Something that’s not often discussed is whether CBD for dogs is a sedative. Many owners hope that CBD oil will help to calm their dog or soothe anxiety, but most don’t want their pup to become sleepy or dopey because they took a natural supplement.
To find out if CBD’s calming properties are caused by a sedating effect, a team of researchers from the University of Kentucky gave a group of dogs daily CBD treats, then monitored their behavior and activity levels over two weeks.
In this post, we’ll cover the study and its results to find out if CBD has any sedating side effects.
Study Summary & Results
Researchers from the Department of Animal and Food Sciences at the University of Kentucky published a study in Frontiers in Veterinary Science, testing the effect of daily CBD treats on dogs’ voluntary activity levels.
They gave 24 young dogs of various breeds up to 5 mg/kg of CBD per day. Using Smart Collars, the researchers monitored the dogs’ activity levels during daily “quiet time,” when the dogs had no contact with people or other stimuli.
Based on activity tracking data, the researchers found that dogs taking CBD didn’t show any differences in total daily activity or activity duration. However, dogs on the higher doses of CBD did scratch less and were less active during the evenings.
The study concluded that CBD doesn’t change dogs’ activity levels, but may make them less anxious and itchy.
More about the dogs and what CBD was used
Researchers chose 30 dogs of different breeds aged between nine months and four years old from a nearby shelter. They were assessed for health and behavioral issues by the veterinary team, then whittled down to 24 dogs for the final study.
The dogs were divided into three groups. Each group was given two treats per day, for a period of 14 days. One group’s treats contained a low dose of CBD, another a high dose, and a third were given placebo treats with no CBD.
The CBD used in the study was a full-spectrum hemp extract. “Full-spectrum” is the term used for unprocessed, whole-plant CBD – where all the anti-inflammatory compounds from the original hemp plant are preserved in the final CBD product.
That means lots of CBD, plus secondary cannabinoids like CBC and CBG, as well as anti-oxidant micro compounds called terpenes and flavonoids.
All of the top recommended CBD oils for dogs in our 2023 list contain full-spectrum hemp extracts.
Dogs in the low-dose group got an average total daily CBD dose of 1.8 mg/kg, while those in the high-dose group were given an average of 4.5 mg/kg.
What did the study find?
Each day, all the dogs in the study had two periods of “quiet time” as part of their regular routine.
During quiet hours, no people were allowed to enter the kennels, and dogs were either left in a quiet kennel, or alone with music playing over speakers.
The researchers used these quiet periods to learn how CBD affects dogs’ activity levels when they are not being distracted or asked to do things by the kennel staff.
Using activity-tracking collars, the researchers collected biometric activity data on the dogs (things like total activity, activity duration, rest, sleep, walking, scratching, etc.).
The dogs also wore the collars for 14 days before any dogs started taking CBD so that researchers knew the typical activity levels of each animal.
So, did CBD make the dogs less active?
Based on activity data throughout the study, “CBD did not alter [dogs’] total activity points, activity duration, resting, running, walking, head shaking, or sleep quality.”
For both the low and high-dose CBD groups, dogs didn’t show any changes to their exercise levels, leading the researchers to conclude that daily CBD supplementation at moderate doses does not sedate dogs.
One interesting finding from the data of this study is that dogs who were taking CBD scratched themselves less. This could indicate that CBD reduces general inflammation, itchiness, or anxiety.
“These results may suggest a potential for CBD to be beneficial in the treatment of skin conditions and pruritic behaviors in dogs.”
Finally, here’s something worth noting: a few older studies made on CBD and lab animals have shown a sedating effect, which could lead some people to question these results.
However, the animals in those experiments were given extremely high doses of CBD – far beyond our recommendations or the amount used in this modern-day study.
CBD & Sedation: key points
CBD doesn’t affect how alert or active dogs are.
But for high-energy dogs showing anxious behaviors like pacing, CBD can make them calmer. That may lead to decreases in movement.
CBD is also an anti-inflammatory that can reduce discomfort and itchiness. That might mean dogs scratch less and are able to sit still for longer periods.