How CBD Oil Can Reduce Horse Anxiety
Horses truly can have anxiety just like we do. Many people experience anxiety in all sorts of situations. People get anxious about driving in rush-hour traffic, going to a crowded place where there are a lot of people, or starting a new job. These are just a few examples of when a person may experience anxiety.
Obviously, there are many more reasons and situations a person can get anxious.
Equines experience anxiety just like their owners do. Their reasons for anxiety are often complex and are unique to each horse. After all, they are each individual just like we are. Some people never really have given much thought to whether or not a horse might experience anxiety.
However, owners of equines often find out that their horse has anxiety when they see it for the first time and it is often unexpected. It often occurs in a situation that is new for the horse. Sometimes, it does occur in a situation that they have experienced before and have developed a lasting fear and anxiety about it.
Think about what it is like to be a horse. They are born wild animals and have an evolutionary tendency to want to run wild and do as they please. They were often pursued by larger animals and had to flee on a dime. Horses are herd animals and for centuries almost always ran with a herd. This is common in many animals. For example, elephants have traveled in herds for centuries to protect themselves and their young from predators like lions, hyenas, and wild dogs. Elephants protect each other by being in a herd and often drive away predators by beating them in both size and numbers. Interestingly, baby elephants travel near the legs and stomach of the mother so that they can be protected within the herd. Horses traveled in herds for survival and protection, just like elephants.
What Kind Of Anxiety Do Horses Have?
Well, horses have different kinds of anxiety. Many use anxiety as a catch-all phrase. However, there are various types of anxiety in horses and they are each unique. We will go over some of the most common types of equine anxiety in this article so that owners can better understand it.
Equine Situational Anxiety
This is understandable as we humans also get anxious sometimes in these situations as well. Horses have to get used to something new just like people do. Being around new people or animals can be anxiety-inducing to horses as they do not know them and aren’t sure how to react. It is very understandable for a horse to experience anxiety in these situations. There are also other situations that can cause situational anxiety for a particular horse and these are often dependent on the horse and their own unique lives and circumstances.
Situational anxiety is when anxiety occurs in specific situations. Many horses experience situational anxiety and it is quite common and not something that is rare at all. Some situations that may cause a horse to feel anxiety are being surrounded by new people or animals, being transported in a trailer, or being taken to a new location that they are not familiar with.
Separation Anxiety in Horses
Horses can get separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is when a horse feels anxious when being separated from a familiar person, animal, place, or thing. This is completely understandable as any person or animal can feel this way.
Horses that have to be transported by strangers or that must go to a different place for training or care often experience separation anxiety. They are used to their surroundings and those familiar faces that they see daily and being taken from that familiarity can be stressful and cause anxiety for horses. Also, being separated from horses or other animals that they have become used to can cause separation anxiety as well. For example, mother horses and baby horses that are separated may very well experience separation anxiety. Horses separated from their herd can have it, too.
Training Anxiety in Horses
People experienced with horses have often had to deal with the headache of training a horse. Even highly experienced horse trainers have dealt with some difficult horses that seemed almost impossible to train. It is simple to see why some horses get anxious about training. They are being put into a situation that is new to them and dealing with things they aren’t used to. Getting trained for horseback riding, being guided by a handler, or getting in a trailer can be very stressful for a horse that has never dealt with these things before. Some are just wild and do not want to be tamed or forced to do anything. Others are very anxious over being trained.
This is quite common. In fact, many horse owners and trainers have reported dealing with this in their horses. When this occurs, it can be much harder to train the horse and it becomes a source of stress for the handlers and the horse.
Arena and Performance Anxiety
Show horses or those that perform for crowds have a risk of performance anxiety. Famous people have reported having performance anxiety before big concerts in front of fans. Regular people can get it before job interviews, speeches, or other performances. A horse that has to perform in an arena of a show often knows when they are about to have to perform. There are signs that surround them that they recognize before a performance. This is when a horse often begins to show signs of performance anxiety.
Many horse owners that have show horses have seen these signs in their beloved equine. Their horse may begin acting in a way that is not their normal. Horse owners that have show horses or horses that perform in an arena have often encountered this in their own horses or in the horses of other owners that are about to perform. It is often very evident that they are agitated if they are experiencing performance anxiety or arena anxiety. Some horses dislike performing before a crowd and find that they are anxious before large crowds of people. This is not unusual and is actually somewhat common in equine performers. There are many horses that perform in arenas for obstacle courses, equine shows, and more.
Racehorses may experience performance anxiety. These are highly trained thoroughbreds that race other horses. Most people have heard of the Kentucky Derby. This is a prime example of a horse racing performance that comes with high stakes and a lot of training and preparation on the part of the trainers and the thoroughbreds. The owners of the thoroughbreds often display signs of stress or excitement before a race and sometimes that can make a thoroughbred feel anxious. Some thoroughbreds that race do experience performance anxiety. The sounds and sights surrounding them are recognizable to them. Some racehorses can sense the nervousness in their handlers and jockeys and this can cause them to be triggered into performance anxiety.
Equine Travel Anxiety
Travel anxiety in equines is not a rarity. Many equines have travel anxiety. It is most common in traveling in a horse trailer. Horse trailers are the most common way for horses to get from one place to another. Horse trailers are made specifically for transporting horses and other animals. They give equines space and are customized for their needs. However, for animals that are used to having space and nature surrounding them, it can cause a lot of nervousness.
Equine travel anxiety is much more common than people realize. Experienced horse trainers and owners have likely experienced a horse that has anxiousness about getting into and traveling in a trailer. Getting an anxious horse into a trailer is quite a task and can take much more time than it does for horses that aren’t nervous about traveling.
What Are the Symptoms of Horse Anxiety
One of the most common symptoms of horse anxiety is shaking. Their bodies will begin to tremble and there will be a visible shake. Horse owners will notice it if their skin is trembling as they touch them or if they can see it with observation.
Weaving and walking around in circles in their stall is another common symptom of horse anxiety. Equine owners will notice that their horses go inconsistent circles within their stall or they sway as they walk around. Some call it weaving if their horse is swaying or moving in a strange angle.
Horses that roll their eyes at times or often anxious or stressed. The eye rolling often accompanies trembling of the body when they are experiencing horse anxiety.
Another symptom of equine anxiety is going to their corner of the stall and staying put. They will go to the corner of the stall and not move if they are experiencing anxiety.
Other symptoms of equine anxiety are horses running away at a frantic pace, rearing and using their front legs for defense, or whinnying excessively.
If they begin doing any of these things frequently, they are likely experiencing anxiety. An occasional show of fear or anxiousness is quite normal. However, frequent showing of symptoms points to a sign that there is a more serious issue going on.
What Are Side Effects of Horse Anxiety?
Horse anxiety can have terrible consequences and side effects. It can cause them to under eat and experience nausea when eating or drinking. This means that horses with serious anxiety can begin to become malnourished and suffer from the consequences of that. They will begin losing body fat, muscle mass, and imperative vitamins and minerals. These side effects of horse anxiety are dangerous and life-threatening.
Equines that run off when anxious or that pace a lot are prone to muscular injuries. They are prone to ligament tears and breaks. They also can have hooves that are in bad shape. It causes their bodies to wear down much faster than it should be. Some horses are prone to bumping their heads into objects when they are upset or experiencing anxiety and they may have head injuries. Horses that are bumping their heads into objects will likely need emergency treatment so that they can get evaluated. Some head injuries can be very serious and affect their health. This is why it is crucial to get them to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
Some horses can get colic and severe constipation when as side effects. Severe constipation can cause colon impact that can be deadly as it gets stuck in their bodies and not getting eliminated. Severe constipation in a horse will require immediate veterinary care. They will be given medication or treatment that will help relieve them of their impact right away. This is to relieve them of their pain and impact and possibly to save their lives. Horse owners that have an equine with serious constipation or severe colic will need to contact a veterinarian that they trust for an emergency appointment. In some cases, it may require after-hours care at an emergency vet clinic or office.
Equines with colic are very hard to handle. Most people have heard of babies with colic. The stories of colicky babies are notorious. They are known to be very fussy and crying a lot. Many colicky babies don’t sleep very well and keep their parents up hours and hours at night and during the day. The same is true for horses. They are quite irritable, do not sleep well, and have severe mood swings. Dealing with equine anxiety and colic symptoms can be extremely difficult for the horse and for its caretakers. Horses with severe anxiety and colic are in danger of developing life-threatening issues. It is highly recommended to get them an appointment on an emergency basis if they are suffering from these medical conditions. They can take a turn for the worse very quickly and that is why it is imperative to get them veterinary care immediately. Their ability to take in calories and vitamins is very limited when they are dealing with colic and anxiety. This further shows why horse owners and trainers need to get quick and effective treatment for their horses on an emergency basis.
Some equine owners have a very hard time managing a horse that has these serious anxiety problems. They may not be equipped to handle such a horse. This is a very sensitive and delicate situation. Sometimes, it will be best if they get to a therapeutic place where they can be taken care of by expert trainers that have experience with anxious animals. Other times, it will just require a lot of patience and veterinary care to get them to a better and healthier place.
How Do I Help My Horse with Anxiety?
First of all, it is necessary to figure out what causes your horse to have anxiety. Taking notes and remembering when they display anxious behaviors is imperative in helping to pinpoint the triggers of equine anxiety. Bringing that information along with you to the veterinarian will be very helpful in giving them the ability to diagnose and treat your horse for anxiety.
Veterinarians can help in the diagnosis of anxiety. They are medically trained to diagnose and treat animals and have the knowledge required to do so. They have likely dealt with many animals that have anxiety disorders. This can help them to better recognize the signs for a diagnosis. Veterinarians can also give recommended treatments to equine owners that may include therapeutic treatments and/or medications that they feel will benefit them.
There are even equine therapists that can work with horses that have anxiety. Equine therapists are experts in working with horses that have mood disorders and anxiousness. This is a smart option for horse owners and trainers that have the ability to offer this therapy to their horses. They are becoming more common and recognized as a viable source of medical treatment. Some veterinarians will recommend an equine therapist as a treatment option.
Are There Natural Alternatives To Treat Equine Anxiety?
Perhaps one of the best natural alternatives to medications for equine anxiety is CBD. Horse owners that are worried about side effects and medications being given on a long-term basis may want to consider CBD as an alternative natural aid in managing anxiety. CBD is an all-natural, totally organic option that can be given to horses with anxiety that has zero side effects. There are absolutely no serious side effects for horses that are given CBD for therapeutic purposes. This is a great relief for horse owners that have had horses that have experienced horrible side effects after taking prescription medications.
CBD Oil For Horses is made specifically for equines. It contains less than .3% THC and that is important for legality reasons. In the United States, CBD is legal when it contains less than .3% THC. THC is what causes psychoactive properties. Therefore, products that contain less than .3% THC are legal and also do not cause any “highs”. This is important for horse owners to understand as there is still some confusion over CBD products. CBD oil for horses has been proven in medical studies to lower anxiety and its symptoms significantly. The fact that it lowers anxiety and has no side effects means it is like a miracle for equines. Horse owners can also use it to help manage horses with inflammation, pain, appetite loss, nausea, and much more.
Dr. Ivana Vukasinovic
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, University of Belgrade
Ivana Vukasinovic grew up in Serbia and attended the University of Belgrade where she received a degree in Veterinary medicine in 2012 and later completed surgical residency working mostly with livestock. Her first year of practice was split between busy small animal practice and emergency clinic, and after two more years of treating many different species of animals, she opened her own veterinary pharmacy where an interest in canine and feline nutrition emerged with an accent on fighting animal obesity. In her free time, she acts as a foster parent for stray animals before their adoption, likes to read SF books, and making salted caramel cookies.
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The Innovet Team
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CBD Oil for Horses [The Complete Guide]
With the CBD industry snowballing, it was only a matter of time before people started giving it to their animals. While the cannabinoid is already popular for cats and dogs, CBD oil for horses is less common. However, several companies have now started formulating CBD products specifically for our equine friends.
This article explains all about CBD for horses, its potential benefits, safety, and where to buy. Read on to learn more.
CBD Oil for Horses: How Does It Work?
Like all mammals, horses have an endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system has a vital regulatory function within the body. It is composed of cell receptors and chemicals known as endocannabinoids.
When these chemicals and receptors bind together, they trigger reactions that help maintain internal balance. The ECS plays a role in everything from appetite to inflammation and mood.
Plant cannabinoids like CBD can also interact with this system and enhance many of its crucial functions. Furthermore, they do so in a way that causes very few side effects. And, unlike its counterpart THC, CBD does not cause intoxication.
This is why CBD products have become so popular in recent years. People frequently use them to relieve everyday complaints, such as anxiety and pain. There is also evidence that CBD helps with more severe issues like epileptic seizures.
So, what are the benefits of CBD for horses? Let’s take a look.
The Benefits of Cannabidiol for Horses
CBD has many of the same positive effects on horses as it does on humans. It primarily helps to regulate the ECS and improve overall health and wellbeing. However, CBD may also have specific benefits for some common equine health problems, including the following.
Stress and Anxiety
Like all animals, horses can suffer from stress and anxiety. These issues may be especially problematic before transportation or shows.
Although there is little research specifically on horses, CBD has calming effects and may help to relax nervous animals.
CBD has calming effects and may help to relax nervous animals. Although there is little research specifically on CBD oil for anxiety in horses, human studies have shown beneficial effects.
This is potentially relevant, not just due to the shared ECS but also because of the surprising results of a study published in Animal Genetics in 2019. Researchers found that over 130 equine hereditary traits, including allergies, asthma, and muscle disorders, were similar to humans. The research team suggested the traits were valuable study models for similar human conditions.
Nonetheless, we still require clinical trials outlining the effects of CBD on horses to determine its efficacy.
Horses can suffer from a variety of inflammatory disorders, especially as they grow older. They include:
Arthritis is inflammation of the joints, while desmitis is inflammation of the ligaments. These problems can affect all horses, although athletic horses may have more severe symptoms. Laminitis is a common problem and involves inflammation of the hooves.
Research has shown that CBD has potent anti-inflammatory effects. It could also help to relieve the pain associated with these conditions.
Gastric ulcers are a widespread problem in horses. They affect over 90% of thoroughbred racehorses and over 50% of the general population.
There is a high concentration of cannabinoid receptors in the digestive system, meaning that CBD can influence its health.
Research on CBD for gastric ulcers in horses is lacking. However, studies on rats have shown that other cannabinoids can reduce gastric acid secretion.
Coupled with its anti-inflammatory effects, this means CBD could potentially offer some relief. Although more research is necessary to draw firm conclusions, it might also benefit other digestive problems like colic.
There is also anecdotal evidence that CBD offers several other benefits for horses, including:
- Improving overall digestive health
- Promoting a healthy coat
- Relieving allergies and skin conditions
Some sources also suggest that it could help to promote nervous system, immune, and cardiovascular health.
Is CBD Oil Safe for Horses?
One of the primary selling points of CBD is its safety profile, especially compared to many pharmaceutical drugs. However, it does have the potential to cause some side effects in horses, including:
- Increased thirst
- Appetite changes
- Drowsiness or fatigue
- Decreased blood pressure
Find out who says what…
These side effects are most likely to occur during the early stages of use as the horse’s body adjusts to CBD. To reduce the risk of adverse reactions, it is best to start with the lowest possible dose and gradually increase it over time.
Please note that it is unwise to administer CBD to racehorses. Several racing authorities around the world have banned its usage. In May 2019, the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) announced that positive tests for CBD in horses are classified as GR4 violations.
In December 2020, the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) notified trainers that a positive test for CBD or CBD metabolites in blood and urine constituted a class 1, category A drug violation. The penalty for this violation is a minimum 12-month suspension and a fine of $25,000 or 25% of a horse’s race winnings.
CBD Oil for Horses – What’s the Best Way to Provide It?
There is a growing number of CBD products for horses, though most owners prefer to use an oil. Administering the cannabinoid sublingually to a horse could prove challenging. It involves applying the CBD oil beneath the animal’s tongue and getting them to hold it for 60 seconds before swallowing. A more realistic option is to add the drops to the horse’s daily feed or treats.
However, there are plenty of other CBD products for horses available, including:
- CBD paste
- CBD horse pellets
- CBD horse powders
- CBD sprays
- CBD balms
- CBD treats
CBD oil for your furry friend…
CBD Oil Dosage for Horses
There is no widely accepted CBD oil dosage for horses. In general, the amount you administer depends on their weight. Bear in mind that horses can weigh over 1,000 pounds when calculating how much cannabidiol to give them.
Horses have relatively sensitive organs, so start with just 0.25mg-1mg of CBD per 10 pounds of body weight. For a 1,000-pound horse, this would equate to 25-100mg of CBD a day. If your horse has never consumed cannabidiol before, err on the side of caution and stick to the lower end of the range. Wait to see the outcome, and increase by 5mg a day until you’re happy with the results.
The Best CBD Products for Horses
As there is more interest in CBD for horses, an increasing number of brands offer products. However, we believe that the following reputable companies sell the best CBD oil for horses:
- Pet Hemp Company
- King Kanine
- Green Flower Botanicals
CBD products for horses tend to be much stronger than CBD for other pets due to their larger size. For instance, Holistapet’s CBD oil for horses contains 7,500mg of the cannabinoid in 120ml of liquid. This equates to 62.5mg of CBD per ml.
The brand also sells bags of CBD Pellets for Horses ranging from one pound to 25 pounds. The latter product contains an incredible 37,500mg of cannabidiol in total!
When buying CBD, bear in mind that the market is currently unregulated. Therefore, some unscrupulous brands are selling items that have little therapeutic value. The brands we have mentioned above are reputable and provide third-party lab reports to prove it. Steer clear of any companies that do not offer this feature.
Other considerations are whether the oil is organic and the CBD extraction process used. Most experts agree that CO2 extraction is superior. It allows the oil to retain its beneficial compounds without leaving traces of potentially harmful solvents.
Many people also prefer to choose full-spectrum CBD oils for horses. They contain a full range of cannabinoids and terpenes, providing additional benefits. Although full-spectrum oils contain traces of THC, it is not enough to cause a high. Furthermore, scientists believe that a little THC can enhance CBD’s effects.
CBD Oil for Horses: Final Thoughts
The CBD oil for pets market is expanding and includes products for cats, dogs, and horses. Proponents suggest it has various benefits, including reducing anxiety, relieving inflammation, and promoting digestive health.
Since all mammals have an endocannabinoid system, it makes sense that CBD could benefit horses.
Unfortunately, there is little research to back these claims at present. Most CBD studies to date have involved humans or other animals. However, since all mammals have an endocannabinoid system, it makes sense that CBD could benefit horses too.
With its excellent safety profile and low risk of side effects, there is little harm in giving CBD oil for horses a try. Just be sure to buy from a legitimate brand and consult a veterinarian before use.
H.J. Equine, Inc. Blog
Can CBD for Horses Holistically Treat Their Anxiety?
When the H & J Equine CBD Supplement disc was developed to help the horses with pain management, we noticed that our CBD for horses product also had a calming and focusing effect on our equine friends. When it comes to how to calm stressed horses with natural supplements, we have received many positive testimonials. With the horses we tested our product on, we kept hearing that the horses, donkeys, and mules were less anxious and more relaxed.
CBD for Horses & Equines Testimonials
One of the first testimonials we received for our horse anxiety supplements was from a person who rides hunter jumpers. Her horse Monster seemed to get distracted easily while in training. After a few days taking the CBD Oil disc, we received a call stating that he had settled down and was amazing not only going over the jumps but in steering and lead changes. Much more trainable is what we are hearing over and over again. Calming a stressed horse and treating anxiety in horses holistically is seen repeatedly as we received even more testimonials.
The second testimonial on our CBD for horses comes from a lady in Texas who shared with me that her young horses were a little nervous when the farrier came out to trim feet. She gives both colts two CBD oil discs a few hours before the farrier appointment and the horses aren’t tense or anxious.
The third testimonial was from a customer who barrel races competitively and the horses are in the trailer most of the summer going from rodeo to rodeo. She stated that giving the CBD horse anxiety supplement to calm the stressed horses on a regular basis not only kept them feeling good physically, but the horses were not losing weight traveling in the trailer. She felt that they were much more comfortable and relaxed.
Finally, I am the last testimonial when it comes to the results of CBD for horses. My AQHA World Champion mare tore a tendon. She was on stall rest for six months. Not only was she calm and happy in her stall, but my veterinarian was also surprised about how quickly her injury healed. When people ask how to calm a stressed horse, I can easily answer as I have seen, first-hand, the benefits of treating anxiety in horses holistically with our CBD horse anxiety supplements.
I also have a two-year-old who was less than thrilled about coming into the show barn to get broke. She paced in her stall hours on end. When my trainer called to let me know, we immediately started giving her the CBD supplement. Within hours, she was calm and relaxed and learning to enjoy stall and show horse life.
We know that CBD works with dogs during thunderstorms, fireworks, etc. Studies are also finding that CBD oil helps with PTSD, anxiety, and insomnia in people. So, we were not surprised to see the same calming results in equines. This article from Healthline shows the results of using CBD for anxiety from several studies.
Starting with our CBD cookies for horses, which have industry-related research, we aim to help your horse to be the best and healthiest version of themselves.