How Does CBD Oil Work for Dogs?

  • Updated December 28, 2023

  • Published September 17, 2021

  • No Comments
Alex Malkin

Written by
Alex Malkin

Dr Erica Irish, Veterinarian

Medically reviewed by
Erica Irish

How Does CBD Oil Work for Dogs?

The pet CBD market is growing by leaps and bounds, with Brightfield Group projecting sales of $629 million in 2021 and continued growth to over one billion dollars by 2025. Accounting for 77 percent of the 2021 market, the largest sales segment is CBD for dogs. Many consumers report the benefits of CBD oil for dogs which is not surprising given dogs to have an endocannabinoid system receptive to a variety of cannabinoids.

How Does CBD for Pets Work?

Dogs have an endocannabinoid system that contains receptors for cannabinoids like CBD and THC. These receptors are regulators that send signals to other systems in order to stabilize the body. The two main cannabinoid receptors are:

  • CB1 – a psychoactive regulator in the brain, liver, fat, muscle and skeleton tissues
  • CB2 – mostly found in the cells in the immune system, thus serving as a regulator; also found in the central nervous system (CNS)

Dogs have a similar endocannabinoid system compared to humans. The main difference is the location of the CB1 receptors in dogs. Dogs have a higher concentration of CB1 receptors in the cerebellum, medulla oblongata and brain stem.

Since THC mostly activates CB1, it is important to avoid CBD products that have any significant amount of THC. The goal is to maintain a balance of CB1 and CB2 activation. If one is to be more impacted, it should be CB2, influencing the selection of the best CBD oil for dogs.

Research on CBD for Dogs

Research on CBD for dogs is very limited, though there is growing interest in advancing scientific research in the veterinarian community. Most claims today that CBD has helped manage medical conditions in dogs are anecdotal. People giving their dogs products containing CBD say products like CBD pet tinctures and CBD dog treats positively affect their pet’s mood and behavior.

One study conducted at the University of Western Australia at the School of Agriculture and Environment involved 24 dogs in a local shelter in Rome. The dogs had severe behavioral issues. The dogs treated with a mixture of virgin olive oil and 5 percent CBD for 45 days showed a reduction in aggressive behavior. The decrease in aggression and the sample size were small, so more research is needed.

Another study at the University of Kentucky tested CBD on dogs experiencing discomfort due to loud noises like fireworks. The findings indicated that CBD did not work better than the pet drug trazodone. However, the researchers conclude that more research is needed involving increasing doses of CBD to find the dose that works best.

There are a lot of questions to be answered through research on dogs and CBD oil. Despite the limited research, there are millions of dog owners who say CBD is the only thing they found that improves their dog’s mood and behaviors. When using CBD oil for dogs, start with the smallest dosage available to make sure your dog responds well. You can increase the amount of CBD slowly to find the quantity that produces the best results.

Things You Should Know About CBD for Dogs

As the canine CBD market continues to grow, there will be many brand and product choices. Following are some buying guidelines.

1. Check the Certificate of Analysis (COA)

Always check the COA to determine if there are any harmful ingredients in the product. They include things like pesticides and heavy metals.

CBDfx Pet Treats Certificate of Analysis

2. Find CBD without THC

You can find CBD without THC online by using an online marketplace and searching for THC-free spectrum within the dog CBD product category.

3. Choose Broad Spectrum or Isolate CBD

In the U.S., legal CBD is made from industrial hemp, which must contain less than .3 percent CBD. If you want the assurance that you are not giving your dog the psychoactive cannabinoid THC in a measurable quantity, choose broad spectrum CBD or CBD isolate made from industrial hemp.

CBD broad spectrum may have a trace of CBD but not enough to produce psychoactive effects. The product label should indicate if there is a trace of THC or if it is THC-free. However, CBD broad spectrum contains terpenes that may contribute to your dog’s entourage effect. CBD isolate is THC-free.

4. Read the Labels

Always read the product labels. The front label will tell you the CBD spectrum type and the total CBD amount in the package. The back label will provide an ingredient listing, serving size, and directions.


Many products today also have a QR code you can scan that will take you directly to an independent lab report that discloses the content of things like pesticides and mycotoxins. Some products have a second QR code that takes you to the company’s certifications and manufacturing practices.

5. Compare Prices

Always compare prices. CBD products that are priced substantially lower than brands with a good reputation are likely not quality products. You can find product sales and discounts on the highest quality CBD products online. There is no need to take risks with your dog’s health or doubt product quality and content. Even though vets cannot legally prescribe CBD products, you can ask your vet about using them.

Compare Prices on CBD Products

What CBD Forms Are Available for Dogs?

There are a variety of CBD forms available for pets.

  • CBD oil
  • CBD oil tincture
  • CBD dog treats – jerky sticks, hard and soft chews, dog biscuits, beef wraps, etc.
  • CBD biscuits
  • CBD cookies


It is important to buy CBD products made especially for dogs. You should not give CBD edibles made for human consumption to dogs. CDB edibles may contain ingredients that are not processed well in the dog’s digestive system.

Be an Informed Consumer

Is CBD good for dogs? The reviews posted by people who purchase CBD oil for dogs are pleased with the results. CBD and dogs do mix well in so many instances, but the key is to start with a low dose to see if it helps your dog. Like people, each dog is unique. You need to understand the safest dose for your dog and the side effects to watch for.


  3. Herkenham M, Lynn AB, Little MD, Johnson MR, Melvin LS, de Costa BR, Rice KC, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1990 Mar; 87(5):1932-6.


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