Over 33% of Danish dog owners give their pets unlicensed cannabinoids


While Israel’s Poison Information Center in Haifa reported recently about a dramatic increase in unintentional poisoning of children and pets from medical cannabis, a new study of dog owners in Denmark has found that 38% of dog owners surveyed in Denmark admitted to intentionally giving their pets cannabinoids – particularly cannabidiol or CBD.

They claimed that the drug treated their dogs’ pain, behavioral issues, and allergies.

Cannabis has become popular for recreational and medical use in humans, and many cannabis-based products are also available for pets. However because cannabis is not legal for veterinary use in many countries like Denmark, pet owners are using it without a prescription. 

Pernille Holst and colleagues at the University of Copenhagen presented these findings in the journal PLOS ONE under the title “Danish Dog Owners’ Use and the Perceived Effect of unlicensed cannabis products in Dogs.”

She and colleagues distributed an anonymous survey on social media, asking dog owners to report whether they used cannabinoids for their pets, what types they used and for what purpose, and whether the pet owners felt the drugs were effective. 

A man inspects the leaf of a cannabis plant at a medical marijuana plantation in northern Israel. (credit: NIR ELIAS/REUTERS)

One in three owners gave their pets cannabinoids

Of the 2,002 owners who completed the survey, 752 (38%) reported using at least one cannabinoid product for their pet. Among the dog owners who gave their dogs cannabinoids, 93 % used CBD drops or oils, and nine percent used CBD ointments or creams. Four percent of owners admitted they gave their pets products containing THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) – the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis and one of at least 113 total cannabinoids identified on the plant.

The research establishes that despite their unlicensed state, some Danish dog owners do use cannabinoids in dogs and that most do believe it has a positive effect on their dog’s mental or physical health. 


However, the authors note that these findings are not supported by current studies investigating behavioral modification in dogs after CBD treatment and that placebo effects potentially exist in the owners’ evaluations.

While the results are self-reported, they emphasize the need for more evidence-based studies of cannabinoid use in pets. “This suggests that systematic clinical studies are warranted within cannabinoid use in pet dogs,” Holst declared. 

Pet owners most often reported using the drugs for their dogs’ pain, behavioral issues, and allergies, though they also reported using cannabinoids for their animal’s well-being, cancer, seizures, appetite, or other conditions. Fully 77% of the respondents said they saw at least some positive effects of the drugs in their dogs. 

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