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June 6, 2024

Wading through a huge stack of veterinary studies about CBD for dogs, it's clear that long-term use of CBD often causes high ALP in dogs. ALP is the abbreviation for alkaline phosphatase. It's typically used as a routine bloodwork measurement of liver function. Of course, it's all more complicated than that. It turns out that several things (other than liver problems) can cause high ALP in dogs too. 

high alp in dogs main graphic

Increased ALP Values

High ALP values remain one of the most common bloodwork abnormalities in dogs and in people, for matter. Unfortunately, it's considered "nonspecific." That means veterinarians need to figure out if it's important enough to look further and if so, then what exactly might be causing it. 

Long-Term Meds, including CBD

Several meds including corticosteroids and some anti-seizure meds are well known to cause high ALP in dogs. It turns out that the same is true for long-term use of CBD in dogs, across several studies.

FWIW, this is the CBD for dogs we use as needed for Tori's carsickness, along with OTC meclizine. It's super local to us. I buy and use the tincture. I'm not big on functional treats, but I know others love their treats.

Veterinary research into the safety of CBD for dogs features doses ranging from 1 to 20 mg/kg of body weight. Because different species of animals, including cats, have significant differences in their cannabinoid receptors, you CANNOT extrapolate CBD for dogs study results to other types of animals. In fact research into CBD for cats is scarce!

One such study called "Tolerability of long-term cannabidiol supplementation to healthy adult dogs" looked at CBD for dogs over 36 weeks. They used 18 beagles randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups:

  1. Placebo
  2. 5 mg/kg CBD daily
  3. 10 mg/kg CBD daily

The study team tested all the dogs' blood chemistry every 4 weeks. They say, "Most blood variables measures throughout the 36 weeks were within reference range, except for ALP activity. Alkaline phosphatase tended to plateau after week 8, but large variations still occurred both within individual dog and week until the end of the trial."

high alp in dogs long-term CBD in dogs

The reference range for normal ALP in dogs is 15-140. The chart above also shows these ALP values for each group of dogs:

  • Placebo - 61.14
  • 5 mg/kg - 284.5
  • 10 mg/kg - 375.5

The researchers go on to say, "Although our data does not indicate hepatic [liver] damage, it is recommended to monitor liver function in dogs receiving CBD chronically."

Other Possible Causes of High ALP in Dogs

This 4-page article written by a board-certified veterinary internal medicine specialist covers all the other things that can cause high ALP in dogs other than primary liver disease, if you want to learn more. 

Here are some of the things your veterinarian likely considers when finding high ALP values in your dog's bloodwork:

  • Bone disorders, including bone cancer and bone inflammation
  • Endocrine disorders, including diabetes, hypothyroidism, and Cushing's disease
  • GI diseases, including pancreatitis and inflammatory bowel disease
  • Hypoxia / hypotension, including congestive heart failure, hemolytic anemia, and other issues
  • Neoplasia, including liver cancer
  • Meds, as discussed above
  • Systemic infections
About the Author Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related.

I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

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