Dog CBD (cannabidiol) is a natural cannabinoid extracted from the hemp plant. Cannabinoids are health-boosting compounds that work by interacting with the dog’s endocannabinoid system. 

CBD for dogs is safe and available in two primary forms, edible CBD treats and CBD oil for dogs. CBD oil is a liquid extract blended with carrier oils like coconut or hemp seed oil. There are ten CBD side effects in sensitive dogs, including nausea, lethargy, and itchiness but rare and benign. 

The benefits of hemp for dogs outweigh the risks. CBD supplements for dogs are used to promote overall wellness and help with health issues such as anxiety, osteoarthritis, seizures, and cancer. 

What Is CBD?

CBD (cannabidiol) is a specific phytocannabinoid extracted from the Cannabis sativa plant. Cannabidiol has health-boosting properties and was discovered in 1940. 

Cannabis plants contain 113 cannabinoids. Cannabidiol is the most important and accounts for up to 40% of the plant’s extract.

Cannabis is an umbrella term covering various plants, such as hemp, marijuana, and ruderalis. The different cannabis plants have different cannabinoid profiles. 

For example, hemp has CBD, and marijuana has tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD is safe and beneficial to dogs, while THC is toxic. CBD for pets is always made from hemp and THC-free. 

CBD is a relatively new supplement option for pet owners. Dog owners looking for alternative health and well-being options often ask, “What is CBD?” 

The simple answer is that CBD oil and pet treats are natural, hemp-sourced supplements that support wellness and help with certain health conditions.   

How Does CBD Work for Dogs?

Dog CBD reduces anxiety. The Cornell University of Veterinary Medicine performed a study to evaluate the effects of CBD on anxious dogs. The study showed that CBD chews reduce anxiety-related behaviors in 83% of the dogs if given before stressful events. 

CBD supports calmness through the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a neuromodulatory system that controls vital body functions. CBD for dogs interacts with the ECS and influences functions like pain, inflammation, appetite, sleep, mood, etc. 

CBD work dogs

CBD for dogs is used in two main ways, orally and topically. Oral CBD products include oils, treats, capsules, and powders. Topical CBDs include creams, balms, and patches. 

How can CBD Affect Dogs?

CBD relieves pain in dogs. Cornell University performed one of the first studies on the effects of CBD in dogs. The study demonstrated that CBD reduces pain in dogs with osteoarthritis, allowing them to be more active and comfortable. 

CBD for dogs has anti-pain, anti-inflammation, antioxidant, anti-convulsant, and anti-cancer features. The studies on the effects of CBD in dogs are ongoing, but current information indicates promising results. 

What Dog Health Issues Can CBD Oil Treat?

CBD oil for pets is used in the treatment of arthritis, intervertebral disc disease, seizures, anxiety, hyperactivity, allergies, and glaucoma. 

Dog CBD is not a cure on its own. CBD supports natural health and is safe to use in conjunction with other mainstream treatments. 

CBD provides symptom relief and boosts the efficacy of some treatments and commonly used medications for dogs. 

What are the Possible Side Effects of CBD for Dogs?

The possible side effects of CBD for dogs are listed below.

  • Lethargy: CBD causes sleepiness and reduces energy, especially when given in large amounts. Lowering the dose usually resolves the problem. 
  • Dizziness: Dizziness or light-headedness is associated with human CBD products and low-quality, impure pet CBD supplements that contain more than 0.3% of THC. 
  • Dry Mouth: CBD inhibits saliva production, causing dry mouth or xerostomia. Providing fresh drinking water helps counter this side effect. 
  • Vomiting: CBD causes vomiting due to the cannabinoids, the carrier oil, or the naturally bitter taste of the product. Dog CBD supplements are flavored to mask the bitterness.  
  • Diarrhea: Diarrhea is a common side effect. The carrier oil in the product is typically the cause. Switching to another CBD with a different type of carrier helps determine if the carrier is the cause of the diarrhea.
  • Upset Stomach: CBD products irritate the stomach of sensitive dogs, like all new foods and supplements. Start with a small CBD dose to allow the dog’s stomach to get used to the new product. 
  • Decreased Liver Enzymes: CBD inhibits the production of liver enzymes. Liver enzymes break down drugs, and if in reduced numbers, the metabolism of certain medications changes.   
  • Increased Tremors: Increased tremors are seen in people using CBD. The endocannabinoid system is the same in all mammals, meaning tremors are possible in dogs, too.  
  • Itchiness: High amounts of CBD increase itchiness in some dogs. Itchiness is a rare side effect and is dose-dependent and reduces if the dose is lowered. 
  • Low Blood Pressure: Hypotension, or low blood pressure, is one of the more common CBD side effects to dogs. Decreasing the CBD dose helps manage the blood pressure drop in most dogs. 

What are the Benefits of CBD for Dogs?

The benefits of CBD for dogs are listed below. 

  • Natural Supplement: CBD is a natural product sourced from hemp. Dog CBD supplements work through the endocannabinoid system and are safe to use in combination with other medications and mainstream treatments.  
  • Rare & Benign Side Effects: Pet CBD causes side effects in some dogs, but they are rare and benign. Adjusting the CBD dose helps reduce or eliminate the side effects.  
  • Many Applications: CBD supplements for dogs are helpful for several conditions and symptoms like pain, arthritis, inflammation, appetite loss, seizures, poor sleep, anxiety, etc.    
  • Availability: CBD oils and treats for dogs are sold online and in pet shops and do not require a veterinary prescription. Consulting a veterinarian is recommended regardless of the CBD’s over-the-counter availability. 
  • Straightforward Use: CBD supplements are simple to use, dose, and give. Dog CBD products come in different forms, so there is a perfect option for every canine.

What are the Risks of Using CBD Oil for Dogs?

CBD causes benign side effects in some dogs in rare cases. Improving the CBD quality and lowering the dose usually resolve adverse events. Stopping the use of hemp CBD products is necessary if the side effects persist. 

CBD is not recommended for puppies under four months of age and dogs on medications that  interact with cannabinoids. Always consult a vet about whether it is safe to use CBD. 

Risks CBD Oil Dogs

Lastly, CBD increases bleeding and must be discontinued in dogs undergoing surgical procedures. Stop giving CBD several days before the surgery, and do not start until a few days after. 

What are the Various CBD Products for Dogs in the Market?

Various CBD products for dogs are listed below.

  • CBD Oils: CBD oil is a liquid extract mixed with another carrier oil like medium chain triglyceride, coconut oil, or hemp seed oil. CBD oils are very easy to use and come in practical dropper bottles. 
  • CBD Treats: CBD treats are made by mixing quality hemp CBD oil with dog-friendly ingredients. Preparing homemade CBD treats is an alternative to commercially available options. 
  • CBD Capsules: CBD capsules are made for oral use but are not very practical for dogs. Dosing and administering capsules is challenging for pets. 
  • CBD Powders: CBD powder is a pulverized product. Powders are added to the dog food and mix well. Mixing with food is practical for fussy dogs that sense the presence of CBD oil in the food. 
  • CBD Creams: CBD creams and balms are topical products. Topicals are made exclusively for external use and are very practical. 
  • CBD Patches: CBD patches are another product for external use. Patches are applied directly to the dog’s skin. The body heat activates the CBD in the patch, which is released and absorbed through the skin. 

How Can CBD be Used as Treatment for Dogs in Pain?

How to use CBD as a treatment for dogs in pain is listed below.

  1. Use CBD for pain management in dogs. Choose the CBD Product for the pain the dog is experiencing. CBD for dogs in pain is given in doses between 0.1 and 0.5 mg per pound. The exact dose depends on the dog’s body weight and the pain level. 
  2. Start the CBD treatment. CBD for dogs in pain is given in doses between 0.1 and 0.5 mg per pound. The exact dose depends on the dog’s body weight and the pain level. Dogs with severe pain need higher CBD amounts than dogs with mild pain.
  3. Find the correct CBD dose. Finding the correct CBD dose takes time and experimentation. Start at the low end of the specter, with 0.1 or 0.2 mg of CBD per pound, and increase to efficacy. 

CBD for dogs helps with pain on multiple levels. Frontiers in Veterinary Science says that cannabidiol is “an effective therapeutic alternative in the multimodal management of pain in dogs and cats.”

Dog CBD helps with the following pain.

  • Pain Sensation: A human study, “Cannabidiol enhances anandamide signaling and alleviates psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia,” from 2012, showed that CBD inhibits anandamide deactivation. Increased levels of anandamide are associated with reduced pain sensation. 
  • Specific Types of Pain: Carl Rodriguez, Lisa Ouyang, and Ram Kandasamy published a paper, “Antinociceptive effects of minor cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids in Cannabis,” in 2022. The study explains that CBD helps with five types of pain, including “acute, inflammatory, neuropathic, muscle, and orofacial pain.”

Dog CBD for pain control can be used alone or combined with other medications. CBD has an entourage effect on some anti-pain drugs, such as opioids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). 

A study, “Cannabidiol enhances the antinociceptive effects of morphine and attenuates opioid-induced tolerance in the chronic constriction injury model,” says that CBD enhances the efficacy of opioids and reduces the risk of tolerance associated with long-term use. 

How Can CBD be Used as Treatment for Dogs with Anxiety?

How to use CBD as a treatment for dogs with anxiety is listed below.

1. Start CBD Treatment: Give anxious dogs CBD oil or treats daily to support calmness and relaxation. 

2. Find the correct dose: The recommended dose of CBD is between 1 and 5 mg per 10 pounds of weight. Dogs with anxiety typically need low to medium doses of CBD, between 0.1 to 0.3 mg per pound. Finding the right CBD dose takes practice. Every dog is different and responds differently.  Do not exceed the recommended dose.  

Anxiety in dogs is a widespread problem occurring in two forms: situational and habitual. Anxiety is not a disease, but it significantly harms the dog’s quality of life. 

Dog CBD has several positive effects on anxiety, which are listed below. 

  • Serotonin-Like Effects: CBD mimics the effects of the feel-good hormone serotonin. A study, “Agonistic Properties of Cannabidiol at 5-HT1a Receptors,” 2005 showed this unique CBD feature. 
  • Different Types of Stress: Dog CBD alleviates stress caused by separation and car rides. Frontiers in Veterinary Science published a paper titled “A single dose of cannabidiol (CBD) positively influences measures of stress in dogs during separation and car travel.” Dogs given 4 mg of CBD per kilogram of body weight two hours prior to the stressful event showed fewer signs of stress than the placebo group. 
  • Reduced Aggression: Sara Corsetti and associates published a paper, “Cannabis sativa L. may reduce aggressive behavior towards humans in shelter dogs,” in Scientific Reports in 2021. The study found that dogs supplemented with CBD are less aggressive with the staff. The reduced aggression indicates an overall calmer mood. 

Mainstream anti-anxiety medications require a prescription and often have severe side effects. CBD is a natural alternative and is readily available. 

How Can CBD be Used as Treatment for Dogs with Allergies?

How to use CBD as a treatment for dogs with allergies is listed below.

1. Choose the CBD allergy treatment for the dog. CBD treatment options come two forms: Oral and tropical products.

2. Decide on oral CBD. Oral CBD is used in two primary forms: Oils and treats. 

3. Find the correct dosage. The recommended oral CBD dose is between 1 and 5 mg per 10 pounds of body weight. Finding the correct CBD dose takes time and experimentation. Start at the low end of the specter, with 0.1 or 0.2 mg of CBD per pound of body weight, and increase to efficacy. 

4. Choose Topical CBD. Topical CBD comes in the form of creams or balms. CBD creams and salves are applied to skin lesions and itchy areas to relieve and heal. Do not worry if the dog licks the CBD cream. Ingestion is harmless but reduces the CBD’s efficacy. Keep the dog entertained until the CD cream is fully absorbed into the skin for optimal results. 

5. Find the right dosage. Experiment with the amount balm on the affected area until the area affected by the allergy heals. Do not worry if the dog licks the CBD cream. Ingestion is harmless but reduces the CBD’s efficacy. Keep the dog entertained until the CD cream is fully absorbed into the skin for optimal results. 

Dog allergies manifest with skin symptoms (itchiness) or stomach upsets. Dogs are sensitive to pollen, grass, trees, molds, mites, chemicals, food proteins, flea saliva, etc.  

CBD treatment dogs allergies

CBD helps dogs with allergies due to several effects listed below. 

  • Immune System Modulation: CBD has a unique ability to modulate the immune system, thus adjusting its response to triggers or, in this case, allergens. 

    Veterinary Sciences published a study titled “Effect of Cannabidiol (CBD) on Canine Inflammatory Response: An Ex Vivo Study on LPS Stimulated Whole Blood” in 2021. The study showed CBD’s ability to modulate canine immune cells. 
  • Reduced Inflammation: CBD has proven anti-inflammatory properties. Science Direct, in “The anti-inflammatory effects of cannabidiol and cannabigerol alone, and in combination,” says that cannabinoids “exhibit anti-inflammatory activity” when used alone and in combination. 
  • Decreased Itchiness: CBD reduces itchiness or pruritus, the main symptom of dog allergies. 

Melissa Loewinger published a study, “The effect of a mixed cannabidiol and cannabidiolic acid based oil on client-owned dogs with atopic dermatitis,” in Veterinary Dermatology in 2022. The study showed that CBD reduces pruritus in dogs suffering from allergies.

Frontiers in Veterinary Science found that dogs supplemented with 4.5 mg of CBD per kilogram experience relief from itchiness. The CBD dose used in the study did not affect activity levels. 

Conventional allergy treatments for dogs are not always efficient and have side effects, especially when used long-term. CBD oil for dogs with allergies is a natural solution that works great with other management approaches. ·      

How Can CBD be Used as Treatment for Dogs with Seizures?

How to use CBD as a treatment for dogs with seizures is listed below.

1. Give dogs CBD regularly to help manage seizures. Use CBD oil, CBD treats, or a combination of both for best results and practicality. Administering CBD when the dog experiences a seizure event is ineffective. Regular treatment with CBD is essential.

2. Find the right dosage. The recommended dose of CBD for dogs with seizures is between 1 and 5 mg per 10 pounds. CBD dosing is not an exact science. Dogs respond differently, and it is necessary to experiment until finding the correct CBD amount. Start low, with 0.1 to 0.2 mg per pound, and increase as required. 

The most common cause of seizures in dogs is idiopathic epilepsy. Idiopathic epilepsy occurs in all dogs and has an unknown origin. Seizures in dogs have other reasons, such as brain trauma, tumors, infectious diseases, etc. 

Science Direct’s study “Cannabidiol in canine epilepsy,” published by Elsevier in 2022, says that “CBD has a therapeutic potential.” 

CBD is beneficial to dogs with seizures because of its ability to reduce neuronal excitability. The effects of CBD on seizures are listed below. 

  • Decreased Seizure Frequency: Stephanie McGrath published a study in the American Veterinary Medical Associal Journal (AVMA) titled “Randomized blinded controlled clinical trial to assess the effect of oral cannabidiol administration in addition to conventional antiepileptic treatment on seizure frequency in dogs with intractable idiopathic epilepsy” in 2019. Stephanie found that CBD reduced seizure frequency in 89% of supplemented dogs. 
  • Decreased Seizure Intervals: The Cordoba University released a paper, “Cannabidiol as a potential anti-epileptic dietary supplement in dogs with suspected epilepsy: three case reports,” in 2019. The study showed that CBD decreases seizure intervals in dogs.  

Frontiers in Veterinary Science showed that CBD is safe to combine with other anti-seizure medications (ASM). The paper explaining the safety was titled “Safety and efficacy of cannabidiol-cannabidiolic acid rich hemp extract in the treatment of refractory epileptic seizures in dogs” and was published in 2022. 

How Can CBD be Used as Treatment for Dogs with IVDD?

How to use CBD as a treatment for dogs with IVDD is listed below.

1. Give CBD oil or treats to help dogs with intervertebral disc disease (IVDD). The recommended CBD dose for dogs with IVDD is between 1 and 5 mg per 10 pounds. IVDD is very painful and requires higher dog CBD doses. 

2. Find the correct dosage. Start with 0.1 to 0.2 mg per pound to give the dog time to adjust. Increase the CBD amount until it reaches efficacy. Doses up to 0.4 or even 0.5 mg per pound are necessary for some dogs with IVDD. 

IVDD is a spinal condition caused by disc herniation. The spine consists of vertebrae and discs. The disc consists of a gelatinous substance surrounded by a thick shell. Herniation occurs when the gelatin part is pushed through the shell, usually due to trauma and degeneration. 

Dog CBD helps reduce pain & inflammation, has neuroprotective features, and relieves anxiety. 

  • Reduced Pain & Inflammation: CBD for dogs reduces neuropathic pain and inflammation. Pain and inflammation are significant issues in dogs with IVDD. 

    Frontiers in Veterinary Science published a study titled “The role of cannabinoids in pain modulation in companion animals” in 2022. The study found that CBD is effective for pain control. 

    Frances R. Henshaw and two collaborators wrote a paper, “The Effects of Cannabinoids on Pro- and Anti-Inflammatory Cytokines: A Systematic Review of In Vivo Studies,” in 2021. The report elaborated on their finding that CBD has potent anti-inflammatory properties. 
  • Neuroprotective Features: CBD helps reduce damage to neural tissue and supports the growth of new neurons. IVDD, as a spinal condition, causes neural damage. 

    Nature Magazine published a study, “Neuroprotective Effects of the Nonpsychoactive Cannabinoid Cannabidiol in Hypoxic-Ischemic Newborn Piglets.” The study results showed that CBD has neuroprotective features. 
  • Anxiety Relief: CBD helps promote calmness and relaxation. Pain in dogs triggers stress and anxiety. Stress has a detrimental effect on overall recovery. 

    A group of Brazilian scientists wrote a paper, “Cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent, as an anxiolytic drug,” in 2012. The article included their finding that CBD relieves anxiety. 

    CBD is not a cure for IVDD, but it helps with the symptoms and is safe to use in combination with mainstream treatments. Dogs with IVDD are prescribed with NSAIDs for pain control. NSAIDs cause side effects in most dogs. 

    CBD supplementation reduces the NSAID doses for pain management. A Frontiers in Veterinary Science study found that dogs supplemented with CBD need fewer NSAIDs for pain relief compared to dogs not on CBD.  

How Can CBD be Used as Treatment for Dogs with Cancer?

How to use CBD as a treatment for dogs with cancer is listed below.

1. Decide the CBD Product for the dog with cancer. CBD for dogs with cancer comes in the form of oils and treats. 

2. Find the correct dosage. The recommended CBD dose is between 1 and 5 mg per 10 pounds of body weight. The exact amount of CBD varies depending on body weight, cancer type, and symptom severity. Always start with the lowest CBD dose for a dog’s body weight. High amounts of CBD in dogs not used to the supplements are more likely to cause side effects. Start with small doses and increase the CBD dose as needed. 

Cancer is frequent in dogs. The most common types of cancer are lymphoma, osteosarcoma, melanoma, mast cell tumors, hemangiosarcoma, etc. Cancer is sometimes fatal and always impacts the dog’s quality of life. 

CBD for dogs with cancer can help on several levels, and are listed below. 

  • Induces Apoptosis: Apoptosis is programmed cell death, but cancer cells do not naturally undergo apoptosis. CBD helps promote apoptosis. 

    Frontiers in Veterinary Science published a study, “Cannabidiol Induces Apoptosis and Perturbs Mitochondrial Function in Human and Canine Glioma Cells,” in 2021. The study showed that CBD supports the natural cell death of cancer cells. 

    Veterinary and Comparative Oncology in “The effect of cannabidiol on canine neoplastic cell proliferation and mitogen-activated protein kinase activation during autophagy and apoptosis” concluded the same effect. 
  • Inhibits Angiogenesis: Angiogenesis is a natural process that makes new blood vessels. Tumors need blood vessels to grow and spread. CBD prevents angiogenesis in tumors.

    The British Pharmacology Society published a study titled “Cannabidiol inhibits angiogenesis by multiple mechanisms” in 2012. The study was on humans, but similar effects are expected in all mammals. 
  • Prevents Metastasis: Metastasis is cancer spreading through the body. Some metastasis is more dangerous than the primary tumor depending on the size and location. 

    The National Library of Medicine issued a paper, “Pathways mediating the effects of cannabidiol on the reduction of breast cancer cell proliferation, invasion, and metastasis,” in 2010. The paper explained that CBD reduces human metastasis, which can also be expected in dogs. 

    Dog CBD helps with mainstream cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation. PlosOne published an article, “Combination therapy with cannabidiol and chemotherapeutics in canine urothelial carcinoma cells,” in 2021. The study results explained in the article showed that CBD boosts the efficacy of certain chemotherapy meds.   

What is the Right Dosage of CBD that a Dog Can Take?

The right CBD dosage for dogs is between 1 and 5 milligrams per 10 pounds of body weight. 

Always start with the lowest CBD dose for the pet’s weight and gradually increase the amount. The CBD dosage calculator is a great tool to help establish the right amount of CBD.  

CBD oil doses are trickier to calculate compared to CBD treats. Treats come in fixed, pre-measured doses, making the math easy.   

Is CBD Only for Treatment Use for Dogs?

No, CBD for dogs is not only for treatment purposes. Healthy dogs can take CBD oil and CBD treats regularly for overall well-being and health support. 

Dog CBD supplements come in different forms and are easy to implement into any dog’s daily wellness routine. 

Can CBD Oil be Mixed in Dog Treats?

Yes, dog CBD oil can be mixed with food and treats. Drop the appropriate CBD amount on soft dog food, kibble, or porous treats. 

There are commercially available, high-quality dog CBD treats like Honest Paws or Plano Paws Hemp Treats. 

Another option is to prepare homemade CBD treats using full-spectrum pet CBD oil and several dog-friendly ingredients.  

Is CBD Safe for Dogs?

Yes, CBD for dogs is safe. Pet CBD supplements are made from hemp – a cannabis plant rich in cannabinoids and low in THC. 

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive compound found in marijuana that makes people “high” and is toxic to animals. Pet CBD is sourced from hemp and is low in THC, meaning it is safe for dogs. 

The Annual Reviews of Animal Biosciences published a study, “Scientific Validation of Cannabidiol for Management of Dog and Cat Diseases,” in 2023. The study concluded that “CBD appears to have a good safety profile.”

author avatar
Ivana Crnec, DVM