Many claim that CBD oil can help dogs deal with separation anxiety. Let’s look at the science, and whether the most popular CBD products actually work. cbd and dogs with separation anxiety (all you need to know) if i knew about cbd when my dog had separation anxiety as a puppy some five years ago, i wonder how much easier life might have been.
CBD Oil for Dogs With Separation Anxiety: Does It Really Work?
CBD is proven to reduce inflammation in humans and dogs. This has led to pet owners using CBD products for common canine disorders like seizures and arthritis.
Many people also recommend CBD for anxiety in dogs, including separation anxiety .
Separation anxiety is when dogs, who may behave normally most of the time, develop hyper-attachment with an owner or another pet in their household.
When sep arated from that bonded person, anxious dogs will exhibit signs of panic or distress, such as destroying furnit ure, barking, whining, pacing , and other negative behavior.
So does CBD for dogs Help with separation anxiety? The evidence suggests that, yes, CBD can help anxious dogs.
Although not all dogs are affected by CBD, those that do react well to the hemp extract often become calmer, making them less destructive and more receptive to owner cues .
Combined with good training methods such as crating, this means that CBD is seen by many as a legitimate anti-anxiety supplement.
Product reviews from pet owners, plus studies showing CBD’s effects on anxiety in humans, all point towards there being good reason to try CBD with your own nervous pup.
CBD and separation anxiety – Overview
Separation anxiety is common in dogs , especially those who’ve lived in more than one home or in breeds with a tendency for hyper-attachment.
CBD has shown anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects in humans, mice, and rats. But because they’re rarely experimented upon, there’s no specific clinical evidence for dogs.
Many owners report improvements in their dogs’ anxiety behaviors when treated with CBD. But there are also reports of CBD producing minimal or no effects.
Pet CBD is most effective when combined with other solutions such as crate training and reconditioning to be most effective. Supplementing with CBD may make dogs more receptive to owner cues.
The type of CBD you use can make a big difference . The best CBD for dog anxiety contains a full spectrum extract. We found full-spectrum CBD product reviews were more likely to include success stories about dogs with anxiety.
Here’s what we know about CBD’s effectiveness in treating separation anxiety in dogs. We’ve also looked at some of the most popular pet CBD products , to see whether pet owner feedback suggests they really do help dogs become less anxious.
- CBD and separation anxiety – the theory
- How do I know if my dog is experiencing separation anxiety?
CBD and separation anxiety – the theory
The science of CBD
CBD oil is a natural hemp extract that contains cannabinoids – active compounds that interact with a part of dogs’ bodies called the endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system helps manage homeostasis , the medical term for internal balance controlled by hormone release, inflammation, and other stress responses.
Endocannabinoid receptors are found all over dogs’ bodies. When dogs take CBD oil, cannabinoids stimulate the receptors, triggering them to reduce inflammation and induce feelings of calm.
How does this affect separation anxiety symptoms?
The theory goes that CBD can reduce the initial stress triggered during a separation anxiety attack.
This should lessen feelings of panic and behaviors such as barking or gnawing.
As a result, dogs and owners have more time to use training and routines designed to combat underlying anxiety.
Will a dog feel any different when taking CBD?
Under the influence of CBD, dogs should feel calmer, more relaxed, but not high.
Pet CBD doesn’t contain the types of cannabinoids needed to produce a mind-altering effect (there are only traces of THC in hemp products).
CBD and separation anxiety – the evidence
There’s lots of clinical evidence for a good association between CBD and anxiety reduction, from studies on both humans and mice.
But, as dogs aren’t traditionally used as experimental subjects, studies on pups specifically are hard to find.
When researchers do look at the effects of CBD on dogs, they tend to focus on issues with very clear presentations and symptoms, such as seizures, epilepsy, and arthritis.
Here’s some relevant c linical evidence supporting CBD’s use as an anxiety supplement:
A 2015 review found evidence that “CBD potently reduces experimentally induced anxiety or fear” and is effective against anxiety disorders such as PTSD, GAD, OCD, and SAD in humans.
A 2019 study on the effects of CBD in mice showing anxiety behaviors found that CBD decreased the anxiety response of all mice tested across several behavioral tasks.
Another 2011 study on rats found that CBD reduced “contextually conditioned fear.” When rats associated certain conditions with a fear response (as happens with separation anxiety) CBD reduced their discomfort.
Animals studies comparing CBD with other anti-anxiety medications have found that it produces effects similar to diazepam (Valium) and other anxiolytic drugs.
So, does CBD actually reduce separation anxiety in dogs?
Spend some time online, and it’s easy to find dog owners talking about how CBD did or didn’t work for their pup’s separation anxiety.
We have noticed more positive reviews related to CBD and anxiety than negative ones, which is good news. But it’s important not to be swayed too much by online comments.
Plus, for every glowing recommendation or dissatisfied reviewer, there are many pet owners who did notice some change in their dog’s behavior but weren’t sure if CBD supplementation was the main reason behind it.
The answer is: probably
All of which goes to say that every dog is different, and the only real way to know if CBD will help your pooch’s separation anxiety is to try it out yourself.
The science is absolutely there, as well as plentiful reports of success in both humans and dogs alike. But there’s always the chance that your dog simply doesn’t respond to CBD, or that their condition is beyond the level at which CBD can help.
Even if CBD doesn’t end up solving a dog’s separation anxiety, it may have enough of an effect to make them more receptive to training.
Which CBD products work best for separation anxiety?
The theory and evidence for CBD as a separation anxiety treatment look good. But none of that matters if the CBD product you choose for your dog isn’t effective.
There are dozens of pet CBD products online. Many of them vary widely in price and quality, and some are basically scams.
When shopping for CBD oil for dogs, you should keep three things in mind: the hemp extract spectrum , a brand’s overall consistency , and CBD strength .
What makes a good CBD oil for dogs?
Full-spectrum hemp extract
The best CBD oils contain a wide range of cannabinoids to capture all the benefits of hemp. These products are often termed full-spectrum CBD. Broad-spectrum CBD or Isolate CBD contains a narrower range of active ingredients and is usually considered lower quality.
The easiest way to guarantee CBD quality is to only buy from brands with accessible, up-to-date third-party lab reports for their products. These documents show consumers exactly what’s contained inside a CBD oil, including the cannabinoids and any impurities such as pesticides.
A high concentration of CBD
Lastly, the best CBD oils contain enough active ingredients to produce an anti-inflammatory effect when taken consistently over days and weeks.
How do the most popular CBD products rate for separation anxiety?
We looked at consumer reviews for two of the most popular CBD oils for dogs with separation anxiety from Honest Paws and Charlotte’s Web.
We wanted to see how often pet owners mentioned anxiety symptoms, and whether they had positive feedback when it came using these products to improve their dog’s behavior.
Honest Paws Calm
- 4.9/5.0 from 485 reviews
- Organic full-spectrum hemp seed oil
- Infused chamomile
85 of 232 of reviews mention canine anxiety
93% said Honest Paws helped
7% said Honest Paws had no effect
This is one of the most popular CBD oils for dogs, from reliable brand Honest Paws. It’s specifically targeted toward pets with anxiety and is infused with calming chamomile.
With a high-quality, full-spectrum hemp extract, everything suggests this CBD oil should help nervous pups – but what do real pet owners think?
93% said Honest Paws reduced anxiety for their dog
85 of 232 reviews for Honest Paws Calm directly mention anxiety symptoms (we searched for words like “anxiety” “afraid” and “stress”).
Of those, 93 % (79 reviews) said that their pet’s symptoms decreased after supplementing with this CBD product.
“ Construction noise and the mail man have stopped bothering her and she feels safer in her crate. “
One reviewer said that their rescue dog suffered from crate anxiety, noise anxiety, and nervousness in new situations. After using Honest Paws Calm for several days in combination with training, they report that she “calmed down noticeably and looked more at ease.”
“I give it to him 20 minutes before I leave and he has completely stopped barking.“
Another reviewer specifically mentions separation anxiety, and that CBD supplementation had a clear impact. After being unhappy with how prescription medications like “T razadone and Reconcile” affected their pup, this reviewer began supplementing with Honest Paws 20 minutes before they leave. According to them, their dog stopped barking, became more relaxed, and is able to sit on the couch while they are out of the house.
7% said Honest Paws didn’t reduce anxiety for their dog
However, 7 % (6 reviews) said that their pet’s symptoms didn’t significantly change after supplementing with this CBD product.
“ Great product but not strong enough for my dog’s severe anxiety “
One reviewer said that they could see some difference in the anxiety symptoms of their two-year-old German Shepherd lab mix. However, due to the severity of their anxiety, CBD wasn’t able to reduce symptoms enough to make training and behavior change possible.
“We truly noticed no difference after almost a full month of faithful use.“
Another said that, despite following a consistent dosage schedule for weeks, they observed no change in symptoms for their “very anxious” dog.
How do I give my dog CBD for separation anxiety? (Dosage instructions)
How much CBD should I give my dog for separation anxiety?
Our CBD oil for dogs dosage guide recommends starting with a low, daily dose of around 0.2mg of CBD per pound of your dog’s bodyweight – that’s 10mg for a 50-pound pooch.
At this dosage, CBD may or may not have any effects during the first few days, but it’s important to make sure your dog tolerates CBD well before increasing its intake.
From there, it’s all about careful observation and owner discretion. If it seems like your dog’s anxiety symptoms are already improving, then stick with the dosage. If there’s no obvious change, then slowly being to increase the dose.
What’s the best dosage schedule?
As for dosage schedules, a lot depends upon the specifics of a dog’s separation anxiety:
- How long do symptoms last before and after separation?
- How often is a pup left alone, and for how long?
If your dog regularly experiences panic leading up to your departure, or can’t calm down when you return, then you may want to look at regular, consistent CBD supplementation, with a once or twice-daily dose .
If your dog occasionally acts out, such as when you leave unexpectedly or for an unusually long period of time, then a single dose around an hour before you leave might be a better course of action.
(You may need to start even earlier, as dogs can usually detect the fact that you are leaving well in advance.)
Combine CBD with other anxiety treatments
CBD oil for dogs almost always works better when paired with other anxiety reduction therapies.
Likewise, replacing traditional training techniques with CBD is unlikely to be as effective as combining both into one treatment plan.
In other words, CBD should never be the only thing you try when it comes to an anxious dog. Behavior modification, crate training, and desensitization are all proven ways to treat separation anxiety.
Here, CBD may help increase training uptake, reducing the effort needed for the new routines to bed-in.
- Daily CBD dose + Counter-conditioning
Dogs with milder cases of ongoing separation anxiety can be receptive to treatment with daily CBD supplementation alongside some simple counterconditioning and desensitizing measures.
Counterconditioning is a training process that starts by defining what situations provoke a pet’s negative response, then slowly builds out positive connotations for each aspect of those situations.
Research suggests four main trigger categories for canine separation anxiety:
- A need to avoid something in the home
- desire to reach something outside the home
- external noises or events, or
If you live alone with your dog and can’t find somebody to observe your dog’s behavior when you leave, consider investing in a webcam. That way, you can playback footage recorded during your absence and find out what exactly triggers your pup.
- Daily CBD dose + Breaking associations
Once the triggers of your dog’s separation anxiety have been identified, it’s time to break those negative associations in two ways:
- CBD supplementation to help dogs become desensitized to triggers.
- Introduction of treats, toys, or other positive stimuli to reassociate triggers.
Positive associations can be developed in different ways depending on the trigger. If it’s a certain noise that normally only occurs as you leave the house (keys jangling, doors closing), you might gradually habituate your dog to that sound at other points in the day.
Another popular method is to give your dog a lengthy puzzle or activity every time you leave. This could be a bone or a toy stuffed with food. Aim for activities that last over 20 minutes to keep your pup absorbed for a decent period of time.
cbd and dogs with separation anxiety (all you need to know)
if i knew about cbd when my dog had separation anxiety as a puppy some five years ago, i wonder how much easier life might have been.
my girlfriend and i got luna at six-and-a-half weeks of age and she slept all through the first night we got her. the following day was a completely different story though, and we quickly found out that our new fur baby had quite the case of separation anxiety. if you’re a pet parent whose dog experiences separation anxiety (it’s more common than you think), i’d bet you would love to help cure it, for both their sake and yours. what if cbd could contribute to solving that problem?
cbd oil’s calming properties may be helpful for dogs with separation anxiety and its displayed symptoms. for maximum benefit, be sure to give your dog a proper dose of cbd early enough for it to take full effect since dogs can usually pick up on the fact that you are leaving well ahead of time.
like humans, dogs have cannabinoid receptors all throughout their bodies that exhibit balancing and homeostatic responses when activated. this can go a long way towards alleviating your pup’s perceived need to yelp incessantly, dig away at your furniture, or worse, try to escape and/or hurt themselves in the process.
cbd for dogs with separation anxiety
dogs can get anxious just the same as we can. when that anxiety arises from a situation in which a dog has been removed from its closest companion(s) for one reason or another, it is known as separation anxiety. it often occurs for a dog with one person, but could be both of his or her parents if the bond is strong enough.
separation anxiety may be displayed by your pup on a scale that could range from minor sadness to full-blown panic, with potentially outright destructive behavior to go along with it. it could be caused by a lot of different sources, though all likely stem from some sort of change. a change in routine or environment such as moving, or a new family for an adopted or rescued dog could certainly cause separation anxiety, though a loss or absence of a family member is likely to be the biggest trigger of them all.
signs your dog has separation anxiety may start well before you leave the house. dogs are very good at honing in on various cues within sequences in their lives, such as getting ready to leave the house. for example, you may have keys hanging next to your front door that you grab before leaving. you may also put shoes on before grabbing those keys, and you may have other tasks that lead up to that as well, such as grabbing sunglasses or a hat, brushing your teeth, filling up your water bottle, etc.
the more regularly this occurs, the more your dog will associate one event with the one that precedes it until finally figuring out that you are getting ready to leave from the start of your routine. these cues then signal the beginning of you making your departure, and your dog will make that connection. this could lead to them exhibiting signs of separation anxiety ahead of time, and you are going to want to keep that in mind if you wish to try cbd to help with their separation anxiety. in other words, make sure to consider administering cbd to your dog earlier than you may have initially planned.
signs your dog is experiencing separation anxiety may include any combination of appearing sad (even more so than usual), barking (usually frantically), pacing around the house, or drooling. however, they may not be visible while you are present, and will likely become worse once you’re gone either way. this is another reason why you’ll want to give your pup cbd early enough that it has taken full effect before you leave, if possible.
when luna was a puppy, she barked like crazy as soon as we left, and several times engaged in other destructive behaviors such as chewing the corner of our kitchen table as well as the corner of a wall. other dogs may try to dig through carpets or upholstery (luna also tore up one of our couches), or try to escape. they also may put themselves in physical harm, should they try to escape out of a crate or break through a door or window. last but not least, dogs may pee or poop inside the house as another means of expressing their anxiety, and some may even go one step further and eat their poop afterwards.
isolation distress is another similar condition you should be aware of. often mistaken for separation anxiety, isolation distress occurs solely from a dog being left alone , and results in many of the same outward behaviors that dogs with separation anxiety exhibit. it is solely a dog-human issue, meaning another dog’s companionship within the pack will not make things better for a pup with isolation distress.
the big difference between the two lies in that dogs’ spirits who experience isolation distress can usually be lifted by the presence of any familiar human, whereas a dog who is experiencing separation anxiety towards a specific human will often remain that way until their special somebody returns, even if other people are around. either way, both separation anxiety and isolation distress are likely to come from similar mental processes, and cbd may be worth looking into as a possible solution for the problem.
giving your dog cbd for separation anxiety
much like ourselves, dogs who are stressed experience increased hormonal secretion of cortisol and adrenaline. when this happens, their primitive fight-or-flight mechanism is unnecessarily activated and anxiety results from their brain’s inability to make sense of the entire situation. think about it from your dog’s perspective: much of human life is foreign and complex. we set alarms to wake up, go to work at a place away from home all day, and then come back. all that time, your furbaby is at home awaiting your return with no comprehension of your life’s everyday demands.
it’s easy to see how such a situation could be overwhelming to dogs. after all, a dog is another species with a different evolutionary line than us and it cannot converse or reason like a human. by some measures, it might even be rather miraculous that only 20-40% of dogs have separation anxiety , and that the figure isn’t even higher! nonetheless, the buildup of these stress hormones can lead to chemical imbalances, which can result in even more stressed behaviors from your dog. poor pup ☹
enter cannabidiol: the compound better known as cbd may work on the systems behind your dog’s stress response in order to address the underlying processes behind their separation anxiety. before we jump into how cbd works and the best ways to give it to your fur baby, let’s touch on the basics really quickly.
- cbd comes from the cannabis plant, and it is only one of more than 100 phytocompounds found within the plant categorized as cannabinoids.
- of those 100+ cannabinoids, cbd is one of the two main compounds. it is nonpsychoactive, meaning cbd will not get your dog high !
- the other primary compound is thc, which brings the psychoactive component associated with “marijuana” smoking. if the cannabis plant has more than 0.3% thc, it is considered “marijuana”, while anything less than that amount classifies the plant as being hemp.
- cbd derived from american-grown hemp is legal, safe, and nontoxic for your dog.
simple enough, right? when you give your dog cbd, it goes to work on what is known as the endocannabinoid system (ecs). all animals have an ecs, meaning it is also present in your body (and any other animals within your family). the ecs plays a role in homeostasis within our bodies, which means it works with other systems and processes in order to address any imbalances that are present. of course, this can also apply to the stress response that comes from an imbalance in hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, and could thus bring about a state of calmness that counteracts separation anxiety.
how much cbd should i give my dog for separation anxiety? and when?
cbd is measured in milligrams (mg). when looking into cbd for your dog’s separation anxiety, it’s important to pay attention to the total mg of cbd in a given dose, as well as the amount in its overall contents. dogs have no verbal means of communicating the effectiveness of a cbd dose, so you are going to be the one that has to pay attention to any signs of change in your pup.
with that being said, giving your dog cbd every day gives you a base structure to start with a smaller dosage and work your way up from there as needed. like with humans, cbd oil is completely safe to give dogs, even in high doses. generally speaking, smaller dogs will require less cbd than larger dogs to become effective, though just like us, dogs too have individual body chemistries that can widely affect their tolerance to cbd.
since dogs are very good at picking up on your routines, you are going to want to factor in enough time for the cbd to take effect before starting your routine, not just before you leave. this may mean first thing in the morning, as any means of your dog consuming cbd will likely be done orally, meaning it must be digested before it takes effect. humans usually feel the effects of oral consumption in somewhere between 30 minutes to two hours, so an hour (give or take) would likely be a good base line.
you may be inclined to look into specific cbd products for dogs, whether online or in a brick-and-mortar store. either way, be sure to pay attention to the overall potency of any cbd-infused products made specifically for animals, as they may end up containing an insignificantly small amount of actual cbd. these products are often relatively expensive as well, and worse, may make for an ineffective product unable to produce the results that your pup needs.
with that being said, if a low dose of cbd works effectively on your dog, these types of treats may be perfect. however, that could also enable you to use just a couple of drops of a concentrated cbd oil tincture just the same, whether mixed in with food or given directly in their mouth. it really depends on what your dog likes, and you may only find out by trying out a few different options. we got lucky with luna: she loves it all, and will happily take both olive oil and mct oil cbd drops, straight from the dropper like a champion (i’m not a proud pet parent, nor am i biased in any way, am i?), even if her mom disapproves.
while we’re at it, there are a few other crucial things to pay attention to as well when buying cbd for your dog, no matter what.
- always make sure your cbd oil comes from american-grown hemp.
- buy organic cbd for your pup, just the same as you would for yourself. cbd can absorb any nutrients within its soil, so you want to make sure your hemp was grown organically to ensure it is free of any pesticides and other harmful toxins such as lead or arsenic.
- make sure any cbd product you buy can provide third party lab testresults . if you see cbd products in your local pet store, this might provide a bit of a hindrance at first, but you have two solutions: look online to see if that specific company displays their results, or choose another brand that does!
- cbd is not regulated by the fda . believe it or not, buying cbd online is the best way to ensure a quality product since it gives you the opportunity to fully vet the company you buy from! (no pun intended…)
- look for broad spectrum hemp extract as your source of cbd. this procedure retains all portions of the plant (except for thc), resulting in more wholesome and beneficial results than when cbd is isolated from the rest of the plant. this occurrence is known as the entourage effect.
what can i do in addition to giving my dog cbd to help with separation anxiety?
dogs are very good at picking up on your energy. if you are concerned, stressed, or anxious about their separation anxiety, they will also pick up on that, which only perpetuates the cycle. if possible, it is better to leave the house when your dog’s energy is as calm as possible, while the least ideal time to leave (if you can help it) would be if your dog is going berserk as you are walking out the door.
taking your dog on a long walk or hike, or doing something else such as a good play session to get some energy out of them whenever possible may help the situation, as long as you give your pup enough time to wind down should you rile him/her up while playing. or maybe saying bye to them 10 minutes before you actually leave can help, as giving them attention immediately before you walk out the door may stir up some unnecessary excitement.
from first-hand knowledge (and no, i am not an expert), the first thing for me was to recognize that separation anxiety is a psychological issue. dogs (canines) are not like humans (primates), and their brains run largely on logic, whereas ours have a far greater capacity to experience and integrate emotion into our worldviews and our beings.
we learned from ivan pavlov that dogs think in terms of associating a stimulus to a response. this is how your pup can know you’re getting ready to leave ahead of time, and we can utilize it in order to create environments that mimic leaving the house in broken down, step-by-step ways to set our dogs up for success. it may take a lot of time and energy on our ends, but breaking down our pre-departure routine into step-by-step pieces and then desensitizing them to each given step can ultimately help them work out the situation in their own heads and realize that it is okay for you to leave without them.
let’s use an example: say that you grab your sunglasses, walk to the front door, put on shoes, and then grab your keys before leaving the house. at a time when you have no intention of actually leaving, you could conduct experiments (while your dog is calm) where you walk over and grab your sunglasses; but instead of walking to the front door afterwards, you could just set the sunglasses right back down and see if/how your pup reacts.
such a small interaction may seem trivial, but doing it enough times will begin to break the association to the point where your dog is no longer concerned with the act of grabbing your sunglasses. then, maybe take just one step towards the door before turning to put your sunglasses back where they belong. take it step by step from there over a period of time until you can walk to the door without your pup being concerned. from there, you could grab your shoes and begin to put them on, immediately taking them off just like your sunglasses. same goes for the keys afterwards.
this may already be a long process, but once you’ve nailed it, you can simply start by opening the door and closing it. then you can leave for a second or two and stand just outside the door, gradually increasing your time away. some dogs may rapidly progress through this process, while others may still seem stuck on one step or another for a long time. it’s ultimately important to do everything you can to set your dog up for success, and while this may not work for everybody, it is something certainly worth considering or discussing with a dog trainer if your dog’s separation anxiety is extreme.
positive associations also go a long way towards helping anxiety. if you are looking to contain your dog’s environment to a crate or other enclosed area, taking the time to properly associate the space in a positive manner is great for your dog. you could do this with praise and treats, and/or by putting them into the space for a second before releasing them, making sure to do so while you are home. you can increase the time little by little, giving them lots of love through the process. also, make sure to use a different space for time out if you have one, in order to avoid negative associations.
disclaimer: in no way is any of this advice meant to be taken as that of a professional’s. we all love our pets, and any suggestions within this article should be taken as nothing more than one loving pet parent trying to help another. separation anxiety is tough for us as owners, and even tougher for our pet. on behalf of the entire zadaka fam, i wish you all the best in your journey towards curing your pet’s separation anxiety.