As humans, we know anxious minds and frayed nerves can often lead to sleepless nights. It isn’t any different when it comes to our canine companions. Some dogs can experience quite a bit of anxiety, which may impact their ability to get enough sleep.
As a pet parent, how can you help your anxious pup? Increasingly, more and more dog owners are turning to CBD to calm their jitters. While it can be considered a trendy wellness treatment, it could potentially be the key to calming your dog’s anxiety and improving their sleep, just like it has been in humans.
But does it really have the same effect on pets? And is CBD safe for dogs? This article will explore CBD for dogs and outline any sleep benefits.
What is CBD?
If you’re not aware, CBD is a naturally occurring compound found in hemp and other plants, explains Candy Akers, holistic veterinarian and owner of Journeys Holistic Life.
“CBD stands for cannabidiol, and these molecules react with the endocannabinoid system (ECS),” she says. “Both humans and dogs have these complex internal regulatory systems along with many more mammals, birds, reptiles, and even fish.”
So far, in humans, CBD has helped address complex health conditions such as immune function, stress response, pain management, appetite, anxiety, and sleep disorders, notes Akers.
How does CBD affect dogs?
You might be wondering: Is CBD good for dogs? Akers says she’s seen her canine patients experience a wide range of health benefits after taking a CBD supplement. In Akers’ professional opinion, CBD can help decrease pain, lower anxiety, prevent seizures, soothe joint problems, and generally promote a calm and stable mood.
“Several less discussed benefits revolve around topics such as surgical recovery, adrenal imbalances, recurrent UTIs, stomach pain or nausea, PTSD, social disturbances such as bullying or displaced aggression, nerve sensitivity, grief, motion sickness, early spay/neuter, and irritable bowel syndrome,” she says.
Additionally, Akers says CBD can help dogs sleep better, noting that her pug mix, Kasey, experienced sleep improvement after she was diagnosed with significant dementia.
“Like many cases, the symptoms seemed to get worse in the evening,” she says. “I noticed that if I couldn’t get her calmed down after dinnertime, she would go through cycles of overexcitement, confusion, and pacing around in a circle pattern. I tried everything, every supplement, herb, food, drug, drug combination, and environment modification idea. The only thing that made a noticeable difference in her brain balance was CBD. I have hundreds of clients that have seen these same results.”
Along with Akers’ personal and professional account, many pet owners swear by CBD to calm their dogs and ease them into dreamland. It’s definitely something that’s requiring further study, but currently, CBD for dogs looks promising.
If you’re on the fence about whether CBD may actually help your dog’s anxiety and sleep quality, note that at the very least, hemp oil is a rich source of omega-3 fats, which can decrease inflammation, support a healthy coat and skin, and improve heart and brain health.
Is CBD for dogs safe?
“CBD safety for dogs depends on the actual product, but in general, yes, most CBD supplements designed for dogs are safe,” Akers says. To improve safety, only use reputable brands that provide third-party testing to confirm the absence of toxins, pollutants, or potential contaminants, she adds.
“I would also advise my clients to only use products where all ingredients were produced in the US,” says Akers. “Even if a product says, ‘Made In The USA,’ you still have to check where the ingredients came from because a company can buy ‘CBD’ or ‘Hemp’ from China and then mix the products to make it in the US. But where the ingredients actually come from is the main thing to check.”
She says pet parents should purchase their CBD products online and should read reviews to find a good product. You could also ask your veterinarian for recommendations, or your vet may even sell CBD at their clinic.
Also, you should know that CBD can produce some side effects in dogs. According to Akers, she sees these side effects rarely, but they can include:
- Digestive upset
Furthermore, be sure to talk to your vet about administering CBD to your dog if your pup is already on prescribed medications and supplements. This will avoid any chance of a drug interaction.
How much CBD should you give your dog?
How much CBD is right for a dog with anxiety? Akers says CBD dosages vary depending on the primary purpose and health status of your dog. “Follow administration directions on your specific product,” she says, and ask for any further guidance from your vet.
“Start with a small dose and slowly increase until you see the desired response,” adds Akers, and be sure that your vet is fine with the increase as well.
When should you give your dog CBD?
Akers says CBD for general pain or anxiety should be administered at least two to three times per day. “Try to keep this on a regular schedule as research has proven that many of the neuromodulating effects of CBD balance out around four weeks of administration,” she says.
It’s best to give your dog the dose about an hour before bedtime, adds Akers. “It’s important to give the dose before the sleep disturbance may start,” she says. “In some situations, I recommend giving one dose with dinner and another right before bed.”
Does CBD for dogs do anything?
Although further study is needed, holistic vets generally agree that CBD can calm anxious dogs and help them sleep, in addition to other reported health benefits.
Do vets recommend CBD for dogs?
“I think in general most vets think it’s OK to try CBD products, but conventional vets usually try to use sedatives and tranquilizers for sleep issues,” Akers says. “These medications can be unpredictable at best and may just knock your furry friend out. Almost all holistic veterinarians recommend CBD and see that it can be beneficial for sleep and many other issues.”
Does CBD calm down dogs?
Akers says that yes, CBD does calm down dogs. “The active components in CBD products bind to special receptors in your dog’s brain,” she explains. “It can also regulate neurotransmitters, like serotonin, to produce a more stable mood. Additionally, regular CBD use also lowers cortisol, an important stress hormone in both humans and dogs.”
What effect does melatonin have on dogs? Learn about whether melatonin is a safe and effective sleep aid for dogs.