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Map of the endocannabinoid system and cbd in animals

The Endocannabinoid System and CBD in Animals (For Dummies)

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is something that humans, dogs, cats, and even horses all share. You may already understand how CBD benefits the endocannabinoid system for humans. But does it do the same for our animals ECS?

Many people want to learn about the benefits of CBD for pets, and it all starts with the ECS.

But not everyone enjoys learning science, so this article will try to break it all down as simply as possible..

What is the ECS?

The ECS is a major signaling network that plays a big role in keeping the body’s functions in balance. Since humans, dogs, cats and horses all have an ECS, cannabis can benefit them all just the same. A properly functioning ECS is essential for improving the health and wellness of your pet.

How did we discover the ECS?

Research on Marijuana side effects led to the discovery of a previously undiscovered biochemical communication network in the bodies of certain species of mammals: the ECS. It plays a big part in maintaining balance in our bodies, our state of mind, and our day to day experiences.

What does the ECS do?

The ECS monitors changes and sends signals whenever outside factors cause instability, returning the body to homeostasis. These functions include:

  • Mood
  • Hunger
  • Memory
  • Digestion
  • Rest
  • Happiness
  • Balance and coordination
  • Immune Response

How does the ECS work?

The ECS is made up of 3 parts: endocannabinoids, the cannabinoid receptors, and the enzymes that interact with them.

Endocannabinoids are molecules. They’re naturally produced by cells in the body (“endo” means “within” as in inside the body). These molecules get synthesized by enzymes whenever a function of the animal’s body is out of balance.

After that, the molecules bind to cannabinoid receptors, activating them. These receptors are found on the surface of cells in the brain and all throughout the body. The two major ones are CB1 and CB2. CB1 is located mostly in the brain and central nervous system. CB2 on the other hand is located mostly on cells in the peripheral organs and also throughout the immune system. 

Once the receptors are activated, they send a message to nerve cells that adjustments must be made to bring homeostasis (balance) to the out of balance function once again.

So basically, endocannabinoids are made for cannabinoid receptors. Just like how socks are made to go with shoes. Once they are put together, they can help regulate much of your pet’s behavior to produce positive results.

How does CBD help the ECS?

Now what does any of this have to do with CBD? Well as you know, CBD comes from the cannabis plant. But did you know that CBD is one of the most abundant of the 100 cannabinoids in cannabis?

And, it has a molecular structure just like your own pet’s endocannabinoids.

This means that CBD can interact with your pet’s cannabinoid receptors!

This is where the magic happens.

After you give CBD to your pet, it’s absorbed into their bloodstream, where it naturally stimulates their ECS and keeps their body’s functions in perfect harmony.

Another benefit of CBD for the ECS is, when CBD builds up in your pet’s body, it also increases the total number of cannabinoid receptors. This means your pet’s ECS will be more sensitive to stimulation from cannabinoids, effectively improving its ability to maintain homeostasis.

But perhaps the best part of all is that CBD is non psychoactive. This means that by giving your pet CBD, you can improve its ECS without causing them to experience any unwanted euphoric side effects.


The ECS in animals is very similar to the ECS in humans. CBD benefits humans by helping keep various body functions in balance. Dogs, cats and horses have bodies that perform these very same functions, so CBD can work for them as well.