Repeated studies on cannabidiol, the full name for CBD, have shown it to be one of the safest, most compatible, and least toxic treatments available right now. According to a 2018 World Health Organization report, CBD is “well-tolerated, with a good safety profile,” and is unlikely to cause adverse reactions or dependency in either humans or animals.
There are of course exceptions to every rule, and it should be noted that extremely high doses of CBD have shown adverse effects in some tests (more on that below). But in general, CBD products for dogs fair very well when compared to many of the other drugs and treatments traditionally offered to dogs and their owners.
Here’s the rundown on possible side effects of canine CBD usage, as well as the potential risks of more traditional CBD alternatives.
CBD is a cannabinoid—a class of substances that interact with the body via the endocannabinoid system. Unlike opioids and other pharmaceutical drugs, interaction with this system means that CBD doesn’t directly affect the brainstem or areas controlling respiration. In terms of substance safety, this is a big plus, meaning that serious overdoses from CBD and other cannabinoids are highly rare.
Also in CBD’s favor is its half-life, which sits in the Goldilocks zone of around one full day (specifically, less than 12 hours for most dogs, and a little over 24 hours for most humans). A half-life of this duration means that dosages from the previous day shouldn’t negatively interact with the current day’s dose, adding to user confidence.
Finally, CBD is one of the many non-psychoactive cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant, meaning that—when property isolated—CBD should have zero intoxicating effect. While CBD’s ability to reduce anxiety and inflammation is likely to induce a sense of relaxation, this certainly isn’t the psychedelic high most associate with weed. In fact, most CBD products for pets are produced from the hemp plant, not the marijuana plant, which means there’s a minimal presence of the high-causing cannabinoid, THC, to begin with.
Possible side effects
Nevertheless, more minor side effects have been reported by some people and dogs. It’s not exactly clear why some experience these negative effects and others don’t, but researchers believe it may be down to a combination of high (or prolonged) dosage, genetic disposition, and CBD that has a low purity or is poorly produced.
If your dog does experience CBD side effects, they are likely to include:
Side effects of CBD alternatives
Many owners turn to CBD because they’re unsatisfied with pharmaceutical medications prescribed by vets. Others are looking to recreate the benefits of drugs such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) which are often unsafe for dogs to take.
Because of this, it’s important to weigh the possible side effects of CBD against any risks and symptoms associated with dogs and other courses of drugs. Let’s take a look at some of the most common canine side effects reported with these CBD alternatives: