*Disclaimer: This is not meant to serve as a substitute for veterinary advice. We believe firmly in the contents of this article thanks to thorough research and our experiences with all of the dogs that we have helped through the years (including our own), but you should always defer to your veterinarian when adding anything to your dog's unique wellness routine.
Did you know that you don’t actually have to ingest CBD to benefit from it? As CBD products become more and more popular, you’ll see them in many varieties, such as tinctures, treats, and topicals. Topical CBD products are different from any other type of CBD product because they interact with your endocannabinoid system in a unique way, and current findings show that they could be incredibly helpful for animals suffering from certain localized skin ailments and surface inflammation.
What is Topical CBD?
As the name implies, topical CBD has two defining traits: topical administration, and some amount of CBD. Let’s run through what both mean:
- A topical product refers to any type of salve, cream, lotion, or other product that’s applied directly to the body rather than ingested. These products usually have different effects than their orally administered counterparts, even if they have the same ingredients.
- CBD (cannabidiol) is a natural hemp compound known as a cannabinoid and is the main active ingredient in topical CBD. Studies have shown that CBD can be used to treat inflammation, pain, and many other conditions, which we discuss in more detail in our piece about the benefits of CBD for dogs.
Once applied to the skin, topical CBD interacts with the body in two ways: entering the bloodstream, and directly activating what are known as “cannabinoid receptors” in the skin.
Let’s start with your skin’s cannabinoid receptors*. Cannabinoids such as CBD uniquely activate cannabinoid receptors throughout the body in order to provide many of their health benefits. These receptors are like chemical locks, which send signals to the body to help control certain conditions after they’re activated by the right cannabinoid “key.”
- Studies have shown that dogs have especially sensitive cannabinoid receptors in their skin, which are more specialized towards treating localized inflammation and skin conditions than those found in the body. This means that topical CBD can have a profound effect on these ailments through skin contact alone.
Topical CBD products with good absorption can also penetrate the skin to enter the bloodstream, which is known as “transdermal” administration (trans meaning “through,” and dermal meaning “skin”). Transdermal administration avoids what’s known as “first-pass metabolism” by passing through the skin instead of the digestive system, meaning that once it’s absorbed, it’s immediately available in the bloodstream and can have an extremely potent effect in treating various conditions.
*If you want to know more about cannabinoid receptors, we explain them in greater detail in our breakdown of the endocannabinoid system.
Why We Know Topical CBD is So Effective
So far, several studies suggest that topical CBD could be an effective treatment for those suffering from certain inflammatory disorders, dermatitis, and many other skin conditions:
- A 2019 review concluded that topical cannabinoids could be of great help for those with inflammatory conditions, skin cancers, and several other skin conditions.
- A 2015 study found that topical CBD could alleviate localized inflammation and pain in animals suffering from arthritis.
- A 2014 study showed that topical CBD was anti-inflammatory in human skin cells.
- A 2014 review detailed how topical CBD can activate receptors in the skin to combat inflammation, pain, and a variety of skin conditions.
Research into topical CBD is still in its infancy, yet shows incredible promise thus far. These studies further showcase that topical cannabinoids are completely safe, posing only a minor risk of skin irritation at worst, so you can safely integrate topical CBD products from reputable companies into your dog’s wellness routine, with veterinary oversight.
Note, however, that standard topical creams and lotions can struggle to reach the skin through a dog’s fur, but dropper-based tincture bottles, like the one Dr.Hempdog’s CBD oil comes housed in, allow you to easily administer topical CBD directly to your dog’s skin. Thanks to this one simple trick and the superior quality of our product, we’ve seen remarkable success among dogs who use our tincture as topical CBD.
If you have additional questions about how different types of CBD products could help your animal(s) and/ or how you can identify good topical CBD products, we have the answers you need. You can schedule a free 15-minute consultation with our expert staff by contacting us at (720) 773-9595 during normal business hours, or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.