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Does CBD work for dogs with separation anxiety?

Monday, October 25th

Does CBD Work for Dogs with Separation Anxiety?

Pup parents from around the world are claiming that CBD oil successfully treats their dog's separation anxiety. There is scientific evidence supporting this claim, but studies show some owners do not experience significant improvement.

What Separation Anxiety is in Dogs

Canine separation anxiety is when a dog becomes excessively upset and more difficult to manage when separated from a member of their family-typically, one particular person or family pet with whom they have become overly attached.

Dog-related anxiety may have one or more triggers related to separation, such as a car engine starting, a door in the house being opened and closed, or even a time of day when family members typically leave home.

After the dog's separation anxiety has been triggered, excessive barking and whimpering may occur. The dog may also start going to the bathroom inside or perform destructive behaviors when left alone.

Although dogs with separation disorders may show disproportionate aggression, depression is reportedly the most common behavioral problem in dogs.

The ASPCA has not found a conclusive reason why dogs develop separation anxiety. However, studies have also shown that shelter dogs who live in more than one home across their lives are more prone to behavior problems related to separation issues.

It is thought that separation anxiety is often a result of trauma related to the loss of an important person (or animal) in your dog's life, as well as previous long-term confinement or isolation.

A study on separation anxiety from 2001, which included 400 dogs, found those from only one human owner's home were over twice as likely to develop separation anxiety compared to homes with more than one owner.

Although sex and age of the dog can determine the potential for separation anxiety, neutered animals were much more likely to have separation anxiety. Also, dogs who had no prior experience with a person or animal before they started obsessing over them are more likely to develop this unhealthy obsession.

Although previously it was assumed that gender, the presence of other pets in the home, or spoiling activities play a role in separation anxiety, recent evidence has not supported this. Similarly, there is no conclusive data on early separations playing a role in the future development of separation anxiety.

CBD and Anxiety

When mammals consume CBD oil, it interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system. The CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system are thought to play a key role in homeostasis by controlling inflammation, mood, sleep, and other factors that relate to external stimuli. According to this theory, ensuring CB1 and CB2 receptors in dogs have enough cannabinoids allows them to better handle stress during an anxiety attack. This gives you and your dog more opportunities for both of you to find training systems that can improve their day-to-day routine.

Dogs affected by CBD will show signs of feeling more relaxed but not "high" because all properly produced CBD oil for dogs has no more than 0.3 percent THC-the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis products. Under this mindset, dogs should be open to training techniques created to mitigate destructive or upsetting behaviors.

CBD is suggested as an alternative to benzodiazepines in anxiety studies. Unlike benzodiazepine drugs, CBD does not act on the brain's GABA receptors and thus lacks their common side effects.

CBD can also act on CB1 and 2 receptors which play a role in the release of serotonin. Serotonin is correlated with anxiety, depression, mood disorders and has varying effects on happiness. CBD affects the serotonergic system, which helps people deal with stressful events more easily.

Study Backed Solution: CBD for Anxiety

CBD has been shown to reduce anxiety in both people and mice, according to a lot of clinical research. However, there have not been many studies specifically related to dogs due to a lack of availability of them as experimental subjects.

Researchers who investigate the effects of CBD on dogs often focus their studies on conditions with well-defined symptoms like seizures, epilepsy, and arthritis.

In a 2015 literature review, experimental and clinical evidence demonstrated CBD's efficacy in reducing anxiety behaviors related to PTSD, GAD, SAD, and PD. The authors claimed that "CBD potently reduces anxiety or fear when it is experimentally induced."

A study last year tested the effects of CBD on anxiety-prone mice. Notably, it found that CBD decreased anxiety behaviors in all mice. Similarly, a 2011 study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, found that CBD can significantly decrease anxiety and improve biological markers for anxiety among human participants with generalized social anxiety disorder.

In addition to mitigating separation anxiety, another 2011 experiment showed that CBD was able to positively affect animal's stress responses in fear-conditioned contexts. In other words, CBD helped the animals to calm down when they associated certain contexts or conditions with a potential threat-for example when they learned that being alone typically meant getting left behind.

CBD & Other Anxiety Solutions

CBD oil is typically more effective when paired with other therapies. Although CBD oil possesses anti-anxiety properties, it should only be one part of a treatment plan. Training your dog is the most effective way to treat separation anxiety.

The use of CBD may also increase susceptibility and reduce the number of training sessions required for the new behaviors to become routine. Thus, a joint effort of treatment for the issue is the best approach to bettering your animal's well-being.

Although separation anxiety may be strong in some cases, milder cases of the disorder can still respond well to CBD and some counterconditioning and desensitizing measures.

How to Administer CBD Products For Your Dog

Many pets do not like the taste of CBD Oil. You can try these methods to hide it in your pet's food:

  1. Combining CBD Oil with a dog's favorite snack can be beneficial for delivering the product.
  2. CBD oil treats available for dogs can make your dog happy and calm them down naturally.
  3. Since dogs enjoy their regular meals, adding CBD oil to the food works well as it allows you to regulate your pet's diet without resorting to treats.
  4. For dogs that are picky with treats and will not consume CBD oil in their food, applying the oil directly into the mouth is a quick and effective method of dosing.

CBD Alternatives and Combination Approaches

The Animal Humane Society explains that counterconditioning is the process of unleashing a pet's negative response to an emotionally triggering stimulus, then slowly building positive associations for each individual component.

Dogs suffering from separation anxiety may benefit from counterconditioning, which includes close observation of the dog's triggers. So, rather than dosing your animal from the beginning, try your best to pinpoint the issue and solve it before moving to medication.

When conducting counterconditioning measures, experiments have shown that a dog's distress level is often dependent on how attached the dog has become to the person who isn't present. So, ideally, this task should be deferred to someone other than the person with whom the dog has formed an attachment. This will allow you to see the full spectrum of anxiety symptoms.

Diagnosing Separation Anxiety

After identifying the triggers for your pup's separation anxiety, you can help them become desensitized to those triggers through a course of CBD therapy and teach them to re-associate these triggers with positive things.

Associations can be developed in many different ways and depend on your pup and their triggers. A dog that doesn't normally hear a noise outside may not have an association with it until they begin to hear it when you leave home. Leaving your dog with an activity to work at while you are not home is another popular method. For example, a toy stuffed with food such as a KONG toy that has been frozen beforehand will keep them occupied for longer.

Does CBD Help to Reduce Separation Anxiety?

You will likely find both positive and negative owner experiences when researching anecdotes about the effectiveness of CBD in treating separation anxiety. In the end, it is a decision that is wholly up to you as the pet owner and any other invested parties, including your veterinarian.

Therefore, every dog is different and you will need to try CBD for yourself if your furry friend has separation anxiety. Even if the science behind CBD is there and it works for other dogs, you may find that your dog doesn't respond to CBD or that their condition surpasses its ability to help.

Even if CBD doesn't resolve a dog's separation anxiety, it might decrease the problem enough for owners to focus on training.

If you still have questions, there is plenty of research out there. Also, as CBD becomes more mainstream for treating a dog's separation anxiety, more professionals are able to work with you and guide you through any concerns you have.

Lastly, we recommend choosing excellent products for your pup. Where possible, try for organic products with a strong market presence. The products should also have independent testing results on their bottle.

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CBD for Dogs FAQ

While it's probably best known for soothing anxiety and phobias, CBD for dogs is also used for pain relief, joints and mobility, epilepsy, seizures, and all of the conditions associated with aging. It's hard to come up with a circumstance where CBD for dogs hasn't been used to help animal companions to feel their best!
While that's funny to imagine, the answer is no. CBD doesn't have psychoaffective effects like THC, and it won't leave you with a dog that's "high" . But, your furry friend may have more energy and feel better, so don't be surprised if they act more "high on life" than usual!
Yes. CBD oil naturally occurs in cannabis and hemp plants, which have been cultivated for millenia. There are hundreds of brands that use CBD oil with dogs of all varieties and sizes.
No. You can buy CBD directly from a retailer with no prescription needed. However, you can always check in with your vet before starting any CBD products if you have any specific questions.
Yes! CBD is legal on a federal level. Regulations vary by state, and yours may require that CBD products have THC of 0.3% or less - but most retailers of these CBD oils, supplements and food/treats come in under that threshold anyway.
Most CBD for dogs come in several formats: capsules (that you can feed or open and sprinkle over food), liquid (that you administer into their mouth or their food), treats, and even sprays. It may take some trial and error to determine which type is best accepted by your dog: some are hesitant if they see their food is even a little bit different from the norm, while others will eagerly engulf a tasty treat. It's smart to choose a CBD for dog product with a money-back guarantee, just in case you want to try a different format.
Yes and no. You could easily spend $100/month or more for a full daily CBD regimen, or just $15 for a bag of CBD dog biscuits to use as needed. Some stores have package deals that can save you money, and others give you discounts on autoship (monthly) orders. You may also find promotions like free shipping or a discount if you sign up for an email newsletter. If your dog has been suffering and a CBD product helps him or her feel better, it's well worth the investment.
That depends on the policies of the store where you purchased your dog's CBD product. Many of the top retailers in our review make it risk-free for you to give them a try by offering a 100% satisfaction guarantee, usually within 30 days of purchase. Others have much stricter return policies, or none at all.

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