How CBD Oil Can Help Ease Your Dog’s Anxiety
While therapy and prescription medications are both common methods to help people who live with anxiety, more and more are turning to CBD oil to help ease their anxiety. CBD oil has been directly linked with helping to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression in humans, and as society becomes more educated about the benefits of CBD oil for humans, we are also becoming more aware of CBD oil for dog anxiety in Canada.
Just like humans, dogs can display nervous tendencies, anxieties, or erratic behaviour. It’s essential to be aware of these behaviours, as sometimes, they can signify more than just an “off day” for your pet. It’s important to spot the warning signs if your dog is displaying anxiety or anxious tendencies. Anxiety can be crippling and take a toll on a human’s mental and physical health, and it can do the same to your furry friend. The good news is that just like we can seek help, our pups can benefit from support too.
What causes anxiety in dogs?
Dogs are incredibly perceptive due to their heightened senses. While this can make them great companions, it can also contribute to feelings of anxiety.
According to Psychology Today, your pup’s hearing is four times as sensitive as yours. Dogs can hear things from much farther away then we can, and they can sense even the slightest change in our weather. This explains why some pups end up barking or getting tense before we even begin to hear thunder or see lightning. While this is just one example, there are many events and situations that may trigger a dog’s anxiety as every dog has different experiences interacting with humans, dogs, and other animals:
For some dogs, anxiety is a genetic trait they’ve inherited based on their breed. For example, if your dog is a working breed like a Border Collie, they may develop anxiety from lack of exercise and stimuli.
Fear is a survival instinct for dogs, and this instinct can cause nervousness or anxiety when dogs are fearful of an individual, item, place, future event, or less than desirable circumstances.
Anxiety in dogs is often triggered by anticipation of a situation, such as separation from their owner, an event like grooming, vet visits, or boarding. Like humans, dogs often experience anxiety in different ways and in response to different situations. For example, while some dogs may love car rides, anticipation of a car ride may trigger feelings of anxiety in dogs who associate cars with unpleasant events.
Separation anxiety is a real thing for many dogs and is common among various breeds. In some cases, it may be the anticipation of separation that may trigger a pup's anxiety. Other times, it may be the length of time or circumstances under which this separation occurs that triggers their anxiety. The separation that may cause anxiety can vary between grooming or vet visits, an owner leaving the house, cars, or even a specific room, depending on the severity of their separation anxiety.
Some dogs fear specific situations, occurrences, or individuals based on their own experiences and associations. It is important to try to identify the specific things your dog is scared of to better understand their anxiety, how it’s triggered, and how to help calm them. That said, if your dog’s phobia is grooming, this event is essential for the hygiene of your pet. In these cases, coping mechanisms or measures like CBD oil may be necessary to help these outings be less nerve-wracking and stressful for your dog.
Just like people, dogs can develop anxiety as a result of past experiences, or increased awareness due to fears, phobias, and anxieties. Anxiety can also be triggered by reduced ability to perform actions like they used to due to reduced mobility, sight, or hearing that can come with old age.
Dogs need socialization, just like we do. To be comfortable in various situations, dogs need to be socialized with humans of different ages and genders, as well as varying dog breeds. For example, if your dog is typically exposed to females, you may find that they react differently to males.
Socialization in general is essential for dogs to successfully interact without aggression or feelings of anxiety. Specifically, socialization is essential in the first 14 weeks of a dog’s life. A lack of socialization during this critical development period can have lifelong impacts on a dog. It is often suggested that dogs be exposed to dog parks and other social scenarios with other dogs and humans during this important development period.
Dogs’ anxieties are often triggered by past experiences with specific individuals, events, or situations. If a dog was bitten by a cat, chances are they will be wary of cats from then on. Past experiences with neglect, abuse, or abandonment can also cause extreme feelings of anxiety. When you adopt a dog, it is a good idea to try to understand their past experiences as much as possible to identify if they struggle with anxieties due to past traumatic experiences. This way, you can work with your furry friend to minimize exposure to anxiety-inducing situations as well as understand their triggers and behaviors.
If a dog is cornered or in a smaller space, their fight-or-flight response may kick in. Like humans who deal with claustrophobia, dogs tend to panic and react when they feel trapped and unable to retreat from an uncomfortable situation or space. This is generally also why most breeds of dogs do not enjoy hugs, and it is not a good idea to hug them tightly, no matter how much we would like to smother our pets with love and affection.
General Stressful Situations:
Dogs’ anxieties can be triggered by generally stressful situations whether it be a one-off situation or regular occurrence in their life. These types of situations are typically a drastic change in their life, or are situations that they associate with negative feelings. This can include:
Loud noises (thunderstorms, fire trucks, police alarms, balloons popping, yelling/screaming/raised voices, construction noises)
Car rides or motion sickness
Being home alone
Meeting a new dog/animal/person
Loss of an owner or family member
Leaving a shelter and being adopted into a new home
A new pet or family member
How Can You Tell If Your Dog Has Anxiety
When a dog displays warning signs of anxiety, these signs can be misconceived as a dog being “strange” or “acting out.” The reality is that small changes in behaviour or physicality can actually indicate that your dog is experiencing something more than just a “reaction” or “off day.”
Pay attention to the physical and behavioural signs that may actually be your dog’s way of telling you that they are stressed, nervous, or anxious. Anxiety can take a physical toll and have a drastically negative impact on your dog’s quality of life. The sooner you can identify these feelings of anxiety, and your dog’s anxiety triggers, the sooner you can provide them with the tools they may need to achieve a sense of calmness.
Physical Signs Of Dog Anxiety:
Whimpering or trembling
Tucking their ears back
Tucking their tail in
Consistent lip licking
Behavioural Signs Of Dog Anxiety:
Avoiding family members
Hiding in concealed areas
Attempting to leave or escape
Bathroom accidents inside the house
Decreased activity or lethargy
Incessant licking, scratching or chewing of body parts
How Does CBD Oil Help Dog Anxiety
The way CBD oil for dogs Canada (and humans) works is that the CBD interacts with the specialized receptors known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS) within the dog’s central nervous system. These receptors help to manage essential functions like immunity, pain, mood, appetite and sleep. When CBD oil for dog interacts with these receptors in the dog’s central nervous system, it increases their serotonin level to help balance these sensations and help them achieve a sense of calmness.
Serotonin is known as the “happy chemical.” Similar to anti-anxiety medications like Zoloft and Cipralex for humans, CBD oil reacts with dogs’ systems to help them to achieve calmness without the risk of side effects.
How To Choose The Right CBD For Dog Anxiety
Hemp CBD vs cannabis CBD:
To pick the right CBD for dog anxiety, it’s important to know the difference between cannabis and the hemp plant. They are significantly different in properties, and have drastically different effects on dogs. CBD oil for pets, for one, is extracted from the hemp plant which has high levels of CBD and >0.3%THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the compound that causes impairment. THC can be toxic for dogs, which is why this low concentration of THC is so important to note.
Cannabis, on the other hand, often contains much higher levels of THC (up to 30%), and lower levels of CBD, the property that is safe and helpful for dogs. There are Cannabis strains that have high amounts of CBD and lower amounts of THC, however the concentration of THC is still likely to be considerably higher than products derived from the hemp plants. CBD from hemp provides dogs with calming and relaxing effects without the psychoactive effects of THC, which can be detrimental to their health.
Be cautious to find CBD oil that is lab-tested. Shop from a retailer who will provide their lab test results to confirm the production process, purity, and potency of the product. It is also important to be aware of where and how the CBD is grown and produced to ensure that is being created in a safe environment that is free of pesticides and other chemicals.
Check the label to check a product’s level of CBD in milligrams. Take note of the potency of the CBD oil to ensure you are choosing a cost-effective option as well as the correct efficacy for your breed of dog. Be sure to take the size of your pup into account as you may require a more potent product for larger dogs like Labradors, Retrievers, and German Shepherds. Smaller dogs like Chihuahuas, Toy Poodles or Pomeranians can make do with a lower potency of CBD, which will be easier to ensure accuracy when dosing. More on this below.
Consult Your Vet:
If your dog is currently on medications for any reason, it’s important to consult with your vet to ensure that the CBD won’t interact with their medication. We recommend speaking with your vet about CBD even if they are not on medication as there may be underlying factors that CBD cannot address.
How To Use CBD Oil For Dog Anxiety
When To Use It:
CBD tends to work quickly for dogs and doesn’t need to be in their system for several days to show results. The best way to use CBD oil for your pet is to administer the CBD oil anywhere between 15 minutes to half an hour before an event that may trigger your dog’s anxiety. You can also administer the CBD oil before the event to see ahead of time how your dog specifically reacts to the product. This will also help you to figure out the right dose beforehand.
What Dosage To Use:
The recommended dosage of CBD for dog anxiety differs as dogs differ in breeds, size, anxiety triggers, and severity of anxiety. It is advised to start with a lower dose to gauge how your pet reacts, and increase the dose accordingly (if necessary). If using the 200mg tincture, start off with 0.3mL for every 10 lbs of your pet’s weight. You can start with 1mL of CBD for every 10 lb of your pet’s weight. If using the 600mg tincture, start with 0.1mL for every 10 lbs of your pet’s weight. This is a relatively low dose; do this once a day for a couple of weeks and monitor their reaction and gradually increase the dose as needed.
If your dog becomes drowsier than normal and their appetite increases, that’s a sign that the dose is too high. If no changes are seen, you can increase the frequency of the dosage to two times a day and again monitor the reaction. The good news is that CBD oil shows results in dogs within an hour or so, so you will be able to quickly gage how your dog reacts and if they will need a higher dosage. When you identify the right dose, you will be able to see decreased signs of anxiety as your dog begins to react differently, and reduce their whimpering, restlessness, and withdrawal.
Be sure to consult our pets dosage chart for a recommendation of which tincture and dosage is right for your pup.
There are various ways that you can personally consume CBD oil (topically, sublingually, etc.). To administer CBD oil for dogs in Canada, however, you can simply add it to their daily food or their favourite treat.