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Disclaimer: this article is a guest post written by someone who works in the CBD industry. We were not paid to accept this article and have edited it as we see fit, but it’s important to know that this information was originally written by someone whose goal is to promote CBD. My experience with CBD for Barley was underwhelming to say the least.
Separation anxiety can cause a huge amount of distress for your dog and can even lead to destructive behavior. Now, many are finding CBD to be an effective treatment when paired with behavioral therapy.
We know you never want to leave your dog home alone. Those puppy eyes are heartbreaking no matter how old your pup gets! But until Sparky improves his accounting skills, you’ll probably have to leave him behind when you go to work. And his furry self isn’t always welcome at bars, restaurants, and the movies.
Vets and experts have struggled to find therapeutic and non-pharmaceutical ways to calm the one in five dogs in America with separation anxiety.
But now, pet owners are discovering that CBD may be a way to relieve their dogs’ anxiety and boost their quality of life.
In this article, we’re going to tell you exactly how CBD can help your dog’s separation anxiety, and we’ll tell you how you can get your hands on some CBD made especially for dogs today.
CBD and Anxiety
Human and animal studies on CBD have provided a wide range of evidence suggesting that CBD is an effective anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) compound.
CBD reduces anxiety by stimulating GABA receptors in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter that causes feelings of relaxation, calm, and slight sedation. Anti-anxiety medication has a similar effect.
Extensive research has not been done on CBD and anxiety for dogs, but research has been done on dogs and GABA. Dogs administered with GABA were observed to have improved emotional states with no adverse effects.
Because human and canine brains both have GABA receptors, it’s highly likely that CBD has a similar effect on both species.
Note from Kayla Fratt, owner of Journey Dog Training: In my personal experience helping dogs with separation anxiety, some react VERY well to CBD. Others (like Barley, my dog) seem basically unaffected. There’s likely a physiological component of your dog’s response. Plus, a dog who’s just a tad nervous about being alone will react differently from a dog who flies into a full-on panic when you get the mail.
The Endocannabinoid System
This body system is essential for controlling hormonal processes, regulating cell growth, and mitigating pain, and the compounds that interact with it are called cannabinoids. Dogs’ bodies create some of these compounds naturally, but others (like CBD) can be taken for added benefit.
This has positive implications for separation anxiety specifically. One animal study demonstrated that CBD can augment the way the brain responds to the hormone serotonin. This is believed to be caused by signaling in the endocannabinoid system. Sometimes called “the happiness hormone,” serotonin helps humans and dogs to feel content and relaxed.
The first studies on CBD for dogs have only recently been published, and they are finding that CBD has a real (and positive) impact on dogs’ health.
One study on dogs with epilepsy found that 90 percent of the dogs given CBD experienced fewer seizures.
Another study found that CBD oil caused a big drop in pain symptoms in dogs with arthritis.
Talk about some happy puppers!
Note from Kayla Fratt, owner of Journey Dog Training: These studies are indeed promising. But none of them have looked at CBD for separation anxiety. There’s a big difference between epilepsy, arthritis, and separation anxiety.
Now that the dogs are out on CBD, even the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is promoting the study of cannabinoids for pets.
Are there Side Effects of CBD for Dogs?
No serious side effects of CBD have been observed in dogs. Until recently, we just had to take pet owners on their word regarding side effects, but now we have real evidence.
The study above on dogs with arthritis noted that no dogs suffered from negative side effects, so you can safely start to supplement your dog’s food or water with CBD to reduce separation anxiety.
NOTE: CBD is safe for dogs, but THC is not. Never give your dog any products made from or with marijuana unless you are working closely with a veterinarian.
How to Find CBD for Dogs
Daily life can be a roller coaster of emotion for dogs with separation anxiety. Adding a little CBD to their diet may significantly increase their quality of life, and it could have other beneficial effects too — we’re looking forward to plenty of forthcoming research.
If you’re ready to try CBD for your dog’s separation anxiety, make sure to pick a brand that makes a special formula for pets. This will ensure that you’re getting a product that contains the healthiest cannabinoids for animals and at effective concentrations. Make sure to do a little research and choose a CBD product for dogs that will most benefit your best friend!
Final note from Kayla Fratt, owner of Journey Dog Training: Any medication (natural, herbal, over the counter, or prescription, whatever) generally won’t be enough to cure any behavioral concern. CBD is a valid option to consider for separation anxiety, but it can’t be your only tactic. And before dumping tons of money into CBD, it’s best to talk to a vet behaviorist about other options that might be even more effective for your pup.
Kayla founded Journey Dog Training in 2013 to provide high-quality and affordable dog behavior advice. She is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant who’s worked with hundreds of private clients, thousands of shelter dogs, and dozens of working detection dogs. Kayla’s dog and cat behavior advice has been featured in NPR, the Chicago Tribune, and Pet MD. She’s an avid adventurer who is currently doing #vanlife on the Pan-American Highway with her two border collies and a cat. Aside from running Journey Dog Training, Kayla also runs the nonprofit K9 Conservationists, where she and the dogs work as conservation detection dog teams. You can get 1:1 advice with a Journey Dog Training team member here.