Is CBD Oil Different for Dogs and Humans?

If you’re like a lot of Americans, you’re already using CBD oil to help reduce pain, ease anxiety, get a better night’s sleep, support general health, etc. And because of the relief you’ve enjoyed, you may be tempted to give your dog a few drops of your CBD to help ease joint pain, stress, anxiety, nausea, or other health issues. But wait, is CBD oil different for dogs and humans? Is your CBD safe for your dog and vice versa: is dog CBD oil safe for humans? 

Before making any assumptions and considering CBD for humans and animals interchangeable, it’s important to be aware of the differences in CBD for dogs and humans. 

CBD for Dogs and Humans: The Differences

Whether for humans or animals, CBD products are readily available from numerous brands. And if you have a brand you already trust for yourself or your dog, it may seem logical to share. As long as you’re using a quality hemp CBD oil, the difference in quality shouldn’t exist. There are, however, differences in CBD products made for dogs and humans. For example…

Flavors: Perhaps the most obvious difference between CBD oil for dogs vs. humans is the taste. Human CBD oils tend to have flavors like mint, orange, chocolate, and other candy-like flavors. Dog flavors run more toward meaty treats like chicken, salmon, and bacon. And you can find unflavored options for CBD for dogs and humans.

It’s not just a matter of taste, though. Those flavor differences can be a big deal. Humans, for instance, may find meaty treat flavors distasteful. Worse, the sweeter candy-like flavors may be dangerous—even deadly—for dogs.

Even if the hemp CBD oil is exactly the same—and thus, safe for humans and dogs—if a CBD oil has added essential oils and sweeteners, the product should be kept away from pets to avoid even accidental exposure.

Xylitol (aka birch sugar), for instance, is a common sweetener used in CBD products. And while this sweetener is healthy and beneficial for humans, it can create a rapid release of insulin leading to a dangerous and potentially deadly drop in blood sugar for dogs. If your dog does get ahold of products that contain this ingredient, symptoms include vomiting, weakness, staggering, collapse, and seizures and require immediate medical care.

Some of the most popular essential oils used for flavorings, such as citrus, peppermint, wintergreen, and cinnamon, can also lead to adverse effects for dogs both when used topically and ingested. Remember, there are many foods that are safe and nutritious for humans that are toxic for dogs, such as garlic, chocolate, and raisins. So, foods, supplements, and ingredients that are good for you may not be good for your pets.

Dosage: The next big difference of CBD for dogs and humans is the dosage. Your body size and weight make a big difference when it comes to how much CBD from hemp plants to use. And you may need different amounts depending on what you’re using CBD oils for. For example, if using hemp CBD oil to calm an anxious dog, if you use too much, you can make the dog even more anxious. Chronic problems may require less CBD (on a regular basis) than acute issues (for a few days). So, it’s important to follow usage instructions for the size of your animal as well as the condition you’re addressing.

In addition, many CBD products for humans are more concentrated, which could lead to too high of a dose, especially for smaller dogs.

Contaminants: In a perfect world, neither humans nor dogs would be exposed to pesticides, herbicides, solvents, or other potentially damaging chemicals. This is even more important for dogs who may have more sensitive systems and be more susceptible to side effects from unneeded additives or fillers.

Whether you are purchasing a CBD product for you or your dog, look for a certificate of analysis from a third-party testing lab, so you know exactly what is in the product, including the amount of active CBD per serving, ingredients, manufacturer, and the batch or lot number. 

Ingredients in the finished product should include only the CBD oil from hemp, a carrier oil like hemp oil (if needed), and specific flavorings.

THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol): CBD oil can be extracted from both industrial hemp (which contains less than 0.3% TCH) and marijuana plants, which have varying levels of THC. In states where marijuana is legal, some brands create CBD products as well as products that contain THC. So, there are CBD products made for humans that also contain THC.

While CBD has been found to be safe, effective, and non-toxic for dogs, the same cannot be said of THC from marijuana. Dogs have been found to be more sensitive to THC, and it takes longer to get out of their systems. Some of the side effects caused by THC in dogs include:

  • Walking difficulties
  • Drooling
  • Dilated, glazed eyes
  • Tense or twitching muscles
  • Increased hunger
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Whimpering
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Slowed or more rapid heart rate
  • Decreased body temperature
  • Agitation

While some dogs can “sleep it off,” others need medical support from a vet. So, always ensure your pet-products are made from industrial hemp and are thus THC-free.

Is CBD Oil Different for Dogs and Humans?
Photo by devn on Unsplash

Is Dog CBD Oil Safe for Humans?

As long as you’re purchasing a high-quality dog CBD oil from hemp plants, it should be made with food-grade oils, which are then safe for humans. The differences, again, are flavoring and dosage. So, it’s likely easier to purchase just one product for your dog(s) and one product for you.  

In other words, the instructions for human CBD products and dog CBD products may differ greatly. It’s important to ensure your pet is given the right dosage and strength to optimize results and decrease the risk of side effects, such as lethargy and tummy issues.

Is CBD Oil Different for Dogs and Humans: Takeaway

Yes, both dogs and humans may benefit from using CBD products. However, the products can differ greatly in terms of dose and strength, flavors, additives, and more. So even if the CBD itself is both dog and human-safe, the products aren’t necessarily interchangeable. 

Because of the increased risk for dogs, avoid treating your pets with a product designed for humans, and instead choose a pet-safe CBD product. 

Related Information: 


McGrath S, Bartner LR, Rao S, Kogan LR, Hellyer PW. A report of adverse effects associated with the administration of cannabidiol in healthy dogs. Vet Med. 2018;1:6-8.