Dog owners with anxious pups will do just about anything to calm their canine's nerves. Some are turning to cannabidiol (CD) products to alleviate their doggo's stress, but research on CBD's effectiveness is still limited in humans, and there's even less science available on how it impacts animals. So you might want to think twice before you give your dog CBD for their 4th of July firework anxiety.
At this point, you're probably familiar with CBD, the compound found in marijuana and hemp, thanks to products like CBD-infused coffee and gummy bears becoming more widely available. (Kim Kardashian West's CBD-themed baby shower didn't hurt either.) CBD doesn't contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), so it doesn't have the psychoactive properties of weed, giving users a relaxed feeling without the accompanying munchies and inexplicable giggles. CBD has many positive impacts on the body, but it's currently only legal in 10 states, plus the District of Columbia, making it difficult for researchers to really discover all the ways it can impact people.
One of its more widely-known benefits is the alleviation of anxiety symptoms, as Healthline reports, and owners of panicky dogs are hoping the oil can help keep their pups calm too, especially on firework heavy days like New Years and Independence Day. There's anecdotal evidence to demonstrate CBD can calm anxious dogs, as well as a myriad of CBD infused dog products that are said to help pups find their chill, but scientific studies on the relationship between CBD and canine anxiety are lacking. However, there is research-backed evidence that CBD can help dogs with other issues as it helps people, indicating it may help dogs with anxiety too.
For instance, Dr. Stephanie McGrath, a neurologist at Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, conducted a study on CBD's impact on seizure frequency in dogs, finding that "89 percent of dogs who received CBD in the clinical trial had a reduction in the frequency of seizures." A cannabis-based drug was approved by the FDA to help humans with epilepsy in June 2018, and McGrath's study could lead to a similar drug for dogs.
McGrath's research is a big step forward, but it unfortunately doesn't determine how CBD will impact your pup's anxiety. As Dr. Jaclyn Levin, DVM of Arkle Veterinary Care in Atlanta, GA, tells Romper via email, "there are very limited studies on CBD in dogs, so I don’t think we can say with certainty if or how it works." She adds that "there are plenty of short term anti anxiety meds your vet can prescribe for firework anxiety," as well as alternatives to medicine you can try too. Dr. Levin recommends talking to your veterinarian before giving your dog CBD, as they'll have more information than you and have a better knowledge of your state's laws. Her final piece of advice is to try to calm your pup's anxiety by not reacting to it: When you give them extra ear scratches when they're scared, "the attention can reinforce the fear because they see that fear gets [them] love, so they learn that more fear = more love," she explains.
So talk to your vet before giving your dog CBD for their firework anxiety and know that there are alternatives to treating your dogs anxiety with proven effectiveness already. Note: two studies on the relationship between cannabidiol and anxiety in dogs are set to start sometime in the near future, so the 4th of July 2020 might be a different story. Here's to America.
Readers should note that the regulations and data surrounding CBD are still developing. As such, the information contained in this post should not be construed as medical or legal advice. Always consult with your doctor before trying any substance or supplement.