Cannabidiol (CBD) is popular with people, but did you know it’s also available for pets? More and more companies are offering CBD specifically for pets, including dogs.
Like with humans, it’s possible that CBD may produce beneficial effects in animals. But is all CBD safe for your dog? Below, we take a look at why you might give your dog CBD and what the research says about dosage and safety.
People might choose to give their dog CBD for anxiety, pain, and other conditions like nausea. However, most of the benefits associated with CBD for dogs are anecdotal.
There’s minimal research on the effects of CBD on dogs, but some studies do exist.
Research from 2019 looked at CBD’s effect on epilepsy in dogs and found that seizure frequency was reduced upon taking a CBD-infused oil. However, the study only involved 26 dogs.
One 2020 study on CBD for osteoarthritis-related pain in dogs found that CBD helped relieve pain and improve mobility without serious side effects.
Another 2020 study looked at the effects of CBD on anxiety related to loud noises. A total of 16 dogs were observed.
Researchers concluded that the CBD had no effect on the fear response, but that there may be several reasons for this result, including dosing time. Additionally, some dogs may have developed a conditioned fear response to the lab testing environment.
A recent 2021 study suggests that CBD may help alleviate aggressive behavior in dogs. However, the sample size only consisted of 24 dogs.
A note on the available research
CBD and its uses is a relatively new area of study, and much of the available research is from the last several years. While our general understanding of CBD is young and limited, there are many studies underway currently that may help us better understand its capabilities and efficacy.
We recommend talking with your veterinarian to get CBD dosing advice for your dog.
One important thing to note, though, is that it’s illegal for a vet in the United States to prescribe or dispense cannabis products. Many states also prohibit veterinarians from making recommendations or discussing the use of cannabis-based products in animals.
If you’re having difficulty getting information from your vet on CBD dosing, check product packaging for the recommended serving size.
Start with the smallest dose and increase gradually. According to research from 2020, dogs should tolerate a gradual increase in CBD dose. Still, there’s a decent chance that they’ll experience side effects, though most are relatively mild.
Many CBD products look and smell a lot like treats, so keep these tempting goodies away from your dog to prevent them from eating more than intended.
Like in humans, CBD may produce side effects in dogs. The higher the dose, the more likely your dog is to experience adverse effects. Some potential side effects include:
weight lossliver enlargement (with prolonged use of high doses)stomach upset and diarrhea low blood pressure (with high doses)drowsinessdry mouth and increased thirst
CBD can also interact with some prescription medications, so it’s crucial to talk with your veterinarian before giving your dog CBD.
Full-spectrum CBD products contain small amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another compound found in the cannabis plant. THC is toxic to dogs, so you should look for CBD products labeled as isolate or broad-spectrum.
While full-spectrum CBD does contain little THC, it can still be dangerous, particularly if your pet consumes more than intended.
Signs of THC poisoning in dogs include:
lethargy and uncoordinated movementsvomitingexcess saliva productiondilated pupilsseizure
If you suspect your dog has ingested THC or consumed too much CBD, visit an emergency vet.
We use the same criteria for choosing CBD products for dogs as we do for humans. Your pet deserves the best, but we recommend talking with a qualified vet before giving your dog CBD.
We chose the products below based on criteria we think are good indicators of safety, quality, and transparency. Each product in this article:
is made by a company that provides proof of third-party testing by an ISO 17025-compliant labis made with U.S.-grown hempcontains no more than 0.3 percent THC, according to the certificate of analysis (COA)passes tests for pesticides, heavy metals, and molds, according to the COA
As a part of our selection process, we also considered:
the company’s certifications and manufacturing processesproduct potencyoverall ingredientsindicators of user trust and brand reputation, such as:customer reviewswhether the company has been subject to a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning letterwhether the company makes any unsupported health claims
Because THC is toxic to dogs, we also only chose products that contain broad-spectrum CBD or CBD isolate.
$ = under $20$$ = $20–$30$$$ = over $30
Joy Organics Premium CBD Dog Chews
Price: $$$CBD type: Broad-spectrumCBD potency: 2 mg per chew, 60 mg per containerCount: 30 chews per containerCOA: Available online
Joy Organics chews are beef-flavored, so Fido will eagerly lap them up. The certified organic chews are cruelty-free. Third-party testing ensures that each batch is entirely free of THC.
The company also offers free carbon-neutral shipping and a 30-day money-back guarantee. Joy Organics recommends giving your dog 1 chew for every 10 pounds of body weight.
In addition to offering occasional discounts, Joy Organics also has a rewards program for frequent shoppers.
Use code “healthcbd” for 15% off.
Lazarus Naturals THC-Free CBD Pet Tincture
Price: $CBD type: IsolateCBD potency: 20 mg per mL, 300 mg per containerCOA: Available on product page
For the picky pet, Lazarus Naturals offers this easy-to-dispense, flavorless CBD tincture. Add drops to your dog’s water bowl or food.
Suggested dosing is 3 drops for pets weighing less than 15 pounds, and more details for larger breeds are included on the packaging.
The product is THC-free and contains only CBD isolate and organic medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil.
The company offers a 90-day free return policy. You can also get 15 percent off your first order by signing up for the mailing list. Additionally, Lazarus Naturals has an assistance program to help veterans, low-income households, and other individuals get access to CBD products.
Unoia Pets Peanut Butter CBD Dog Treats
Price: $$CBD type: Broad-spectrumCBD potency: 5 mg per treat, 150 mg per containerCount: 30 treats per containerCOA: Available online
Your dog may have a tough time resisting these tasty peanut butter-flavored treats that contain a host of organic ingredients, including coconut shavings, coconut flour, and honey. According to the COA, the treats contain no THC.
Unoia offers a discount if you buy in bulk.
When buying CBD for your dog, here’s what to keep in mind:
There are three main types of CBD, full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate. When buying CBD for dogs, it’s best to avoid anything labeled full-spectrum because it may contain THC, which is toxic to dogs.
Otherwise, both broad-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate are appropriate choices for your pet. Opt for products made with organic U.S.-grown hemp. The reason is that hemp grown in the United States needs to meet strict agricultural regulations, including not containing more than 0.3 percent THC.
If a product doesn’t say what kind of CBD it contains, skip it.
When you’re giving CBD to a dog, you need to be careful about the dosage. Don’t assume that all products are made equal. Some treats, chews, and tinctures may come in different potencies.
Talk with your vet for dosing advice or follow the recommendations on the packaging. Always start with the smallest dose.
For dogs, the fewer ingredients, the better. Look for CBD products that contain organic ingredients.
The FDA doesn’t regulate over-the-counter CBD products in the same way it does medications and supplements. It can send out warning letters to companies breaking the rules, but it’s up to you to determine if you should buy a product.
Always look for an up-to-date COA that includes potency and contaminant testing results. The COA should confirm the amount of CBD in the product and verify it’s free of THC. It should also show you that the product passes tests for pesticides, heavy metals, and molds, all of which can be harmful to pets.
Steer clear of companies that make promises about their CBD. Again, much of what we know about CBD for pets is anecdotal, so don’t expect it to be a cure-all.
Veterinarian Dr. Christie Long, head of medicine for Modern Animal and vet advisor for The Anxious Pet, says that while you technically can give your pet CBD intended for humans, you should be careful with dosing. Dosing recommendations for products intended for humans vary considerably from pet-specific products.
She adds that it’s also essential to avoid giving pets products that contain any amount of THC.
While the research on CBD for dogs is still limited, preliminary studies suggest that there may be advantages to giving some dogs CBD, particularly for pain.
The jury is still out on CBD’s ability to combat fear, anxiety, and other issues in dogs. If you’re curious about CBD for your pet, talk with your regular veterinarian.
Look for products without THC, and always start with the smallest dose to avoid unpleasant side effects.
If your lovable furball is in pain or experiencing heightened anxiety, speak with a vet for a diagnosis. However, if conventional treatments don’t work, it may be worth trying CBD.
Is CBD Legal? Hemp-derived CBD products (with less than 0.3 percent THC) are legal on the federal level, but are still illegal under some state laws. Marijuana-derived CBD products are illegal on the federal level, but are legal under some state laws. Check your state’s laws and those of anywhere you travel. Keep in mind that nonprescription CBD products are not FDA-approved, and may be inaccurately labeled.
Steph Coelho is a freelance writer with chronic migraine who has a particular interest in health and wellness. When she’s not click-clacking away on her keyboard, she’s probably nose-deep in a good book.