CBD helps reduce stress anxiety in dogs

Welfare and Behaviour

New study shows cannabidiol (CBD) is effective at reducing stress in dogs

A new study, published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science, shows that a single oral dose (4 mgs per kg of body weight) of THC-free CBD can significantly relieve multiple measures of dogs’ stress caused by car travel or being left alone. This study, along with a recent study supporting the safety of CBD for longer-term use in healthy dogs, adds to a growing body of research focused on the safety and efficacy of CBD in companion animals.  

In this randomised, placebo-controlled, blinded study, scientists at Waltham looked at how CBD impacted the experience of 20 dogs in two common activities expected to cause stress - car journeys and being left alone. They collected several physiological (e.g., 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 (~4mg/kg bodyweight) 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 to dogs that received a placebo.

“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,” said Dr. Jennifer Welser, Chief Medical Officer of Mars Veterinary Health. “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.”

Mars does not manufacture or sell products with CBD. Currently, CBD is mostly available as an unregulated supplement. In the UK, new CBD food, drink, or supplement products require an approved Novel Food application to enter the market. CBD products are regulated in many US states. 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. 

We care deeply about furthering scientific knowledge in service of our Purpose: A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS. Currently, global regulatory bodies, such as the FDA and EFSA, don’t support the use of CBD-containing products in pets due to lack of robust safety and efficacy data. That’s why, through a series of rigorous, ethical and high-quality research with cats and dogs, we’re investigating the safety and efficacy of CBD. Our aim is to contribute to a growing body of scientific evidence, lay a foundation for customers to demand science-backed products, and arm our veterinarians with the science they need to help pet owners make the right choices for their pets.