Is CBD keeping your dog (and you) awake? – What we know and 4 things to try
By Jason Wooden, PhD | August 26, 2022
If you’re curious whether CBD can keep a dog awake, evidence is growing that high doses promote sleep while low doses promote wakefulness. Among the issues at play are incorrect product usage, poor product quality, and dosing requirements for specific health issues. Fortunately, there are practical remedies worth a try.
When CBD is keeping your dog awake…
If you’re noticing that your dog is restless and taking longer to fall asleep after a CBD edible, you’re likely not the first.
There’s no hard data on this but with the growing use of CBD dog supplements there’s bound to be unintended consequences for some.
CBD has become a popular natural remedy to help dogs dealing with a variety of issues including anxiety, pain, and itchiness.
In fact, a recent survey of US pet owners found half of them using it for a cat or dog. The most common reason was for anxiety or stress.
Regardless of why you’re giving your dog CBD, it can be frustrating if it’s causing issues at night. Like their two legged owners, dogs do need their sleep.
When they’re not getting enough sleep it will show in various ways including diminished concentration, energy, and enthusiasm. There’s also the possibility that they’ll become more irritable and aggressive.
And it’s all because you gave your dog something to help it but instead you’re dealing with more issues…
So, is it really CBD that’s keeping your dog up?
We’re going to take a look at what could be happening and what you can do about it.
What the research says about how CBD affects alertness and sleep
The way CBD could be keeping your dog awake is through its effects on the brain and sleep.
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is one of the better known actives along with THC derived from the cannabis plant. Even though both are cannabinoids, they interact with the brain in slightly different ways.
CBD is made from hemp, a type of cannabis plant that contains very low levels of THC. Unlike THC, it is not psychoactive and doesn’t give you a “high”.
Research is still ramping up for CBD so it isn’t as well-studied as other natural actives used for health and wellness.
And it’s been even less researched for dogs than for humans.
CBD and other cannabinoids interact with proteins on the cells in the brain called cannabinoid receptors.
These receptors are part of the endocannabinoid system, a complex signaling system in the body that has been linked to appetite, mood, stress, learning and memory, inflammation, and pain.
Evidence is growing that the endocannabinoid system is also involved with regulating the sleep-wake cycle too.
What we are learning from the research done so far is that CBD appears to be biphasic. It’s effects the body one way at a lower amount and the opposite way at a higher amount.
It has been found to make some people feel more alert when taken at low or moderate doses while higher dosages have been found to promote sleep.
Can CBD really keep a dog awake?
For starters, the effects of CBD on sleep for dogs haven’t been well-studied. So, there’s no definitive research showing whether or not CBD can keep a dog awake.
Currently, restlessness isn’t on the list of known CBD side effects for dogs.
However, it is possible that CBD is biphasic in dogs similar to humans – at low doses it makes them feel more alert while at higher doses it promotes sleep.
It’s important to keep in mind the differences between dogs and humans. While some things are similar like snoring, dogs sleep differently and require more sleep than humans.
So, this is just an educated guess based on what’s been seen in humans.
Nonetheless, depending on the dose given, it’s possible that CBD is causing your dog to be restless and stay awake at night.
If you’re wondering how this could happen, it could be how you’re using your supplement or something with the product itself.
It could be for other reasons too.
Other reasons CBD is keeping your dog awake
Unfortunately, there could be more than one thing at play since lots of factors affect what happens when a natural active enters the body.
Among the reasons CBD is keeping your dog up are:
I’ve already mentioned how too low of a CBD dose can promote wakefulness in dogs. Dosages can differ depending on the health issue being treated.
It could be that the CBD dosage you’re currently using is at the lower end of sleep effects which promotes wakefulness.
Poor quality product
Unfortunately, it’s still a bit of the wild west when it comes to CBD products. It’s hard to know for some products how much CBD you’re actually getting in a dose and how pure it is.
A 2020 FDA survey of 102 CBD products found that 18 had less than the CBD amount indicated and 38 contained more than 120 percent of the amount of CBD indicated. They also found that 49% of the products contained THC.
If the brand you’re using doesn’t have good quality control, you could be unknowingly giving your dog an extra low dose.
This is especially true since there is no uniform regulation about the strength of dog CBD supplements.
We’re just beginning to learn about how genetics can affect what CBD does once it’s in the body. Also, other things going on in your dog’s body such as a health complication could affect what CBD does when taken.
Interactions with other substances
There’s still a lot to learn about what happens when you give your dog CBD and other substances at the same time such as medications
What to try if your CBD supplement is keeping your dog restless and awake at night
If you’re still interested in giving CBD a try to help your dog, there are some practical things that may make a difference:
1) Make sure you’re using it correctly
For starters, double check that you’re using your CBD product as suggested – i.e., taking the right dose at the recommended time.
(If you’re not sure, check with a vet.)
2) Change when you give it to your dog
For humans, some individuals have to avoid taking CBD within 2 hours of bedtime. Otherwise, they can’t fall asleep.
The same could be true for dogs.
3) Try a different brand
I’ve already mentioned how widely CBD products can differ in quality. You can try a CBD supplement from a different company.
Some things to look for are:
- A well-known and reputable company with minimal complaints
- 3rd party testing done to verify CBD amounts and purity
- A certificate of analysis which you can review
If you’re looking for options, here’s a high quality provider I use which I recently reviewed here. They offer a CBD chew and tincture for dogs.
4) See a vet familiar with CBD
For lay people, figuring out the correct CBD dose to use with dogs for a specific health benefit can be confusing.
A vet that’s familiar with CBD use for dogs can help you figure this out and suggest changes to avoid unwanted effects on sleep. They can also advise you on proper use and potential safety concerns.
Finding a vet familiar with CBD experience shouldn’t be too hard given the popularity of CBD for dogs.
If you strike out with CBD, there are other natural dog remedies worth a try…
CBD isn’t the only game in town when it comes to natural remedies for dogs.
There’s a wide variety of natural aids being used by dog owners for various benefits. Some have been better studied in dogs than others.
Similar to CBD, chatting with a vet can be helpful for figuring out correct dosing and checking for safety issues. (Some natural actives can interact with other meds and lead to complications.)
If you find CBD is keeping your dog awake and you’re looking something else to try, here’s a list of alternatives for some common issue:
Anxiety – chamomile, valerian root, and St. John’s Wort; exercise, mental stimulation, grooming, and calming music can help.
Pain – turmeric, comfrey, hawthorn, ginger, licorice; physical therapy can also help.
Itchiness – aloe vera, baking soda, colloidal oatmeal baths, apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, and essential oils
Sleep – melatonin, calming aids such as valerian root and lavender essential oils; calming music may also help.
How to Treat Insomnia in Dogs (The Spruce Pets)
Helpful CBD links:
You may also be interested in:
1. Does CBD Work for Dogs?, 2021, The American Kennel Club
2. CBD for Pets Survey: What Do Pet Owners Really Think about Pet CBD Products?, 2021, Leafreport
3. Is Your Dog Getting Enough Sleep? You Might Be Surprised, 2021, PureWow
4. Is Your Pet Getting Enough Sleep?, Hebron Veterinary Hospital
5. A comparison of CBD and THC, 2022, MedicalNewsToday
6. Cannabinoid Receptors and the Endocannabinoid System: Signaling and Function in the Central Nervous System. Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Mar; 19(3): 833.
7. CBD: For Sleep and Insomnia, American Sleep Association
8. Biphasic Effects of Cannabinoids in Anxiety Responses: CB1 and GABAB Receptors in the Balance of GABAergic and Glutamatergic Neurotransmission. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2012 Nov; 37(12): 2624–2634.
9. Safety of low dose cannabidiol, 220, Australian Government Department of Health
10. Potential Side Effects of CBD Oil in Dogs and Solutions, 2021, Veterinarian.org
11. How Many Hours A Day Do Dogs Sleep?, 2022, sleepfoundation.org
12. CBD Dosage For Dogs: Clearing Up The Confusion, 2022, Canine Journal
13. Medical Fraud, Mislabeling, Contamination: All Common in CBD Products. Mo Med. 2020 Sep-Oct; 117(5): 394–399.
14. Pharmacogenetics of Cannabinoids. Eur J Drug Metab Pharmacokinet. 2018; 43(1): 1–12.
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