CBD for Dog Anxiety:
A Comprehensive Guide for Safe and Effective Use
Understanding Dog Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms, and Effects
Like humans, dogs can experience anxiety as a healthy—albeit unpleasant—emotion. It is an essential awareness of social situations and self-preservation affecting all dogs regardless of the breed.
Dog owners need to remember that anxiety in our beloved animals can become a problem when these emotions become more frequent. When left unchecked they also can result in behavioral and other issues developing.
We can understand dog anxiety better by knowing the three factors that cause it.
Dogs can be triggered by many situations such as loud noises, strange people, new environments, car journeys, and even grass or wooden floors.
The American Kennel Club has famously stated that separation anxiety affects 14% of dogs, but according to Certapet’s study of post-pandemic dog separation anxiety, the number is significantly higher. It results in an inability to find comfort when alone or separated from family members and can often result in urinating, defecation, barking, and destroying furniture.
More specifically for older dogs of 8 years or more, age-related anxiety is associated with cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) similar to early-stage Alzheimer’s – a decline of memory, learning, perception, and awareness. It often leads to confusion as well as anxiety.
CBD Oil for Dog Anxiety: How It Works and Its Benefits
Previously, there was almost no research into the viability of CBD treatment for dogs with anxiety issues. However, a 2023 study from Frontiers has now bolstered the claims many of us in the CBD industry have long expressed – that CBD can help alleviate anxiety in dogs.
CBD is known to affect cortisol levels—the stress hormone—which, for dogs, is a significant contributing factor to anxiety. In the study,
The Waltham Petcare Science Institute study concluded that “some measures of stress in dogs were significantly affected following administration of CBD, suggesting it may have efficacy as an intervention for acute stress in dogs.”
In addition to testing, they made observations of the dogs. Those who received CBD appeared less sad, stressed, and uncomfortable. The dogs also appeared more explorative in both the fear and separation situations.
This recent study may be the first to truly shine a light on CBD treatment for dogs with anxiety, but there have been previous studies into its effectiveness for other common health problems. A study at Colorado State University found a lot of promise in its use for controlling epilepsy and seizures. Another from Cornell University found that it could also help with canine arthritis.
Different Forms of CBD for Dogs
There are generally three forms of CBD for dogs, each designed to make administering CBD easier and more suitable for different situations.
CBD pet oil or tincture is fast acting and can be dropped either directly into their mouth. The oil metabolizes quickly meaning that it is quite fast acting and you can give it multiple times a day depending on the dosage and specifications.
CBD treats and biscuits are arguably the most popular for your furry friend because who doesn’t love a biscuit? They are especially suitable for dogs with a good appetite and are often meat flavored.
CBD capsules can be opened and mixed into your dog’s food, or given as a pill if they are comfortable with taking it. Adding it into water is possible, but it may affect the concentration of the CBD as the cannabinoids could begin breaking down from contact with the air, assuming that your dog won’t drink an entire bowl of water in one sitting.
How to Choose the Best CBD for Your Anxious Dog
CBD products for pets are almost as varied as those for humans. You should only purchase 100% organic CBD, derived from high-quality cannabis, grown and cultivated free from heavy metals and pesticides. At King Harvest, we can guarantee that all of our products are lab-tested CBD of the highest quality possible.
Pet CBD products tend to be in the form of tinctures and meat-flavored treats. You may wonder, can you use your own CBD tincture for your dog?
There is a very good reason why pet-specific CBD exists. Normal CBD products can include additives that are fine for us but unsafe for pets. Xylitol in particular is extremely toxic for both dogs and cats. There is also a big difference in flavoring between human and pet ones. While we may prefer flavors like watermelon or apple, pet CBD is often meat-flavored to make it more of a treat for our furry friends.
The final reason is to do with dosage. Normal CBD tends to have higher concentrations so you cannot assume that the dose will be the same for you as it is for your dog.
CBD Dosage for Dogs: A Guide to Safe and Effective Use
According to the Frontiers study, a measure of 4 mg/kg body weight was calculated for the forty dogs taking part. This is a good place to start.
We would suggest monitoring your pet closely during the first two to three days which is when you can expect to start seeing the effect. After three to five days, it is possible to adjust the dosage but keep the adjustments small and give them some time to take effect.
Potential Side Effects of CBD Oil in Dogs: What You Need To Know
If you do give your dog CBD, you need to know that there may be some side effects. Based on current research, the side effects are not serious but are worth being aware of.
CBD is known to cause a dry sensation in the mouth because it inhibits the production of saliva. This will increase thirst so be sure to keep your dog’s water bowl topped up with fresh water.
The calming sensation of CBD is one of the main reasons it is used therapeutically, however, if the dose is too high it can lead to excessive drowsiness in your dog. This is why it is so important to start with the measure of 4 mg/kg body weight and adjust it accordingly within the first three to five days.
Vomiting and diarrhea
In quite rare cases, your dog may experience an adverse reaction to the taste of CBD resulting in vomiting. If you use poor-quality CBD or non-pet CBD products, they may include other toxic substances such as xylitol that can result in diarrhea.
Studies have shown that CBD can temporarily reduce blood pressure in dogs so keep an eye on any signs of dizziness. If your dog has low blood pressure normally, consult your veterinarian before trying CBD.
Prescription Medications vs. CBD to Treat Dog Anxiety: Pros and Cons
The debate surrounding CBD vs prescription medication is a furious one. Depending on the source and their vested interests, you can find compelling arguments for and against both treatments.
A large amount of pushback against CBD treatment for dog anxiety has been due to a lack of research and poor regulation within the CBD industry. Fortunately, research is now beginning to shine a light on the true effects of CBD and its benefits, but poor-quality products are still rife.
That is why we always repeat the message that you need to consider the source of your CBD and not the price. Make sure that you are only purchasing from reputable and licensed distributors who sell lab-tested products of the highest quality.
For both animals and humans, medication for anxiety tends to revolve around antidepressants. While these may work for some dogs with severe anxiety, if your dog’s levels of anxiety are mild, they are an overkill solution. Worse still, there is a good chance your dog could develop a dependency on antidepressants and will require treatment for the rest of its life.
Whether you are comfortable with that level of medication is a personal choice. At King Harvest, we prefer to go the natural, high-quality, lab-tested route.
Final Thoughts: Is CBD a Good Option for Your Anxious Dog?
We care deeply about the health and well-being of our beloved dogs. Based on all of the research available into both CBD and traditional pharmaceutical treatment, we are convinced that CBD is a far more holistic and less invasive approach to treating anxiety in dogs.
Because CBD pet products are a natural solution, it is something that dog parents can try without the need for prescriptions. While we always suggest doing your research and consulting with a veterinarian if you are unsure, it is worth testing even for a short period to see if your dog is susceptible to it. Remember that there is no research to suggest any severe side effects, so it’s worth a try at least.