CBD Oil for Dogs

Updated Jan. 7, 2024
A pet parent offers their Australian Shepherd a drop of hemp oil.

In This Article

What Is CBD Oil?

CBD is used in humans to treat several health issues. This includes chronic pain, anxiety, inflammation, and sleep problems.

Pups may be affected by similar health problems. However, according to The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), there’s not enough scientific evidence to suggest that CBD can help dogs.

While there are risks and benefits of CBD oil, don’t give your dog any product containing CBD without your veterinarian’s explicit approval.

Key Takeaways

  • Never give your dog CBD oil without speaking to your veterinarian first.
  • It's unknown if CBD can help dogs. Studies are still in the works to determine the benefits.
  • Contact your vet immediately if your dog is displaying side effects after ingesting CBD.

What Is CBD Oil?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is an oil that is extracted from the cannabis (marijuana) plant or hemp plant.

CBD can also be made in a laboratory (synthetic). While there have been studies that suggest that CBD has medical benefits, there hasn’t been enough research to determine its safety, long-term side effects, or effectiveness in humans.

Cannabis is a plant that contains many active ingredients. The most significant are CBD and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).

The difference between CBD and THC is that THC has a psychoactive property that can cause the feeling of being “high,” and CBD does not. CBD is almost always in oil form, while THC come in many forms. This includes the green plant.

CBD works in people by attaching to specific receptors in their central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), intestines, muscles, bones, liver, spleen, heart, and lungs to enhance certain body functions.

Is CBD Oil Safe for Dogs?

Currently, there isn’t enough research on the use of CBD in dogs to determine if it’s safe for them.

It’s extremely important to talk to your dog’s veterinarian before giving your dog a CBD product.

Your vet will talk to you about the risks and benefits of CBD for dogs and determine if it’s best for your pup. If your vet recommends CBD, they will also provide a recommended, appropriate dose range for your dog.

Studies have shown that CBD can affect liver enzymes, which are involved with metabolism of medicine. Because of this, there’s a chance that CBD oil may affect your dog poorly if they’re taking medication.

Possible Benefits of CBD Oil for Dogs

There are past and ongoing studies to determine if there is any beneficial use of CBD in dogs. These include:

Symptoms of CBD Oil Toxicity in Dogs

The use of CBD oil in dogs can have side effects, such as:

Contact your veterinarian and the Pet Poison Helpline® (855-764-7661) immediately if they are experiencing these symptoms while taking a CBD supplement. They may advise you to bring your dog to the nearest veterinary hospital.

Should You Give Your Dog CBD Oil for Pain?

One of the first studies done involving CBD and dogs was performed at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. The study was developed to see how CBD can help dogs with pain management.

In the study, more than 80% of dogs with osteoarthritis experienced a decrease in their pain. A reduction in pain like this leads to a dog being more comfortable and more active.

Because the dosing was high, some concern was raised about CBD’s short-term safety.

Instead of reaching for a CBD product for your dog’s pain, it’s always recommended that your dog first be examined by their vet and that traditional pain and anti-inflammatory medications be used first, depending on your dog’s underlying condition. 

Joint supplements and fish oils are also great supplements to help dogs who are in pain from arthritis.

Should You Give Your Dog CBD Oil for Seizures?

Colorado State University (CSU) conducted a study working with hemp-derived CBD in dogs that have epilepsy, or seizure disorder. The goal of using CBD in dogs with seizures would be the same as with other anti-seizure medications—decrease the frequency of seizures while having minimal side effects.

In this study, 89% of dogs had fewer seizures, although all the dogs also remained on traditional anti-seizure medications such as phenobarbital or potassium bromide while taking CBD.

Another study at CSU by a veterinary neurologist is continuing to evaluate CBD’s safety and efficacy in dogs with uncontrolled seizures, as well as its possible interference with other medications.

Because no conclusions have been drawn, it’s not recommended that CBD be given to dogs with seizures.

Seek traditional therapies for your dog with the guidance of your vet.

Should Your Give Your Dog CBD Oil for Anxiety?

A recent study was done giving dogs a CBD chew prior to a stressful event. Of the dogs studied, 83% showed a decrease in stress or anxious behaviors. The conclusion was that further research needs to be done using different CBD products and different dosages to understand how to effectively use CBD to treat anxiety in dogs.

A study in western Australia is looking at CBD use for reactive dogs and has shown promise in helping reduce reactivity in dogs living in shelters.

While these two studies might lead to CBD use in dogs for behavioral issues, it’s currently recommended that you work with your veterinarian and a certified dog trainer or behaviorist to help resolve these issues.

Supplements such as Adaptil® Calm, Purina® Pro Plan® Calming Care, and VetriScience® Composure are also useful for minor behavioral issues in dogs.

How Much CBD Oil Can Dogs Have?

CBD dosing for dogs can vary significantly depending on the specific pet (age, size, weight, individual response, condition being treated) as well as the specific product (concentration, purity, formulation). 

CBD products marketed for pets will have lower concentrations of CBD compared to those marketed for human use. 

It's always recommended to consult with your veterinarian before administering any CBD product to your dog and to discuss the right amount for your pet.

It's also important to be aware of the possible side effects of toxicity or adverse reaction—be prepared to monitor your pup closely.

If you have any concerns, please contact your veterinarian, the Pet Poison Helpline®, or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately

Featured Image: 24K-Production/iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images


Barri J. Morrison, DVM

WRITTEN BY

Barri J. Morrison, DVM

Veterinarian

Barri Morrison was born and raised and currently resides in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She went to University of Florida for her...


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