CBD for Dogs: What To Know Before You Dose

Four Minutes
Dec 19, 2023

Cannabidiol, or CBD, has become more and more popular as a treatment for everything from joint pain to insomnia. But can dogs take CBD? The answer is complicated. Although there’s little evidence suggesting this hemp plant extract is truly dangerous for dogs, there isn’t enough research to firmly state that it’s beneficial, either. The truth is, we just don’t know enough — after all, “dog CBD” is a relatively new treatment.

Is CBD Safe for Dogs?

There have been a number of adverse side effects reported in dogs who take CBD, including:1

  • Restlessness
  • Rapid breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abnormal heart rate
  • Pale mucous membranes (gums, nostrils, etc.)

These are all possible signs of CBD toxicity, which occurs if your dog has ingested too much CBD. Exactly how much is “too much” is difficult to say, as it depends on the size, weight, and metabolism of the dog. There’s also the possibility of an allergic reaction to even a small amount of CBD.

All this uncertainty is why you should always discuss CBD with your vet before giving it to your dog. They may not be able to prescribe anything, since there are currently no FDA-approved CBD products for dogs.2 But at the very least, they should be able to let you know the risks and if your pup is more vulnerable to negative side effects.

CBD Benefits for Dogs

So what exactly are the claims around CBD for dogs? There are several studies, both completed and ongoing, that have looked at the possible benefits of CBD treatment for a variety of conditions in dogs, including:1

  • Anxiety
  • Aggression
  • Joint pain
  • Seizures
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Cancer

Let’s take a look at the results from a few of these studies to see what the evidence suggests.

Pain Relief Doesn’t Have To Cost a Lot

Pet Insurance Can Help

CBD for dog anxiety

One of the most commonly purported CBD benefits for dogs is anxiety reduction. Walk into most pet stores, and you’ll find calming CBD oils and treats on the shelves of the dog section. But is there any science to back up this claim?

According to a study done by the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University, 83% of dogs who were given CBD chews before a stressful event experienced less anxiety during and after the event.3 It seems like strong evidence, but it’s important to remember that this is just one study done with one type of CBD product at one specific dosage. It’s entirely possible the dogs were just happy to get a treat!

CBD for pain in dogs

Another common claim is that CBD can help ease pain in dogs with arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine also took a run at this claim. Their study showed that more than 80% of dogs with osteoarthritis seemed to experience less pain when given 2 to 8 mg doses of CBD oil twice a day.4

CBD for dogs with seizures

A small study at the Colorado State University James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital looked at 16 dogs who had been diagnosed with epilepsy to see what effect, if any, CBD could have. The results were promising: 89% of the dogs who were given CBD (as opposed to a placebo) experienced fewer seizures.5 The study also reported a positive correlation between the amount of CBD concentration in the dogs’ blood and the degree to which their seizures had been reduced. This suggests that more CBD has a stronger mitigating effect. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this study used a small sample size — just 16 dogs. This means the findings might not be representative of the larger epileptic dog population. A second study is planned to begin at the end of December 2024, with a larger sample size that could provide more conclusive information.

Does Pet Insurance Cover CBD for Dogs?

If you do decide to try CBD on your pup, you may experience some sticker shock. It’s not exactly cheap, with prices for some brands reaching nearly $200, depending on the dosage.6 You may be prompted to ask: Will pet insurance cover the cost of dog CBD?

With a dog insurance policy from MetLife Pet, you could be reimbursed for the cost of CBD for your dog if it’s been prescribed by your vet.  The level of coverage can depend on the policy that you select for your pets. Learn more about what we do and don’t cover. Then, fetch a free quote to find out how much pet insurance could help you save in the long run.

Pet Insurance Can Help Cover Pet Injury & Illness Costs


**As with any insurance policy, coverage may vary. Review our coverage and exclusions.


Coverage issued by Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, and Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 11333 N Scottsdale Rd, Ste 160, Scottsdale, AZ 85454. Coverage subject to restrictions, exclusions and limitations and application is subject to underwriting. See policy or contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC (“MetLife Pet”) for details. MetLife Pet is the policy administrator. It may operate under an alternate or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota) and MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois).

[1] “CBD Oil for Dogs: What You Need to Know,” PetMD, 2023

2 “FDA issues warnings over CBD for animals,” American Veterinary Medical Association, 2022

3 “CBD: What you need to know about its uses and efficacy,” Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

4 “Cornell takes the lead in cannabidiol research,” DVM360

5 “CBD Clinical Trial at Colorado State University: Results are ‘Encouraging,’” Colorado State University

6 “Best CBD for Dogs: Our top 7 picks [2023],” Innerbody

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