Most people seem to accept that giving a dog a CBD infused treat can help them with a variety of ailments. It makes sense due to giving pets medicine and other health-related items orally. However, when it comes to scrapes, bumps, and itchy skin, most people reach for a hydrocortisone-based pet product. But there are some minuses with those types of products. Is pet CBD effective when applied topically? You bet it is! Here’s the science behind how CBD works with the largest organ a dog has, the skin.

Human CBD Topical Applications

While somewhat new to pet products, CBD has been used topically in human applications for a long time. Nowadays when you peruse a cosmetics counter in a retail store you are likely to see anti-aging and wrinkle creams touting their newest ingredient: CBD. While we appreciate the use of CBD in such products, we think it’s worthwhile to revisit how CBD works and the benefits it can offer… Particularly when applied to the skin.

The Basics of CBD

Yes, CBD is derived from cannabis as is hemp. But CBD differs greatly from marijuana in the way people think of it, as CBD lacks the key ingredient required for a psychoactive high. The science behind this simple explanation is quite amazing, and it’s important to understand. CBD acts with a system of ‘receivers’ in your dog’s body. This system is called cannabinoid receptors, and to date, researchers have identified two major types: CB1 and CB2.

CB1 and CB2

The group of CB1 receptors is found primarily in your dog’s central nervous system. This includes the brain and spinal cord. The CB2 receptors are found mainly in the immune system. High-quality, full-spectrum, organic CBD products work with these receptors.

How It All Works

CBD has naturally occurring cannabinoids that interact with your dog’s cannabinoid receptors and work accordingly. When you give your dog CBD it triggers a reaction that is focused on bringing functions back into a normal range, or balance.

But The Skin? Is Pet CBD Effective When Applied Topically?

Interestingly enough, both CB1 and CB2 receptors are found in the skin (source). Additionally, a recent University of Kentucky study found that when CBD was applied topically to animals with knee injuries they were relatively pain-free at the end of the trial (source). The researchers became concerned with the bioavailability of oral CBD and applied CBD topically to bypass the gastrointestinal system. 

The study data indicated that the topical CBD application has therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis pain-related behaviors and inflammation without evident side-effects.

So to answer the question is pet CBD effective when applied topically, we give a resounding yes! Scientists are just beginning to understand the full potential of CBD and the many benefits it can offer – and for this we are thankful.

Man smiling and snuggling his white dog

What Conditions Are Beneficial to Topical CBD

Drawing on the data that confirms CBD’s ability to offer inflammation-based pain management, we consider this to be the most beneficial external application. Also, a European Journal of Pain study revealed that CBD applied to an animal’s skin helps lower pain due to arthritis. Therefore, we conclude the following conditions could benefit when CBD is applied topically to your dog:

  • Skin inflammation such as atopic dermatitis
  • Joint inflammation due to injury, age, and arthritis

Atopic Dermatitis 

This condition may require a visit to your holistic vet to help zero in on the root cause (e.g. dander, pollen, spores, etc.,). However, if a dog repeatedly itches, scratches, or licks, or rubs his or her body or face on the ground, it’s likely atopic dermatitis. A very common sign of this condition is intense licking of the paws and underarms, accompanied by fur discoloration.

Joint Inflammation

Pet parents notice joint inflammation when their dog becomes lame, limps, or whimpers when walking. Or when their pet refuses to walk. It’s very common in dogs that jump up and down from furniture or steps. Also, this condition is very common in older dogs and those suffering from arthritis.

The Issue With Hydrocortisone Creams

Some people use over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams for their dog when they have skin issues. These steroid-based creams are fraught with issues. They are not safe for children, or pregnant or lactating women. Nor for facial application, or for infected skin as it can spread the infection to other areas of the body. Given this, we don’t advise using it on pets unless directed to do so by a veterinarian.  Also, you absolutely do not want your dog to lick this type of cream as ingesting it can lead to vomiting and diarrhea.

Help Your Pet Heal Naturally

Is pet CBD effective when applied topically? Yes, and not only that, it’s powerfully effective. And now that you know CBD works great when rubbed into your dog’s skin you’ll definitely want to use it for the conditions listed above. CBD works naturally, with your dog’s body to help bring things back into balance. If your dog suffers from chronic inflammation, a two-pronged approach (oral and topical) will benefit your dog and can have him or her feeling great in no time!