It’s one of the most popular claims made about pet CBD products – But does CBD oil actually make dogs less sensitive to firework noises?

Vet holding dog on leash

Summary

  • Pet CBD is a hemp supplement than can reduce inflammation in dogs
  • Dogs with noise phobias and sensitivity to fireworks may experience heightened inflammation, which makes CBD a relevant option
  • Online feedback from pet owners suggests that CBD can make some dogs calmer and more receptive to commands during fireworks
  • However, others reported little change in their dog’s behavior
  • Combining CBD supplementation with desensitization training and aids such as weighted shirts maybe be the most effective approach

We reviewed 38 different pet CBD brands in our Summer 2002 review update. Check out our list of the best CBD oils for dogs.

Whether it’s the 4th of July or Halloween, dog owners often have mixed feelings about celebrations that involve fireworks and other loud activities.

It’s common for pups to develop noise phobias throughout their lives – which are defined as an intense reaction of panic or stress when exposed to sudden or unusually loud sounds.

Dogs are among the most sensitive pets, which makes them great at communicating with us and interpreting our needs. But that sensitivity also makes them prone to phobias, anxiety, and an inability to calm down after becoming agitated.

Traditional remedies for dogs that show their behaviors include using weighted blankets or allergy medications like Benedryl, which can produce a mild sedating effect. Some dog owners will even forgo the fun themselves to keep their pets away from any potentially upsetting sounds.

While these can all work in some situations, an increasing number of pet owners have also begun to advocate using pet-safe CBD as a way to keep dogs calm and receptive to commands during fireworks.

The rise in recommendations of CBD for dogs coincides with a general increase in CBD’s popularity. Over the last five-or-so years, CBD has grown from a niche supplement used in holistic medicine circles, to a mainstream product available in big box pet stores.

What is Pet CBD?

  • Pet-safe CBD products are made from hemp plants – a type of cannabis that contains anti-inflammatory compounds called cannabinoids.
  • Of all cannabinoids, CBD is recognized as producing the most potent effects. Researchers have found that CBD interacts with receptors in dogs’ immune systems to stimulate reduced inflammation.
  • Hemp plants contain very low amounts of the cannabinoid THC, which is known to produce psychoactive effects (a high) and is harmful to dogs. Hemp grown by certified producers in the US is limited to 0.3% THC – a safe amount for pets.
  • To make CBD oils and other products, producers extract CBD from hemp plants and infuse it into a carrier oil, treat recipe, or topical balm.

The claims about CBD’s ability to soothe dogs with noise phobias do make sense:

CBD is a proven anti-inflammatory supplement, as shown in clinical studies. Phobias, anxiety, and other forms of stress all cause internal inflammation. By decreasing this inflammation – the theory goes – CBD reduces anxiety and stimulates the release of hormones and enzymes that return the body to a normal state of calm.

Research related to CBD’s ability to reduce inflammation, stress, and anxiety is becoming more established. In 2021, a clinical study published in the journal Veterinary Sciences showed “for the first time the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD directly in dogs’ immune cells.”

But does the science of CBD line up with feedback from real dog owners who have tried CBD with their pets? There’s lots of talk from dog owners who use CBD on the internet – but to find out what people really think, we need to separate the marketing content from the genuine owner comments.

Online reviews of pet CBD products can be glowing, with hundreds of customers lining up to provide 5-star reviews and stories of how CBD change their pets’ lives. While most of these testimonials are likely to be true, it’s important to be discerning about where reviews come from.

Comments posted on the websites of CBD brands can be manipulated by companies to appear more favorable. Reputable CBD brands won’t make up reviews, but they might highlight the best feedback while pushing less positive comments further down the list.

We recommend checking independent sources of reviews like Google, Facebook, and Reddit when trying to get a sense of opinions in the dog owner community. Even here, there’s no guarantee that content is totally representative (welcome to the internet in 2022), but you’re more likely to see unbiased results.

A look at relevant posts on these platforms does seem to show evidence that CBD helps reduce firework and noise sensitivity in a majority of dogs.

In one Reddit thread where dog owners asked for 4th of July fireworks advice, several commenters mentioned that CBD had worked for their pets:

CBD oil has worked wonders for my dog. 3-4 drops in her food in the morning and at night (she’s a 70lb boxer). She still notices the booms if they’re loud enough, but she doesn’t pant and tremble uncontrollably anymore. I don’t think she’ll be 100% chill on July 4th because of the sheet amount of shit that gets popped off, but I don’t think she’ll be cowering in the bathroom again this year.”

Other dog owners discussing strategies for managing pet anxiety during fireworks on dogforum.com also had positive things to say about CBD supplementation:

“I used CBD oil for Murphys firework anxiety last year but you have to start at least one week before so that it has a chance to build up .. ( I have to say it worked quite well all but the loudest and closest explosions were ignored)”

At the same time, a sizeable number of dog owners report disappointing effects from trying CBD oil with their noise phobic pups.

This perspective was represented in a 2020 study published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science, which exposed dogs taking CBD to simulated firework noise. The study found no significant difference in reaction between dogs taking CBD and those that weren’t:

“When the fireworks track started, there was a visible change in the demeanor of the dogs… a tucked tail, shaking, or nervous vocalizations like whining.” However, the study didn’t ultimately find any evidence “in support of an anxiolytic effect of CBD in dogs when supplemented at 1.4 mg CBD/kg.”

Although, it’s worth pointing out that most experts recommend giving dogs CBD for several weeks before expecting to see any effects. The authors of the study recognized this, writing that “CBD may need to be dosed for longer than 7 days in order to produce anxiolytic effects.”

Is Pet CBD safe for dogs?

CBD is completely safe for dogs when it’s made according to pet-friendly standards. That means it contains less than 0.3% THC, no xylitol, and is available in an appropriate concentration for a dog’s size.

  • Pet CBD should always be made from US-grown hemp plants, not marijuana plants. This ensures that CBD extracts don’t contain unsafe levels of other cannabinoids, such as THC.
  • The best pet CBD producers regularly submit their products for independent quality testing and make the results accessible to customers. These lab tests show exactly how much CBD is contained in a product, along with any other cannabis compounds and impurities like pesticides or heavy metals.

So what’s the conclusion? There’s no doubt that CBD supplements work for many anxious dogs, making them calmer and helping them to behave more normally when exposed to phobia triggers like fireworks.

Furthermore, growing research on both humans and dogs is providing real evidence on how CBD and other cannabis compounds interact with the immune system to reduce inflammation and stress.

That said, it’s also true that not every dog owner who’s tried CBD oil for noise phobias has been impressed with the results. Feedback from independent sources like Reddit and Facebook is mixed, with some comments stating that CBD had little effect on their pup’s fear of fireworks.

The bottom line is that CBD possesses real anti-inflammatory properties that may induce calm in frightened pups – it just won’t work every time for every dog.