CBD oil has become very popular in recent years as a treatment for a host of issues in humans as well as pets. Whether it’s for pain management, seizure control, or treatment for anxiety, Cannabidiol (CBD) has become a common over-the-counter therapy with varying degrees of reported success.
We take a look at what CBD oil actually is, and whether it can be an effective treatment for separation anxiety in dogs.
(Note: Content in some of our articles refer to medical conditions in dogs; you should always consult a veterinarian when seeking medical advice.)
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What is Separation Anxiety in Dogs?
Separation anxiety is a mental state dogs can experience when they are away from their human companions. Some dogs may be overly attached to a specific human and demonstrate anything from mild depression to frenzied panic whenever their owner leaves.
What Causes Separation Anxiety?
Various circumstances can cause separation anxiety. It’s common in dogs who were separated from their mothers early, shelter or rescue dogs, and dogs who have a sense of instability (though it’s impossible to know for sure which is responsible). These situations may include:
- The loss or prolonged absence of a family member
- Moving to a new home
- Changing families
- Changing routines
How Do I Know if My Dog Has Separation Anxiety?
It’s generally fairly easy to tell if your dog has separation anxiety, but occasionally owners can mistakenly categorize the behavior as a different issue. If you’re wondering whether your dog has separation anxiety, look for these symptoms when you leave the dog alone:
- whining, barking, or howling
- urinating and defecating
Some dogs may show signs of separation anxiety well before you leave the house. Your pup may start shaking or crying when they notice you taking actions associated with leaving liking putting on your shoes or your makeup. They may pout in the corner when you grab your coat or start pacing when you brush your teeth, if those are the last things you do before leaving. These are classic signs of a dog with separation anxiety.
What is CBD Oil?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a compound that is in cannabis and hemp. CBD oil is an oil made from that compound. It is commonly used in humans for pain management, to help with anxiety and epilepsy, and many other issues, but has not yet completed many studies regarding animals.
Do Dogs Get High from CBD Oil?
No, dogs don’t get high from CBD oil. Because it’s from hemp, CBD doesn’t have the same psychoactive properties that marijuana does. You don’t need to worry about your pup getting stoned because hemp’s THC level (tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive substance in marijuana) is too low to have an effect of that nature (below 0.3%).
What Do Vets Say About CBD Oil?
While you probably won’t see your local vet prescribing CBD oil at your next appointment, it is gaining recognition in their circles.
Many vets approve of the use of CBD oil and even use it for their own pets, but because of its current legal status, they aren’t allowed to recommend it. While most U.S. states passed laws to decriminalize the medicinal use of cannabis, these state laws do not apply to use in animals.
If you do want to talk to your vet about CBD oil, you need to bring it up first. CBD is arguably one of the safest options you can choose when addressing health care for your pet. Still, you should always talk to your veterinarian before making any changes (especially if your dog is on existing medications).
What Are the Risks?
As with any medication, there are risks involved with CBD. Using CBD oil can cause interactions with other drugs, possibly magnifying or negating the desired effects. That’s why we recommend you talk to your veterinarian before making changes if your pup is taking medication. Many vets are enthusiastic about CBD oil treatment, but by law are unable to offer the suggestion unless the dog owner brings up the topic
Other risks include:
- Dry mouth
- Lower blood pressure
How Can CBD Oil Help Separation Anxiety?
By increasing levels of serotonin in the brain, CBD oil can help calm your dog and ease his anxiety. This won’t make your dog forget you aren’t there, but it will help him cope with the fact you are gone.
CBD use in animals is a relatively new concept, and thus not much research has been completed. However, a study from Cornell found that a twice-daily dose of 2mg/kg of CBD can “help increase comfort and activity” in dogs with osteoarthritis.
The American Kennel Club CHF (AKC Canine Health Foundation) is also funding research into the efficacy of cannabidiol to treat dogs with epilepsy and osteoarthritis.
The laws are constantly changing, and your vet will have the most up-to-date information regarding cannabis use in pets. Don’t be afraid to consult them!
Keep Reasonable Expectations When Using CBD Oil
CBD oil shows true promise, but it’s important to hold reasonable expectations. CBD oil won’t magically cure your dog of their separation anxiety, but it can calm them down and give him a sense of relief. Dogs with serious cases of separation anxiety require a systematic plan that involves incremental desensitization.
CBD Dosage Amount for Dogs
Like humans, the amount of CBD oil you give your dog depends on various factors. It’s advisable to start with a low dose to see what side effects your dog might have.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved CBD or issued a dosage chart, but the typical scale seems to be 2mg per 10 pounds. The AKC provides this chart to calculate what dose you should use for your doggo (you can also use it for a horse or cat).
What to Look for When Choosing a CBD Oil for Your Dog
Because it hasn’t been approved by the FDA, cannabis is largely unregulated. In order to ensure you are getting a high-quality product (and not wasting your time and money), there are a few things you need to look for when choosing the right CBD product for your pet.
Use products that follow Good Manufacturing Practices or have a seal from the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC)
This ensures the company used safe, high-quality ingredients to make the product.
Avoid CBD products meant for humans
Some CBD products contain other ingredients such as grapeseed oil or xylitol, which, while harmless to humans, can be very toxic to canines. Stick to CBD products specially formulated for dogs.
Keep your CBD oil organic and free of pesticides, insecticides, and solvents.
Get CBD as a liquid
Give your pup the right dose of medicine by giving it to him by the drop. You can buy the CBD infused treats, but chances are they don’t have the right amount of CBD for your dog.
Be wary of products with THC
Experts may use CBD and THC to treat various ailments, but vets don’t advise pet owners to experiment with THC on their own (remember, it’s still a drug!). Always consult your vet before making changes to your pet’s health care plan.
Look for a Certificate of Analysis
Find a product that has been tested by a third-party and comes with a Certificate of Analysis (COA). This COA will detail how much CBD and THC the product contains and list any test results for contaminants, pesticides, and so on.
Recommended CBD Oil
We have used CBD oil from holistapet.com with good results. It is formulated specifically for pets and contains 0% THC. Manufactured in the U.S., it is 100% organic, contains no GMO or additives, and is vegan. We recommend purchasing it in dropper bottle form, where it can easily be given directly on the dog’s tongue or onto food.
Other Ways to Help with a Dog’s Separation Anxiety
It’s not always necessary to go straight for medications or tinctures. Some pet parents choose to try counterconditioning before any substances. For other severe cases, dogs may be given prescription medications.
Additional methods for addressing separation anxiety in dogs are:
- Counterconditioning – One way to ease your pupper’s anxiety is to give him puzzle toys and special treats only when he is alone. If he has access to the good treats and toys when he is alone, he will come to associate your absence with a good experience.
- Medications – Some vets may deem your pup’s case of separation anxiety so severe that they need medication. These are the same drugs you or I would take for anxiety but at a much lower dose. Some common medications include fluoxetine (Prozac) and clomipramine (Clomicalm).
Other Benefits of CBD Oil for Dogs
As stated earlier, CBD oil has anti-inflammatory properties and is, therefore, commonly used to treat osteoarthritis pain in dogs. It’s excellent for managing other types of pain as well as aiding in mental issues such as epilepsy and seizures.
Most evidence of successful use is anecdotal, with owners having reported improvements in the behavior and wellness of their dogs after taking CBD oil and rarely reporting adverse side effects. Specific uses reported include as an anti-inflammatory, an anti-nausea agent, appetite stimulant, and for cardiovascular issues. Other anxiety issues like thunder phobia have also been addressed with CBD oil.
Despite CBD federally classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a Schedule 1 controlled substance (the same as heroin), it is continually proving to be medically safe and beneficial for both humans and canines.
CBD oil can make a massive difference in our pets’ mood and wellness and can help our pooch’s traumatic separation experience gradually transform into one of calm relief.