Dog’s have a few simple loves in their lives: their owners, food, and the fact they something somewhere will make them anxious.
Maybe it’s the violent thunderous roars approaching in the background. Maybe it’s a nightmare to go walks because your pup can’t stay calm and barks at other dogs. Whatever it is, your pup is suffering and needs help.
In just a few years, CBD products have skyrocketed in use, and many pet owners are finding it to be the perfect solution for treating anxiety. Today, we are talking all things CBD and anxiety. If you have questions like “how much CBD hemp oil should I give my dog for anxiety”, “does CBD oil work for dogs afraid of storms”, or “are you sure it’s not snake oil”, then you’re in the right place!
How Does CBD Help Calm Anxiety In Dogs?
The more we learn about CBD products, the more we’re surprised to find out how many ways CBD works to improve health in the body. Within us, our dogs, and all mammals is a complex and sophisticated system of communication.
Cells are constantly sending and receiving messages to each other, across organs, to the brain, etc. and this allows all the different internal systems to function in harmony. Located on the cells are different receptors and when they receive a message, they read it and initiate either a physiological or cognitive process.
At the center of all of this is the brain, which produces special neurotransmitters called endocannabinoids that attach to a long list of receptors in the body. These messengers are the brain’s personal body regulators and will get an internal function back in place if it goes haywire — diseases, stress, poor sleep, fatty foods, etc can all cause an internal process to do this, so the brain creates a lot of endocannabinoids.
The Boss and Brain Analogy
Here is a great analogy to explain how endocannabinoids are so vital to organisms. First, some backstory. Your dog is having a bad day — you forgot to feed them because you were running late for work and there is new terribly loud construction happening outside. This comes together and weakens your dog’s defense against stress.
Think of your dog as a 10-story building. The brain is the top floor boss and notices that level 3 “Department of Flight-or-Fight” isn’t functioning because too many of the workers are sick today.
The workers start yelling, fighting, and are now affecting floors two’s “Department of Pain Perception” ability to work now. The boss corrects this by sending special workers (endocannabinoids) down both stories to fix the issues and stop the workers from fighting.
If too many of the departments starts malfunctioning, the brain runs out of these temporary workers, and the business starts crumbling. The workers start sending the wrong messages out, or they get corrupted which freaks out the other workers and even the boss. This is how chronic anxiety happens along with chronic pain, inflammation, etc.
Anxiety is healthy up until the point where it becomes hypersensitive to things that shouldn’t stress an organism out. Maybe you’ve felt anxious, you know the reason why, and can see it’s not a big deal, but you still can’t stop feeling anxious.
Dogs do the same thing, only they can’t comprehend it like us. If only there was a way to produce more endocannabinoids so they can help keep your dog’s perception of anxiety balanced. OH WAIT!!!
CBD Promotes Endocannabinoid Production and The Endocannabinoid System
The main molecules in CBD products are phytocannabinoids that are very similar looking to the endocannabinoids mammals produce. So similar, in fact, that CBD products will naturally increase endocannabinoid levels and appear to attach to all of the same receptors that endocannabinoids do.
With this, we see improvements not only with anxiety but with health in general.
Endocannabinoids and the receptors they naturally attach to — CB1 & CB2 — is called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). Now endocannabinoids don’t stop there! They will also attach to receptors found outside the ECS to extend their therapeutic reach — as seen with Serotonin 5-HT1A Receptors.
Serotonin 5-HT1A Receptors
Dogs love exercising, running, and playing. OK, that’s an understatement, dogs are obsessed with it. And unlike us, they get pretty moody even if they skip a vigorous day of running around until their bodies give out.
In truth, most mammals feel better after getting in a good run, and see improvements in mood and are less hypersensitive to both pain and stress. As well, they become more sociable and less aggressive.
One of the big reason for this is because exercising produces different chemicals (dopamine, endocannabinoids, etc.) that activate 5-HT1A receptors. Studies show that lots of exercising will continue to activate these receptors making you and your dog more resistant to stress-induced anxiety and depression.
Hemp CBD can influence serotonin 5-HT1A receptors by naturally increasing endocannabinoids — just like exercising — and it will attach to the receptors when endocannabinoids are in short supply.
What Forms Of Anxiety Can CBD Help With?
CBD can help with all forms of anxiety regardless of the source — this is thanks to the multiple pathways that CBD takes in the body. While success in anxiety relief is seen in most conditions, the degree of success you’ll see from CBD will depend on the severity of the condition.
We commonly categorized anxiety in dogs into two main forms: situational and behavioral.
CBD And Situational Anxiety
Dog’s are more anxious than other animals, and this often due to situational anxiety. Situational anxiety includes things like loud noises, fireworks, thunderstorms, and travel.
For this type of anxiety, temporary relief is all that is needed in most cases, and CBD treats are great for it. To grasp how CBD feels think of it like an over-the-counter. You give your dog a CBD treat, it starts working an hour later, and relief lasts for 6-8 hours.
The anxiety either dissipates or is muted, like when you take Advil for a headache. There is no high, altered perception or motor control, etc. — just like taking an OTC.
Situational anxiety can morph into behavioral or learned anxiety. Dogs are naturally afraid of loud noises, but we often respond to them in ways that reinforce this fear increasing the anxiety.
CBD and Behavioral Anxiety
Because many dogs are prone to anxiety, we often make mistakes when they are young and turn temporary triggers that go away with age into lifelong problems.
Extreme reactions to loud noises, separation anxiety, and aggressive behavior are the three most mentioned issues when we talk about behavioral anxiety. What happens is we see our dog experience anxiety, but end up doing things that make it worse — like running over to help, changing our voices, etc.
This tells them that there is a reason they should be afraid. If you let them face the anxiety on their own, they will get over it. They’re just puppies they get scared, try and let them be unless there is an immediate danger.
In the case of puppies having accidents in the house, raising your voice and even scolding can worsen the situation. You’ll have way more luck by giving them a calm but firm no, then taking them outside.
Now, you cannot use CBD to solely treat behavioral anxiety — only corrective training can cure the issue. However, this form of anxiety results in destruction — CBD can be used to keep your pup calm enough where they don’t destroy things.
It can stop a panic attack from happening or keep them calm enough where they can be introduced to another dog. This is great as training is difficult and can take several months to set in.
Treats Vs Tinctures
There are a lot of different CBD products out there, and it gets confusing even for people who work in the field. With pets, you have three options: oil/tincture, capsules, and treats. They all contain full spectrum hemp extract with phytocannabinoids or cannabidiol (CBD).
This means that you can expect them to treat medical conditions in the same way. There are a few minor differences between hemp treats, tinctures, and capsules. The only major difference will be the time it takes for CBD to enter the bloodstream. Regardless of the form, CBD will work for around 6 hours.
The biggest advantage of CBD doggie edibles is they couldn’t be easier to give, and they are inconspicuous.
The first negative is their one-size-fits-all dosage — don’t worry you can’t give too much CBD, but higher levels can make your pet tired. You can always break them in half, just don’t expect a precise dose — not a big deal for most dogs.
The second negative of hemp dog chews is the time they take to start working. Treats, like capsules, will have to pass through the digestive system before it’s absorbed into the bloodstream. This takes anywhere between 30-60 min depending on how long ago your pup ate.
The biggest advantage of the tincture is their ability to precisely dose at whatever amount you want. The other big advantage is the longer the oil can stay on, preferably under the tongue, the faster CBD will kick in.
This, of course, will be difficult for dogs so expect anywhere from 15-30 minutes. If you took the oil and held it under your tongue for a minute, you could start feeling relief in just 10 minutes.
The negative with tinctures is it’s harder to give than a treat, and aren’t as inconspicuous. You can always drop it in their food however or make your own treats.
How Much CBD Should I Give My Dog For Anxiety
How much CBD you give your dog will depend on their weight, medical condition, and unique body chemistry. Use this CBD calculator to find the low, medium, and high dose for your pet.
The medium or average tier works bests for most chronic conditions including anxiety. CBD has a biphasic effect where high doses become more tiring than stimulating — not really needed for anxiety, more so for insomnia.
A general dosage is all that is needed for the large majority of dogs. As long as your CBD is derived from hemp not marijuana, no amount is going to get them high or cause side effects.
If your dog is on a prescription drug metabolized in the liver, a precise dosage may be required. CBD temporarily deactivate a type of enzyme in the liver, and this can delay the drug’s metabolization potentially raising its potency. If that is a concern, you’re better off with the tincture for dosing.
Your veterinarian can help you out further and if you’re looking for more information on all things CBD and pets, check out Pet cbd oil.