Dogs have incredibly keen senses. They can sniff out the slightest change in weather and hear fireworks four times farther away than a human can detect. While these gifts are quite useful in the wild, they often contribute to fears, phobias, and anxieties in domestic dogs. Using CBD for dog anxiety works on both the body and the brain to promote an overall sense of calm and well-being.
Fears, Phobias, & Dog Anxiety
Fear is an essential survival instinct. Since dogs have spent thousands of years adjusting to life with humans, their fear responses go beyond typical fight-or-flight responses. Depending on their lifestyle, many dogs develop phobias to certain stimuli and suffer from the same types of anxiety as their owners.
A phobia is an excessive fear response to specific stimuli. Noise phobias to fireworks, thunderstorms, traffic sounds, etc. are the most common, but dogs can develop phobias to just about anything. Some are fearful of people with specific traits. Others have extreme reactions to harmless objects like umbrellas and vacuum cleaners.
Anxiety is a bit different. It stems from the anticipation of a stressful event, whether real or imagined. Anxiety in dogs can be situational – such as boarding, or visiting the vet – or behavioral – like separation from a favorite human.
Signs Of Dog Anxiety
Signs your dog is experiencing anxiety include:
- Withdrawal from Family
- Flat Ears
- Tucked Tail
- Nervous Licking of the Lips
- Loss of Appetite
- Decrease in Activity
- Escape Attempts
- “Accidents” in the House
- Stress Diarrhea
- Self-Harm – (chewing, licking, or scratching)
- Situational Aggression
Why Do Some Dogs Develop Fears, Phobias, & Anxieties?
Determining why your dog is experiencing anxiety is critical so it can be addressed properly. Which of the following reasons is your dog anxious?
Some dogs are born with a predisposition for anxiety. For example, working breeds often experience stress and develop anxious behaviors if they do not get enough exercise. If your Border Collie doesn’t have a flock of sheep to herd, you may want to enroll him in agility training!
Lack of Socialization
Just like humans, dogs have a critical development period. Children that do not receive proper socialization before the age of three are prone to lifelong issues. For puppies, the magic age is about 14 weeks. Before this time they should meet lots of humans and other dogs. They also need to visit public places and experience multiple stimuli in order to prevent future anxieties.
Many senior dogs develop fears, phobias, and anxieties they never had in their younger years. This happens when activities they once took for granted become difficult due to losses in mobility, vision, and hearing.
Prior Bad Experiences
This is one of the most common causes of fear and phobias in dogs. If a pup is napping peacefully when a nearby balloon pops, you can bet that pooch will be wary of balloons from that day forward!
Cornering a dog is a surefire way to activate their fight-or-flight response. Dogs kept in crates or on short tethers for long periods of time may panic if they feel trapped.
Dogs that have been abandoned, re-homed, neglected, etc. are much more likely to develop separation anxiety than those from stable backgrounds.
CBD For Dog Anxiety: How Does It Work?
CBD oil works by interacting with specialized receptors within the central nervous system. These receptors, known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS), help control important functions such as sleep, mood, appetite, immunity, and pain sensation. The ECS’s job is to maintain a balanced state of homeostasis.
For dogs with anxiety, CBD induces the endocannabinoid system to increase the availability of serotonin, the “feel-good chemical.” It works on the serotonin system in much the same way as anti-anxiety drugs like Prozac and Zoloft, without any of the potential side effects.
10 Stressful Situations CBD Helps Your Dog Overcome
Here are 10 stressful situations CBD could help your dog with:
In addition to the loud booms, thunderstorms alter the atmosphere, releasing a large amount of static electricity into the air. This static can cause a tingling sensation throughout your dog’s hair coat and may even cause mild shocks.
According to Dr. Nicholas Dodman, director of the Animal Behavior department at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, this is why many dogs seek out basements, bathtubs, and enclosed spaces that tend to have less static electricity during storms.
2. Noise Phobias
Fireworks, traffic sounds, and construction noises are among the most common phobias in dogs. While trainers use desensitization therapy to resolve the issue, CBD oil can also help dogs deal with their stress in the meantime.
3. Car Rides
Many dogs’ aversions to car rides stem from a combination of fear and car sickness. CBD oil is especially beneficial for these pups because it is known to address nausea and vertigo as well as anxiety.
4. Vet/Grooming Appointments
Some dogs are uncomfortable with the body handling aspects that come along with visits to the vet and groomer. In addition, the frightening sights, sounds, smells, and sensations of these appointments can be quite overwhelming. CBD oil helps to ease the brain’s stress response.
Boarding facilities have all the same frightening stimuli of grooming shops and veterinary offices. Add in the separation from their humans and you have a recipe for anxiety. Luckily, CBD oil is safe for daily use and easy to administer so your dog can experience its benefits even when you are away.
6. Staying Home Alone
Whether you are leaving for an hour or a week, dogs with separation anxiety hate to see you go. Combined with proper training, CBD oil can help take the edge off these stressful moments and give your dog a sense of comfort and well-being.
7. Losing A Family Member
The death of a loved one is one of the most stressful events a person can endure. It can also be extremely traumatizing for our devoted dogs. Even if your pup is normally free from anxiety, CBD can help them through difficult changes in life.
8. Coming Home From the Shelter
The adoption process is already stressful with all the strange sights, sounds, and smells that come with a new home. When you add in the unknown traumas of their past, it’s no wonder shelter dogs experience so much stress. Much like going to a boarding facility, CBD oil can help your new dog adjust.
9. House Guests
Dogs rely on their routine, and any changes can cause anxiety. Some dogs vomit or have diarrhea when guests invade their space. Even those that love visitors can suffer gastrointestinal symptoms due to over-excitement. The calming effects of CBD can help them adjust to changes in routine – and stave off nervous nausea.
10. Adding A New Pet to the Home
Thinking of getting a new puppy or an adult dog? Maybe a kitten or two? Your dog may see this as a threat to his position within the home. Adding CBD oil to both pets’ daily routines can help the transition go smoothly.
How To Use CBD To Calm Dogs
CBD oil works fast. When using for dog anxiety, administer the recommended dosage 15-30 minutes before the stressful event. Start with a low dose, and only increase if you don’t see results.
If you will be using CBD oil for a specific event, like boarding or holiday fireworks, try testing it out several days prior to the stressor. This will give you a chance to see how it works for your dog, and identify the perfect dose.