Anxiety can be a crippling condition for pets.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety, stress, and fear are all completely natural responses to stimulus.
- Separation anxiety in dogs is extremely common.
- Sudden environmental changes can also cause them anxiety, like moving into a new home or the arrival of a new family member or in the presence of strange pets or people.
- Dogs that have been physically or mentally abused are prone to experience anxiety and have specific phobias and fears.
- Old dogs can have Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (or CDS), which affects a dog’s memory, learning, perception, and awareness whch often causes anxiety.
What are the Symptoms of Dog Anxiety?
Anxiety can affect different dogs in different ways which often makes it hard to diagnose.
Some obvious signs of anxiety include:
- Whining or whimpering
- Separation anxiety may cause a destructive behavior or even urinating/defecating in the house inspite of being toilet trained.
- Dilated pupils
- Anti-social behaviour
- Displacement behaviour (like yawning, lip licking, shaking)
- They may have difficulty focusing or learning
- May be overly sensitive to external stimuli
- Anxious dogs may be mislabelled as “hyper,” “dominant,” or “stubborn.”
Traditional Anxiety Treatments for Dogs
The first step to dealing with anxiety in most cases involves behavioural training. The aim of this is to redirect bad behavior to good behaviour and usually involves consistent training by all members of the household.
Unfortunately, for some dogs behavioural training isn’t enough.
This is often the case for dogs dealing with specific anxieties to thunderstorms, having visitors, or travelling in the car. In these cases, vets will usually prescribe short-term anti-anxiety medication. Dogs dealing with daily anxiety may also be prescribed daily anti-anxiety medications.
There are 3 main anti anxiety medications for dogs:
- Benzodiazepines, or BZs, like Valium, Ativan, or Xanax
- Tricyclic antidepressants, or TCAs, such as Elavil or Tryptanol
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, like Paxil or ProZac
Unfortunately, these drugs can produce a variety of side effects, including:
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Drowsiness, sleepiness, and sedation
- Affected learning and memory
- Increased urination
- Stomach upset
- Increased aggression and anxiety
Apart from producing side effects, some dogs simply may not respond to treatment with these drugs.
Many vets are now suggesting natural alternatives as an anti-anxiety treatment for dogs. Non-pharmaceuticals should not interfere with any other medications. In fact, some studies have shown that they can enhance the effectiveness of other medications, such as pain killers.
How to Naturally Control Anxiety in Dogs
When CBD enters the body it is mediated by the endocannabinoid system, or ECS. The ECS is a natural biological system present in all mammals, meaning that dogs and cats respond to CBD in much the same way as humans.
Some research suggests that CBD can stimulate specific serotonin receptors in the brain. This temporary boost of the serotonin system can be very beneficial.
Research also shows that CBD can promote neurogenesis in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that plays a key role in the formation of memories and controlling cognition.
CBD for Dogs
Dogs and humans will respond to CBD in similar ways. The only difference, of course, is that dogs are more sensitive to cannabinoids like CBD, so they require smaller amounts than humans. Read more on, How Much CBD Should I Give My Dog.
As with any medication or supplement, getting the right amount of CBD is important. However, it’s also important to note that CBD is non-toxic and considered incapable of causing an overdose. It is also renowned as a very well-tolerated medicine that doesn’t produce side effects.
Always monitor your dog’s response to CBD when first starting out.
When using CBD oil, start low and slow. CBD should be administered under your pet’s tongue for the fastest onset, but can also be mixed with food. Remember that full spectrum CBD oil is quite bitter, so your dog usually won’t be too keen to take it.
If you struggle to administer CBD oil to your dog, you may want to use CBD isolate (which is tasteless and flavorless). Or try using capsules or treats.
Remember, the amount will vary depending on your pet, their size and breed, the type of symptoms they deal with, as well as the strength of the CBD product you use.
People Have Successfully Used CBD to Treat Anxiety in Dogs
So we started using Pet CBD oil to help him deal with his symptoms, which have definitely improved. He’s 14 years old but acts like a puppy sometimes.”
—Shayda Torabi, Scotty’s Owner
Pet owners consistently find that their dogs are calmer when using CBD, as well as more responsive to training or behavioral therapies.