Feeding treats containing cannabidiol (CBD) did not alter canine immune response to immunization with a novel antigen

Elizabeth M Morris, Susanna E Kitts-Morgan, Dawn M Spangler, Kyle R McLeod, Mark A Suckow, David L Harmon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Due to the potential risk for cannabidiol (CBD) to negatively impact the immune system, the objective of the current study was to evaluate the effect of CBD on the canine immune response to immunization with a novel antigen, keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH). Thirty-two dogs (22.4 ± 6.3 kg BW) were utilized in a completely randomized design with treatments consisting of 5 mg CBD/kg BW/d and a control administered orally via treats. After a 7-d acclimation to treatments, dogs were immunized with 10 mg/dog of KLH via intramuscular injection into the semimembranosus muscle region, which was repeated in 14 d. Blood samples were collected at baseline and weekly for 28 d after initial KLH immunization for analysis of hematology, serum chemistry, and immunoglobulins. Data were analyzed using the MIXED procedure in SAS including the fixed effects of treatment, day, and the treatment by day interaction. Both primary and secondary KLH immunization produced robust immune responses. Most hematological and serum chemistry variables remained within normal reference ranges for dogs across both treatments throughout the study. Alkaline phosphatase, while within normal reference range and similar between treatments at baseline and on d 7 (P = 0.994 and 0.183, respectively), was elevated for CBD-treated dogs versus control on d 14, 21, and 28 (P = 0.006, 0.027, and 0.014, respectively). Both total and KLH-specific IgG and IgM were similar between treatments throughout the study (P > 0.05), although total IgM peaked earlier in control dogs compared to those receiving CBD. Despite the minor shift in the timing of the total IgM peak, CBD did not appear to exhibit humoral immunosuppressive effects when supplemented at 5 mg/kg BW/d. However, this work does highlight the potential for CBD to alter liver function and the need for further safety evaluations of CBD use in dogs utilizing longer-term studies and multiple CBD doses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-19
Number of pages7
JournalResearch in Veterinary Science
StateE-pub ahead of print - Dec 20 2021

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