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Study shows CBD is effective at reducing stress in dogs

CBD was effective at reducing stress caused by car travel or being left alone.



There is a growing body of evidence around the safety and efficacy of CBD for dogs. 

Results from a new study show that a single oral dose of CBD can significantly reduce stress in dogs, caused by car travel or being left alone. 

The study, carried out by Waltham Petcare Science Institute in the UK, aimed to understand the impact of a separation event and car travel on canine stress and establish if CBD could help. 

The results, published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science, shows a single oral dose (4mg per kg of body weight) of THC-free, broad spectrum cannabidiol (CBD) can ‘significantly relieve’ multiple measures of dogs’ stress caused by car travel or being left alone. 

The blinded, randomised, placebo-controlled study looked at how CBD impacted the experience of 20 dogs in two commonplace activities that were anticipated to cause stress – car journeys and being left alone. 

Researchers collected a range of physiological (including blood levels of cortisol, ear temperature, heart rate) and behavioural measures (e.g. whining, trembling, panting) at different times during the study. 

There were significant changes in several stress-related measures, with the car journey eliciting a more pronounced stress response.  

Dogs then received either a placebo or CBD capsule and two hours after administration, were exposed to either the separation event or car travel. 

Researchers found multiple measures of the dogs’ stress improved following administration of CBD. Specifically, dogs treated with CBD were scored as significantly less ‘sad’ , had significantly lower cortisol levels, exhibited less whining and were in a more relaxed emotional state overall than dogs that received a placebo.

READ MORE: The pets who are barking mad for CBD


Growing evidence for CBD in dogs

This adds to a growing body of evidence around the safety and efficacy of CBD for dogs.  Another recent study from Waltham Petcare Science Institute, which is part of Mars Petcare, showed a once-daily oral dose of CBD over a six-month period to be safe for healthy adult dogs. 

Dr Jennifer Welser, chief medical officer of Mars Veterinary Health, commented: “We know pet owners try various approaches – from training to medications and supplements – to help their dogs cope with stressful situations often with mixed results.

“We’re focused on scientific inquiry that generates knowledge that can inform pet professionals’ and pet owners’ decisions. So, this study is important because it gives us new evidence that CBD at the dose studied can be beneficial for dogs in specific circumstances.” 

Other studies have shown that CBD may have promise in dogs suffering with pain and inflammation as a result of arthritis.

What does the law say about CBD and pets?

In the UK, CBD products are not authorised for veterinary use. Since 2018, they have been classed as veterinary medicines by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), meaning they require market authorisation before they can be sold or supplied in the UK.

However, according to the VMD, a vet may prescribe a legally obtained human CBD product “under the provisions of the prescribing cascade”.

Giving your pet an unauthorised product containing CBD obtained without a veterinary prescription is an offence and could result in up to two years imprisonment.

In a blog post, published in June 2022, the VMD says: “If you are thinking of trying CBD oil and your vet considers that a human CBD product could be an appropriate treatment for your pet, they can advise on the specific product to buy and how to do so legally, as well as the correct dosage specific to the type and size of the animal. They will  also evaluate and highlight any special precautions or potential adverse events for you to consider before going ahead with the treatment.”

In the European Union, CBD use as an ingredient or an additive in pet food is still under review by the regulatory authorities and not yet approved. 

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Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister titles, Cannabis Wealth and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag


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