Can CBD Calm Anxious Dogs?
The Bark first started covering veterinary use of cannabis in 2015. For that initial piece, Robert Silver, DVM, MS, CVA, was one of the experts to whom we turned. Over the years, we’ve continued to rely on his insights, and he’s been generous in sharing what he knows.
Over the past few years, changes in the federal Farm Bill made growing hemp, a low THC, high CBD cultivar of cannabis, both possible and profitable. As a result, research has increasingly focused on CBD, the cannabis plant’s second most-prevalent active ingredient (THC, the psychoactive compound, takes first place). Most therapeutic veterinary CBD is derived from hemp.
Earlier this year, Dr. Silver conducted an observational study using a proprietary, broad-spectrum, CBD-nutraceutical blend formulated as a soft chew “dosage-form” treat produced by Okoa Pet. The purpose of the study was to evaluate this particular blend’s impact on canine anxiety levels, assessing the calming effects of cannabinoids on dogs in a real-world setting.
Dogs were recruited from across the country for this study. In the end, 98 dogs were enrolled and their owners gave them the chew on a daily basis for 14 days (the length of time considered sufficient to affect and detect a change in a dog’s behavior). Before and after the study, participants completed a numerically scaled questionnaire. The goal was to assess changes in anxiety and stress-related behaviors during the study period.
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The pre-study survey established a baseline for 20 behaviors that typically indicate stress (for example, how a dog reacts when people come to the door, travels in a car, interacts with other dogs, behaves when left alone and so forth). After the dogs had taken the weight-appropriate daily chew for two weeks, their owners completed a second survey, which was used to assess changes in behavior.
This questionnaire-based study demonstrated that anecdotal reports from veterinarians and dog owners about the beneficial effects of CBD on canine anxiety have scientific merit. (For more details, read the white paper, “The Positive Behavioral Impact of a CBD-containing Nutraceutical Formulation on Privately-Owned Dogs.”)
It must also be noted that although the results are positive, observational studies have limitations—primarily, there’s no control group and (in this case) the results rely on the participants’ subjective observations of their dogs’ behavior. However, the fact that a large sample group was used and generated a high statistical significance does strongly suggest that these results reflect the actual effect of the test material.
Financial Disclosure: The study was underwritten by Okoa Pet, a woman-owned company whose primary products are premium hemp soft chews for dogs and cats; Dr. Silver serves as its veterinary science officer.
Is Your Dog Anxious? Sign Him Up for the New Study.
There are at least two categories of information: what we believe and what we know. Moving from the former to the latter is where the scientific method comes in: formulate a hypothesis, test that hypothesis, then see if the results can be replicated.
This method is being applied to the question of if and how CBD calms anxious dogs. To obtain more scientific data, a second study incorporating 200 dogs and led by Colorado State University animal researcher Lori Kogan, PhD, is currently underway. It will expand on data collected during the previous research and explore dog owners’ attitudes toward CBD.
The CBD Industry Association/Okoa Pet CBD Observational Survey will assess changes in anxiety and stress-related behaviors over a two-week period. As in Dr. Silver’s study, dog owners will complete a pre-survey to establish a baseline of behaviors that typically indicate stress. They will then give their dogs a weight-appropriate dose of daily chew(s) for two weeks, after which they will complete a post-survey to assess for changes in behavior.
Each chew contains 5 mg of CBD made from broad-spectrum hemp extract and other natural calming ingredients, including tryptophan, German chamomile and choline.
Hemp Oil for Dog Anxiety
Canine anxiety is caused by a multitude of triggers that range from environmental to physical, as well as mental and emotional. Because dogs are unable to communicate with us and because we are left guessing at what might be wrong, it is difficult for humans to pinpoint exactly what the problem is with our furry companions. Most of the time, anxiety is brought on by one or more stressors that stem from one of the previously mentioned categories.
While most veterinarians will recommend prescription medication to treat this kind of ailment, there are also natural alternatives to consider as well. One of these alternatives is hemp oil for dog anxiety. For pet owners who are looking for another solution for their pet’s separation anxiety, hemp dog chews is a viable option. In fact, adding hemp products into your dog’s diet has also been shown to help with discomfort associated with daily activity and digestive issues. In the following article, we will look at the four major causes of canine anxiety and how hemp oil can help with each type of trigger.
What are the symptoms of anxiety?
Before we can delve into how hemp oil helps curb the symptoms of anxiety, we first need to establish what those symptoms are. Here are some of the most common symptoms of canine anxiety, according to The American Kennel Club :
These are just some of the behaviors that your dog may exhibit if he is suffering from anxiety. Some of the behaviors listed above mirror the signs of potentially severe medical conditions, so it is important to seek medical attention for your dog if he shows any of the aforementioned symptoms.
Sadly, there is no medical test to determine that your dog is suffering from anxiety, which means that you will likely be subjected to a multitude of tests to rule out all other medical concerns. If your dog is given a clean bill of health, but still exhibits the symptoms above, then he is suffering from anxiety.
What are the causes of anxiety?
According to Pet MD, anxiety triggers typically fall into one of the following four categories , i.e., mental, physical, emotional, and environmental. The following paragraphs detail examples of each of the potential causes of anxiety for your furry friend.
Environmental triggers are some of the most common sources of anxiety for dogs. Your dog depends on the safety and security of a stable home environment in order to center himself. It is fairly common for environmental triggers to be sources of temporary anxiety for dogs, like fireworks on the fourth of July, or trick-or-treaters on Halloween. However, long-term exposure to environmental triggers can manifest itself as severe rapid onset anxiety with little warning.
Here are some of the environmental triggers that can cause anxiety in dogs:
-Loud noises: fireworks, loud music, thunder, cars, construction
-Strangers: delivery people, mail carriers, solicitors
-New animals: a new pet in the home or building, a disruptive squirrel outside your window
Environmental triggers are largely controllable. If you are able to, remove your dog from situations where his environment is constantly filled with disruptive stimuli. The first step in treating anxiety is always an attempt at creating a soothing and comfortable environment for your dog to live in.
Mental triggers can be a bit more complex, as we are not capable of fully understanding the inner workings of the canine mind. Some examples of mental triggers are as follows:
-A trip to the vet
-Yelling and scolding
-Being left outside
-Being left alone all-day
Mental triggers take place when your dog associates an action with the memory of a previous traumatic experience. While an event may not have seemed traumatic at the time, the truth is you will never know what is or isn’t traumatic for your dog.
The age of your dog has a lot to do with anxiety and how it is manifested through behavior. Older dogs are more susceptible to sudden bouts of anxiety that come on seemingly out of nowhere. For most older dogs, mental faculties are not what they once were. This shapes how your dog sees the world and how he is able to absorb and digest information.
Anxiety can be especially bad if the inability to process information is paired with a new trigger. Likewise, older dogs take longer to bounce back from “traumatic events,” and something as routine as going to the Vet may induce anxiety in an older dog.
Physical triggers for canine anxiety are a bit more straightforward as we are able to point to physical pain as an obvious cut-and-dry symptom. The problem with physical triggers is that physical pain can linger. Even after a wound has healed or pain has subsided, the natural inclination for your dog is to remain anxious about his physical impairment, especially if your furry friend suffered from a serious injury.
-Sudden limitations in mobility
-The loss of a limb
-The loss of sight
Dogs rely heavily on their ability to be physical. As a result, any physical limitation will tend to manifest itself as anxiety due to your dog’s lack of understanding and confusion about his new circumstances . When dealing with a physical set back for your dog, it is important to try to maintain a normal routine as a way to strengthen his confidence.
Your dog is a creature of habit, and any change to the norm is liable to send him into an anxious state. Dogs are pack animals by nature and as a result, are genetically predisposed to rely on those around them for safety and security. If all of a sudden a member of the pack goes missing for long periods of time, or if a new addition is made suddenly, your dog may become anxious. Some examples of emotional triggers for canine anxiety are:
-Death of an owner
-Divorce, resulting in lack of pet/owner interaction
-A new addition to the home, i.e., a new baby or a new roommate
-Separation caused by longer work hours
Your dog is an emotional creature who needs the love and support of his owner. Any dip in the normal amount of affection you show your dog could result in the onset of canine anxiety. Remember, your dog is a creature of habit, and he does not understand sudden change.
Is there a cure for anxiety?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for anxiety as the condition itself can come and go quickly and without warning. A dog that has previously been susceptible to anxiety could wake up one day and not show signs of anxiety ever again. Similarly, a dog that has never shown any signs of anxiety could become anxious seemingly overnight.
Anxiety is not curable because it is impossible to determine the exact root cause. Additionally, because we cannot conduct psychoanalysis on our dogs, it limits our ability to come to a definitive diagnosis. All we can do is make our best-educated guess about what triggers our dog to become anxious and then limit his exposure to that trigger.
What can help with anxiety?
Due to the complex nature of anxiety, every case poses a slew of unique solutions to address it. Some vets will recommend a change in scenery or even an increase in exercise, but whatever recommendations your vet gives as far as lifestyle changes will almost always be accompanied by a prescription.
While some vets are more hesitant than others to break out the prescription pad, traditionally anxiety warrants some kind of medicinal addition.
The long-term neurological impact on your pet that ensues as a result of untreated anxiety is far worse than the damage prescription medication does to the liver and kidneys.
This is not to say that prescription medication is the only option, or that your dog will need to be on it forever. But when it comes to fighting the initial onset of anxiety in dogs, prescription medication will be an important part of your dog’s daily routine.
But what if I don’t want to expose my dog to the long term health risks of prescription medication? Enter hemp oil! For dog owners who are looking for a more natural and sustainable option for long-term health, hemp oil for dogs with separation anxiety is a very smart move. Whether you’re dog is suffering from joint discomfort , digestive issues, or the occasional bouts of anxiety, there are many benefits of hemp oil for dogs to take advantage of.
What is Hemp Oil?
Hemp oil’s main active ingredient is a chemical that your body, and your dog’s body, produces naturally. Inside your dog’s body exists a series of neurotransmitters dedicated to detecting and administering these chemicals that are called receptors.
These receptors regulate pain, nausea, and anxiety and exist because these chemicals are organically produced by the brain. Without being too detailed, the more of these specific chemicals that exist in the bloodstream, the more these receptors are triggered to block pain, alleviate stress, and combat nausea.
According to Harvard Health, hemp oil is produced by cold pressing the stems and stalks of the hemp plant by means of extracting the sap from the plant. This sap is then purified and made into oil.
As you can see, there are many uses of hemp oil for dogs and it’s a natural alternative that supports overall health.
How Does Hemp Oil help my anxious dog?
Still wondering, “ Is hemp oil good for dogs ?” Very simply, the main chemical in hemp oil works to block out the illusion of pain. Anxiety is caused by stress, which your dog then internalizes as pain. Hemp oil sends the message to your dog’s dopamine receptors that he is not in pain and balances out the stress. Dogs Naturally magazine emphasizes that hemp oil does not make your dog high . Instead, it uses the neurotransmitters that are responsible for absorption to stabilize and calm the mind and body.
Hemp oil should only be administered as directed by a veterinary professional. Before taking proactive measures to administer something new, discuss the potential side effects with a health professional. CBD will likely not cause any harm to your dog, but it is essential that you talk to your vet and find out how much hemp oil you should be giving your dog . For the most part, there is a great deal of success regarding the positive effects of treating anxiety with CBD. Talk to your vet about how hemp oil can help your anxious dog, and as always, administer with care!
Stressful Car Rides?
Whining, hyperventilating, foaming mouth – these are all signs of dog anxiety in car rides. Learn here how CBD can help put your pup at ease.
Dogs are more like their humans than you might think.
From their love of food to their snuggling habits, their similarities to us is just one of the many reasons we fall in love with them.
However, what many pet owners don’t realize is that dogs can share our anxiety as well. One of the most common causes of canine anxiety is car rides.
If your pup has ever had an adverse reaction to a car ride, you know how confusing and frustrating it can be.
Figuring Out the Root of Your Dog’s Anxiety
Before you start treating your dog’s car ride anxiety, it’s important to try to figure out the root of their fear. That can help you figure out the best approach for treating their anxiety.
One reason some dogs experience fear or nervousness when in the car is similar to why many humans hate long car rides: motion sickness.
If your dog has gotten sick during or following a car ride in the past, it could be a sign that they get motion sickness.
However, just because your dog doesn’t vomit doesn’t mean that they aren’t car sick. They may merely experience nausea, which can be almost impossible for their owners to detect.
Another reason your dog may get anxious during car rides is that they are utterly unfamiliar with them. Puppies, recently adopted dogs, or dogs who just don’t ride in the car often may all exhibit fear during even very short car rides.
The best way to figure out whether this is the case is to take your dog on frequent, short rides to get them used to the feeling. Unfortunately for any loving dog parent, it can be painful to force your dog to do something he or she hates.
Similarly, if your dog had a bad experience during a car ride, they might hate all trips after that. If you only take your dog in the car to go to the vet, they’ll expect that vet visit and act accordingly every time you carry them out to hop in the car.
Treating Your Dog’s Car Ride Anxiety
Never taking your dog on another car ride is hardly an option. After all, they’ll need to leave for yearly vet check-ups, grooming appointments, and any time you need to have them boarded.
Since that isn’t an option, you need to find out how to reduce dog car anxiety for your pup.
How you go about treating your dog’s anxiety depends on the severity and what you think could be the underlying cause.
Treating Mild Anxiety
If your dog only shows mild discomfort, start by learning how to calm a dog down in a car.
Turn on soothing music to help drown out the sound of traffic. Avoid making sudden stops or sharp turns that might excite or startle your dog. Bring along your dog’s favorite bed, blanket, and toys to give them something familiar.
You can also calm your dog down before the ride by making the few hours before the trip as calm and relaxed as possible.
Treating Severe Anxiety
When your dog exhibits extreme anxiety or fear before and during a car ride, you’ll need to do more than bring along toys or playing gentle music.
While you should at least try all of the above tips, you’ll also need to take other measures to calm your dog.
You might try scheduling your car rides only during the early morning hours when your dog may still be drowsy. Putting your dog in a dog crate in your trunk and covering the container with a blanket might help to calm your dog some.
Treating Car Sickness
If your dog experiences car sickness, merely trying to calm them down won’t do much good.
Instead, you may need to avoid feeding them for several hours before your car ride. That means plenty of planning for every trip.
Keeping them calm during the ride is still a good idea, as it can help prevent vomiting.
Treating Your Dog’s Car Anxiety
Medicating your dog with prescriptions can help ease their anxiety. However, it isn’t the healthiest choice for your dog.
It could cause other adverse reactions. So over time, your dog may grow immune to the medications effect. You’ll be back to where you started needing a different solution for calming your pup on car rides.
CBD offers a safe and effective alternative.
Dog biscuits infused with CBD or hemp oil (either added to food or directly to your pet’s mouth) can help calm and relax them before a car ride. It can also help to alleviate any nausea that your dog might experience.
Not only is it safe and great for treating your dog’s car ride anxiety, but it also provides an array of other benefits as well.
CBD oil reduces pain and inflammation, can help treat appetite loss, and even brightens your dog’s coat to give it more shine and luster.
Helping Reduce Dog Anxiety in Car Rides
If your dog experiences car ride anxiety, it can be as stressful for you as it is for your pet.
You want to protect them from the fear and nervousness. However, car rides are often necessary if you’re going to keep your dog healthy with a vet visit or comfortable with a trip to the groomer.
You could turn to prescriptions or expensive dog shirts to see if they provide your dog any relief.
However, the results of either option are mixed and could end up hurting your dog even more than their car anxiety.
Instead, it’s best to stick to natural, effective measures if you want to avoid dog anxiety in car rides and help your pup relax. If calming music or exposure therapy don’t seem to do the trick to calm them down, CBD dog biscuits and oils may be the perfect natural alternative.