© Pixabay

A study conducted by the Waltham Petcare Science Institute, part of Mars petcare, has found that administering THC-free cannabidiol (CBD) significantly relieves dogs’ stress caused by car travel or being left alone. Results were published today in Frontiers in Veterinary Science journal.


The aim of this randomized, placebo-controlled, blinded study was twofold: to understand the impact of a separation event and car travel on canine stress; and to establish if a single dose of a THC-free, broad-spectrum CBD could positively influence measures of canine stress during these two events.

Author profile picture

The study looked at how CBD impacted the experience of 20 dogs in two commonplace activities that were anticipated to cause stress – car journeys and being left alone. Researchers collected a range of physiological (e.g., blood levels of cortisol, ear temperature, heart rate) and behavioral 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.

CBD Benefits for Dogs

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 dogs that received a placebo.

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.

Beneficial for dogs

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jennifer Welser said: “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. 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.

While further research is needed to understand the full effects and potential side effects of administering CBD to dogs, this study provides important evidence that there are potential benefits for using CBD to reduce canine stress.