There’s nothing worse than knowing that your fur-baby is having a difficult time navigating anxiety attacks. Some dogs are more anxious than others, while others freak out during specific situations (like thunderstorms or fireworks). But what to do about it?
You can sign up for behavioral training, but often this isn’t quite enough. While some of the destructive behaviors that accompany dog anxiety may decrease, the underlying stress can remain. Xanax is available for dogs, but just as with humans, there are side effects. That’s where CBD comes in.
What is CBD, and How Can it Help?
CBD is cannabidiol, a compound extracted from the hemp plant. Like its cousin THC, it has various potential health benefits, but unlike THC, it doesn’t offer a “high.” Mostly legal in all fifty states and with a good safety profile, many people take CBD for health and wellness purposes.
But is it safe for dogs? Absolutely. CBD works in the human body by interacting with the endocannabinoid system. C1 receptors are prolific in the central nervous system, while the peripheral nervous system houses mainly C2 receptors. By a chemical process in the body, the cannabinoids (including CBD, THC, and about 100 others) act within these receptors to promote homeostasis in the body.
Humans aren’t the only ones with endocannabinoid systems. Dogs, cats, rodents all have this system too. There are very few animals that don’t have at least a primitive form of the endocannabinoid system.
The benefits of CBD in both humans and animals are still being researched, but preliminary studies and anecdotal evidence are quite promising. So much so that the CBD industry has undergone an enormous boom in the last several years. The potential benefits of CBD in humans (and animals) include:
- Pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties
- Reducing anxiety and stress
- Modulation of the nervous and immune systems
CBD Products for Pets
The CBD industry for animals has grown right alongside that of CBD for humans. While THC has been found to be toxic for dogs, they tolerate CBD quite well. You can easily find companies that sell CBD tinctures for pets, as well as easy-to-give treats.
While many use CBD treats to help give relief to their older pets with arthritis, others discover that it helps calm anxiety. The best way to start your dog on a CBD regimen for anxiety is to work with your veterinarian. Many vets have incorporated the use of CBD into their practice despite the lack of research.
Because the studies have yet to catch up to the popularity of CBD, there isn’t a standardized dosing chart. But a vet (especially one who is well-versed in CBD) will have a good idea of what dose is best for specific sized dogs and how to increase or decrease the dose safely. You especially want to be careful when starting CBD for dogs that are already taking other medications. Your vet can help you navigate all of this.
What To Look for CBD Products for Your Dog
Our dogs are our family and deserve just as much research into their CBD products as we’d put into our own. The problem with the CBD market is that it is so popular that many companies are churning out cheap, ineffective products. The FDA does not yet regulate CBD, so you have to look into the claims for yourself to make sure you get CBD products worth using.
When you’re shopping for CBD for your dog, there are several things to look for.
#1 Is the CBD Company Reputable? Do a little research into the company. How long has it been around? (The industry is young, so you can find many excellent brands that have been around for only a few years). Have they won any awards? Have they been mentioned in any third-party publications? Do they belong to any industry organizations like the Hemp Roundtable?
#2 Do They Display Third-Party Lab Tests on Their Product Page?
This is one of the most crucial things to confirm when shopping for CBD. It’s the only way to determine whether the advertising matches reality. Anyone can say they have X mg of CBD in their product or are free from toxins and additives, but how do they prove it?
The only truly transparent way to do this is to have an independent lab test the product for potency and purity. The results of this testing should be easily accessible–ideally right on the product page itself.
#3 Check the Reviews
Take a look at what other dog owners are saying about the product. This includes looking at the reviews on the company website itself (and the more reviews you find here, the better.) Also, look for reviews by third-party websites. What are people using CBD for- anxiety or pain? What effects have they noticed on their pets? Do their pets like the taste of the CBD treats?
Finding the Right Combination for Your Dog
Once you find a reputable company with a well-regarded product, it’s time to test the waters. Again, it is best to work with your vet to try to find the perfect dosing schedule. You may decide to use a tincture (if your dog is okay with medications, you should be able to do this easily). Squirt the proper dose into their mouth. You may also decide to use a CBD chew or treat if they aren’t the best with taking medicine; either is fine.
Now, watch for the results. Do you notice that your dog’s anxious behaviors are decreasing? Do they seem calmer? If not, continue to work with the vet to increase the dose. Give it time to work, ideally for a couple of weeks. If you find that the product isn’t working out, most reputable companies offer a money-back guarantee on their products.
Given the safety of CBD use for animals, it doesn’t hurt to try CBD, and it can certainly help. Just be sure to buy from a well-regarded company that provides third-party lab tests. Your best friend may just be on the journey towards a less anxious life.