low and go slow” is extremely applicable.

    Side Effects

    While Hemp extract CBD oil is generally safe, even in high doses, some dogs might experience mild side effects such as drowsiness or gastrointestinal issues like loose stools or diarrhea.

    Method of Administration:

    For effective and rapid absorption, applying the CBD oil directly onto the gums is recommended. This bypasses the digestive system and allows for quicker absorption into the bloodstream. When added to food, absorption is slower and can be less effective, as it takes about 30 to 45 minutes to reach the bloodstream after navigating through the gastrointestinal system.


    Splitting the recommended daily dose into smaller doses administered throughout the day can enhance absorption and maintain a consistent level of CBD in the bloodstream. Typically, the concentration of cannabinoids peaks around 2 hours after administration and diminishes within 4 to 6 hours.

    Proper Storage and Handling

    Always shake the bottle well before each use to ensure the CBD oil is well mixed. Store the bottle away from heat to maintain its efficacy.

    It’s crucial to remember that while CBD can be a helpful supplement in managing cancer-related symptoms in dogs, it should be used as part of a broader treatment plan overseen by a veterinarian. Regular consultations with your vet are important to adjust dosages and monitor your dog’s overall health and response to the treatment.

    CBD Oils

    What is the Best CBD Oil for Dogs with Cancer?

    CBD for dogs is available in many convenient forms. CBD oils can be given from a dropper directly into the mouth, added to food, dropped on a treat, or rubbed into bare skin or inside the ears. CBD for dogs is also available in hemp CBD biscuits, capsules, honey with CBD, and topical hemp CBD ointments.

    For dogs with healthy appetites, full-spectrum CBD is the best choice because it contains the highest levels of beneficial plant matter, including cannabinoids and terpenes, that can boost the effectiveness of CBD. However, this plant matter can make the CBD have a grassy taste that may be off-putting to dogs experiencing nausea or a poor appetite.

    Make sure you buy CBD from a reputable company that conducts and shares third-party lab test results. Review these materials to be sure that the CBD you’re offering your dog contains the stated amount of CBD, 0.3% THC or less, and is free from pesticides and heavy metals so you can be sure you’re giving your pup the best opportunity for natural relief with hemp CBD.



    When considering the use of CBD oil for dogs with cancer, it's vital to understand its role and limitations in the broader context of cancer treatment. While CBD oil may offer several potential benefits, it's crucial to recognize that it should not be used as the sole treatment for cancer.

    A significant portion of the evidence supporting the benefits of CBD oil in cancer treatment is anecdotal, and the extent of its anti-cancerous effects is still a subject of ongoing research.

    CBD oil may contribute to the overall well-being of a dog undergoing cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy. It can potentially improve the quality of life by alleviating symptoms like pain, inflammation, nausea, and loss of appetite, which are often side effects of conventional cancer treatments.

    However, it's important to note that CBD oil is a supportive therapy, enhancing the comfort and quality of life of the pet, rather than a standalone treatment for cancer itself.

    The effectiveness of CBD as a significant anti-cancer treatment remains unclear and requires further scientific investigation. As of now, the role of CBD oil in the context of cancer treatment is largely seen as complementary, aimed at managing symptoms and side effects associated with the disease and its primary treatments.

    Incorporating CBD oil into a dog's cancer treatment plan should always be done under the guidance and supervision of a qualified veterinarian or a veterinary oncologist.

    It's essential to follow a comprehensive treatment plan that may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other modalities as deemed appropriate by the veterinary professionals. The use of CBD oil should be viewed as an adjunct to these primary treatments, not a replacement.