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Will CBD Help a Dog with Anxiety? Benefits & Safety Explained

Kit Copson

By Kit Copson

Dog and CBD

The use of CBD oil with pets is a topic that continues to stir debate among pet parents, pet experts, and veterinarians. While some consider CBD a valid option for easing pain and anxiety, and even controlling seizures in dogs, others are concerned about potential side effects, product quality control, and improper dosage.

As to the question of whether CBD oil will help a dog with anxiety1, CBD oil may help ease the pain that causes symptoms of anxiety, but it cannot treat anxiety directly. In this post, we’ll explore anecdotal evidence and what the experts think about using CBD oil to help dogs with anxiety.

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What Is CBD Oil?

CBD oil is a chemical compound known as a “cannabinoid” that exists in cannabis (marijuana) plants. To make CBD oil, CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant and mixed in with a ‘carrier’ oil. Common carrier oils for CBD oil include olive oil, avocado oil, and hemp seed oil.

In contrast to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not make you “high”, but it can have “mellowing” effects. THC toxicity in dogs can cause symptoms like the inability to eat or stand up. Common products containing THC are chocolate, raisins, coffee, and candies.

Can CBD Oil Benefit Dogs with Anxiety?

Anecdotal evidence suggests that CBD oil can help ease a variety of symptoms linked to different conditions, including anxiety. According to Dr. Matthew Everett Miller, DVM, it’s possible that CBD oil can reduce symptoms of conditions that contribute to anxiety, such as pain and inflammation, thereby reducing anxiety as a secondary effect.2

That said, Dr. Miller also states that because CBD doesn’t have psychoactive effects, CBD oil is unlikely to effectively treat anxiety. There are other medications formulated specifically for the treatment of anxiety in dogs that have been proven to treat anxiety symptoms. The same cannot be said for CBD oil.

giving CBD oil to dog
Image Credit: 24K-Production, Shutterstock

Can CBD Oil Benefit Dogs in Other Ways?

In 2018, experts at Cornell University conducted research into using medical hemp in veterinary science. The study’s results suggest that CBD oil may have positive effects in the treatment of canine osteoarthritis in that it can help relieve pain associated with the condition when the proper dose is administered twice daily.3 Furthermore, no noteworthy side effects were observed during this study.

Colorado State University also conducted a clinical trial into whether or not CBD oil could benefit dogs with epilepsy. Dr. Stephanie McGrath, a neurologist at Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, described the results of this study as “promising” and “exciting”.4

In short, the results showed that 89% of dogs given CBD in the trial had less frequent seizures.5 However, as Dr. Miller at PetMD notes, the dogs were given existing anti-seizure medications simultaneously, so there’s no guarantee that CBD oil alone is enough to reduce seizures.

Is CBD Oil Safe for Dogs?

Research suggests that CBD is very safe, but some side effects have been noted by those who have administered it to their dogs, including sleepiness and sedation.6

As Dr. Miller explains, as it has been found that CBD can cause alkaline phosphatase (ALP) to elevate in the liver, this may mean that CBD has the potential to cause liver irritation or damage, but it could also be an artificial finding. The doctor also mentions a potential risk of drug interactions. Other side effects may include a dry mouth and lowered blood pressure.

It’s also prudent to be aware of the quality of CBD oil you purchase. The AKC recommends looking for organic CBD or at least CBD that is free of additives, pesticides, fungicides, or solvents. It’s also a good idea to look for CBD oil that has been laboratory tested and has quality seals or certificates with information on exactly what it contains. Low-quality or untested oils have the potential to be harmful.

dog taking CBD hemp oil tincture
Image By: iAmMrBenjamin, Shutterstock

Is CBD Legal?

Every country has its own laws on cannabis products, but in the U.S., buying CBD is federally legal if it contains no more than 0.3% THC. Some states are stricter than others and it may be illegal entirely in some, so please check your local CBD laws for more information.

Can Vets Prescribe CBD?

U.S. veterinarians are not allowed to prescribe or dispense CBD. They’re also forbidden from recommending or encouraging the purchase of CBD.

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Final Thoughts

Research into the effects of CBD oil on dogs is ongoing, and some veterinarians have expressed concerns about the fact that CBD oil is not FDA-regulated. Other concerns are issues related to correct dosage and which CBD oils are actually safe. For these reasons, we strongly recommend discussing CBD oil with your vet before making any decisions.

Featured Image Credit: Erin_Hinterland, Pixabay

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