Can CBD Oil Cause Diarrhea in Dogs

Posted by Lianne McLeod D.V.M. on

Can CBD Oil Cause Diarrhea in Dogs

In the quest to provide optimal care for our canine companions, many pet parents are exploring natural remedies and supplements like hemp oil. Derived from the cannabis plant, CBD has gained popularity for its potential therapeutic benefits, including pain relief, reduced anxiety and inflammation.

However, as with any new treatment, pet owners have valid concerns about possible side effects. One question on many dog lovers' minds is, can hemp oil lead to diarrhea or other digestive issues in their furry friends?

The research on hemp oil use in dogs is still emerging, but some studies and anecdotal reports suggest there could be a link between hemp seed oil and loose stools or diarrhea. This possibility understandably raises alarm for conscientious pet parents aiming to improve their dog's quality of life, not create new health problems. This comprehensive guide aims to provide clarity based on the latest scientific evidence and professional insights.

can cbd oil give dogs diarrhea?

Understanding CBD Oil

To understand whether hemp oil or CBD products could lead to diarrhea in dogs, we first need to define exactly what these terms mean and where they originate from.

What is Hemp Oil and CBD Oil?

Hemp oil and CBD oil are two terms that are sometimes used interchangeably, but they aren't necessarily the same thing.

cbd oil, hemp oil, hemp seed oil for dogs

According to A Double-Blind Prospective Case-Control Study, hemp seed oil typically refers to the nutrient-rich oil pressed from hemp seeds. Hemp oil is extracted from the buds of the hemp plant, typically allowing for more of the active compounds to be present in the product.

On the other hand, the Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids study defines CBD oil as a concentrated solvent extract from cannabis flowers or leaves that is dissolved in an edible oil such as hemp oil.

Safety and Potential Side Effects of Hemp CBD

Hemp Seed Cake as a Novel Ingredient for Dog's Diet study, among other studies, has concluded that hemp oil appears to have a good safety profile for dogs and minimal risk of side effects when used properly. 

safety side effects cbd oil for dogs

However, no medication or supplement is 100% side effect-free. While generally well-tolerated, some potential mild side effects associated with dog CBD oil use in dogs include:

  • Dry mouth

  • Drowsiness or sedation  

  • Low blood pressure

  • Diarrhea

Can CBD Oil Trigger Diarrhea?

A 2019 study states that 3% of dogs will have diarrhea as a side effect due to carrier oils such as coconut oils in CBD-rich hemp Nutraceuticals. Moreover, too much CBD oil increases the likelihood of adverse effects like dog diarrhea.

some carrier oils may cause loose stools for dogs

The comprehensive clinical trial on CBD use in dogs conducted at Colorado State University study notes that diarrhea was not among the effects reported. However, according to another study, side effects like diarrhea occur because of CBD oil overdose. So while quality, hemp-derived CBD has a high safety threshold and few side effects overall, introducing too high of a dosage could potentially disrupt a dog's digestive system.

How Much CBD Oil for Dogs? Dosage Guidelines

One of the most crucial aspects of administering CBD oil to dogs is ensuring the proper dosage amount and CBD treats. Several important factors should be weighed to land on a safe, therapeutic dose tailored to your individual dog's needs.

dosage cbd oil for dogs

Dog's Weight

The most critical factor in determining proper CBD oil dosages for dogs is the animal's weight. Most veterinary guidelines recommend basing doses on a certain amount of CBD per pound or kilogram of body weight. For example, a Pharmacokinetics of CBD in Healthy Dogs study shows that single oral doses of 20 to 64 mg/kg body weight are safe for use in healthy dogs, with no adverse health effects observed.

CBD Oil Potency

It's not just the dog's weight that matters, you also need to account for the specific potency and CBD concentration in the oil product. Most commercial CBD dog treats list the total amount on packaging in mg. According to the Journal of Animal Science study, proper dosing can vary dramatically based on whether the oil contains predominantly CBD, THC, or a combination of both

Condition Severity

The condition to manage or treat with CBD for your dog will impact ideal dosing amounts. According to the Daily dosing of cannabidiol (CBD) demonstrates a positive effect study, more acute, severe conditions like cancer, seizure disorders, or unbearable pain and inflammation typically require higher CBD doses at the maximum end of recommended ranges.  

Individual Factors

Even dogs of the same weight and condition can metabolize and respond to CBD doses differently based on their physiology and health factors. Age, breed, underlying conditions, sensitivities, and potential medication interactions should all be considered.

For example, senior dogs or those with liver or kidney issues may require reduced CBD doses compared to younger, healthier animals. It's wise to start conservatively and make incremental adjustments based on the individual dog's response.

Start Low and Increase Slowly    

Given all these potential variables, Frontiersin's study advice is to always start dogs on a low CBD dose. From there, you can very slowly increment the dose every 5-7 days while closely monitoring for any positive impacts or potential adverse reactions.

This cautious, gradual approach to dosage titration prevents overwhelming your dog's system. It allows you to dial in their ideal lowest effective dose without overshooting into levels that could potentially cause side effects like lethargy or a dog’s diarrhea.  

How to Introduce CBD Oil for Your Dog Safely

Introducing CBD oil to your canine companion can potentially provide relief for various conditions such as increased liver enzymes. However, it's crucial to approach this supplement safely and with proper guidance. By following these steps, you can ensure a smooth transition and maximize the potential benefits for your furry friend.

how to safely give your dog cbd

Consult your Vet

First and foremost, always consult with your veterinarian before incorporating CBD oil into your dog's regimen. Your vet can evaluate your pup's health history, current medications, and provide tailored advice on appropriate dosages and potential interactions. Their expertise is invaluable in navigating this process responsibly.

Select Quality CBD Oil Product

Once you have your vet's approval, the next step is selecting a high-quality CBD oil product specifically formulated for dogs. Look for transparent labeling that clearly outlines the ingredients, CBD potency, and dosage instructions. Third-party testing certification is also a must to ensure purity and potency.

Begin with Smaller Doses

When initially introducing CBD oil, it's essential to start with a low dosage. Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs study recommends beginning with around 2 mg of CBD per kilogram of your dog's body weight every 12 hours. This conservative approach allows your pup's system to gradually adjust to the supplement.

Closely observe your dog's response as you administer these initial low doses of CBD oil. Watch for any changes in behavior, appetite, energy levels, or your dog's bowel movements. If your pup tolerates the CBD well, you can then consider gradually increasing the dosage in consultation with your veterinarian.

Maintain Consistency

Consistency is key when administering CBD oil to your dog. Aim to provide the supplement at the same time each day to maintain stable blood levels and maximize therapeutic effects. Setting reminders or incorporating them into your pup's routine can help ensure compliance.

While CBD is generally safe for dogs, it's still important to remain vigilant for any potential side effects. Digestive issues like canine diarrhea have been reported in some cases, particularly when too much CBD oil is used. If you notice any concerning symptoms, discontinue use immediately and consult your veterinarian right away.

Finally, schedule regular follow-up appointments with your vet to discuss your dog's progress and response to the CBD oil supplement. Your veterinarian can provide professional guidance on whether dosage adjustments are needed or if not, the CBD should be continued long-term.

Alternatives if CBD Causes Diarrhea in Dogs

Even after taking all the proper precautions, using a high-quality CBD oil product, starting with a low dosage, and slowly increasing over time, some dogs may still experience diarrhea or digestive upset when taking CBD supplements

If this is the case for your pup, don't lose hope. You have several options to consider before entirely giving up on CBD's potential therapeutic benefits.

First, Double Check the CBD Dosage

Before trying any alternatives, the first step is to revisit your dog's CBD dosage to ensure you didn't accidentally overdo it. Even a slight overdose could be the root cause of any gastrointestinal issues.

check dosage guidelines

Review the proper weight-based dosing guidelines again. If you've exceeded the maximum recommended amount for your dog's size, immediately reduce the CBD dose until symptoms subside. Then you can attempt to slowly re-introduce it at a lower level.

Try Taking a Break from CBD

If the dosage seems correct yet diarrhea persists, your dog may simply need a temporary break from CBD to allow their system to readjust. For some dogs, a periodic break or "cycle" off of CBD may be all that's needed to reestablish digestive regularity. Their systems just require intermittent rests between consistent CBD use.

Switch to Broad-Spectrum or CBD Isolate

If diarrhea remains an issue even after adjusting the dosage or taking breaks, the next step may be trying a different type of CBD product with fewer extraneous cannabis compounds.

According to the European Journal of Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics, most pet CBD oils on the market are "full-spectrum" formulas, meaning they contain not just CBD but also trace amounts of other cannabinoids, terpenes, and plant compounds from their hemp source.

CBD isolates contain absolutely no other cannabis compounds, while broad-spectrum products have had the THC fully removed but still include some additional minor cannabinoids and terpenes.

By removing as many potential trigger ingredients as possible, these CBD isolate and broad-spectrum options may allow dogs to reap CBD's benefits without digestive distress.

Try Anti-Inflammatory Alternatives to CBD Oil

For some dogs, eliminating all cannabis compounds from their supplements may be required to curb diarrhea and associated stomach upset. In this case, consider non-CBD alternatives that provide similar therapeutic effects.

happy dogs, cbd options for pets

Discontinue Use If Severe Diarrhea Persists

In cases where diarrhea becomes severe, chronic, or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms like vomiting, appetite loss, or lethargy, it's critical to discontinue all CBD use immediately and consult your veterinarian.

Severe, unrelenting diarrhea could signal the dog is having an allergic reaction to CBD compounds. But it could also potentially indicate an underlying gastrointestinal issue like inflammatory bowel disease, bacterial infection, or another condition needing veterinary treatment.

stop using if significant issues persist

Additionally, chronic diarrhea puts dogs at risk of dehydration and nutritional deficiencies that require prompt medical attention. So do not delay - stop CBD use and schedule a vet appointment at the first signs of sustained, worsening diarrhea.

The bottom line is that while high-quality CBD oil is generally very well-tolerated and safe for most dogs, every pup's reaction can be slightly different. With some trial-and-error dosing, breaks, or potential alternatives like fish oil, most dogs can find relief through natural supplements without adverse effects like diarrhea. But be prepared to pivot and enlist your veterinarian's expertise to determine the ideal solution for your individual dog's needs and sensitivities.



1. Bartner, L. R., McGrath, S., Rao, S., Hyatt, L. K., & Wittenburg, L. A. (2018). Pharmacokinetics of cannabidiol administered by 3 delivery methods at 2 different dosages to healthy dogs. Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research, 82(3).

2. Berthold, E. C., Kamble, S. H., Kanumuri, S. R. R., Kuntz, M. A., Senetra, A. S., Chiang, Y. H., McMahon, L. R., McCurdy, C. R., & Sharma, A. (2023). Comparative Pharmacokinetics of Commercially Available Cannabidiol Isolate, Broad-Spectrum, and Full-Spectrum Products. European Journal of Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics, 48(4).

3. Farì, G., Megna, M., Scacco, S., Ranieri, M., Raele, M. V., Chiaia Noya, E., Macchiarola, D., Bianchi, F. P., Carati, D., Panico, S., di Campi, E., Gnoni, A., Scacco, V., Inchingolo, A. D., Qorri, E., Scarano, A., & Rapone, B. (2023). Hemp Seed Oil in Association with β-Caryophyllene, Myrcene and Ginger Extract as a Nutraceutical Integration in Knee Osteoarthritis: A Double-Blind Prospective Case-Control Study. Medicina (Lithuania), 59(2).

4. Flint, H. E., Hunt, A. B. G., Logan, D. W., & King, T. (2024). Daily dosing of cannabidiol (CBD) demonstrates a positive effect on measures of stress in dogs during repeated exposure to car travel. Journal of Animal Science, 102.

5. Gamble, L. J., Boesch, J. M., Frye, C. W., Schwark, W. S., Mann, S., Wolfe, L., Brown, H., Berthelsen, E. S., & Wakshlag, J. J. (2018). Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 5. 

6. Hazekamp, A. (2018). The Trouble with CBD Oil. In Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids (Vol. 1, Issue 1).

7. McGrath, S., Bartner, L. R., Rao, S., Packer, R. A., & Gustafson, D. L. (2019). 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, 254(11).

8. Vastolo, A., Iliano, S., Laperuta, F., Pennacchio, S., Pompameo, M., & Cutrignelli, M. I. (2021). Hemp Seed Cake as a Novel Ingredient for Dog’s Diet. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 8.

9. Vaughn, D., Kulpa, J., & Paulionis, L. (2020). Preliminary Investigation of the Safety of Escalating Cannabinoid Doses in Healthy Dogs. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 7.

10. Corsato Alvarenga, I., Wilson, K. M., & McGrath, S. (2024). Tolerability of long-term cannabidiol supplementation to healthy adult dogs. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 38(1).

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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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