Can Dogs Be Allergic to CBD?

Posted by Lianne McLeod D.V.M. on

Can Dogs Be Allergic to CBD?

In this modern age, pet parents are on a continual quest to uncover the most nourishing and wholesome paths for their furry family members. Among the latest discoveries capturing attention are the myriad options derived from hemp. 

From nutrient-dense seed oils to therapeutic CBD and broad-spectrum hemp oil extracts, these offerings from the cannabis plant promise an array of potential advantages. However, one question frequently arises: could our canine companions develop allergies to hemp plant products?

can dogs be allergic to hemp

This in-depth guide provides the insights needed to navigate the world of hemp and hemp oil with confidence.

Understanding Dog Allergies

Allergies in dogs happen when their body's defense system overreacts to harmless things, causing uncomfortable issues. Understanding the different types of allergies, their symptoms, and how they're identified can help you better care for your pup's overall health.

dog allergies


Different types of allergies include:

Environmental Allergies (Atopic Dermatitis)

These are caused by airborne allergens like pollen, mold, dust, and dander. Lots of dogs suffer from environmental allergies, leading to ongoing skin conditions and difficulty breathing.

Food Allergies

Just like humans, some dogs react badly to particular ingredients in their food. Top triggers include proteins from chicken, beef, dairy, and grains. These allergies often show up as skin irritation, digestive problems, or both.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD)

Some pups have a severe reaction to flea saliva that causes inflammation and itching known as flea allergy dermatitis. Even one flea bite can set off intense itchiness, redness, and hot spots.

Contact Allergies

Certain things that touch a dog's skin, like cleaners, lawn chemicals, and particular fabrics, can spark an allergic reaction with irritation, rashes, or hives.

Signs of an Allergic Reaction in Dogs

Allergy symptoms can differ based on the type and the dog, but some common signs to watch out for are:

  • Skin Irritation: Itching, redness, rashes, or hives can spell trouble on the outer pup exterior. If excessive licking or hot spots start to flare, it may indicate an intolerance.

  • Digestive Issues: Vomiting, diarrhea or tummy pains could be your pup's internal organs objecting to something they've ingested. Never ignore an unhappy gut.

  • Respiratory Problems: Wheezing, coughing fits or labored breathing are barking signals of asthma or allergies.

  • Facial Swelling: Swelling around the face, lips, or puffy eyes requires extra urgency. This face flare-up could point towards an extreme allergic episode.

  • Lethargy and Loss of Appetite: If your normally high-energy hound starts displaying low energy with disinterest in even their favorite treats, it may stem from an allergic response.

types of allergies in dogs

The more you understand the types of allergies, their symptoms, and how they're diagnosed, the better you can advocate for your furry pals' health. Working closely with the vet is key to finding the most effective allergy treatment plan.

Understanding Hemp and Its Derivatives

Before exploring the benefits of adding hemp oil or other hemp products to your dog food, we must dispel a common myth. While hemp and marijuana both originate from the cannabis plant family, they possess different chemical makeups. Understanding this distinction is key.

hemp oil for dogs, possibilities!

Unlike its high-inducing cousin marijuana, hemp contains only trace amounts of THC, the compound responsible for psychoactive effects. This means hemp-derived products like nutrient-rich hemp oil, therapeutic CBD extracts, and full-spectrum hemp oils cannot get your furry friend "high" or intoxicated when properly sourced and administered.

With the record set straight, you can fully appreciate hemp's amazing natural upside for your four-legged pals. No paranoid pupper moments here, just plant-based goodness and unconditional adoration between pet and parent.

Potential Allergens in Hemp Products

While hemp itself proves an exceptionally pup-friendly botanical, some ingredients commonly found in certain hemp products may trigger adverse reactions in your canine companions. Knowledge is power, so let's shine a light on these possible troublemakers:

hemp plant oil being dropped

1. Contaminants: 

From moldy batches to pesticide-laced plants, unsavory contaminants can sometimes be found in poorly manufactured hemp goods. These unwanted guests pose a risk of allergic responses like itchy skin, tummy troubles, breathing issues, and more.

2. Carrier Oils:

To deliver hemp's star components like CBD, many products use oils like coconut, olive, or medium-chain triglyceride (MCT). While generally safe, some pups may have sensitivities to these plant-based carriers.

3. Additional Ingredients: 

From flavors to preservatives, certain hemp supplements contain extra ingredients beyond just the cold-pressed, organic hemp seed oil extracts. Any of these additive outliers could trigger reactions in dogs with specific intolerances.

Can Dogs Be Allergic to Hemp?

From hemp seed oil and CBD oil to full-spectrum hemp oil, these cannabis plant derivatives are packed with healthy fats that may reduce inflammation, calm anxiety, promote nice skin and coat health. But you may still be wondering: Can my dog develop allergies to hemp products?

hemp products

The Latest Research Offers Answers

While scientists are still learning about how hemp affects dogs, early studies have some encouraging findings on the allergy question. The evidence so far shows that plain hemp itself likely doesn't cause major allergy problems for most dogs when it's sourced properly and given in the right amounts.

For example, a 2019 study looked at dogs taking hemp products with CBD over 12 weeks. The results were quite positive. Not only did the dogs show no bad reactions to the hemp, but many pet owners reported their pups had improvements like:

  • Less pain and better movement for arthritic dogs

  • Fewer seizures for epileptic dogs

  • Calmer behavior for anxious or hyper dogs

More research confirms that organic, pure hemp products such as organic hemp oil tend to be safe and well-tolerated by dogs when they're eased into the right dosage. A key reason hemp poses less concern than marijuana is its low amounts of THC.

How to Deal with Hemp Allergies in Dogs

You hoped adding hemp products like hemp oil or CBD treats would bring amazing benefits to your beloved fur baby's health and happiness. Instead, your pup seems to be experiencing some concerning issues after incorporating hemp oil into its diet and routine.  

Maybe they've developed persistent paw licking, skin rashes, or tummy troubles that simply won't quit. Or perhaps troubling respiratory symptoms like coughing and wheezing have you feeling worried.

dog's ear being checked for allergic reaction

Whatever the signs, one possibility is clear, your precious pooch may be part of that small percent of dogs with sensitivities to hemp. But don't fret. As a dedicated pet parent, follow the steps below to help your allergic pup feel like their playful, thriving self again.

Step 1: Spotting the Red Flag Reactions

The first step in overcoming any allergy is to clearly identify what's actually triggering those reactions. While hemp is often celebrated as a natural, low-risk supplement for most dogs, its unique compounds can sometimes dysregulate a pup's internal systems.

Be vigilant about excessive:

  • Itchy Skin/Hot Spots 

  • Gastrointestinal Upset (Vomiting, Diarrhea, Gas)

  • Respiratory Issues (Coughing, Wheezing, Nasal Congestion)

  • Abnormal Fatigue or Low Energy

  • Unusual Loss of Appetite

If these concerning symptoms tend to flare up shortly after administering hemp products or occur more frequently with continued use. It's wise to consult your veterinarian right away for professional guidance.

Step 2: Allergy Testing for Confirmation

Once you've raised your suspicions, your vet can perform specialized allergy testing to determine if hemp is indeed the culprit behind your pup's woes. This important diagnostic step rules out any other potential allergens or underlying conditions first.

testing allergies

Common testing options include:

  • Skin Prick/Patch Tests: Introducing minuscule hemp allergen samples allows your vet to evaluate your dog's skin reaction.

  • Blood Tests: Precisely measures antibody levels to identify the presence and severity of hemp allergies. 

  • Dog's Food Trials: Systematically removing hemp from your dog's diet to see if symptoms clear can confirm hemp's role.

Getting clear confirmation of hemp's effects on your pup allows you and your vet to map out the most effective care plan.

Step 3: Exploring Alternative Treatments 

So, your dog's allergy tests came back positive for hemp, now what? Don't despair, because numerous treatment pathways exist to restore your canine's health and comfort.

Your veterinary team may recommend one or more of the following restorative measures:

  • Immunotherapy: Gradually exposing your pup to minuscule, controlled hemp allergen doses can desensitize their system over time.

  • Antihistamines: These familiar over-the-counter meds can provide relief for mild-to-moderate hemp allergy symptoms.

  • Prescription Meds: Stronger corticosteroids or immunosuppressive drugs may be needed for severe allergy cases.  

  • Alternative Therapies: Many holistic practices like acupuncture, natural anti-inflammatory supplements, and therapy dog massages can alleviate allergy effects.

Don't lose hope. With some patience and adjustments, your veterinary dream team can create a plan to reduce your pup's reactivity to hemp allergens.

different treatments for dogs with allergies

Step 4: Eliminating Hemp Exposure

Of course, the most straightforward solution for clearing up your dog's hemp allergies is simply removing all hemp-based products and potential exposures from their environment and diet. Be meticulous about checking ingredient lists, as hemp can be found in many pet treats and skin-care products.

hemp oil being dropped from a dropper

To prevent any cross-contamination risks, it's wise to thoroughly clean your dog's living spaces, fabric bedding, grooming tools, and any surfaces where hemp residues or oil could linger.  Vacuum frequently and use pup-safe, unscented detergents for the deepest purge.

Going forward, opt for entirely hemp-free foods, supplements, and topicals; anything your dog ingests or has direct skin contact with. Your vet can also recommend safe, hypoallergenic alternatives.

Step 5: Minimizing Future Allergen Risks

Prevention forms the final frontier of ensuring your furry friend remains allergy-free and thriving. Alongside scrupulously avoiding any potential hemp exposures, you'll want to be proactive in:

person and dog with allergies
  • Scouting Other Allergen Sources: Hemp isn't the only plant that can trigger allergies in pups. Work closely with your vet to thoroughly assess any remaining dietary, environmental, or topical allergens. Elimination trials are key.

  • Boosting Their Immune Defenses: High-quality probiotics, essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and balanced nutrition help regulate your dog's overall immune function.

  • Lowering Overall Inflammation: Anti-inflammatory supplements, remedies, and lifestyle adjustments (exercise, weight control) can prevent allergic flare-ups.  

  • Routine Wellness Checkups: Your veterinary team is your greatest ally in monitoring any developing allergies or related health concerns over time.

While dealing with a hemp allergy brings challenges, staying dedicated to proactive preventative care empowers you to sidestep future allergen encounters. Your canine pal's lasting health and allergy resilience are well worth those consistent efforts.

Future of Hemp Products for Dogs

As you've learned, introducing hemp oil for dogs or other hemp products can provide amazing natural benefits for your canine companion's health and wellness when administered properly. From relieving anxiety and anti-inflammatory properties to supporting healthy skin, coat, and joint conditions, hemp's unique properties pack a serious punch.

dog taking hemp oil

But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Scientists, holistic veterinarians, and innovative pet companies are constantly uncovering new groundbreaking applications of hemp to improve dogs' quality of life. The future promises some serious tail-wagging innovations.

While some dogs may experience allergic reactions to hemp products, this comprehensive guide has provided you with the knowledge to identify potential sensitivities and manage them effectively. With proper precautions like sourcing high-quality hemp products and gradually introducing them, you can safely explore the hemp plant's myriad benefits for your canine companion's overall well-being.


1. Jackson, H. A. (2023). Food allergy in dogs and cats; current perspectives on etiology, diagnosis, and management. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 261.

2. van Hage, M., Käck, U., Asarnoj, A., & Konradsen, J. R. (2023). An update on the prevalence and diagnosis of cat and dog allergy – Emphasizing the role of molecular allergy diagnostics. Molecular Immunology, 157.

3. Šťastník, O., Mrkvicová, E., & Pavlata, L. (2022). Industrial hemp in animal feed applications. In Industrial Hemp: Food and Nutraceutical Applications.

4. Vaughn, D. M., Paulionis, L. J., & Kulpa, J. E. (2021). Randomized, placebo-controlled, 28-day safety and pharmacokinetics evaluation of repeated oral cannabidiol administration in healthy dogs. American Journal of Veterinary Research, 82(5).

5. di Salvo, A., Conti, M. B., & della Rocca, G. (2023). Pharmacokinetics, efficacy, and safety of cannabidiol in dogs: an update of current knowledge. In Frontiers in Veterinary Science (Vol. 10).

6. Tiffany, S., Parr, J. M., Templeman, J., Shoveller, A. K., Manjos, R., Yu, A., & Verbrugghe, A. (2019). Assessment of dog owners’ knowledge relating to the diagnosis and treatment of canine food allergies. Canadian Veterinary Journal, 60(3).

7. Nuttall, T. J., Marsella, R., Rosenbaum, M. R., Gonzales, A. J., & Fadok, V. A. (2019). Update on pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment of atopic dermatitis in dogs. In Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (Vol. 254, Issue 11).

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Lianne McLeod, DVM, is a former writer for The Spruce Pets, contributing articles for 11 years. Before Dr. McLeod began writing about pet care, she worked several years in small animal practice. She has written extensively about the care and keeping of exotic pets and pet health care. She now researches water quality and chronic disease at the University of Saskatchewan. Lianne McLeod earned her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. She also received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Simon Fraser University. She continued her education and received a Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the University of Saskatchewan. Now, she splits her time between her family, research and writing about pet health for all the animal lovers out there.
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