Health Benefits

What Are the Potential Side Effects of CBD Use in Pets?

September 30, 2019 2 min read

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As with any product that may have positive impacts on your pet’s health, CBD may also produce some side effects. Your pet can’t tell you when they are experiencing a side effect, so knowing what to look for is important. It is also important to keep in mind that when it comes to side effects, not all animals and products are created equal and side effects may vary across animals and across CBD products. 

More rigorous scientific trials are necessary to completely understand what side effects may occur with CBD use, but so far side effects appear to be minimal. 

In the clinical studies to date, researchers have reported an elevation in plasma levels of liver enzymes, namely alkaline phosphatase (ALP).1 2 3 These elevations were associated with CBD containing products that included a variety of other ingredients. It is unknown if the reaction was a side effect of the CBD or as a result of the presence of these other ingredients and/or their interaction with CBD. Further exploration and research are needed to better understand CBD’s effects on liver enzymes.  

Additionally, a 2018 report stated the top two side effects from CBD use in pets such as dogs to be lethargy (fatigue) and ataxia (impaired coordination). The report noted this was likely due to effects of traces of THC in the CBD-containing products.4 This reiterates the need to fully understand what is in a product before considering its administration. 

What pet owners are reporting 

Although stringent scientific trials are still needed, it’s interesting to look at studies assessing what pet owners are saying about cannabinoid use. 

A 2016 study conducted by Colorado State University surveyed 632 pet owners on their use and perceptions of hemp products for pets. Of those who used hemp for their dogs, the most common reported side effect was sedation (drowsiness/sleep).5

While this anecdotal evidence shows minimal side effects, it cannot replace the data that comes from clinical research and a science-based approach. 

Are there any risks?

The safety and risks of CBD use in pets are still being researched and more information is necessary. The existing evidence, derived from dogs, suggests a well-tolerated response to CBD. 

Nevertheless, always check with your veterinarian before administering any CBD-containing product to your pet. This is especially important to monitor your pet’s health over time, including levels of liver enzymes.

While early research appears positive, larger scale trials have not been conducted to know what long-term side effects may exist. Canopy Animal Health is leading the research effort and continuing groundbreaking studies to gain the knowledge needed to better understand the long-term safety profile of CBD. The well-being of your pet is our priority. We will update this site as more data is published.


1 McGrath S, Bartner LR, Rao S, et al (2018) A Report of Adverse Effects Associated With the Administration of Cannabidiol in Healthy Dogs. Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. 52:34–38.
2 Gamble L-J, Boesch JM, Frye CW, Schwark WS, Mann S, Wolfe L, Brown H, Berthelsen ES and Wakshlag JJ (2018) Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs. Front. Vet. Sci. 5:165. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2018.00165
3 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. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 2019; 254 (11): 1301 DOI: 10.2460/javma.254.11.1301
4 Brutlag A, Hommerding H. Toxicology of Marijuana, Synthetic Cannabinoids, and Cannabidiol in Dogs and Cats, Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice, 2018; 48 (6): 1087-1102
5 Kogan LR, Hellyer PW, Robinson NG (2016) Consumers’ Perceptions of Hemp Products for Animals. Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. 42:40–48.