1/20/2022 | By John Levan

Wellness trends for humans and pets are all over the internet. One of them, CBD, pertains both to people and their furry friends. Research on CBD for pets is sparse, however, making it all the more difficult to separate fact from fiction.


It is a fact that animals have an endocannabinoid system like humans. Because of this, it’s reasonable to think that CBD could have the same potential benefits for pets as for humans, for example, as an anti-seizure and anti-inflammatory. But since there’s no conclusive scientific data on treating pets with CBD – typically in the form of CBD oil – dog and cat owners are left to rely on anecdotal evidence from other pet owners.

And because the internet is infamous for spreading disinformation, it might be helpful to turn to a reliable not-for-profit, the American Kennel Club (AKC), for their perspective on CBD for pets, specifically dogs.

What is CBD, and what does it do for pets?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of many cannabinoids in cannabis plants and hemp. Cannabinoids mimic the endocannabinoid chemicals that act as system regulators in humans and pets, stabilizing the body and restoring it to homeostasis.

The little amount of research on CBD for pets mostly focuses on seizure control and pain reduction. Numerous anecdotal reports sing the praises of CBD oil for controlling seizures, but scientific evidence is scarce. On the other hand, several small studies have looked into CBD’s effectiveness against arthritic pain and have shown positive results.

A recent Cornell University study looked at what happens to cancer cells exposed to CBD and a combination of CBD and various chemotherapy drugs. CBD oil – alone or in concert with chemotherapy – caused a significant decrease in cancer cell reproduction in all cell lines studied.

While some pet owners claim CBD manages anxiety in their dogs, no controlled studies have confirmed this. But the pain-reducing effects of CBD could have indirectly managed their anxiety.

Can pets get “high” from CBD?

One important point to know about CBD: CBD products do not contain delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound responsible for the high from marijuana. Most CBD products are not derived from marijuana but come from hemp instead.

One of the reasons CBD may not work directly to reduce anxiety is because it is not psychoactive. It has more in common with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Ibuprofen than with antidepressants like Prozac.

What are the side effects of CBD on pets?

Because of the lack of scientific data, the potential side effects are typically based on how CBD affects humans and anecdotal evidence. Here are three of those:

  • Drowsiness: Dog owners have reported that CBD has caused drowsiness in their pets, especially with higher doses.
  • Dry mouth: Researchers discovered that CBD could decrease saliva production, so dogs could show an increased thirst after taking it.
  • Lowered blood pressure: Higher doses of CBD can cause a temporary drop in blood pressure, creating a brief feeling of light-headedness in the animal.

Keep in mind that there is little research on the risks of using CBD for pets. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to approve CBD, so it’s unclear what dosage might be toxic. Supplements and medications carry risks of reaction, so talk to your veterinarian, or at least start with a small dose (a wise recommendation for people, too!).

For the most part, CBD for pets appears to be safe, but the same cannot be said for THC. While it’s not likely to kill your pet, THC toxicity could be quite unpleasant for him. And the symptoms can last for days!

Shopping for CBD products

Not all CBD oils are the same, so stick with the highest-quality offerings. Choosing organic oils means they won’t contain toxic substances like pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, and additives.

Some CBD products have only small amounts of CBD, so be sure to get an analysis showing how much you’re getting. Also, instead of buying CBD treats, opt for a liquid, since it gives you the option of adjusting the dosage.

John Levan

Freelance writer John Levan focuses on insurance, finance, and manufacturing as well as senior living topics. Based in Pennsylvania, he earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from Alvernia University and Master of Arts in humanities from California State University, Dominguez Hills.