The life of a dog isn’t always all belly rubs and nap times. Dogs experience many of the same emotions humans do, and unfortunately, anxiety is something we share. Anxious dogs are stressed, nervous, and sometimes afraid. They overreact to certain situations, and their apprehension interferes with quality of life. While counting to 10 and meditating helps some humans deal with moments of unease, dogs rely on their owners to help them manage their emotions in healthy ways.
There’s a long list of medications veterinarians often recommend for anxious dogs, but holistic vets are recognizing the physical and psychological benefits of a more natural substance. CBD oil from hemp is an all-natural compound used to treat a number of ailments in both humans and dogs. Studies show CBD oil helps people find relief from anxiety, and similarities between the human and canine endocannabinoid systems support the belief it’s also an effective treatment for dogs.
Anxiety in Dogs
Anxiety in dogs presents itself in many ways. For some pups, overwhelming emotions result in what behaviorists call displacement behaviors. This is when a dog exhibits a normal behavior outside of what would be normal context. Shaking their entire body as if wet when they’re perfectly dry and scratching when they’re not itchy are examples.2 Anxious dogs may also yawn, lick their lips, and widen their eyes to look like little half moons.
Some signs of anxiety in dogs are subtle hints of discomfort, and other dogs express their nerves with more prominent behaviors. These excessive stress behaviors could include incessant barking or whining.2 A dog that is anxious when alone might also try and chew their way out of a door. A puppy that’s afraid of loud noises might jump through a glass window during a thunderstorm. These potentially dangerous behaviors are often triggered by something specific, while other dogs have more generalized anxiety that doesn’t have an obvious cause.
The Facts on CBD Oil From Hemp
CBD is a type of compound called a cannabinoid found in cannabis. Marijuana may be the first type of cannabis that comes to mind, but for treating dogs, experts turn toward marijuana’s relative—hemp. Both marijuana and hemp have CBD, but hemp is chosen as the safer treatment because of what it lacks. Along with CBD, marijuana also has a different type of cannabinoid called THC. THC is the compound responsible for making people high, and it’s also considered dangerous for dogs. Hemp, however, has all the CBD that marijuana does, but it only has negligible amounts of THC.3 With less than .3% THC, CBD oil from hemp is legal in all 50 states, and most veterinarians agree it’s safe for dogs.
The reason behind the many health benefits of CBD oil has to do with the body’s endocannabinoid system. All mammals have this network of cannabinoid receptors that serve as the body’s control center for health. The system’s job is to increase and decrease immune response based on what’s going on in the body to maintain overall health.1
When introduced to the body, CBD oil activates those cannabinoid receptors. It opens up two-way communication between receptors located everywhere including organ tissue, glands, the brain, and the nervous system. With that extra stimulation, the body can then move forward with the needed response to target a specific problem and bring the body back into homeostasis.
Using CBD Oil to Treat Anxiety
Activating the endocannabinoid system opens the door for the body to signal the brain about what’s going on. Chemicals are at the root of anxiety, and through chemical transmissions, the endocannabinoid system can tell the brain to release calming signals. The improved communication between cannabinoid receptors allows the body to release tension and calm down.
In a study exploring the affects of CBD oil on people with anxiety, it was found that by interacting with the endocannabinoid system, CBD oil decreases the levels of subjective anxiety in relation to cerebral blood flow. Because the human and canine endocannabinoid systems are alike, experts predict the results are the same with man’s best friend.4
When using CBD oil to treat a dog’s situational anxiety, it’s usually recommend to administer the treatment up to 30 minutes before the dog is expected to be overcome by emotion. If the dog is usually nervous at the vet, for example, their owner could administer CBD oil before they leave the house for the appointment. This will give the endocannabinoid system time to respond and help the dog stay calm. The newness of using CBD oil with dogs means dosing isn’t exact, but the most widely accepted suggestion is 1-5 mg per 10 pounds of the dog’s body weight.1 A push for more studies is expected to soon result in a greater understanding in exactly how CBD oil can be used to treat canine anxiety.
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These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional.