Can CBD Help Your Dog’s Anxiety?
Anxiety is a condition most of us have dealt with at some stage in our lives, but what you might not know is that dogs can also get anxiety.
One exciting recent development in anxiety treatment for humans is CBD. CBD has taken the world by storm, from reducing pain and inflammation to potentially even improving cognitive function and improving anxiety symptoms, it seems there is almost nothing CBD can’t do.
But while the cannabis boom and increased exposure of CBD has led to a range of health benefits for humans, what about our furry four-legged friends? Can CBD improve anxiety in dogs?
What Is CBD?
Most cannabis products that aim to treat animals contain CBD as their main ingredient. This is because it has been shown to have a high safety profile in human and rodent-model studies (1) and unlike other cannabinoids, won’t cause your dog to experience psychotropic effects.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid that is found in both cannabis and hemp plants. CBD has gained a therapeutic reputation thanks to its ability to induce a range of effects on the body. CBD induces these effects a little differently to other cannabinoids, instead of binding to cannabinoid receptors it modulates receptors pathways and acts on non-cannabinoid receptors.
Can CBD Work On Dogs?
While CBD has proven its ability to be an effective therapeutic agent in humans, the question remains, will it do the same for dogs?
We know that endocannabinoid receptors have been found in mammalian brains as early as 1990 (2), indicating the presence of an endocannabinoid system in animals. Although most research into CBD’s effects is done on rats and mice, research also tells us that the effects of biologically active substances are relatively constant across mammals, meaning that mice and rat CBD studies likely give a good indication of how CBD will affect dogs.
Unfortunately, there haven’t been any direct studies involving CBD and anxiety in dogs, but there have been some recent research developments in CBD and dogs that could indicate CBD’s qualities will be effective. A 2020 study published in the journal Pain (3), investigated the effects of daily CBD treatment on dogs suffering from osteoarthritis pain.
The study found that the CBD treatment significantly decreased pain and increased mobility in the dogs, with no side effects. While this study doesn’t focus on the anxiety-reducing properties of CBD, it does tell us dogs can experience the benefits of CBD and that more research should be done into its therapeutic applications for dogs.
CBD’s Anti-Anxiety Effects
CBD is gaining a serious reputation as an anxiolytic, in fact a 2019 Gallup poll (4) found that out of 14% of Americans who use CBD, 20% take CBD for their anxiety.
Research indicates that those 20% are not misguided and there is significant evidence as to CBD’s anti-anxiety effects.
A 2019 study (5) demonstrated the anxiolytic power of CBD. The double-blind study treated teenagers with social anxiety disorder with CBD and found that the treatment significantly decreased anxiety symptoms.
A mouse model study (6) also highlighted the potential anxiety-reducing properties of CBD. Researchers in the study induced anxiety-like symptoms in mice before treating them with either CBD or an antidepressant. The results showed that CBD induced an anxiolytic effect that was comparable to the antidepressant given to other groups.
A 2011 trial (7) investigated the effects of CBD on anxiety and overall cognitive functioning. Patients with a social anxiety disorder were given CBD before being required to undergo a public speaking test. The study found CBD reduced levels of anxiety, improved public speaking discomfort, and reduced cognitive impairment. It should be noted that this study is too small in size to draw definitive conclusions, however, it does highlight CBD’s potential as a treatment for anxiety.
How Does CBD Reduce Anxiety?
So we know that CBD has been shown to reduce anxiety in humans and some animal models, but how exactly does it do this?
CBD induces its effects by interacting with certain receptors and it is by interacting with receptors involved in managing the levels of two hormones, serotonin and cortisol, that CBD is largely thought to reduce anxiety.
Serotonin is a hormone and neurotransmitter that plays an important role in mood regulation. In fact, it is such a significant mood regulator that it is often used to treat anxiety disorders (8). CBD can activate the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor, which then leads to increased serotonin production and serotonin levels, potentially helping to reduce anxiety.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone involved in the stress response. Cortisol is found in elevated levels in patients with mood disorders like anxiety. One way CBD reduces anxiety is by decreasing cortisol levels, through interfering with cortisol secretion (9).
Dogs and Anxiety
While happy go lucky dogs might not seem like they can suffer from anxiety, it is an issue. Because dogs can’t readily communicate, they are likely to experience anxiety for quite a length of time. It is therefore important that dog owners familiarize themselves with the signs of anxiety in dogs, so they can then get them the help they need. Dogs can often experience stress and anxiety during times of change; like the holidays, a house move, or their owner returning to work.
Signs that your dog might be suffering from anxiety include:
- Not wanting to be left alone
- Fear of loud noises
- Constant barking, panting or pacing
- Running away
- Destroying property or possessions
- Not eating
Which CBD Products Should You Use for Your Dog?
Luckily, there are many quality CBD dog supplements on the market that mean your furry best friend doesn’t have to suffer from anxiety any longer.
Soft CBD chews or CBD oil that can be added to your dog’s favorite food are easy additions to your dog’s routine that could significantly improve their anxiety.
PetFx offers a range of CBD dog food options that you and your dog will love!
The Bottom Line
While research is needed into exactly how effective CBD might be as a treatment for anxiety in dogs, we know that CBD has shown strong anxiety-reducing effects and that dogs have found effective results from CBD treatment for other ailments.
CBD has a high safety profile and current research indicates that it shows a lot of potential as a treatment for anxiety in dogs.