Safety and side effects of CBD in dogs and cats

Understanding the Safety and Side Effects of CBD oil for dogs

Safety and side effects of CBD

Wondering if CBD is safe for dogs? 

In recent years, cannabidiol (CBD) has emerged as a popular remedy for a variety of health concerns in both humans and animals. With increasing research and evidence, many pet owners are seeking CBD as a potential solution for their furry friends’ health issues.

If you are interested in CBD for your dog or cat to treat any health concerns, below we talk about the safety profile of CBDand any side effect you should know before incorporating CBD into your beloved companion’s health regimen. 

Potential side effects of CBD in dogs 

As with any medication, whether it be for humans or pets, there is always a chance of experiencing side effects. There has been some research into the safety of CBD oil in cats and dogs.

In clinical trials of dogs taking CBD orally the most common side effect observed has been mild diarrhoea. Administering the oil with food will help to decrease the chance of this occurring. Less common side effects include sedation (at higher doses) and redness around the ears. For dogs, it is generally concluded that side effects from CBD are within acceptable ranges

Dogs have been shown to tolerate CBD oil in relatively high doses. This 2020 study shows how CBD-predominant oil was safer and more tolerated in dogs than oils containing higher concentrations of THC. This study published in Frontiers (2022) displays how long-term daily feeding of CBD is well-tolerated by healthy dogs

Potential side effects of CBD in cats  

In cats, the most prevalent side effects displayed were head shaking and increased licking. Less often, chomping and gagging may be observed in cats.  

Cats seem to metabolise CBD quite differently from dogs and other animals. This study from 2021 tested the safety and tolerability of escalating doses of CBD and THC in 20 healthy cats. Some gastrointestinal side effects were observed where MCT was the carrier oil – at CBD Vets Australia we give the option of different carrier oils. In this study liver markers (ALP, ALT, AST, GGTP) remained within the normal reference intervals at all measured time points.  

Liver enzymes 

A modest elevation of liver enzymes (primarily ALP and ALT) is sometimes seen in dogs and cats on CBD. While some research shows CBD might affect liver enzyme status, other data suggest changes aren’t clinically significant. 

While side effects from CBD for pets are possible, when under the care of a knowledgable vet, they can be mitigated or avoided with a careful dosing schedule. When it comes to dose titration we recommend to start low and go slow. 

Beware of black market CBD 

Should you feel that CBD oil may benefit your pet, consulting your vet is essential. Your vet will write a prescription for the most appropriate type and strength of CBD oil, and will give you dosing and administration instructions. Under the close supervision of your vet, CBD oil is usually safe for your pet. 

Please beware that black market products sold online (without a prescription) can be harmful to your pet’s health. These products are usually not quality tested, thus there is no guarantee that the product has been tested for its CBD content or for the presence of toxins. This could put your pet at risk of ingesting contaminants such as pesticides or solvents. 

Additionally, there are safety concerns around giving dogs THC. Dogs are much more sensitive to the psychoactive effects of this compound than humans, and untested products with unknown levels of THC may put your dog at risk of serious adverse effects or worse. 

Be aware that cannabis-derived products such as CBD are scheduled substances under Australian law and only legal for pets when prescribed by a veterinarian. 

Experienced veterinary advice is key 

Our clinical team at CBD Vets Australia are well versed in the correct doses, formulations, safety profile and potential side effects that can occur when giving pets CBD oil. 

We provide training and educational resources to vets so that they feel empowered to prescribe CBD oil for their patients. With monitoring and careful management, CBD can be safely prescribed in specific instances and side effects can be mitigated by evidenced-based dosage regimes. 

To find out more about CBD and whether it could help improve the quality of life of your pet, reach out to our friendly team at CBD Vets Australia on (02) 8294 9303 or [email protected]

Alternatively you can fill out our Get In Touch form here and we will reach out to your vet or refer you to a vet in your area so that your pet can get started on CBD oil.  

By Jessica Kindynis

Updated by Emma Delaney MPharm (2024) 

Most recent blogs...

Learn more..