Is CBD safe for Dogs? Are there any Side Effects?

With the legalization of CBD, a lot of people were glad that they could now tap into the vast treasure trove of therapeutic benefits that natural cannabis has to offer to humans. 

Then Man started thinking about his “best friend” – his pet dog! 

The question, however, was: “Does CBD have the same kind of positive effects on dogs as it does on humans?” “Can our beloved furry companions suffer from any side effects due to its use?”

While there are very studies on CBD’s effects on dogs, the CBD pet care market is still expected to hit $125 million by 2022. 

For pet owners, the main logic behind its use on dogs is that they too have central and peripheral nervous systems, where the endocannabinoid receptors are generally present. These are the receptors that interact with cannabinoids to maintain the body’s chemical balance, also known as homeostasis [1, 2]

How can CBD help canine health?

Unfortunately, veterinarians don’t have anything definitive to say about CBD oil for dogs [35], as there are limited resources to test the potential benefits and health risks of CBD on dogs. Besides, given the touchy legal issues surrounding cannabis products, vets generally steer away from giving any positive reaction to CBD oil. 

Nevertheless, a lot of people have noticed similar effects of CBD in dogs as their human counterparts. 

  • Reduces Anxiety & Relaxes Body and Nerves: Have you noticed your pets getting jumpy when crackers go off in the neighborhood. Or does your fur kid suffer from separation anxiety? CBD has been seen to offer help in such cases. Although no formal studies are available on this aspect, human clinical trials have found positive results in cases of: 
  • Public speaking [3] (maybe relatable with your dog’s behavior while interacting with other dogs or humans outside of family), 
  • Anxiety disorders [4] (maybe relatable with separation anxiety, common among many breeds of dogs)
  • Panic disorders [5] (fear of new places, vet’s office, etc. in case of dogs
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder [6] (dogs feel stressed and get traumatized too)!
  • Fights Cancer: CBD, along with other chemical compounds found in cannabis, has been found to hinder cancer cell growth [7] and increase tumor cell death [8]. Besides, CBD has also been found to influence the immune system to kill cancer cells [9]. Interestingly, CBD has been found to be effective in fighting breast cancer [10] and prostate cancer [11]. Among humans, CBD is increasingly been seen as a potential anticancer drug [12]. Besides, this cannabinoid has also been proven to aid conventional cancer treatments [13].
  • Treats Seizures & Epilepsy: Over 5% of dogs worldwide suffer from seizures. They are usually treated with medications, like phenobarbital and potassium bromide. Sure, they help control the seizures to a certain extent. However, that’s not always the case. CBD has been found to be effective in treating drug-resistant epilepsy [14]. Besides, conventional drugs can have extremely harmful effects on your dog’s liver, among other organs. Whereas, CBD has been seen to have substantial positive effects without any side effects in humans, even children [15, 16]
  • Relieves Pain: Dogs, especially larger breeds, often suffer from joint pain and other kinds of chronic pain, caused by accidents or surgery. In humans, CBD has been found to be effective in influencing the immune system to numb the pain. 
  • Most chronic pains are associated with nerve damage and neuropathy, which CBD can effectively combat [17]
  • CBD can also reduce inflammation caused by oxidative stress that can lead to degeneration and premature aging [18].
  • Besides, CBD can effectively reduce pain caused by inflammation in acute pancreatitis [19] and general inflammation [20].  
  • Helps with Inflammatory Bowel Disorder: Apart from having antibiotic properties [21], CBD can successfully prevent colitis or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) [22] in animals and normalize gut motility in animals suffering from IBD [23]. It has been found that CBD reduces both acute and chronic inflammation of the gut by controlling the neuroimmune system [24].
  • Reduces Chronic Inflammation & Autoimmune Diseases: In case of inflammations associated with allergies, hypersensitivities, and autoimmunity, CBD has been found to reduce the production and release of cytokines [25] – proteins that cause inflammation when the body is attacked by foreign agents (and in case of autoimmune diseases, it attacks the body’s own cells). In particular, cannabinoids, like CBD, are known to inhibit and incapacitate a particular type of cytokine-producing cells, called Th17 that has inflammatory autoimmune characteristics [26]. CBD also hinders inflammatory white blood cell production, thus decreasing chronic inflammations [27]. A powerful antioxidant, CBD is more potent than Vitamins C and E [28]
  • Protects the Nervous System & Combats Neurodegenerative Diseases: Another severe condition that CBD, like other cannabinoids, has been found to be effective in treating is degenerative spinal injuries and nerve damage. For instance, it helps treat patients with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) [29] (also called motor neuron disease (MND) or Lou Gehrig’s disease; causes the death of neurons controlling voluntary muscles), Alzheimer’s Disease [30] (an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that gradually leads to diminishing memory and cognitive skills), and Parkinson’s disease [31] (a chronic, progressive neurological disease that occurs in old age and is marked by stiffness and tremors of resting muscles, slow movement, unbalanced and shuffling gait). This shows promise that CBD can help dogs overcome degenerative diseases too (tremors accompanied by weakness in limbs, like degenerative myelopathy). In the case of senior dogs, CBD can also protect the brain from cell death due to free radicals and toxins [28]
  • Curbs Nausea & Increases Appetite: While CBD does not exactly increase cravings and hunger like THC does, it does indeed curb nausea that inhibits appetite. Often people lose their appetite due to different ailments, which either directly causes a loss in appetite or cause nausea that indirectly causes a loss in appetite. In both these cases, CBD has been found to curb nausea and promote a healthy appetite [32]. This is especially true to dogs who suffer from panic attacks, separation anxiety, stomach issues, other physical ailments and treatments causing loss of appetite. It can also help curb nausea and vomiting [33], even when it is caused by some drugs or toxins [34]
  • Promotes Cardiovascular Health: CBD has yet another valuable benefit for dogs, as much as humans – heart health. According to studies, CBD prevents poor heart health due to damaged blood vessels and promotes regular heart rate [36], protects blood vessels from damage [37], regulates and decreases blood pressure and heart rate under stress and anxiety [38].  

Are there any Safety Concerns regarding CBD use on dogs?

Unlike THC, CBD is a psychoactive chemical compound found in cannabis. CBD oils are generally beneficial to the health of animals and humans alike, without the intoxicating effects of THC. CBD oils are typically derived from hemp, and not marijuana. While the former is rich in CBD, the latter is rich in THC. So, there’s no chance of your dog experiencing a “high” after using CBD oil. He will, however, experience, a “body high”, a relaxed and calm feeling. 

Nonetheless, a lot more research needs to be done on CBD’s effects on dogs, in particular, to safely say that CBD is absolutely safe for canines. While the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has put its foot down on not approving CBD for release in the food and supplement market, there is no dosing chart available for either humans or animals. 

Hence, it is difficult to identify the toxic dosage for dogs. Even then, we must understand that any medication or food supplement, in fact, anything you put into the body, carries some amount of risk of reaction. 

Nonetheless, if you do decide to give your fur baby CBD, it’s advisable to: 

  • First, consult your pet’s veterinarian. 
  • When you DO put your pet on a CBD course, you must start low, and increase gradually, while constantly and closely monitoring the effects. Dogs can’t express the way we do, so keeping a close watch can alone let you know of the specific changes.
  • You must make sure that the CBD product (tincture oil or treat) that you give your pet is sourced from organically grown ingredients and contains no THC. 
  • Look up the third-party lab tests of these products to ensure that the products are pure, potent and free of contaminants, THC, or artificial ingredients. 

What are the Possible Side Effects of using CBD on dogs? 

Owing to the fact that not enough research is available on the side effects of CBD on dogs, we can still agree that the side effects we humans experience after using CBD will be quite the same for our canine companions too. 

If that is the case, the possible side effects [39] include: 

    • Dryness of mouth
    • Lowered blood pressure
    • Drowsiness
  • Nausea and diarrhea when taken in too high doses (very rare) 
  • Sudden changes in appetite 
  • Fatigue (rare)

CBD poses no threat to life or causes any permanent damage to the kidneys, gall bladder or the digestive system, like most conventional strong medication. 

Nonetheless, the above side effects may cause some discomfort to your pets and some problems for you – none that can’t be dealt with the right dose and precaution. 

Final Thoughts

CBD, if taken separately, (like an isolate) is safe for your beloved canine companion, just like it is for you. If not only helps you treat your pet for pain and inflammation, but also helps it overcome and manage much more severe conditions. 

Despite its therapeutic benefits, the safety of any chemical compound – natural or otherwise – depends entirely on the way it is used. 

Follow our suggestions, consult with your pet’s veterinary doctor, and make sure you don’t go overboard with the doses. 

Like we always say, start low, go slow. This time, we would also add another advise: “Keep your fur kids safe. They’re, after all, your family!”


Research citations:

  1. The role of the endocannabinoid system in the regulation of endocrine function and in the control of energy balance in humans; Postępy Higieny i Medycyny Doświadczalnej; 2007; Komorowski J & Stepień H; 
  2. The Endocannabinoid System, Our Universal Regulator; Journal of Young Investigators; June 1, 2018; Chad A Sallaberry & Laurie Astern; 
  3. Cannabidiol Reduces the Anxiety Induced by Simulated Public Speaking in Treatment-Naïve Social Phobia Patients; Neuropsychopharmacology; February 9, 2011; Mateus M Bergamaschi, Regina Helena Costa Queiroz, Marcos Hortes Nisihara Chagas, Danielle Chaves Gomes de Oliveira, Bruno Spinosa De Martinis, Flávio Kapczinski, João Quevedo, Rafael Roesler, Nadja Schröder, Antonio E Nardi, Rocio Martín-Santos, Jaime Eduardo Cecílio Hallak, Antonio Waldo Zuardi, and José Alexandre S Crippa; 
  4. Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder: a preliminary report; Journal of Psychopharmacology; September 9, 2010; Crippa JA, Derenusson GN, Ferrari TB, Wichert-Ana L, Duran FL, Martin-Santos R, Simões MV, Bhattacharyya S, Fusar-Poli P, Atakan Z, Santos Filho A, Freitas-Ferrari MC, McGuire PK, Zuardi AW, Busatto GF, Hallak JE;
  5. Cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent, as an anxiolytic drug; Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry; June 2012, Alexandre Rafael de Mello Schier, Natalia Pinho de Oliveira Ribeiro, Adriana Cardoso de Oliveira e Silva, Jaime Eduardo Cecílio Hallak, José Alexandre S Crippa, Antonio E Nardi, Antonio Waldo Zuardi;   
  6. Cannabidiol in the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Series; Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine; April 1, 2019; Lucas Elms, BS, Scott Shannon, MD, FAACAP, Shannon Hughes, PhD, and Nicole Lewis, ND; 
  7. Cannabidiol rather than Cannabis sativa extracts inhibit cell growth and induce apoptosis in cervical cancer cells; BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine; September 1, 2016; Sindiswa T Lukhele and Lesetja R Motadi; 
  8. Cannabidiol-Induced Apoptosis in Human Leukemia Cells: A Novel Role of Cannabidiol in the Regulation of p22phox and Nox4 Expression; Molecular Pharmacology; June 5, 2006; Robert J. McKallip, Wentao Jia, Jerome Schlomer, James W. Warren, Prakash S. Nagarkatti and Mitzi Nagarkatti; / 
  9. Cannabinoids increase lung cancer cell lysis by lymphokine-activated killer cells via upregulation of ICAM-1; Biochemical Pharmacology; July 25, 2014; Haustein M, Ramer R, Linnebacher M, Manda K, Hinz B; 
  10. Cannabidiol induces programmed cell death in breast cancer cells by coordinating the cross-talk between apoptosis and autophagy; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; May 12, 2011; Shrivastava A, Kuzontkoski PM, Groopman JE, Prasad A; 
  11. Non-THC cannabinoids inhibit prostate carcinoma growth in vitro and in vivo: pro-apoptotic effects and underlying mechanisms; British Journal of Pharmacology; January 2013; Luciano De Petrocellis, Alessia Ligresti, Aniello Schiano Moriello, Mariagrazia Iappelli, Roberta Verde, Colin G Stott, Luigia Cristino, Pierangelo Orlando, and Vincenzo Di Marzo;
  12. Cannabidiol as potential anticancer drug; British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology; April 17, 2012; Paola Massi, Marta Solinas, Valentina Cinquina, and Daniela Parolaro; 
  13.  Phyto-, endo- and synthetic cannabinoids: promising chemotherapeutic agents in the treatment of breast and prostate carcinomas; Expert Opinion on Investigational Drugs; AI Fraguas-Sánchez, A. Fernández-Carballido, AI Torres-Suárez; September 28, 2016; 
  14. EFFICACY AND SAFETY OF EPIDIOLEX (CANNABIDIOL) IN CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS WITH TREATMENT-RESISTANT EPILEPSY: INITIAL DATA FROM AN EXPANDED ACCESS PROGRAM; American Epilepsy Society; ANNUAL MEETING ABSTRACTS: VIEW; Orrin Devinsky, Joseph Sullivan, Daniel Friedman, Elizabeth Thiele, Eric Marsh, Linda Laux, Julie Hedlund, Nicole Tilton, Judith Bluvstein and Maria Cilio; 
  15. Hypnotic and antiepileptic effects of cannabidiol; Journal of Clinical Pharmacology; August-September 1981; Carlini EA, Cunha JM; 
  16. Report of a parent survey of cannabidiol-enriched cannabis use in pediatric treatment-resistant epilepsy; Epilepsy Behavior; December 2013; Brenda E. Porter and Catherine Jacobson; 
  17. Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors; Journal of Experimental Medicine; June 4, 2012; Wei Xiong, Tanxing Cui, Kejun Cheng, Fei Yang, Shao-Rui Chen, Dan Willenbring, Yun Guan, Hui-Lin Pan, Ke Ren, Yan Xu, and Li Zhang; 
  18. Cannabidiol as an emergent therapeutic strategy for lessening the impact of inflammation on oxidative stress; Free Radical Biology & Medicine; January 14, 2011; Booz GW; 
  19. Anti-inflammatory role of cannabidiol and O-1602 in cerulein-induced acute pancreatitis in mice; Pancreas; January 2013; Li K1, Feng JY, Li YY, Yuece B, Lin XH, Yu LY, Li YN, Feng YJ, Storr M; 
  20. Amyloid proteotoxicity initiates an inflammatory response blocked by cannabinoids; Nature – National Pride Jersey; June 23, 2016; Antonio Currais, Oswald Quehenberger, Aaron M Armando, Daniel Daugherty, Pam Maher & David Schubert; 
  21. Antibacterial cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa: a structure-activity study; Journal of Natural Products; August 6, 2008; Appendino G, Gibbons S, Giana A, Pagani A, Grassi G, Stavri M, Smith E, Rahman MM; 
  22. Cannabinoids in intestinal inflammation and cancer; Pharmacological Research; March 18, 2009; Izzo AA, Camilleri M; 
  23. Cannabidiol, extracted from Cannabis sativa, selectively inhibits inflammatory hypermotility in mice; British Journal of Pharmacology; May 12, 2008; R Capasso, F Borrelli, G Aviello, B Romano, C Scalisi, F Capasso, and AA Izzo; 
  24. Cannabidiol reduces intestinal inflammation through the control of neuroimmune axis; PLoS One; December 6, 2011; De Filippis D, Esposito G, Cirillo C, Cipriano M, De Winter BY, Scuderi C, Sarnelli G, Cuomo R, Steardo L, De Man JG, Iuvone T; 
  25. Analgesic and antiinflammatory activity of constituents of Cannabis sativa L; Inflammation; August 1988; Formukong EA, Evans AT, Evans FJ;
  26. Cannabinoids decrease the th17 inflammatory autoimmune phenotype; Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology; July 28, 2013; Kozela E, Juknat A, Kaushansky N, Rimmerman N, Ben-Nun A, Vogel Z;  
  27. Cannabidiol–recent advances; Chemistry & Biodiversity; August 2007; Mechoulam R, Peters M, Murillo-Rodriguez E, Hanus LO; 
  28. Cannabidiol and (−)Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol are neuroprotective antioxidants; Proceedings of the Natational Academy of Sciences of the United States of America; July 7, 1998; Medical Sciences; AJ Hampson, M Grimaldi, J Axelrod, and D Wink; 
  29. Transgenics, toxicity and therapeutics in rodent models of mutant SOD1-mediated familial ALS; Progressive Neurobiology; January 16, 2008; Turner BJ, Talbot K; 
  30. Neuroprotective effect of cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive component from Cannabis sativa, on beta-amyloid-induced toxicity in PC12 cells; Journal of Neurochemistry; April 2004; Iuvone T, Esposito G, Esposito R, Santamaria R, Di Rosa M, Izzo AA; 
  31. The marijuana component cannabidiol inhibits beta-amyloid-induced tau protein hyperphosphorylation through Wnt/beta-catenin pathway rescue in PC12 cells; Journal of Molecular Medicine (Berlin). December 31, 2005; Esposito G, De Filippis D, Carnuccio R, Izzo AA, Iuvone T; 
  32. Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids; British Journal of Pharmacology; August 2011; Linda A Parker, Erin M Rock, and Cheryl L Limebeer; 
  33. Cannabidiol, a non-psychotropic component of cannabis, attenuates vomiting and nausea-like behaviour via indirect agonism of 5-HT(1A) somatodendritic autoreceptors in the dorsal raphe nucleus; British Journal of Pharmacology; April 2012; Rock EM1, Bolognini D, Limebeer CL, Cascio MG, Anavi-Goffer S, Fletcher PJ, Mechoulam R, Pertwee RG, Parker LA; 
  34. Receptor mechanism and antiemetic activity of structurally diverse cannabinoids against radiation-induced emesis in the Least shrew; European Journal of Pharmacology; February 16, 2007; Nissar ADarmani, Jano J Janoyan, Jennifer Crim, and Juan Ramirez; 
  35. US Veterinarians’ Knowledge, Experience, and Perception Regarding the Use of Cannabidiol for Canine Medical Conditions; Frontiers in Veterinary Sciences; January 10, 2019; Lori Kogan, Regina Schoenfeld-Tacher, Peter Hellyer, and Mark Rishniw; 
  36. Acute administration of cannabidiol in vivo suppresses ischaemia-induced cardiac arrhythmias and reduces infarct size when given at reperfusion; British Journal of Pharmacology; July 2010; Sarah K Walsh,1 Claire Y Hepburn, Kathleen A Kane, and Cherry L Wainwright; 
  37. Is the cardiovascular system a therapeutic target for cannabidiol? British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology; June 1, 2012; Christopher P Stanley, William H Hind, and Saoirse E O’Sullivan; 
  38. Effects of cannabidiol and diazepam on behavioral and cardiovascular responses induced by contextual conditioned fear in rats; Behavioural Brain Research; June 15, 2006; Resstel LB, Joca SR, Moreira FA, Corrêa FM, Guimarães FS; 
  39. An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies; Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research; June 1, 2017; Kerstin Iffland and Franjo Grotenhermen; 
Author Details
Senior Editor & Researcher , Greenthevoteok
Matt Hansel is a Medical Practitioner, who has been writing and researching about cannabis since 2014.  His popular quotes which we like are: \"Don\'t use CBD oil for a cure, use it as a precaution\"  \"CBD should be considered as any other vitamin supplement and your body needs it!\"