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CBD Side Effects in Dogs

 dog peering over couch

By Adam Biederman

More and more people are discovering the potential benefits of CBD, from soothing frazzled nerves to helping with discomfort after exercise and everyday activity. Likewise, CBD users are learning that pet CBD may extend these same benefits to their canine companions.

But before you give your dog CBD, you likely have questions about its safety and effectiveness.

CBD is generally regarded as safe for pets, and side effects are rare. However, it’s important to be on the lookout for any negative responses. In this short guide, we’ll address your burning queries about CBD side effects in dogs. 

How CBD Affects Dogs

In 2018, the World Health Organization concluded that CBD is generally safe for humans since there are so few reports of adverse side effects. Following this finding, there’s been more research into the way that CBD affects other animals. 

  • In the human body, CBD generates its benefits through interactions with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This network of endocannabinoid receptors extends throughout the nervous system.
  • The ECS is thought to help regulate functions including sleep, mood, memory, stress response and management of physical discomfort. By interacting with the ECS, CBD helps promote homeostasis and healthy balance.
  • All animals have an ECS. That means that CBD could potentially have similar beneficial effects in dogs.
  • While there have not been many large-scale studies on CBD for pets, the early research is promising. A 2019 study on dogs who received CBD twice daily found that CBD was well-tolerated and caused no side effects.

Potential CBD Benefits for Dogs

Researchers at the AKC Canine Health Organization and other organizations are currently working to better understand the potential benefits of CBD for dogs.

However, based on the current understanding of the ECS, we know that CBD might help with the following:

  • Soothe nerves – Does your pup have trouble adjusting to new situations? If you’re anticipating a visitor or a bout of blustery weather, there’s a chance that canine CBD can help them keep their cool. If stress keeps your pooch up at night, it might also help with sleep.
  • Bounce back after everyday activity – We all feel a little achy after a big day on the trail. CBD can help ease joint stiffness due to normal daily exercise and activity. 
  • Promote overall health – Since CBD assists balance and homeostasis, your pup may be able to store up more energy to enjoy an old-fashioned romp in the park.

Does CBD Get Dogs High?

When it comes to CBD pet products, many dog owners are concerned about one specific side effect: getting their dog “high.”

We know our furry friends can get stressed in unfamiliar situations. Therefore, the last thing we want is to risk getting our dogs high, which can result in unwanted effects like excessive hunger, nervousness or gaps in memory.

CBD should not get dogs high, but there are some caveats.

Legal CBD is derived from hemp plants. By definition, hemp contains less than 0.3% THC, which means it should not have psychoactive effects. However, keep in mind that not all pet CBD is created equal.

  • Make sure your CBD brand specifically states that it is hemp derived. 
  • Some CBD brands may not be able to make their label claims. Others may not include information about CBD concentration at all! Look for clear packaging that states the amount of CBD per package.
  • Keep in mind that the amount of THC you would need to feel an effect may be much greater than what a small dog would need. 

    Kinds of CBD for Dogs

    Because smaller animals are more sensitive to THC, many pet CBD products are specifically formulated without any detectable THC. Broad-spectrum CBD has the THC removed and is safe for all dogs.

    When shopping for pet CBD, choose brands that clearly explain their extraction technique, since this can affect the THC concentration. 

    There are three major techniques for legal, hemp derived CBD:

    • Full-spectrum – Full-spectrum CBD is extracted to preserve the full range of beneficial compounds found within the hemp plant. These include cannabinoids like CBD, CBG, CBN and THC as well as terpenes and flavonoids. This kind of CBD produces the beneficial “entourage effect” in which the compounds work better together. It’s ideal for topical use on dogs, as long as the product contains deterrents to licking.
    • Broad-spectrum – Similar to full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD contains all of the hemp plant’s beneficial extracts, but without any detectable THC. That way, your pupper can experience the entourage effect with a lowered risk of any effects from THC.
    • CBD isolate – Advanced extraction techniques extract only pure CBD. The resulting substance won’t have the scent of hemp and should not have any detectable THC.

    Potential Side Effects

    Now that you understand the general effects of CBD, let’s review the potential unwanted side effects.

    The most common side effects for CBD in people include dry mouth, diarrhea and drowsiness. While there’s very little risk of your pooch developing these symptoms, the similarities between the human and canine ECS suggest there’s a chance.

    While these side effects are mild, keep your individual dog’s constitution in mind.

    • Dry mouth – Some dogs eat or drink until they throw up. If your pet lacks self-control under regular circumstances, a bad case of dry mouth could potentially exacerbate the problem.
    • Diarrhea – If your dog already has a sensitive tummy and occasionally bouts of loose stool, check to see if CBD seems to worsen or help the issue. Some people find that CBD promotes gut health, but others find just the opposite!
    • Drowsiness – High amounts of CBD can cause sleepiness. This is one reason why it’s so important to give your pet the right amount of CBD based on their weight.
    • Lightheadedness – In some cases, CBD can cause changes in blood pressure. This can be an issue in very small dogs, which might feel lightheaded if given too much CBD.

    Find the Right Amount to Mitigate the Risk of Side Effects

    The right amount of CBD for your pup depends on their weight and size.

    Many individual veterinarians and pet owners report good results when administering 1 mg of CBD per pound of their dog’s weight. 

    Besides weight, take into consideration your dog’s age and energy levels, both of which affect how quickly they metabolize CBD.

    However, sources like Canine Journal recommend starting more conservatively at 0.2 mg per pound of body weight.

    At Zebra CBD, we factor the strength of our products and our expert scientists’ advice into the equation. We recommend using our Zebra CBD canine products at:

    • 0.25 mg/lb (regular use)
    • 0.50 mg/lb (extra strength)

    Choose Your CBD Product

    What’s the best way for your dog to experience CBD?

    If you use CBD yourself, you’re probably familiar with a wide range of methods for administration, from CBD gummies to oils to breath mints and beyond.

    There are several good options for pet CBD.

    • CBD Oil – Using a syringe to administer pet CBD oil gives you the most control over how many milligrams of CBD your dog consumes. Because CBD oil is readily absorbed across the mouth’s mucous membranes, this is also an incredibly efficient way to help your dog enjoy the benefits of CBD.
    • CBD Chews – If your dog tends to squirm, CBD oil may not be an option. In this case, CBD chews are a fun, tasty way to give your pet the appropriate amount of CBD At Zebra CBD, for example, we provide guides for how to break our chews into the right size for your dog. Put down the scooby snack and pick up a CBD dog chew!
    • CBD Balm – CBD can also be absorbed transdermally (through the skin). If your pup has a particular area that could use some extra TLC, give them a doggy massage with the added benefits of CBD. Our balm includes bitter ravensara oil to discourage licking.

    Read the Label and Work Your Way Up

    As you begin your CBD journey alongside your canine companion, keep in mind that he won’t be able to give you verbal feedback about its effects.

    That’s why we recommend starting with less than the suggested amount by your dog’s weight to see how they respond. Besides weight, take into consideration your dog’s age and energy levels, both of which can affect how quickly they metabolize CBD.

    If there are no negative side effects at a half amount, you can work your way up to the regular amount (or the extra strength amount).

    If you notice any of the following, try a lower amount next time:

    • lethargy
    • disorientation
    • excessive thirst

    Zebra CBD: The Only Pet CBD with a Label Accuracy Guarantee

    If you’re worried about side effects, it’s extra-important to do your due diligence when researching pet CBD brands. After all, our canine friends are smaller than us, which can make them more sensitive to THC, not to mention harmful additives and trace pesticides.

    At Zebra CBD, we take the extra steps to make sure our CBD is safe for dogs. We third-party test our products to verify they contain no detectable THC, heavy metals or pesticides.

    On top of that, we’re the only brand to offer a Label Accuracy Guarantee™. That’s how confident we are about what’s inside our CBD oil products. We hope it provides the confidence you deserve as you and your pup start a brand-new wellness journey! 


    World Health Organization. Cannabidiol.

    AKC Canine Health Foundation

    Canine Journal. CBD Dosage for Dogs.

    Co-founder of Copycat Copywriters, Adam has written for dozens of CBD and cannabis companies on a wide array of topics, including regulations, economics, farming practices and biochemistry.

    About the Author

    Adam Biederman Image

    Adam Biederman

    As co-founder and lead writer of Copycat Copywriters, one of Adam’s primary areas of expertise is within the budding CBD and cannabis space. He has written for dozens of CBD and cannabis companies, producing a collection of white papers, press releases, blog posts, articles and ebooks about a wide array of industry-related subjects, including regulations, economics, farming practices and biochemistry.

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