Your Dog and the Endocannabinoid Systems

Man’s best friend has always been by our sides through thick and thin. You may feel that you have developed a complex and intimate bond with your furry friend, and you are definitely not wrong. Dogs are incredibly intelligent and have body systems similar to those of humans. Knowing this, it is no wonder that we get along so well!

The canine and human species share a majority of the same body systems including the respiratory, digestive, nervous, and immune systems. We also have the same organs such as the heart, brain, liver, kidney, and more. One system that is often overlooked is the Endocannabinoid system, yet another that we both share.

What is the Endocannabinoid System?

The Endocannabinoid system is a complex, cell-signaling body system that is made up of three parts: endocannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids, and enzymes. This system is involved in plenty of psychological processes including mood, memory, appetite, and pain-reception.

Endocannabinoid Receptors

Endocannabinoid receptors can be found in our central (spinal cord and brain) and peripheral nervous systems (immune system). There are two types of receptors: CB1 and CB2. The purpose of these receptors is to receive information and determine the appropriate bodily response.

CB1 is found in our central nervous system while CB2 can be found in our peripheral system. In the processing of sending the appropriate response, these receptors will signal cells to act accordingly.

It is important to note that these receptors are interacted with when other cannabinoids enter our bodies.


Endocannabinoids are responsible for interacting with and activating endocannabinoid receptors. Unlike other cannabinoids, endocannabinoids are formed within the body. There are two types of these molecules: Anandamide and 2-AG. Unlike most other molecules, these molecules can be made on-demand within cell membranes.


Anandamide has plenty of names. It is sometimes called the “bliss molecule” and by more scientific individuals, “N-arachidonoylethanolamine.” The word, “Anandamide” has Sanskrit roots and was discovered in 1992 by Raphael Mechoulam. This fatty acid neurotransmitter has been studied to determine effects on memory and early embryonic development.


Otherwise known as 2-ArachidonoylGlycerol, this molecule was discovered a few years after the discovery of Anandamide by the same scientist. While people were aware of the chemical’s existence, it was at this time that it became known as an endocannabinoid. It is present at excessive levels in our central nervous systems and can even be found in human breast milk.


Enzymes are types of proteins that induce biochemical reactions. They act as catalysts in our internal biological processes.

Even with all this knowledge readily available, the Endocannabinoid system was only recently discovered. The race to fully uncover the secrets of this complex system begun in the early 1800s and lasted well up until the early 2000s. While we have uncovered much about the system within the human body, not much is commonly known about its impact on pets.

The Endocannabinoid System and Canines

In canines, the role of the ECS is to promote homeostasis. In simpler terms, this means balance in all of the biological processes such as sleep, appetite, mood, pain-perception, temperature, and more. The ECS is often on top of all issues within the canine’s body and takes immediate action to correct any issues. Here is a complete list of what the ECS in canines controls:

  • Mood
  • Body temperature
  • Sleep
  • Appetite
  • Perception of pain
  • Memory
  • Motor control
  • Digestion
  • Immune responses
  • Fertility
  • Reproduction
  • Cognitive function

If the ECS is malfunctioning, we could view negative effects on all of these functions. Here are some signs to be wary of:

  • Poor appetite
  • Digestion complications
  • Fear
  • Lethargy
  • Aggression
  • Depression
  • Panting in cool temperatures
  • Whimpering
  • Loss of interest in playing

There is a name for this malfunction of the ECS. Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Syndrome means a lack of endocannabinoids within the canine’s body. In order to combat this, you may receive a prescription for your pet. However, it is easy to abuse prescriptions and they often have negative side effects.

As a healthier alternative, countless pet owners have turned towards using CBD.

Your Canine and CBD

While the canine’s body does not directly use CBD, Cannabidiol interacts with the ECS in order to command the body to create more endocannabinoids. This causes the CB1 and CB2 to instantly react in order to restore balance within the body.

CBD also reacts with the body’s enzymes that have a part in breaking down endocannabinoids. However, this delays the process and allows these molecules to stay in the body a bit longer before being broken down and absorbed.

CBD has been long known to have a multitude of therapeutic effects on the body. This is coined as the “Entourage Effect.” The “Entourage Effect” increases therapeutic potential by combining phytocannabinoids and other phytochemicals derived from cannabis.

Research has been done to determine the extent at which CBD affects canines. As of date, researchers have found that CBD can correct misfiring brain cells and help with inflammation. Because canines have more endocannabinoid receptors than humans, they feel the effects of CBD much more.

You may ask your veterinarian for a recommended CBD daily dose in order to promote wellness and correct issues. It is also important to notice how your dog responds to these doses. By having a complete understanding of the ECS and how CBD interacts with our pets, we can provide relief and comfort from distress in their lives.

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