Does your dog cower under the bed on the Fourth of July or whimper for hours when a pack member leaves the house? If so, your furry friend may have anxiety. Fortunately, CBD, along with training and other techniques, may offer a safe means of helping your dog stay happy and calm. Here’s what you need to know.
Why Do Dogs Experience Anxiety?
Dogs (and cats, for that matter) experience a range of complex emotions, just like us humans. That’s a good thing in that they can feel happiness and love. But it’s not so great when it comes to negative emotions like anxiety and stress.
The other unfortunate similarity between dogs and (many) humans is that our furry friends tend to have trouble modulating their emotions or expressing their feelings. When they’re afraid, stressed, or worried, they might act out or, conversely, become withdrawn and sheepish. It’s up to us pet parents to be attuned to their needs and behaviors and do our best to make them feel secure.
Unfortunately, some triggers we can’t prevent, such as a thunderstorm or neighbors setting off fireworks. Certain holidays, like Halloween and the Fourth of July, can be incredibly hard for dogs. These kinds of events are known as “situational” triggers. In these circumstances, CBD may help your pup stay calm.
CBD may also help your furry friend stay level-headed if they have behavioral anxiety issues, though in this case, CBD is usually most useful in conjunction with training. Behavioral anxiety includes separation anxiety and aggressive behavior (which can result from stress or fear).
Symptoms of Anxiety in Dogs
Since dogs can’t use their words to tell us what’s wrong (though some may try!), their humans need to know the signs that something is up. Symptoms of anxiety can include:
- Aggression (such as nipping or barking)
- Nervously licking the lips
- Urinating indoors despite being toilet trained
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty sleeping
Side Effects of Anti-Anxiety Medications
Anxiety can strain and stress your dog’s brain and body in the short and long-term. In addition to reducing a dog’s quality of life, chronic anxiety can increase their risk of cardiovascular issues, depression, and other ailments over time.
Prescription medications are available, but, similar to those designed for humans, anti-anxiety meds for pets tend to have high risk of side effects. These include dry mouth, sedation, lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and restlessness.
How CBD Can Help Your Pup Stay Calm
CBD works in pets much the same way it works in our bodies. Dogs have the same kind of endocannabinoid system (ECS) as we do. This intricate network, which spans the brain, nervous system, and the rest of the body, is responsible for regulating several nervous, cardiovascular, and immune system processes. It consists of a network of endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes. Phytocannabinoids (plant-derived cannabinoids) like CBD interact with the ECS by mimicking endocannabinoids (cannabinoids made in the body). This helps the ECS function better.
Unlike its more famous counterpart THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD interacts with the CB2 receptors instead of CB1 receptors. Subsequently, CBD does not produce a “high” feeling like THC does. CBD products can contain up to 0.3%, the maximum amount that is federally legal. This amount is not nearly enough to have a psychoactive effect, and it is safe for pets.
More research is needed to examine the effects of CBD in dogs for anxiety and other issues. However, studies to date have yielded promising results. In addition to confirming CBD is safe and non-toxic to our four-legged pals, researchers have found it may help our animal friends remain pain-free. A study published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science in July 2018, for instance, found that dogs with arthritis that took CBD experienced a significant decrease in pain and inflammation.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) and other animal organizations have addressed CBD use for pets. Most, the AKC included, agree it may be beneficial to help pets continue feeling their best.
While CBD is not a cure, it may help your pet maintain a sense of well-being and relaxation, even in stressful situations. Be sure to talk with your vet before making any changes to your furry friend’s diet or wellness regimen.