Over the years, dogs have adapted to become more like humans. A far cry from the proud, independent wolves of yesteryear, modern pooches are all too human in their stresses and anxieties. If you’re wondering what you can give your dog for anxiety, remember that a natural approach will provide the greatest benefits with the least risk. Learn more about canine anxiety, and find out if it’s safe to give your pooch CBD for anxiety and stress.
Consult with your veterinarian
Before you do anything to help your dog with anxiety, start by consulting with your veterinarian. While vets don’t know everything about what’s best for your canine companion, they’ve studied for years to understand cats, dogs, and other types of pets, and they can steer you away from tactics that might harm your pooch more than they help.
While you’re at your veterinarian’s office, ask them about CBD. By now, most vets have heard about this non-intoxicating hemp compound, and unless your dog’s doctor is woefully behind the times, they’ll be able to provide their expert opinion on the benefits of CBD and share any insights they may have gained regarding how this cannabinoid affects dogs.
Choose a natural option
Let’s be honest: Veterinary school is one part education and one part indoctrination. While your vet might be enamored with the potential benefits of CBD, chances are that they’ll suggest you dose your dog with mainstream pharmaceutical medications as well. It’s not uncommon for veterinarians to prescribe benzodiazepine drugs like Xanax to dogs with anxiety, and these pharmaceutical medications can cause serious side effects.
If feeding your dog prescription anxiety meds was the only way to combat canine anxiety, then it would be understandable to bite the bullet and take this path. With so many natural alternatives available, however, use your own best judgment, and decide if prescription drugs are truly the answer.
Does CBD work for anxiety in dogs?
Scientists have recently started researching the potential anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects of CBD in dogs. A 2020 study, for instance, determined that administering CBD to dogs appears to be safe even if the researchers who conducted the study failed to derive any significant findings.
Theoretically, the idea of giving CBD to dogs for anxiety makes sense. It’s been established, for instance, that dogs have endocannabinoid systems that closely resemble the endocannabinoid systems present in humans. Dogs and humans also share 5-HT1A receptors, which modulate affect disorders like depression and anxiety. Boosting the activation of 5-HT1A receptors appears to reduce the symptoms of anxiety by increasing levels of serotonin in the nervous system.
While this cannabinoid does not significantly activate the CB1 and CB2 receptors, which are the primary components of the endocannabinoid system and cause the intoxicating effects of THC, CBD has been studied for its potential to stimulate the nervous system’s 5-HT1A receptors.
Let’s briefly summarize our findings:
- Feeding dogs CBD appears to be safe
- Like humans, dogs have 5-HT1A receptors
- 5-HT1A receptors modulate serotonin levels in the nervous system
- CBD has been researched for its potential ability to activate 5-HT1A receptors
- Increasing serotonin levels via 5-HT1A receptors reduces the symptoms of anxiety
What are the best CBD products for dog anxiety?
Even if you could somehow figure out how to do it, we don’t recommend that you encourage your dog to smoke CBD flower or use a CBD vape pen. Most dog owners choose to give their pooches CBD tinctures or pre-made dog treats that have been infused with CBD, but that’s not the only way to go.
Most CBD dog treats on the market contain unnecessary ingredients that might be harmful to your dog’s health. However, it’s easy to make your own CBD dog treats at home that don’t contain any unwholesome ingredients. Here’s a quick recipe:
Grain-free CBD dog treat recipe
- 1 15 oz can of organic pureed pumpkin
- ½ cup organic peanut butter
- ½ cup CBD flower coconut oil [learn how to make it here]
- 4 organic, cage-free eggs
- 1 tsp organic turmeric
- 1 tsp organic cinnamon
- ⅔ cups coconut or cassava flour
- Preheat your oven to 300° F
- Combine the pumpkin, peanut butter, CBD flower coconut oil, and eggs in a large mixing bowl
- Add the grain-free flour, turmeric, and cinnamon
- Place the dough between two layers of parchment paper and roll it until it’s around ¼” thick
- Using a cookie cutter, cut the rolled dough into your pup’s favorite shape
- Bake the treats in the oven for around 45 minutes until they are hard and dry
- Allow the treats to cool, and offer them to your dog to enjoy
Other ways you can reduce your dog’s anxiety
CBD might end up contributing a big part of the puzzle as you figure out how to treat your dog’s anxiety using natural solutions. There are plenty of other techniques you can try at the same time, however, which might boost the healing power of CBD and help your pooch overcome their anxiety even faster.
Improve your dog’s diet
The more we learn, the clearer it becomes that diet plays a huge role in mental health. The impact of nutrition on mental health isn’t limited to humans, either. Even dogs can enjoy clearer frames of mind and happier lives if they start eating the right foods.
Unfortunately, even the best packaged dog food is packed with filler ingredients and seemingly natural substances that are actually considerably harmful. Many dog owners have concluded that the only way to keep their canine companions truly healthy is to cook fresh meals for their furry family members.
Keep your pooch active
Dogs hate being cooped up inside almost as much as humans. If COVID lockdowns are making you and your pooch go a little stir-crazy, experiment with indoor activities that might help your dog let off a little steam.
Just like us, canines like to play games, and simply running around the house or setting up a simple obstacle course can be enough to alleviate your dog’s anxiety. Keep trying different techniques until you’ve landed on a daily routine that allows your pooch to unleash their animal instincts.
Cuddle or massage
Your pooch craves physical contact. Thankfully, it doesn’t appear possible for COVID-19 to spread from dogs to humans, so you have no excuse for not cuddling with your furry friend whenever their anxiety peaks.
Believe it or not, canine massage is also becoming a surprisingly robust industry. Apparently, massage therapists suddenly realized that dogs can benefit from massages as much as humans. Check out some tutorials online, and consider booking an appointment with a professional dog masseuse to learn the tricks of the trade from an expert.
Keep your canine’s environment comfortable
Dogs hate change even more than we do. If your home environment is even a little bit chaotic, your canine’s latent anxiety will flare up, and their behavior will get even worse.
If you have to move or make significant changes at home, keep certain items together that your dog has grown attached to. Your dog’s food bowl might have been a certain distance away from their bed for years, for instance, and disrupting this familiar arrangement could exacerbate their anxiety.
It’s easy to solve your dog’s anxiety naturally
There’s no reason to rely on prescription anxiety drugs to solve your dog’s anxiety. There are plenty of natural solutions you can use to help your pooch overcome it’s stress naturally. Try CBD, use some of the other options we’ve listed, and let us know if you come across any impressive canine anxiety hacks that we failed to mention.