Coping with anxiety can be challenging, especially when it affects your dog. Unfortunately, you can’t take them to therapy. There are, however, natural treatments that may help. CBD is one of the most promising options and is being used by humans too. Combined with behavioral strategies and care, it could be the answer for your pup’s anxiety.
How CBD Works
Like humans, dogs have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that modulates their mood, sleep, metabolism, and stress. The ECS comprises lipids and proteins that transmit chemicals throughout the nervous and peripheral systems. CBD binds to receptors in the ECS, reducing pain and opening the gates to stress-relieving serotonin. This makes it a remarkable substance for promoting balance throughout several different body systems.
Anxiety often stems from several interacting factors. CBD can work to tackle these problems with a multifaceted approach. It facilitates the connection of your dog’s endocannabinoid chemicals and receptors to stimulate their natural ability to create serotonin, a natural mood stabilizer.
Like THC, CBD is found in the cannabis plant but does not have any psychoactive properties. To be legally classified as CBD, a product must contain less than 0.3% THC and be derived from industrial hemp. However, CBD doesn’t typically have psychoactive effects, and psychoactive properties are not required to see powerful benefits.
Understanding and Treating Anxiety in Pets
Before considering CBD for your dog, evaluate the possible cause(s) of their anxiety. Dogs experience fear and stress just like humans. They are also prone to separation anxiety, which can manifest as destructive behaviors, pica, lethargy, and poor appetite. Here are some common causes of anxiety in dogs:
- unfamiliar environments
- isolation from you or other companions (separation anxiety)
- fear of loud noises, cars, water, etc.
- encountering aggression from other animals
- pests (fleas, ticks, etc.)
Ideally, you could spare your dog these experiences, but that’s not always feasible. You still need to leave for work, moving to a new house can be necessary, and you can’t stop thunder or fireworks from happening.
Dogs also experience anxiety when they’re sick or in pain. If your furry friend seems stressed, do a health check. Everything from an upset tummy to dermatitis can lead to anxiety. Older dogs tend to develop arthritis and other pain conditions. Chronic pain has a waterfall effect, contributing to lethargy and digestive issues — which result in yet more pain and anxiety. Regardless of the reason, you are left to search for a solution to help relieve your pup’s anxiety.
Because CBD naturally provides holistic support throughout the body, it offers a broad treatment option — perfect for solving your pet’s interacting health conditions. It also boosts their mood and appetite, which tend to decline when they’re experiencing pain or stress. In short, CBD may be able to help treat both the symptom and the cause.
How to Use CBD Oil for Your Dog’s Anxiety
Some pet parents use CBD to help anxiety caused by psychological or social factors (separation, fear, etc.). This is most effective when you pair CBD with behavioral interventions. For example, if your fur baby has separation anxiety, CBD can supplement other strategies, such as playing music or leaving a well-worn, familiar-smelling clothing item with them.
If they get anxious at the dog park or when out for a walk, give them a dose of CBD before leaving and continue to distract them from their stressors with toys or treats and reinforce any good behavior. CBD can provide general mood regulation as you work in tandem to reduce as many stress factors as possible.
Are there any side effects of CBD for dogs?
CBD naturally interacts with your dog’s endocannabinoid system, making it a viable alternative to pain-relieving and anti-anxiety pharmaceuticals that may harm your pet’s liver. Unfortunately, CBD occasionally causes some uncomfortable side effects in canines, including:
- decreased saliva production, leading to dry mouth and increased thirst
- drowsiness and lethargy
- decrease in blood pressure, potentially causing dizziness
- vomiting or diarrhea
These effects are more common with higher dosages of CBD, so be sure that you’re giving your fluffy friend only the amount they need. And always start small and build up the dose to the desired level. This gives your pup time to get used to the CBD.
Note that veterinarians are not yet permitted to prescribe or dispense CBD. However, they are allowed to discuss risks, benefits, and dosage suggestions. If you plan to use CBD for your dog’s anxiety, let your vet know so they can check for any interactions with pharmaceuticals they may need to prescribe your pup.
How much CBD should you give your dog for anxiety?
There is no precise dosing chart as each animal reacts differently to CBD, much like humans do to medications. To minimize side effects while maximizing benefits, most people give their pets a small dose of CBD every day. The cumulative benefit helps keep your pet calm while progressively restoring balance to their bodily systems.
Some veterinarians suggest dosages of 0.05 to 0.25 mg per pound of body weight (e.g. for a 25-pound dog, give 1.25 mg daily) For general mood support and anxiety relief, go lower. Dogs experiencing a lot of pain or severe distress can receive a higher dose. Once you find a dose that works, stick with it unless it stops working.
Note that many CBD products are suspended in a carrier oil. To measure the dosage you need, check the concentration on the package. It’s usually listed as “X mg/mL.” To get the correct amount of CBD in milligrams, divide the desired dose by X. That’s the amount you need to use in milliliters.
CBD generally starts relieving symptoms of anxiety within 15 to 20 minutes. However, different dogs have different metabolic rates. Sometimes, it can wear off relatively quickly. That’s why it’s a good idea to regularly give your dog a small dose. It will gradually build up in their system.
What type of CBD is best for dogs?
You should only use full- or broad-spectrum CBD oil — ideally organic. Check the label to be sure the product is not “hempseed oil” or another CBD knock-off. Avoid cheaper oils extracted through solvents (e.g. propane or butane), as these chemicals leave residues that may be harmful to your furry friend. CBD isolate often isn’t as effective for dogs because it lacks trace cannabinoids that create the entourage effect. As dogs have fewer receptors, you do want a high-potency product. Ideally, you give your pet a full-spectrum organic CBD product that was created via CO2 extraction, which releases high-potency oil with minimal side effects.
Never use a product that contains more than 0.3% THC as this substance can be toxic for dogs. However, trace amounts (such as what you’d find in full-spectrum oil) are okay. In fact, they may have a synergistic effect with CBD, improving its benefits.
Not sure if your dog will take to having oil dripped on their tongue? Good news: there are plenty of pet-friendly CBD products on the market, including treats and chews! These are pre-dosed, so be sure to monitor how much CBD your pup is actually consuming. Again, look for products made with organic, authentic CBD oil. Hempseed oil has no therapeutic benefits.
If you’re ready to try CBD to relieve your dog’s anxiety, you’ll need to find the right product.
At Pinnacle Hemp, our oil is extracted from 100% organic industrial hemp. It is non-GMO, PG-free, PEG-free, and contains all the trace cannabinoids needed to make our oils potent and safe.