CBD is a natural extract from the cannabis plant with a variety of health benefits for dogs. It works in canines through their endocannabinoid system and also in humans. Australian dog owners are using CBD more than ever to help boost their dog’s quality of life and mitigate a range of conditions, including anxiety, phobias, behavioural issues, sleep problems and more. It’s even great at helping older dogs mitigate arthritis or inflammation, plus supporting mood improvements. Most dog owners report great results, such as improved behaviour, less barking, and better calm within weeks of using it. Let’s explore the potential benefits of CBD for your dog and how it works so you can decide if it’s right for your pup.
- 1 What is CBD?
- 2 How Does CBD Affect Dogs?
- 3 Is CBD Good for Dogs?
- 4 Top 10 Benefits of CBD for Dogs
- 4.1 Stress and Anxiety Reduction
- 4.2 Skin and Fur Health
- 4.3 Eczema and Psoriasis Relief
- 4.4 Suppressing Pain
- 4.5 Reducing Inflammation
- 4.6 Alleviating Arthritis
- 4.7 Promoting Neuroprotection
- 4.8 Fighting Allergies
- 4.9 Nausea and Appetite Improvement
- 4.10 Mitigating Phobias and Fears
- 4.11 Improved Mood and Behaviour
- 4.12 Better Sleep
- 5 FAQs
- 6 Conclusion
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a naturally produced bioactive compound in the hemp plant. It’s become popular with dogs in Australia and abroad because of its potent calming, and medicinal properties. It is well-known for its therapeutic effects and ability to treat many chronic conditions in humans and canines. There are a vast number of cannabinoids produced by the hemp plant naturally. These include minor cannabinoids (contained in low quantities) like CBN, CBG, CBDa and MEB, in addition to the primary cannabinoids THC and CBD. Each cannabinoid has different properties and can be therapeutic depending on its use, but it can also carry risks. CBD is perhaps the most useful due to its high degree of safety in mammals, plus its potent health benefits. But CBD shouldn’t be mixed up or confused with THC when considering using it with dogs.
CBD vs THC for Dogs
Although CBD is safe to use in dogs and beneficial for them, THC isn’t. This is the other primary cannabinoid alongside CBD, with very different properties and effects in dogs. THC is psychoactive and intoxicating in humans. But in dogs, it’s poisonous and can cause a real risk of harm or even death. Despite being produced by the same plant, only CBD can be given to dogs. Even trace amounts of THC can be toxic, so it should be avoided. Only purchase and use 0% CBD products for dogs that are high quality and designed for animal use. Those produced for humans can often contain some amounts of THC in small quantities. CBD, in contrast to THC, is well tolerated, non-addictive and beneficial by both dogs and humans.
How Does CBD Affect Dogs?
CBD affects dogs in a very similar way to humans due to canines also having an endocannabinoid system. This means they can use cannabinoids in their body when consumed, enabling them to derive therapeutic benefits. Cannabinoid receptors in this system can be found in your dog’s fur, paws, organs and brain. They respond to cannabinoids like CBD, which interact with them, causing endocannabinoids to be released in response.
Endocannabinoids in dogs play a crucial role in helping to support and regulate normal biological processes, plus improve homeostasis or internal balance. They’re known to assist in lowering anxiety, suppressing pain perception, boosting immunity, plus enabling better sleep, mood and behaviour. The main endocannabinoids are anandamide and 2-AG. In dogs, they perform these functions by modulating each system or process that is responsible for these areas. For instance, they influence nerve cell signalling and nociception to limit how dogs perceive pain. The immune system can modulate cells where and how they produce inflammatory agents like cytokines to mitigate excess inflammatory activity and damage from chronic inflammation.
Is CBD Good for Dogs?
Due to dogs having an endocannabinoid system and displaying similar responses to cannabinoids as humans, they can also benefit from using them. Several critical studies have been conducted demonstrating the efficacy of cannabinoids like CBD in canines, in addition to highlighting their safety profile. For instance, a 2021 study showed CBD had potent anti-inflammatory effects in vivo, lowering inflammatory markers such as TNF-alpha levels. Other studies from 2020 showed CBD had promising effects in dogs for arthritis pain. The study concluded it could reduce pain symptoms and inflammatory activity associated with osteoarthritis while boosting mobility and the production of anti-inflammatory agents like IL-6. All studies commented on the safety of CBD. While it did elevate
Anecdotes from dog owners back up this research, suggesting CBD has many helpful effects for canines. Many dog owners in Australia have posted testimonials and stories about how CBD has helped with their dog’s anxiety or phobias, improved their negative behaviours like barking or boosted mobility in an older dog suffering from arthritis. Undoubtedly, CBD gives more hope and support to many dogs in Australia today. Most owners report seeing health improvements within several weeks of using it with their dogs. The great part about CBD is it can be diffused into dog treats or toys to make it easier to give to your dog. But many dogs enjoy CBD oil because of its tasty nutty flavour and healthy fat content. Because it’s from hemp, CBD oil will have a range of other nutrients in it from the plant that can help promote your dog’s health. These include antioxidants, fibre, plant nutrients, vitamins, minerals and more. It can naturally assist in improving skin and fur health while nourishing your dog’s well-being.
Top 10 Benefits of CBD for Dogs
The main benefits of CBD for dogs are improvements in stress and anxiety, reduction of arthritis symptoms, helping in pain management, lifting mood, and support behavioural improvements. CBD can be beneficial for older dogs who are at higher risk of chronic conditions like arthritis. It’s also great if your dog suffers from fears of loud noises or other dogs or has issues with barking and biting. Most dogs become much calmer and more obedient after using it. Let’s run through the top benefits of CBD in dogs.
Stress and Anxiety Reduction
Anxiety problems are widespread in dogs. A recent study from Finland on 264 dogs found up to 72% of dogs show signs of at least one anxiety-related behaviour. There are many causes of stress and anxiety for dogs. Some of these might be fear of loud noises like traffic, fear of other dogs or people, stress caused by isolation or lack of activity and even your dog’s temperament. Dogs that are stressed behave differently. You may see your dog erratically dig holes, bark, and become hyperactive or compulsive. They can often bite objects, other dogs, or people when feeling overwhelmed.
CBD helps to provide anxiety relief for dogs and their owners. When ingested, it causes anandamide and other endocannabinoids to be produced, which are anti-anxiolytic or anxiety-reducing. After using CBD many dog owners report their dog becomes much more calm, well-behaved and less erratic after using CBD daily for several weeks. The best results are typically observed when CBD is given to dogs daily to provide enough cannabidiol to deliver a substantial anxiety-reducing effect. Higher doses and frequency of dose lead to faster and more consistent results in humans, and the same applies to dogs. However, you should start with smaller dosages initially to test if your dog tolerates the cannabinoid and doesn’t experience side effects.
A study on the effects of CBD on anxiety in dogs administered 16 dogs with CBD-infused dog treats. The study aimed to gauge whether CBD could help dogs with acute fear and anxiety to combat these problems. The dogs were given CBD treats for several weeks. Fireworks and loud noises were triggered to stimulate a fear response and measure how much stress was induced in each dog. The test group given CBD treats showed markedly lower levels of stress and anxiety when exposed to loud noises versus the placebo comparison group. Researchers noted no toxicity or adverse reactions indicated in the test groups. It was well-tolerated by all dogs involved and only demonstrated positive outcomes.
Skin and Fur Health
Skin and fur problems, like dryness, oiliness or even eczema, are common in dogs. Dogs are exposed to many allergens daily as they roll around in grass, dirt, and dust. These particles can cause allergic reactions in the skin and trigger inflammatory problems. For some susceptible dogs, allergen exposure can lead to dry, flaky fur or skin. They can exacerbate more serious skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis. In dogs, these conditions cause flaky, red patches on the skin and excessive dryness. Both diseases are also characterised by irritation, which can cause your dog to excessively scratch and hurt them. Both these conditions occur in dogs due to a combination of genetic factors and exposure to allergens.
Eczema and Psoriasis Relief
Both eczema and psoriasis are considered auto-immune conditions. Specific proteins in the immune system malfunction, causing the dog or human’s skin to respond by producing excess skin cells. Extreme cases in dogs can require a visit to the vet and topical creams to treat. Your dog might display uncomfortable symptoms of these conditions, like scratching at its psoriasis sores, barking, or itching. It can impact your dog’s confidence and result in excessive stress. CBD creams and oils for dogs are helping soothe these skin issues and calm the inflammation response.
Through its interactions with the endocannabinoid system, cannabidiol can stimulate the production of endogenous compounds that calm the auto-immune response responsible for psoriasis in dogs. It does this through the CB2 receptors in your dog’s skin layers. Treating eczema in your dog with CBD might help support skin rejuvenation and retain skin moisture. You can use it on your dog’s skin as an ointment or oil directly through topical application. Giving your dog CBD treats or oil is also an option. In both cases, CBD will bind to your dog’s CB2 receptors to relieve and reduce excessive inflammatory activity caused by allergens.
CBD has analgesic and soothing properties, making it great for minor pain, aches and chronic inflammation. Aches and pains are common in dogs, especially as they get older. Wear and tear add up over time and can lead to injuries. In some cases, dogs can even experience chronic pain due to age and health conditions like colitis. There are a range of reasons why your dog might experience pain. The most common is osteoarthritis in dogs. Inflammatory conditions are the most frequently occurring canine health issues that lead to chronic pain symptoms. Your dog might also experience it from injuries, nerve damage, cancer or gut health problems.
Pain can seriously reduce your dog’s quality of life and well-being. Solving the underlying cause or mitigating the symptoms of pain is critical to enabling your dog to return to everyday life. CBD has been shown in some trials to be effective in controlling the severity of pain in humans. The same is likely also the case for dogs, although limited clinical studies demonstrate this effect. Whether it will benefit your dog depends on what pain is caused. If it’s an inflammatory issue like colitis, CBD is well known to be effective at providing relief due to lowering inflammation. Endocannabinoids are anti-inflammatory and act on the metabolism in similar ways to ibuprofen. They can calm the immune response by downregulating cytokine and TNF-alpha activity, allowing your dog to better manage the source of their inflammation.
But CBD can also help directly with symptoms of pain. It does this through the CB1 receptors in your dog. Pain is signalled from the nervous system to the brain. Cannabinoids like CBD help to reduce the perception of pain by reducing the amount of this signalling from occurring and suppressing its sensation. In humans, there are already medicines that combine THC and CBD to help cancer patients with chronic pain manage their symptoms. Limiting the effects of pain is a top benefit of CBD for dogs. It may not be effective for all pain types. Generally, it is effective for neuropathic pain or pain arising from inflammation. For more severe or acute pain in your dog, CBD won’t be a viable treatment, and your vet will need to guide you on a better approach.
As well as reducing the severity of pain, CBD is effective for treating inflammation. This could be useful if your dog suffers from osteoarthritis. Some forms of arthritis are caused by excess inflammation, which attacks the joint’s sheaths, degrading them over time. While there are pharmaceutical treatments available to help, CBD offers an all-natural alternative with potentially fewer side effects. It’s worth noting that many inflammation medications are taxing on the kidneys and liver. For example, ibuprofen can’t be used in high doses or frequencies because of its potential to cause liver toxicity. CBD might be a good alternative for longer-term inflammation because it can be used without high side effect risk, provided it is not combined with other medications.
Most dogs will experience some form of arthritis in their lifetime. It affects up to 20% of adult dogs and 80% of old dogs. Arthritis is joint degeneration that usually afflicts a dog’s knee joints but can impact any joint in the body. It leads to constriction of movement, pain and discomfort, reduced confidence, and leg stiffness. Your dog may display symptoms like yelping, being less active, and not wanting to play anymore. Many vets prescribe pharmaceutical medication for arthritis in dogs. Commonly, NSAIDs such as Gabapentin are used to help treat symptoms of inflammatory osteoarthritis. However, this form of treatment often carries severe side effects and risks. NSAIDs often cause kidney issues, worsening of symptoms, or liver toxicity.
CBD, on the other hand, is entirely natural and plant-based. It is much better tolerated in dogs and carries a low risk of side effects when used correctly. When side effects occur, they are generally mild, such as minor stomach disruptions. CBD helps to limit the pain triggered by arthritis while fighting its inflammatory causes. It can help your dog mitigate the uncomfortable sensations of this chronic condition to recover its confidence and movement again. Simultaneously, it acts on CB2 receptors in the joints and can provide localised inflammatory relief in stiff joints.
CBD has been clinically proven to reduce the length and frequency of seizures in humans with epilepsy. In a study that was carried out regarding drug-resistant epilepsy, 7 out of 8 patients reported a notable improvement in their symptoms within 4 to 5 months of beginning treatment with CBD oil. Another study was carried out with children who struggled with drug-resistant epilepsy, and the results of that study found that for almost 9 in 10 children, the frequency of their seizures was reduced. It’s so effective that it has even been used to produce anti-epileptic drugs like Epidiolex to help those suffering from this neurological condition.
Dogs can similarly struggle with epilepsy and neurological problems. It is estimated that approximately 1% of dogs suffer from these conditions. Cases can vary in severity and be mild or severe and frequent. It’s not yet clear whether CBD can also treat conditions like epilepsy in dogs due to limited research. However, some owners have reported improvements in symptoms in their dogs after trying CBD. After consulting with your veterinarian, experimenting with this option may be worthwhile.
In dogs, allergies can be triggered by a range of environmental factors. This might be from a food allergy, certain plants or insects, plus organic allergens like dirt, dust, grass or garbage. CBD can help minimise reactions to allergies by enhancing resilience in immunity and facilitating better immune cell signalling. Through these mechanisms, your dog’s body will avoid misfiring and reacting to allergens when they’re encountered to prevent the resulting inflammatory responses from occurring.
Nausea and Appetite Improvement
Cannabinoids are known to help with mitigating feelings of nausea, helping to prevent stomach disruption and aiding with appetite regulation. This is thought to be the result of endocannabinoid activity via the gut’s CB2 receptors, plus in helping to normalise hunger hormone levels. In dogs who are picking with food and don’t eat or have nausea due to a condition like gastritis, CBD might provide some relief. It can help your dog maintain regular food intake and prevent nausea from ruining their daily nutrition to improve their quality of life.
Mitigating Phobias and Fears
Dogs can get scared or jittery from many things. Everything from cars, thunder, other dogs, sirens or horns, and fireworks can trigger feelings of terror and anxiety. Some dogs are very susceptible to loud sounds, particularly, and can have phobias that cause them to react with high sensitivity. They might show symptoms like barking, scratching, trembling or yelping in fear. CBD might help by calming your dog’s nervous system and promoting resilience against these triggers. It is anxiolytic and assists in suppressing reactions to the fear response in dogs.
Improved Mood and Behaviour
It’s no secret that many dogs are badly behaved or can be moody. Dogs have unique personalities and quirks, like humans. They can be temperamental, on edge or disobedient for many reasons. This could be because of poor treatment or training, their genes and natural predispositions. How much stress they’re put through, plus the environment they inhabit, is also a significant factor. Chronically stressed dogs or those who aren’t walked, patted or supported enough can become poorly behaved. Barking, biting other dogs or people, destroying their owner’s possessions, or bad toilet behaviours are all signs of this. CBD helps to improve mood in dogs and reverse these types of behaviours. It calms dogs, promotes mood stability and improves obedience by mitigating stress.
CBD helps to calm dogs, promoting a restful state that leads to enhanced sleep. It has been shown to boost sleep quality, length and the depth of REM cycles in humans. Similar effects are thought to occur in dogs who struggle to sleep or have insomnia. Through the brain’s CB1 receptors, CBD improves circadian rhythm and sleep-wake cycle regulation. Your dog should see greater consistency in sleeping on time and staying asleep throughout the night. Resultantly they’ll have a better mood, behave better plus become healthier.
CBD benefits dogs by acting on the endocannabinoid system and enabling endocannabinoid production. These compounds lower inflammation, mitigate anxiety, reduce pain and help with chronic conditions like arthritis in dogs. In particular, CBD is great in dogs for:
Pain Relief in Dogs: CBD can help with aches and pains in canines, particularly those signalled via the nerves. It does this by lowering the pain sensation and dampening how much is experienced.
Anxiety Reduction: dogs with anxiety can benefit from CBD’s anxiolytic and stress-reducing qualities to obtain a better quality of life. In particular, it can help them build resilience against stress triggers like loud sounds or thunder.
Anti-Inflammatory: CBD’s endocannabinoid activity enables it to help dogs with immune regulation, helping them combat chronic inflammation symptoms and lower inflammatory markers in the body.
Improved sleep: many dogs find it easier to get to sleep, remain asleep and get deeper rest when using CBD. It helps regulate circadian rhythm and consistency in sleep, plus wake times.
Most dog owners see the best results from CBD when using it daily with their dogs. However, considering dosing amount and frequency is critical before starting. The correct dose can be calculated by gauging your dog’s weight, cannabinoid tolerance, metabolism and health requirements. Some experimentation will be needed to find the right amount of CBD for your pet. Continually monitor them for any side effects. You should also begin with minimal amounts of CBD initially to check your dog isn’t susceptible to adverse reactions or higher negative side effects with CBD.
Dogs with anxiety or who are chronically stressed should become more calm when using CBD. This is because it is an anxiolytic chemical, meaning it helps suppress anxiousness. Owners that use it with their dog primarily report their dog becomes more at-ease, better behaved and obedient. For dogs that get scared easily or stressed around other dogs, this can be very useful to help them avoid reacting to stressors.
The duration of CBD’s effects on a dog can vary. Generally, it will take effect within 1-2 hours and last up to 5 or 6 hours after consumption. How long it specifically lasts will depend on product strength and dosage, the type of CBD product you use with your dog (e.g. CBD dog treats vs oils), plus your dog’s tolerance and metabolism. Timing your dog’s CBD dose can be important depending on what you’re using it for. For example, it’s best to use it 1-2 hours before your dog’s bedtime to enhance sleep.
In most dogs, CBD will be experienced through better mood, a sense of calmness, reduced irritation and feelings of well-being. CBD is not psychoactive or intoxicating and will never get your dog ‘high’. Instead, your dog should be more comfortable and obedient, provided you have dosed sensibly.
CBD’s speed of action will depend on several factors, including the method you used to provide it to your dog. Oral products are slower to act due to being digested, while sublingual products rapidly absorb. Most dogs will feel calmer within an hour, but it can take up to two or three hours if combined with food or digestion is slow. Be patient and observe your dog’s reaction to determine the optimal timing for administering CBD.
CBD has both advantages and drawbacks for dogs. Your vet should consider both before providing it to them.
Potential relief from pain, arthritis and enhanced quality of life in old dogs.
Reduced anxiety and resilience against phobias, stressors and fear triggers.
Inflammation reduction helps combat conditions like eczema, arthritis or colitis.
Natural, non-addictive and non-toxic as a plant-based remedy. CBD oil is well tolerated and contains healthy fats that benefit your dog’s skin and fur.
Research is generally lacking on dogs for optimal dosages of CBD and long-term effects or risks. This changes over time as more clinical studies are being prioritised for canines.
Side effects in dogs are indeed possible and can include mood changes, disruptions in appetite and gut irritation.
THC toxicity in dogs is a real risk, and CBD products containing any amount of THC can poison your dog. Low-quality products must be avoided; only those formulated for pets with 0% THC can be used.
CBD typically does not induce drowsiness or sedation in dogs. It may promote relaxation and greater calmness but won’t directly stimulate sleep. CBD is better used as an indirect sleep support by mitigating anxiety and factors that can disrupt sleep or cause waking. It helps dogs maintain healthy sleep patterns but won’t cure insomnia.
It depends on your dog’s health needs. CBD can be used at any time of the day for different purposes. Often, it’s used in the day to promote better behaviour and reduced anxiety in dogs when stressors are more present, and a dog can experience phobias. At night, it can help a dog relax into sleep and avoid night-time barking. Consult your veterinarian to determine the best dosing schedule and timings for your dog’s unique circumstances.
CBD is great for dogs and can help them in many ways. This is why it’s becoming so popular amongst dog owners in Australia. It can help with mood and behaviour, lowering anxiety, boosting immunity, aiding with inflammation, supporting better sleep, and reducing pain. The clinical research into these effects has only begun, but many studies already demonstrate CBD’s therapeutic benefits for canines. It works in dogs along the same pathways as humans through the endocannabinoid system and its capacity to regulate critical bodily processes. It’s essential to only ever use pure CBD products with your dog that don’t contain THC. THC is poisonous to dogs and must be avoided. But used correctly, CBD offers a low-risk, high-benefit alternative to pharmaceuticals for dogs in treating many conditions while being entirely natural.