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Does CBD Oil work for dogs and what is it good for?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Fookes, BPharm. Last updated on Oct 20, 2021.

Official Answer


Despite the widespread availability of CBD products for pets, many of the claims for a health benefit are anecdotal (based on personal accounts) and not supported by evidence or large trials.

This is mostly because until the 2018 Farm Bill was implemented, which legalized hemp-derived CBD with several restrictions, researchers were unable to legally study hemp-derived CBD and its uses. Since then, a few trials have been conducted and other trials are underway which should shed light on how beneficial CBD is for certain conditions in dogs.

So far, the following research has been published:

  • 16 dogs with confirmed osteoarthritis received 2mg/kg of CBD twice daily for 4 weeks. A significant decrease in pain and an increase in activity was reported at weeks 2 and 4 compared to placebo treatment (a pretend treatment). No observable side effects were reported; however, some dogs showed an increase in alkaline phosphatase (a common liver enzyme) and feedback from 9 out of the 16 dog owners may have been biased because of their understanding of the placebo effect.1
  • A pilot study of 9 dogs with epilepsy treated with CBD showed a reduction in seizure frequency in 89%. A larger study involving 60 dogs is underway.2

In addition to osteoarthritis and epilepsy, CBD has been reported to improve the following conditions; however, there is not currently any substantial evidence to support this:

  • Anxiety
  • Inflammation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Noise phobia
  • Pain.

What is CBD and is it safe for dogs?

CBD is one of over 200 different substances that can be derived from either marijuana or hemp. Industrial hemp contains little or no THC (less than 0.3%) which is the substance in marijuana that causes psychoactive effects or the “high”. Hemp-derived CBD should only be considered for pets. Cannabis or marijuana should never be given to dogs or other pets.

CBD technically does not contain any THC; however, since CBD is classified as a supplement, it is not regulated for safety and purity. This means that contamination of the CBD with THC can occur, and other contaminants, such as chemicals used during the extraction of CBD from the hemp, may also be part of the final product.

Which is why if you are considering giving CBD to dogs do the following:

  • Research: Make sure you chose a reputable company as not all CBD products are created equal. Consider companies whose products have been chosen for university-based studies (such as Ellevet or Applied Basic Sciences Corporation)
  • Never give raw unprocessed marijuana to your dog
  • Look into how the company extracts the CBD and chose one that publishes third-party testing results, so you can be sure you are getting what you think you are getting.
  • Document your dog's symptoms before and after giving the CBD. This will help you decide if it is having any positive effects, and also any negative effects or side effects.
  • Tell your Vet you are giving your dog CBD. They should know, otherwise, they may unintentionally prescribe an interacting medicine.

Other facts about CBD in dogs

  • Because trials in dogs are so limited, it is still unclear what the half-life of CBD is in dogs. In the Gamble study, a half-life of 4 to 5 hours was reported for CBD in an olive oil base; however, other trials have reported half-lives of 9 hours (intravenous) Just like humans, the half-life of CBD in dogs can vary depending on factors such as dosage, frequency of dosage, body size, interacting medicines, and formulation.
  • Other studies have reported low and variable absorption rates of CBD in dogs, from 0 to 19% (which means at best only 19% of the CBD is absorbed into the bloodstream). This may be due to differences in the formulation (gelatin capsule, chew, tablets, or oil).
  1. Gamble LJ, Boesch JM, Frye CW, et al. Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs. Front Vet Sci. 2018;5:165. Published 2018 Jul 23. DOI:10.3389/fvets.2018.00165
  2. Preliminary data from CBD clinical trials ‘promising’ 19 July 2018. Colorado State University.

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