Do Dogs Have Cannabinoid Receptors?: Understanding How CBD Affects Your Pet

Do Dogs Have Cannabinoid Receptors?: Understanding How CBD Affects Your Pet

Oct 20, 2020

A dog and cat lying on a couch

Humans have been using cannabis for millennia, but we’re not the only ones who have receptors capable of responding to cannabis. In fact, pretty much all members of the animal kingdom have an elaborate network of receptors and proteins that create and process cannabinoids in the body. Find the answer to “do dogs have cannabinoid receptors” and all of your other pet-related CBD questions with our in-depth guide to the pet endocannabinoid system.

It’s In Their DNA

The question “do dogs have cannabinoid receptors” takes us back more than 600 million years to the early stages of vertebrate life — when genetic patterns developed that are similar to those seen in the cannabinoid receptors of vertebrates today. This research has shown that cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors are present throughout many kinds of veterinarian animals, including:

  • Vertebrates
    • Mammals
    • Fish
    • Reptiles
    • Birds
  • Many invertebrates
    • Mussels
    • Leeches
    • Sea urchins
    • Nematodes

As members of the mammal family, dogs share many characteristics with humans and (laboratory) rodents, which gives us important insights into how the pet endocannabinoid system might work and how CBD could provide essential support to the cannabinoid receptors that dogs have.

The Pet Endocannabinoid System

Anyone who is asking “do dogs have cannabinoid receptors” might be surprised to know that dogs have CB receptors throughout every bodily system. Similar to humans, dogs have the highest concentrations of CB1 receptors in the brain, heart, lungs, digestive tract, and reproductive organs. The second kind of receptor — CB2 — can be found in dogs’ skin, bones, spleen, and glial cells. A mixture of CB1 and CB2 receptors can be found in dogs’ immune systems, liver, bone marrow, pancreas, and brainstem.

Where Humans and Dogs Differ

While the human and pet endocannabinoid systems have a lot in common, there is one important difference that affects the safety of cannabis for your pet. Whereas human receptors are largely concentrated in the hippocampus — the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory, dogs have an unusually high number of receptors in their brainstem — the area of the brain responsible for vital functions like heartbeat, breathing, sleeping, and eating. Because of this difference, dogs are much more sensitive to the effects of cannabinoids from plants, especially THC — which can be fatal to dogs when ingested. CBD — however — has not been associated with this kind of toxicity in dogs.

How CBD Affects Your Pet

A small dog jumping in the grass

Now that you know the answer to the question “do dogs have cannabinoid receptors,” let’s take a look at the role of the pet endocannabinoid system and how CBD can help.

As you might know, the endocannabinoid system’s primary role is to maintain homeostasis -- which means that it works to keep our bodily systems and functions in balance. When an external or internal disturbance occurs, our CB receptors act as a signaling network to stimulate the production of two cannabinoid proteins known as anandamide and 2-AG. These internally-produced or “endo”-cannabinoids increase our feelings of pleasure and wellbeing and help to reduce discomfort and stress.

A growing corpus of research in rats and mice indicate that the system of cannabinoid receptors that dogs have affects every major organ and system in the body, including:

  • Nervous system
  • Vascular system
  • Cardiovascular system
  • Digestive system
  • Reproductive system
  • Immune system

How CBD Interacts with Cannabinoid Receptors

In contrast to the endocannabinoid anandamide and the plant-derived cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD doesn’t bind directly to the CB receptors in your pet. Instead, it works indirectly to keep anandamide and 2-AG in circulation for longer and appears to mimic the mood-boosting effects of serotonin.

The Potential Benefits of CBD for Dogs

Over time, the widespread effects of CBD on the cannabinoid receptors that dogs have could have a significant impact on your pet’s wellbeing, including support for the symptoms that plague many pets:

When given consistently, the results of CBD in dogs can be extremely rewarding, as seen in our customer testimonials.

Which Kind of CBD is Best for Dogs?

You know that dogs do have cannabinoid receptors and that they are actually more sensitive to cannabinoids than humans. That’s why it’s incredibly important to choose the right product for their needs.

Milder Strength

Firstly, the pet endocannabinoid system only needs gentle stimulation to bring about observable results. That’s why pet CBD oils typically contain 16.67 mg per 1ml — the lowest dose that we offer in our general collection of natural CBD oils.

Broad-Spectrum Oil

Secondly, to best support the cannabinoid receptors that dogs have, look for a product that is broad-spectrum rather than a CBD isolate. The cannabinoids, terpenes, lipids, flavonoids, and vitamins in the oil help the CBD to be absorbed more effectively and provide the benefits of the entourage effect — all with no THC and a smaller amount of CBD as well.

As a bonus, many CBD pet chews come packed with nutritious ingredients that are great for your pet. You can check the ingredient list to see what the treat contains and the benefits of these high-quality ingredients.

Clean and Organic

Thirdly, protect your pet from toxins by choosing a product that is free from THC, preservatives, pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, mold, Salmonella, E. Coli, and artificial flavorings. Any claims that a product is free from THC and safe for the concentrations of cannabinoid receptors that your dog has should be backed up by independent lab testing and the certificate of analysis provided upon request.

Great Flavor

Finally, give yourself and your pet the best chances of success with a product that your pet will love to eat. We find that dogs (and some cats!) love the flavor of bacon and gobble their CBD down willingly when it’s administered in the form of a tasty treat!

Treat Your Four-Legged Friend to the Best

We love our pets and want to see them living their healthiest and happiest lives. And now that you know that dogs have endocannabinoid receptors just like you do, you can confidently treat their pet endocannabinoid systems to the benefits of CBD with our vet-designed (and pet-approved!) bacon-flavored CBD dog chews and neutral-flavored, broad-spectrum CBD oil for pets.

Packed with dried brewer’s yeast, flaxseed oil, sweet potato, and Vitamin E, our chews offer a host of nutrients to boost your pet’s health and come in convenient 2mg servings for effortless dosing.

Get in Touch!

If CBD has helped you or your pet achieve better health, please reach out to our team and let us know how our products have helped your dog and their cannabinoid receptors. You can also request a callback from a licensed healthcare professional to help you find the best CBD products for your needs.

Enjoy free U.S. shipping and a complimentary CBD face mask with every Kanavia Organics order. Try our broad-spectrum CBD oils and edibles and enhance your wellness naturally today!