CBD for Dogs with High Anxiety - Veterinarian's Opinion

CBD for Dogs with High Anxiety - Veterinarian's Opinion

Posted by Lianne McLeod D.V.M. on

CBD for Dogs with High Anxiety - Veterinarian's Opinion

If you've ever watched your furry friend pace nervously, shiver at the sound of thunder, or become a whirlwind of destruction when left alone, you know the heartache of a dog with high anxiety. Over the past few years, there's been a surge of interest in CBD (cannabidiol) as a potential remedy for our anxious pets. 

Anxiety can take a toll on dogs and their families, however, the promise of CBD, a natural compound derived from hemp, offers a beacon of hope for many pet owners searching for a gentler solution to calm their stressed-out companions.
 

cbd for dogs, veterinarian opinion
 

Understanding Anxiety in Dogs

Dogs, like humans, can suffer from anxiety for various reasons. Common triggers include separation from their owners, loud noises like fireworks or thunderstorms, unfamiliar environments, and even certain social situations. 

Recognizing the signs of anxiety is crucial. Symptoms can range from obvious behaviors like; 

  • Barking

  • Whimpering

  • Destructive Chewing 

  • Licking 

  • Panting 

  • Hiding

  • Aggression

  • Trembling

Understanding these triggers and symptoms helps in identifying when your dog might benefit from anxiety relief measures.

What is CBD?

So, what exactly is CBD? CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a naturally occurring compound found in the cannabis plant, specifically in hemp. Unlike its cousin THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD does not have psychoactive properties. 

This means it won't make your dog "high." Instead, it works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex cell-signaling system in all mammals that plays a key role in regulating a variety of functions including mood, appetite, sleep, and immune response.

The distinction between CBD and THC is vital, especially for pet parents concerned about the safety of their pets. THC is the compound associated with the psychoactive effects of marijuana and can be toxic to dogs in high doses.

CBD, on the other hand, is non-psychoactive and is generally considered safe for pets, provided it's administered in appropriate doses. This makes CBD an appealing option for treating anxiety in dogs, as it offers the potential benefits without the risks associated with THC.
 

veterinarian thoughts on dogs & cbd for anxiety
  

How Does CBD Work in Dogs?

To understand how CBD can help anxious dogs, it's essential to grasp the basics of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a complex network of receptors, enzymes, and endocannabinoids present in all mammals, including dogs.

It plays a crucial role in maintaining homeostasis, or balance, within the body by regulating a variety of physiological processes such as mood, appetite, pain sensation, and immune response.

The ECS consists of two primary types of receptors, CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are mainly found in the brain and central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are more prevalent in the peripheral organs and immune cells. When endocannabinoids (cannabinoids naturally produced by the body) bind to these receptors, they help modulate the body's response to various stimuli, ensuring stability and proper function.

CBD, or cannabidiol, uniquely interacts with the ECS. Unlike THC, which binds directly to CB1 receptors and produces psychoactive effects, CBD has a more indirect influence on the ECS. It doesn't bind directly to CB1 or CB2 receptors. Instead, it influences these receptors and enhances the body's natural production of endocannabinoids.
  

what do vets think about cbd for dog anxiety
 

Effects of CBD Use in Dogs

While research is still ongoing, many pet owners and veterinarians report positive outcomes from using CBD to treat various conditions in dogs. 

Benefits

  • Anxiety and Stress Relief: CBD helps manage separation anxiety, noise phobias, and general stress, promoting relaxation and calm.

  • Pain and Inflammation Reduction: Its anti-inflammatory properties are beneficial for dogs with arthritis or hip dysplasia, reducing pain and improving mobility.

  • Improved Appetite and Digestion: CBD stimulates appetite and supports digestive health, aiding dogs with gastrointestinal issues or those experiencing appetite loss.

  • Seizure Management: CBD’s anticonvulsant properties can reduce the frequency and severity of seizures in dogs with epilepsy.

  • Skin and Coat Health: Topical CBD soothes irritated skin, reduces itching, and promotes a healthy coat, helping dogs with allergies or skin conditions.

  • Cardiovascular Health: Emerging research indicates CBD may support heart health by reducing blood pressure and improving heart function.

  • Cancer Support: Preliminary studies suggest CBD may have anti-tumor properties and can help manage symptoms like pain, nausea, and appetite loss in dogs undergoing cancer treatment.
      

vet talks about cbd for dogs
  

Side Effects

So, while CBD can work wonders for your furry friend, there are a few side effects to keep an eye on:

  • Drowsiness: This is probably the most common one. At higher doses, CBD can make your dog a bit sleepy. This can be a godsend for anxious pups but might make others a little too relaxed.

  • Dry Mouth: CBD can reduce saliva production, which means your dog might get thirstier than usual. Just make sure they always have fresh water to sip on.

  • Lowered Blood Pressure: Sometimes, CBD can cause a temporary drop in blood pressure, making your dog feel lightheaded or dizzy. Watch out for signs of weakness or lethargy.

  • Diarrhea: Some dogs might experience a bit of tummy trouble when they first start on CBD, including diarrhea. Starting with a low dose and gradually increasing it can help keep this in check.

  • Changes in Appetite: CBD can either ramp up or suppress your dog's appetite. Keep an eye on their eating habits and tweak the dosage if needed.

  • Interactions with Other Medications: CBD can play around with the effectiveness of other meds your dog might be taking. If your pup is on other medications, have a chat with your vet to ensure there are no adverse effects.

  • Allergic Reactions: Though it's rare, some dogs might have an allergic reaction to CBD. Look out for itching, swelling, or difficulty breathing. If you notice any of these, stop using CBD and get your vet on the line.

Remember, all dogs react differently therefore it's always best to start slow and keep an eye on how your dog is doing. And of course, consult with your vet to ensure you’re making the best choices for your furry friend’s health.
  

dog trying cbd for anxiety
  

How to Identify the Best CBD Oil for Dogs

When selecting CBD oil for your dog, it's essential to choose a product that meets high standards of quality and safety. Here are some key criteria to consider:

  • Organic: Look for CBD oils made from organically grown hemp. This ensures that the product is free from harmful pesticides and chemicals.

  • Full-Spectrum: Full-spectrum CBD contains a range of cannabinoids and terpenes that work together to enhance the therapeutic effects. This is often referred to as the "entourage effect."

  • Third-Party Tested: Always choose products that have been tested by independent labs. This verification ensures the product's potency and purity, giving you peace of mind about what you're giving your pet.

  • Checking the Source and Extraction Methods: Hemp grown in regions with strict agricultural regulations is often of higher quality ensuring it is free of pesticides and heavy metals. Additionally, CO2 extraction and ethanol extraction are the preferred methods for producing CBD oil, as it preserves the beneficial compounds without leaving harmful residues. 

Recommended Brands and Products 

Choosing the right CBD oil for your dog involves careful consideration and research. Focus on high-quality, tested products, to ensure that your pet receives the best possible care and relief from anxiety.

If your dog's anxiety persists for several months after starting CBD treatment, visit your vet for further professional advice.
  

cbd for dogs in sunshine
  

How Do You Administer CBD Oil for Anxiety in Dogs?

When it comes to giving your dog CBD oil for anxiety, it’s all about finding the method that works best for both of you. CBD products come in various forms including oils, dog treats, and creams and there are a few ways to go about it.

  • Directly in the Mouth: The quickest way to get CBD into your dog's system is to administer it directly into their mouth using a dropper. Aim for under the tongue, where absorption is most efficient. It might take some training, but many dogs get used to it quickly.

  • Mixed with Food: If your dog is picky, mixing CBD oil with their regular food can be a great option. This method ensures they get their full dose without any fuss, though absorption might take a bit longer since it has to go through the digestive system.

  • In Treats: There are plenty of CBD-infused treats available on the market. These are especially handy if your dog sees treat time as a highlight of their day. Just be sure to adjust the dosage based on the treat's CBD content.

Tips for Accurate Dosage

Getting the dosage right is crucial. Before you administer any CBD products visit your Veterinarian for dosage recommendations that will work for your dog's condition, breed, and size. 

Start with the recommended dose based on your dog's body weight and monitor their response. You can gradually increase the dose if necessary. For maximum absorption, giving the oil directly in the mouth or using CBD oil products designed for higher bioavailability can be more effective.
  

woman giving her dog cbd for anxiety
  

Combining CBD and a Comprehensive Anxiety Management Plan

Incorporate CBD administration into your dog's routine alongside other treatments to get the most out of CBD. This holistic approach often yields the best results with anxious dogs, since several factors contribute to the condition. For example, noise reactivity would require some training. Here are other examples.

  • Consistent Routine

Dogs thrive on consistency. Keep feeding, walking, and bedtime schedules regular to help reduce anxiety.

  • Exercise and Mental Stimulation

Regular physical activity and mental challenges can help burn off excess energy that might otherwise contribute to anxiety.

  • Positive Reinforcement

Use training techniques that focus on positive reinforcement to help your dog cope with anxiety-inducing situations. Professional trainers can provide tailored guidance.

Final Thoughts

CBD offers a promising alternative for managing anxiety in dogs, but it’s important to approach it thoughtfully. With its promising benefits and minimal side effects, CBD can be a game-changer in managing your dog's anxiety and improving their overall quality of life.

Remember, the key to success with CBD lies in careful consideration and informed choices.  Consult with a veterinarian to ensure it's the right choice for your pet.

Start with a high-quality product designed for pets, follow the recommended dosage guidelines, and monitor your dog's response. With the right product and proper care, CBD can help your furry friend lead a calmer, happier life. 
  

two dogs taking cbd
  

Frequently Asked Questions About CBD for Dogs with High Anxiety

Can CBD help my dog's anxiety?

Yes, many dog owners report that CBD helps alleviate anxiety in their pets. While research is ongoing, anecdotal evidence and preliminary studies support its potential benefits.

Is CBD safe for dogs?

When used correctly, CBD is generally safe for dogs. It's essential to use pet-specific products and consult with a veterinarian to determine the proper dosage.

How do I choose the right CBD product for my dog?

Look for high-quality, third-party-tested products. Consult a veterinarian to determine whether full-spectrum or isolate CBD is best for your dog, and choose a form (oil, treat, capsule) that fits your pet's preferences and lifestyle.

What are the side effects of CBD in dogs?

Some dogs may experience mild side effects such as drowsiness, dry mouth, or changes in appetite. These effects are usually temporary and can be managed by adjusting the dosage.

How long does it take for CBD to work in dogs?

The onset of effects can vary. Some dogs may feel calmer within 30 minutes to an hour, while for others, it might take a few days of consistent use to notice improvements.

References

  1. García-Gutiérrez, M. S., Navarrete, F., Gasparyan, A., Austrich-Olivares, A., Sala, F., & Manzanares, J. (2020). Cannabidiol: A Potential New Alternative for the Treatment of Anxiety, Depression, and Psychotic Disorders. Biomolecules, 10(11), 1575. https://doi.org/10.3390/biom10111575

  2. Freundt-Revilla, J., Heinrich, F., Zoerner, A., Gesell, F., Beyerbach, M., Shamir, M., Oevermann, A., Baumgärtner, W., & Tipold, A. (2018). The endocannabinoid system in canine Steroid-Responsive Meningitis-Arteritis and Intraspinal Spirocercosis. PloS one, 13(2), e0187197. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0187197

  3. Silver R. J. (2019). The Endocannabinoid System of Animals. Animals: an open access journal from MDPI, 9(9), 686. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090686

  4. Yarar E. (2020). Role and Function of Endocannabinoid System in Major Depressive Disease. Medical cannabis and cannabinoids, 4(1), 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1159/000511979

  5. Ferber, S. G., Namdar, D., Hen-Shoval, D., Eger, G., Koltai, H., Shoval, G., Shbiro, L., & Weller, A. (2020). The "Entourage Effect": Terpenes Coupled with Cannabinoids for the Treatment of Mood Disorders and Anxiety Disorders. Current neuropharmacology, 18(2), 87–96. https://doi.org/10.2174/1570159X17666190903103923

  6. Flint, H. E., Hunt, A. B. G., Logan, D. W., & King, T. (2024). Daily dosing of cannabidiol (CBD) demonstrates a positive effect on measures of stress in dogs during repeated exposure to car travel. Journal of animal science, 102, skad414. https://doi.org/10.1093/jas/skad414

  7. Ferber, S. G., Namdar, D., Hen-Shoval, D., Eger, G., Koltai, H., Shoval, G., Shbiro, L., & Weller, A. (2020). The "Entourage Effect": Terpenes Coupled with Cannabinoids for the Treatment of Mood Disorders and Anxiety Disorders. Current neuropharmacology, 18(2), 87–96. https://doi.org/10.2174/1570159X17666190903103923

 

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AUTHOR

Lianne McLeod, DVM, is a former writer for The Spruce Pets, contributing articles for 11 years. Before Dr. McLeod began writing about pet care, she worked several years in small animal practice. She has written extensively about the care and keeping of exotic pets and pet health care. She now researches water quality and chronic disease at the University of Saskatchewan. Lianne McLeod earned her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. She also received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Simon Fraser University. She continued her education and received a Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the University of Saskatchewan. Now, she splits her time between her family, research and writing about pet health for all the animal lovers out there.


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