CBD on Canine Anxiety: Miracle Cure or Does Real Science Tell US Otherwise?

CBD Dog Anxiety

By Will Bangura, M.S., CDBC, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, FFCP (Dog Behaviorist) Certified Dog Behavior Consultant.


CALM DOGS Dog Anxiety Calming Aid only has ingredients that are statistically significant at reducing anxiety and ingredients that can pass the test of non-biased, peer-reviewed science and research. Despite all the hype about CDB, to date, there are no non-biased, peer-reviewed scientific research studies that show CBD has any anti-anxiety effects on dogs. In fact, so far, the peer-reviewed research has shown little to no anti-anxiety effects on dogs with anxiety.  Below you will read some of the latest research on CBD and dog anxiety.

In the world of pet care, few topics are as hotly debated as the use of CBD (cannabidiol) for treating anxiety in dogs. While anecdotal evidence and preliminary research suggest potential benefits, there’s a lack of peer-reviewed, non-biased research that conclusively proves the efficacy of CBD for canine anxiety.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants. Its popularity has skyrocketed in recent years, with pet owners across the globe turning to CBD-infused products in hopes of treating various ailments in their dogs, including anxiety.

However, the real question is: Does CBD truly work to alleviate anxiety in dogs? The answer is far from straightforward due to the limited scientific research in this area. While a few studies have shown potential promise, the majority of research conducted so far is either inconclusive or suggests the need for additional studies to understand the effects of CBD on canine anxiety fully.

It’s essential to remember that the efficacy and safety of a product, particularly one used to treat a medical condition, should be backed by strong scientific evidence. Unfortunately, CBD for canine anxiety lacks this necessary benchmark.

Anecdotal evidence or testimonials, while valuable, should not be used as the primary basis for treating serious conditions like anxiety. The individual responses to CBD can vary greatly between dogs, and what works for one may not work for another. Moreover, without rigorous testing, it’s impossible to standardize dosages, which can lead to potential side effects or, at worst, toxicities.

In the case of products like CALM DOGS Dog Anxiety Calming Aid Supplement, the focus is on utilizing natural ingredients with proven safety profiles and recognized benefits for treating anxiety in dogs. These products choose to base their formulations on existing, reputable scientific research and the known safety of their ingredients.

  1. A review article by Lee et al. (2017) discusses the effects of CBD on emotional processing and memory. The authors acknowledge that while CBD shows potential in preclinical models of anxiety, the evidence from human studies is less consistent, with some studies not observing significant anxiolytic effects [1].
  2. A study conducted by Das et al. (2013) investigated the effects of CBD on fear extinction learning in human participants. The findings suggest that while CBD did not directly affect anxiety levels, it enhanced the consolidation of fear extinction memory [2].

To access these studies, you can search for the following references:

[1] Lee JLC, Bertoglio LJ, Guimarães FS, Stevenson CW. Cannabidiol regulation of emotion and emotional memory processing: relevance for treating anxiety-related and substance abuse disorders. Br J Pharmacol. 2017;174(19):3242-3256. doi:10.1111/bph.13724.

[2] Das RK, Kamboj SK, Ramadas M, et al. Cannabidiol enhances the consolidation of explicit fear of extinction in humans. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2013;226(4):781-792. doi:10.1007/s00213-012-2955-y.

  1. A study conducted by Linares et al. (2018) investigated the acute effects of CBD on the sleep-wake cycle in healthy subjects. The study found no significant results of CBD on the sleep-wake cycle, suggesting a limited impact on anxiety-related sleep disturbances [1].
  2. In a study by Rock et al. (2012), which primarily focused on the anti-nausea effects of CBD, it was observed that CBD’s anxiolytic effects were not mediated by direct activation of the 5-HT1A receptor, indicating potentially limited impact on anxiety [2].
  3. Boggs et al. (2018) conducted a randomized placebo-controlled trial to examine the effects of CBD on cognition and symptoms in patients with chronic schizophrenia. Although focusing on schizophrenia symptoms, the study found no significant differences in anxiety symptoms between the CBD and placebo groups, suggesting a limited impact on anxiety [3].

Please note that to access the accurate and verified studies, it is recommended to search for the following references:

[1] Linares IM, Guimaraes FS, Eckeli A, et al. No acute effects of cannabidiol on the sleep-wake cycle of healthy subjects: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. Front Pharmacol. 2018;9:315. doi:10.3389/fphar.2018.00315.

[2] Rock EM, Bolognini D, Limebeer CL, et al. Cannabidiol, a non-psychotropic component of cannabis, attenuates vomiting and nausea-like behaviour via indirect agonism of 5-HT1A somatodendritic autoreceptors in the dorsal raphe nucleus. Br J Pharmacol. 2012;165(8):2620-2634. doi:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01621.x.

[3] Boggs DL, Surti T, Gupta A, et al. The effects of cannabidiol (CBD) on cognition and symptoms in outpatients with chronic schizophrenia: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2018;235(7):1923-1932. doi:10.1007/s00213-018-4885-9.

FROM December 29, 2020

Don Vaughan


Firstline January/February 2021, Volume 17, Issue 1

Although clients are increasingly turning to CBD for themselves and their pets, the legality of CBD can be confusing for veterinary team members, many of whom may avoid discussing CBD with clients out of fear. But there’s good news: In 2018, the US Department of Agriculture declared hemp—which contains a THC concentration of less than 0.3% by dry weight—to be legal. “The federal government decriminalized hemp and legalized the CBD molecule as long as it is derived from a particular plant, but it also gave states individual power to regulate it as they see fit,” Cital reports. “To my knowledge, there are only a handful of states that don’t allow CBD use, even if it’s derived from legal hemp.”

Cital says veterinary team members shouldn’t feel nervous about discussing CBD with interested clients, even in states where CBD is illegal, because such conversations fall under harm reduction. “People keep saying I can’t even use the word CBD in my clinic, which is not true,” he states. “I would actually say [not discussing CBD] goes against the oath they took as veterinarians or technicians to do no harm because you are not informing the client about safety and efficacy. It’s all about education.”

However, Cital encourages practices to avoid words such as prescribing or dispensing. “Those are words specific to FDA-approved medications or devices and many state pharmacy acts,” he explains. “Because hemp is in a weird gray area as an animal supplement, it does not require FDA approval, just like you don’t need FDA approval for glucosamine/chondroitin. As long as these products are not making medical claims on their packaging or in their advertisements, they are considered an animal supplement and are legal.”

When it comes to client education, McGrath suggests focusing on the potential adverse effects and drug interactions. “CBD is likely not safe for every animal at every dose,” she says. “We are still learning a lot about this drug, but we do know there are some precautions that should be taken. And pet owners should know to the best of their ability what product they are purchasing. There are a lot of concerning products on the internet and on store shelves whose claims may not be founded. Therefore, researching a company and its products is imperative.”

CBD is available in various forms, with liquid being the most common, Cital says. CBD-infused dog chews are also popular. Like McGrath, Cital encourages veterinary professionals and clients to make sure they are using a quality product. “I do not support companies that refuse to offer a certificate of analysis,” he says. “We tested nearly 30 veterinary products and found some with no CBD at all. Others also had high levels of lead and arsenic.”6

With thousands of members, the Veterinary Cannabinoid Academy is a good source of information on the veterinary use of CBD and other cannabis compounds. It offers a variety of resources for office educators. In addition, Springer Nature is in the production phase of a textbook that summarizes current studies on CBD, along with additional information. It will be available in both e-book and print editions.

In conclusion, while CBD might hold potential in the realm of canine anxiety, there is a clear need for further unbiased, peer-reviewed research to determine its efficacy and safety substantively. Until then, pet owners are advised to rely on scientifically-backed solutions and consult with their veterinarians for the best course of action to manage their pets’ anxiety.


  1. Wuest P. Poll: Are you being asked about CBD products in your practice? Today’s Veterinary Nurse. Accessed December 15, 2020. https://todaysveterinarynurse.com/articles/poll-are-you-being-asked-about-cbd–products-in-your-practice/
  2. Verrico C, Wesson S, Konduri V, et al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of daily cannabidiol for the treatment of canine osteoarthritis pain. Pain.2020;161(9):2191-2202. doi:10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001896
  3. Gamble LJ, Boesch JM, Frye CW, et al. Pharmacokinetics, safety, and clinical efficacy of cannabidiol treatment in osteoarthritic dogs. Front Vet Sci.2018;5:165. doi:10.3389/fvets.2018.00165
  4. McGrath S, Bartner LR, Rao S, Packer RA, Gustafson DL. Randomized blinded controlled clinical trial to assess the effect of oral cannabidiol administration in addition to conventional antiepileptic treatment on seizure frequency in dogs with intractable idiopathic epilepsy.J Am Vet Med Assoc.2019;254(11):1301-1308. doi:10.2460/javma.254.11.1301
  5. Morris EM, Kitts-Morgan SE, Spangler DM, McLeod KR, Costa JHC, Harmon DL. The impact of feeding cannabidiol (CBD) containing treats on canine response to a noise-induced fear response test. Front Vet Sci.2020;7:569565. doi:10.3389/fvets.2020.569565
  6. Wakshlag JJ, Cital S, Eaton SJ, Prussin R, Hudalla C. Cannabinoid, terpene, and heavy metal analysis of 29 over-the-counter commercial veterinary hemp supplements. Vet Med (Auckl). 2020;11:45-55. doi:10.2147/VMRR.S248712

One notable study published in the journal Molecules in 2019 examined the hepatotoxicity (liver toxicity) of CBD in mice. The study found that high doses of CBD administered orally resulted in liver damage and increased liver enzymes in the mice. It is worth noting that the study used very high doses relative to typical human or animal CBD usage.

Additionally, a study published in the journal Pharmacology & Pharmacy in 2011 found that CBD could potentially interact with other medications metabolized by the liver’s cytochrome P450 enzymes, potentially leading to adverse effects.