Use of cannabis in the treatment of animals: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials

Anim Health Res Rev. 2022 Jun;23(1):25-38. doi: 10.1017/S1466252321000189. Epub 2022 Jun 15.


Cannabis is used in the treatment of several human conditions; however, its use is still less explored in veterinary medicine. This systematic review aims to summarize the evidence of efficacy and safety of the use of cannabis for the treatment of animal disease. A literature search was performed for studies published until 16 March 2021 in five databases. Randomized clinical trials (RCTs) that reported the efficacy or safety of cannabis in the treatment of animal disease were included. The RoB 2 Tool was used to assess the risk of bias. A total of 2427 records were identified, of which six studies fully met the eligibility criteria. RCTs were conducted in dogs with osteoarthritis (n = 4), with epilepsy (n = 1), and with behavioral disorders (n = 1). All studies used cannabidiol (CBD) oil in monotherapy or in combination with other drugs. Studies used CBD at 2 or 2.5 mg kg-1 twice daily (n = 4), orally (n = 5), during 4 or 6 weeks (n = 3), and compared CBD with placebo (n = 5). CBD significantly reduced pain and increased activity in dogs with osteoarthritis (n = 3). Moreover, CBD significantly reduced the frequency of seizures in dogs with epilepsy (n = 1) and the aggressive behavior of dogs (n = 1). Although promising results were identified, studies were heterogeneous and presented risks of bias that required caution in the interpretation of findings. Therefore, there was some evidence to support the use of CBD in dogs with osteoarthritis to reduce pain and increased activity, but limited evidence against epilepsy and behavioral problems. In addition, CBD was well tolerated with mild adverse effects. More RCTs with high quality of evidence are needed, including greater numbers of animal subjects, additional species, and clear readout measures to confirm these findings.

Keywords: Animal; cannabis; pet; systematic review; veterinary medicine.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cannabidiol* / adverse effects
  • Cannabis*
  • Dog Diseases* / drug therapy
  • Dogs
  • Epilepsy* / chemically induced
  • Epilepsy* / drug therapy
  • Epilepsy* / veterinary
  • Humans
  • Osteoarthritis* / chemically induced
  • Osteoarthritis* / drug therapy
  • Osteoarthritis* / veterinary
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Cannabidiol