PTSD can be a real problem for dogs and soldiers alike. But what about cannabis? Does full-spectrum hemp for dogs help with PTSD? I’m going to take a moment here to explain PTSD and its symptoms, so we can understand how cannabis might be able to help.
Prevalence of PTSD in Dogs
The prevalence of PTSD in dogs is estimated to be between 0.5% and 4%. This is a lower rate than the prevalence in humans, which is estimated to be around 5% to 18%. However, it is important to note that many cases of canine PTSD go undiagnosed because they are not as obvious as in humans.
Symptoms of PTSD in Dogs
The symptoms of PTSD in dogs can vary widely depending on the cause of the trauma, but common symptoms include:
- Excessive anxiety or fearfulness after exposure to a traumatic event;
- Avoidance of people, places, or things associated with the trauma;
- Hypervigilance (constantly looking for signs of danger);
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep;
- Increased startle response;
- Possible depression or irritability; and
- Possible aggression towards other animals and people.
PTSD Evident in Military Working Dogs
PTSD in dogs is a relatively newly found condition. Scientists were unaware that dogs may exhibit PTSD symptoms, and many vets are hesitant to identify a dog with PTSD due to a lack of current studies and information. There is also a misperception that PTSD affects just people. That, though, doesn’t seem to make much sense, does it? Dogs, like humans, have terrible experiences. Some dogs, such as those who have been in the military or the police force, are thought to suffer PTSD as a result of their prior experiences.
Military dogs provide the most conclusive proof of PTSD in dogs. There were dogs who returned from combat in 2010 with symptoms that resembled PTSD. Irritability, depression, and avoidance of people, locations, and certain objects were among the symptoms discovered in dogs in 2012. Prior to deployment, none of the dogs exhibiting these symptoms had shown any PTSD-related symptoms. Dogs with PTSD symptoms are frequently returned home because they refuse to execute the task at hand, which they were trained to do.
Most people are aware that post-traumatic stress disorder can affect service men and women, but it can also affect military dogs, according to Dr. Sara Rose Knox, a military veterinarian. As dogs become more involved in our warfighting experience, whether as patrol dogs, working dogs, or bomb dogs, they go through the same things we do and become apprehensive.
She went on to say that it’s a new topic that we’re looking into. We’ve put a lot of effort and education into it. We are constantly reminded of what to look for, how to begin basic treatment, and where to refer them if [they require assistance]. These dogs are treated as if they were military personnel, and they receive the same level of care as we do.
The Research About PTSD in Dogs
A recent study in the United Kingdom found that dogs can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, examined the behavior of military working dogs who had been deployed overseas. The researchers found that nearly half of those dogs showed symptoms similar to those seen in humans with PTSD.
Veterinarians and pet owners have long known that dogs can suffer from trauma-related disorders, but it was not clear whether this was due to a single traumatic event or if there were other factors at play.
The researchers looked at 1,000 military working dogs who had been deployed as sentries or sniffers during combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2002 and 2012. They compared how the dogs behaved before and after deployment, paying particular attention to signs of aggression, irritability, and hypervigilance — all characteristics associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The results showed that about 45 percent of the dogs met the criteria for PTSD after deployment, with another 23 percent showing symptoms consistent with “adjustment disorder,” which is often associated with PTSD. Most commonly observed behaviors included aggression toward other animals or people; irritability; hypervigilance; loss of appetite; sleep disturbances; separation anxiety.
PTSD and Hemp for Dogs
Endocannabinoids like anandamide and 2-AG, according to research, play a role in the development, response, and progression of PTSD. These endocannabinoids play a crucial role in stress response regulation. Both endocannabinoid receptors are targeted by these two endocannabinoids (CB1 and CB2).
So far, CB1 receptors have been proven to be more important in this circuit. CB1 receptors are ubiquitous in the neurological system and are frequently present in the system’s PTSD circuit. Negative memories and fear-based emotions are also removed through CB1 receptors.
Preclinical research indicated CBD decreases fear in rats by promoting the elimination of memories, according to a study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology. CBD was found to modify negative memories up to one hour after a fear trigger, according to a recent study. Anandamide, CB1, and CB2 receptors were discovered to be sensitive throughout this process in this investigation.
Despite a lack of research on PTSD in particular, there has been a substantial amount of research on CBD and anxiety that could be beneficial. In addition to influencing baseline anxiety levels, new findings reveal an important function for the endocannabinoid (eCB) and glucocorticoid systems in the modulation of emotional states and extinction of painful memories in animals, according to a Neuropharmacology article. This leads us to believe that CBD can help with the eradication of traumatic memories in the treatment of severe anxiety disorders such as PTSD.
For dogs who have fear-based emotions, the CALM tincture is recommended. As previously stated, the cannabinoids in the tincture bind to the CB1 receptor, simulating the ‘happy molecule’ serotonin by connecting to and activating the body’s serotonin receptors. Serotonin receptors (together with serotonin) are involved in emotional equilibrium and well-being, suggesting that they may have a therapeutic effect on dogs suffering from PTSD.
Consider CBD for PTSD in Dogs
Further research is necessary regarding dogs and PTSD so we are able to better resolve any problems they are experiencing. While we are waiting for research to catch up, we can use what we know. We know CBD can help significantly with anxiety and conditions with symptoms like PTSD. Knowing this bit of information can help our dogs become calmer, more functional, and less fear-prone.
A time‐dependent contribution of hippocampal CB1, CB2 and PPARγ receptors to cannabidiol‐induced disruption of fear memory consolidation – Raymundi – 2020 – British Journal of Pharmacology – Wiley Online Library