CBD Oil for Dogs With Cushing's

Posted by Lianne McLeod D.V.M. on

CBD Oil for Dogs With Cushing's

CBD oil for dogs has emerged as a potential therapeutic option for addressing various health concerns, including Cushing's disease, a condition that affects the adrenal glands and can lead to hormonal imbalances.

This natural alternative has garnered attention among pet parents due to its potential to alleviate symptoms associated with Cushing's syndrome without the adverse effects commonly seen with traditional medications.

is hemp oil good for dogs with cushing's?

Cushing's disease can result from iatrogenic causes, such as prolonged steroid use, or from tumors in the pituitary or adrenal glands. The condition leads to an overproduction of cortisol, a hormone that plays a crucial role in the body's stress response and metabolism. Elevated cortisol levels can wreak havoc on a dog's health, affecting the gastrointestinal system, and blood sugar regulation, and potentially promoting cancerous cell growth.

This article will explore Cushing's disease, the application of CBD oil as an option for dogs with this syndrome, as well as the composition, sources, benefits, dosage, and administration of this natural remedy.

Understanding Cushing's Disease

Cushing's disease results from prolonged exposure to too much cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands. This condition can be caused by various factors, including pituitary gland and adrenal tumors.

In addition, dogs receiving long-term treatment with corticosteroids for conditions like allergies, autoimmune disorders, or inflammation can develop Iatrogenic Cushing's syndrome due to the suppression of the body's natural cortisol production and feedback mechanisms.

quote on the cause of cushing's disease

The symptoms considered while diagnosing Cushing's disease in dogs can be diverse, ranging from increased urination and thirst to muscle weakness, hair loss, pot belly appearance, thinning skin, and increased susceptibility to skin infections. The most effective way to treat Cushing's disease involves addressing the underlying cause, reducing, cortisol levels, and alleviating associated symptoms.

Cushing's disease can affect dogs of various breeds and ages. However, some breeds are more predisposed to developing this condition than others. The dog breeds that are commonly associated with Cushing's disease include poodles, Boston terriers, Golden retrievers, beagles, boxers, German shepherds, Labrador retrievers, and Dachshunds.

CBD Oil and Its Components

Derived from the Cannabis sativa plant, this oil contains various compounds that contribute to its potential therapeutic effects for dogs with Cushing's disease. The primary components of CBD oil include:

examples of cbd oil for dogs


The most well-known cannabinoid in hemp extract is cannabidiol (CBD). Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is non-psychoactive and has been studied for its anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anxiolytic properties in both humans and animals. CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which plays a crucial role in regulating various physiological processes, including mood, pain sensation, and immune function.


Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in hemp and other plants. They contribute to the plant's flavor and scent profile, but they also have potential therapeutic effects. For example, limonene may have mood-enhancing properties, while myrcene could have sedative effects.

Terpenes work synergistically with cannabinoids in what's known as the entourage effect, enhancing the overall therapeutic potential of CBD oil.


Flavonoids are phytonutrients with antioxidant properties found in hemp and other plants. They help protect cells from oxidative stress and inflammation, potentially benefiting dogs with conditions like Cushing's disease.

Sources of CBD Oil

The primary sources include:

Hemp Seeds

The oil extracted from hemp seeds is known as hemp seed oil. This type of oil is rich in essential fatty acids, particularly omega-3 and omega-6, making it a valuable nutritional supplement for both humans and animals.

hemp seeds

However, hemp seed oil does not contain significant amounts of cannabinoids like CBD, so its therapeutic effects are primarily attributed to its nutritional profile.

CBD-Rich Hemp Extract

For oil containing higher levels of cannabinoids like CBD, manufacturers extract the compounds from the whole hemp plant, including the flowers, leaves, and stalks. This process typically involves methods such as CO2 extraction or solvent extraction, followed by refinement to isolate and concentrate the desired compounds.

hemp plant

Full-Spectrum Hemp Extract

This oil contains a wide range of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other phytonutrients naturally present in the hemp plant. It retains the synergistic effects of these compounds, known as the entourage effect, which may enhance the oil's therapeutic potential. This concept suggests that the combined action of the three compounds is more effective than isolated individual components. Full-spectrum CBD oil may also contain trace amounts of THC, but these levels are usually within legal limits of less than 0.3% THC.

Broad-Spectrum CBD Oil

It is similar to full-spectrum oil but undergoes additional processing to remove THC completely while retaining other cannabinoids and phytonutrients. This type of oil is often preferred by those who want to avoid THC altogether while still benefiting from the entourage effect.

cannabis plant

CBD Isolate

CBD isolate is a highly refined oil that contains pure CBD, with all other cannabinoids, terpenes, and compounds removed. This type of oil is THC-free and offers precise dosing of CBD, making it suitable for individuals or pets sensitive to THC or those requiring specific CBD concentrations.

Potential Benefits of Using CBD Oil for Dogs With Cushing's Disease

CBD oil holds promise for offering several potential benefits to dogs with Cushing's disease, including:


senior dog with cushings, hemp oil

Effects on Inflammatory Response

CBD has been studied for its potent anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is a common symptom of Cushing's disease, leading to skin irritation, joint pain, and organ inflammation. By reducing inflammation, CBD oil can potentially alleviate these symptoms and improve overall comfort in affected dogs.

Effects on Discomfort & Relief

Dogs with Cushing's disease may experience discomfort and pain, especially due to musculoskeletal issues. CBD's analgesic properties help manage pain, making daily activities more manageable for affected dogs.

Effects on Distress & Anxiety

Cushing's disease can cause behavioral changes, including anxiety and stress. CBD has shown promise in reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation in dogs, potentially improving their quality of life.

Appetite Regulation

Some dogs with Cushing's disease experience changes in appetite, leading to weight loss or gain. CBD helps regulate appetite, promoting healthier eating habits and supporting overall well-being.

Effects on Immune Function

CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which plays a role in immune system regulation. By modulating the ECS, CBD oil can potentially support immune function in dogs with Cushing's disease, helping them better combat infections and other immune-related issues.

Effects on Brain Function

CBD has neuroprotective properties that may benefit dogs with Cushing's disease, especially if they experience neurological symptoms such as confusion or disorientation.

Dosage Guidelines

Here are general dosage guidelines to consider:

cbd dosing guidelines

Low Dosage: Start with a low dosage of approximately 0.25 mg to 0.5 mg of CBD per pound of your dog's body weight, administered twice daily. For example, a 20-pound dog would start with 5 mg to 10 mg of CBD per dose.

Gradual Increase: After starting with a low dosage, monitor your dog's response over several days to a week. If necessary, gradually increase the dosage in small increments until you observe the desired effects.

Adjust Based on Response: Observe your dog for any changes in behavior, symptoms, or side effects. Adjust the dosage if the initial dosage is ineffective or if your dog experiences adverse effects. Some dogs may require higher or lower doses depending on their individual needs.

Consult with a Veterinarian: It's crucial to consult with a holistic veterinarian experienced in cannabinoid therapies for pets before starting CBD oil or making dosage adjustments. A veterinarian can provide personalized recommendations based on your dog's health status, medications, and specific needs.

Monitor for Side Effects: Common side effects of CBD in dogs may include mild sedation, gastrointestinal upset, changes in appetite, or altered behavior. If these side effects occur, adjust the dosage or discontinue use and consult with your veterinarian.

Administration Methods

Below are some common administration methods:

cbd oil bottle

Oral Administration: The most common method is to administer CBD orally. This can be done by placing the desired dosage directly into your dog's mouth using a dropper or syringe. Lift your dog's lip and gently squeeze the oil onto their gums or under their tongue for faster absorption.

Mixing with Food or Treats: Many dogs find it easier to consume CBD when it's mixed with their food or favorite treats. Add the appropriate dosage of oil to their food bowl or mix it into a treat before giving it to your dog. Ensure the product is evenly distributed to ensure your dog receives the full dosage.

Adding to Water: Some pet owners prefer to add CBD oil to their dog's water bowl. However, this method may be less effective as the oil is not water-soluble and may not mix evenly in water. Additionally, dogs may not consume the entire amount of water containing the supplement, leading to inconsistent dosing.

Topical Application: The oil can be applied topically to your dog's skin for localized relief. This method is useful for addressing skin issues, joint pain, or muscle soreness. Apply a small amount of oil directly to the affected area and massage gently until absorbed. Use caution when applying near sensitive areas such as the eyes or genitals.

Capsules or Treats: CBD supplementation is also available in capsule form or infused into treats specifically designed for dogs. Capsules offer a convenient way to administer a precise dosage, while CBD-infused treats are a tasty option that dogs enjoy. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for dosage when using capsules or treats.

Rectal Administration: In some cases, rectal administration may be recommended by a veterinarian for dogs unable to consume the oil orally due to health reasons. This method involves inserting a CBD suppository into your dog's rectum for absorption.

The Bottom Line

The intricate balance of hormones within the body, regulated by organs such as the adrenal and pituitary glands, plays a crucial role in maintaining overall health. However, disruptions in this delicate equilibrium can lead to various health challenges, including hormonal imbalances and conditions like Cushing's disease in dogs.

Cushing's disease, characterized by elevated cortisol levels can significantly impact a dog's quality of life. While conventional treatments such as hormone-regulating medications are available, they may come with potential side effects and limitations.

While CBD is not a cure, it may possess anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and potentially tumor-suppressing properties. These findings underscore the potential of CBD as a complementary therapy in managing symptoms and improving quality of life.

green check mark for hemp oil

For dogs suffering from Cushing's disease, incorporating CBD oil into their treatment regimen under the guidance of a veterinarian may offer benefits such as anti-inflammatory effects, pain relief, stress reduction, and immune system modulation. The entourage effect, where CBD interacts synergistically with other compounds in hemp oil, further enhances its therapeutic potential.


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Lianne McLeod, DVM, is a former writer for The Spruce Pets, contributing articles for 11 years. Before Dr. McLeod began writing about pet care, she worked several years in small animal practice. She has written extensively about the care and keeping of exotic pets and pet health care. She now researches water quality and chronic disease at the University of Saskatchewan. Lianne McLeod earned her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. She also received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Simon Fraser University. She continued her education and received a Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the University of Saskatchewan. Now, she splits her time between her family, research and writing about pet health for all the animal lovers out there.
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