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  • Writer's pictureSara Scott

CBD for Dogs: Separating Fact from Fiction

Updated: Oct 24

As CBD has exploded in popularity for human use, more and more dog owners are now exploring it for their pets. But with so much hype and conflicting information out there, what does the science actually say about CBD for canine health and wellness? As caring owners, we want what’s truly best for our dogs. So let’s separate fact from fiction and discuss the realistic pros and cons of using CBD on our dogs.

A golden retriever with its head tilted licks its lips, tongue hanging out of its mouth. The dog's eyes are slightly squinted as it licks its jaws enthusiastically. This golden retriever demonstrates typical lip licking behavior in dogs.

The Natural Bias

First, it’s important we acknowledge our inherent bias toward “natural” options. When considering supplements like CBD, we may feel intuitively drawn to products branded as natural, organic, or plant-based. However, it’s crucial we overcome this bias and make evidence-based choices for our dogs. Not everything natural is necessarily safe or effective.

And conversely, FDA-approved medicines are heavily tested for safety even though they contain synthesized compounds. When evaluating CBD, we need to look past the natural perception and focus on proof.

The Evidence So Far

Right now, the scientific evidence on CBD for dogs is fairly limited. Early research does suggest some potential benefits, like anti-anxiety effects, pain relief, anti-seizure activity, and anti-nausea effects. However, most studies have been small and looked at CBD in isolation, not as commercially-available products. So the extent to which these results translate to real-world CBD oils, treats, etc. is still lunknown. Much more research is needed to truly understand CBD’s effects in dogs.

A green glass bottle full of CBD tincture that is used for dogs with behavior problems

Potential Risks

While CBD appears relatively safe so far, it is not without risks:

  • CBD can potentially interact with other medications. So it’s crucial to consult your vet before starting CBD.

  • Quality control issues lead to inconsistency in commercial CBD products for purity and potency. There is no oversight from the FDA.

  • Too high of a dose can result in side effects like lethargy or diarrhea. Proper dosing for your dog’s size is essential.

  • Manufacturers often make unsubstantiated claims about CBD. It’s vital we don’t fall for hype unsupported by science.

Regulatory Limbo

Unlike FDA-approved animal medications and supplements, the production and marketing of CBD is not regulated. This means CBD products cannot make claims about what conditions they treat and have no oversight into manufacturing practices. Be wary of manufacturers overpromising what CBD can do. Let your vet advise you based on available evidence.

The Danger of Delaying Real Solutions

One of the biggest risks with CBD currently is delaying effective treatment if owners choose it instead of proven therapies like behavior modification or prescription anti-anxiety medication. If your dog has severe anxiety, CBD should absolutely not replace working with a veterinary behaviorist. We must use wisdom in determining when conventional treatments are needed.

The Takeaway for Now

Current evidence on CBD for dogs, while promising, is still preliminary. Much more research is needed to validate benefits and ensure safety. Responsible owners should view CBD with cautious optimism. Discuss using it with your vet but don’t fall prey to marketing hype. Look past the allure of “natural” and focus on proven solutions first for your dog’s health and behavior struggles. Evaluate CBD critically as we await more science on its effects in our dogs.

While scientific research on CBD for dogs is still in early stages, many owners do report noticeable benefits in their anxious pets after trying CBD oils or treats. Reduced panting, pacing, trembling, and hiding have been observed, suggesting CBD may provide anti-anxiety effects. However, these owner accounts are anecdotal and may be subject to the placebo effect. Controlled studies are needed to truly demonstrate CBD's efficacy for anxiety in dogs. Anecdotal reports should not be considered proof, but rather observational evidence that supports the need for more research. Owners and vets should view such accounts with cautious optimism, not as confirmation that CBD works. Still, the proliferation of positive anecdotes warrants further investigation into CBD as a potential anti-anxiety therapeutic.

In summary, while preliminary research and anecdotal accounts seem promising, the verdict is still out on CBD for our dogs. We must make wise, evidence-based decisions and await further science before wholeheartedly embracing CBD. With balanced evaluation of both risks and potential, we can responsibly explore this popular supplement as a tool in our toolkit for enhancing our dogs’ health and happiness.


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While CBD may have potential, clinical evidence is still limited. My customized training and behavior protocols empower real change through positive reinforcement, lifestyle enrichment, and when needed, conventional treatments recommended by veterinary specialists.

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