Study: CBD effective at reducing stress responses in dogs

By Danielle Masterson

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images / AMR Image
Getty Images / AMR Image

Related tags Cbd pet health stress management mood support

While many humans rely on CBD for stress and mood support, the effect it has on canines is not as well-documented. Now, scientists have research that shows how a single dose of CBD could benefit healthy dogs in two stress-inducing scenarios while deepening our understanding of CBD for dogs.

A new study conducted by the Waltham Petcare Science Institute, (part of Mars Petcare, which does not manufacture or sell CBD products) found that a single oral dose (4 mg/kg of body weight) of CBD can relieve multiple measures of dogs' stress when it comes to car rides or being left alone.

The study, published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science​ and funded by Mars Petcare, aimed to understand the impact of canine stress and establish whether a single dose of THC-free, broad-spectrum CBD distillate could positively influence any measures of stress.

Study details

In this randomized, placebo-controlled, blinded six-month study, a population of dogs were either left alone in a familiar room (n = 21) or underwent a short car ride (n = 19). A range of physiological and behavioral measures were collected pre, during and post-test. Significant changes in several stress-related measures (serum cortisol, mean ear temperature, heart rate, heart rate variability, whining and a stressed/anxious behavioral factor) were observed from baseline to test, with the car ride test paradigm eliciting a more pronounced stress response overall. The mitigating effect of CBD treatment varied by measure and test, with some indicating a significant reduction in canine stress compared to the placebo group.


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

The study determined that the CBD distillate administered does influence some behavioral and physiological parameters in dogs following exposure to the two different stress-inducing events.

During car rides, CBD-treated dogs were scored as significantly less “sad,” and also had a smaller decrease in “relaxed” ratings from baseline to test when compared to the placebo-treated dogs. Dogs that received the CBD treatment also had significantly lower serum cortisol concentrations than dogs that received a placebo.

The authors explained that CBD contributes to lowering cortisol levels, possibly by regulation of the HPA axis via inhibition of fatty acid amide hydrolase. In contrast, a modulatory effect was

Dogs who received CBD were rated as being significantly less “stressed,” “sad,” “tense,” and “uncomfortable” and more “explorative” during the separation event than dogs who received the placebo. Consistent with this, dogs who received the CBD also exhibited less whining and sitting behavior and traveled further when they were left alone. Collectively these characteristics are suggestive of a more relaxed emotional state in CBD treated dogs, the authors noted.

"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, DVM, 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."


The researchers said the results suggest that a period of separation and car travel are stressful events for dogs, with car rides eliciting a more pronounced stress response. Further, a single dose of 4 mg/kg of CBD two hours before exposure to these events attenuates some indicators of acute canine stress, which is likely to improve canine emotional wellbeing. Ultimately, the scientists conclude more research is required to better understand the complex effects of CBD  on canine wellbeing as well as the effects of other dosages, formulations and whether cumulative administration improves efficacy.

Source: Frontiers in Veterinary Science
Volume 10 - 2023 |
“A single dose of cannabidiol (CBD) positively influences measures of stress in dogs during separation and car travel”
Authors: A. B. G. Hunt, et al.

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