Can CBD help dogs or cats with anxiety?

As a rescue pup, Bennie had a rough start and continued to suffer from significant anxiety all his life, including having frequent nightmares. When his human first gave him hemp CBD, she was initially skeptical that this natural product could make a difference. Prone to panting, pacing and barking, Bennie’s anxiety had been problematic for all the dozen years they’d spent together. After his first dose of CBD, Bennie seemed to quickly become more relaxed. When other family members, who had no idea that Bennie had been given hemp CBD, remarked on his calmer, happier demeanor, it was a testament to what hemp CBD can do to reduce a dog’s anxiety and calm restlessness.

CBD can be equally effective for anxious cats. Jet was a feral kitten, and even after he settled into his new adoptive home, he would maintain a five-foot distance from his humans. At most, he would tolerate just two gentle pets from his people before he would dart away, and he remained constantly wary. Jet was given CBD oil, and immediately, there were visible, positive results. There had been a great deal tension with the other cats in the house, and the CBD allowed him to relax, and the cat spats stopped. Encouraged by these results, Jet’s family began to give Jet CBD daily, and were delighted to find that the formerly fearful cat actually loved cuddling them! Jet now asks to snuggle and demands pets. CBD has improved Jet’s quality of life. He’s a much happier cat, the multi-cat household is more peaceful, and he has turned into a lovable companion. 

These two true stories highlight the potential for using CBD as a natural solution to treat behavioral anxiety in cats and dogs. There are so many situations that can trigger nervousness in a dog or cat: traveling, trips to the veterinarian or groomer, a new home, new residents, new pets, loud noises, or separation. There is a great need for solutions to minimizing pets’ anxieties without harmful side effects. CBD can be the answer!

While research is still being conducted, initial studies on CBD’s ability to combat anxiety are promising. For generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), the National Institute on Drug Abuse showed that CBD can reduce stress in animals such as rats. Study subjects were observed as having lower behavioral signs of anxiety. Their physiological symptoms of anxiety, such as increased heart rate, also improved. For pet parents, the positive effects are visible when CBD is helping. Dogs will settle more easily, and whine and pace less. Cats may have less conflict with other pets and may be more sociable. It should be easy to observe if the CBD is making a positive difference.

Does CBD make pets high?

There are major differences between the hemp plant from which pet CBD (cannabidiol) oil supplements are extracted and cannabis. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the compound that gives marijuana its psychoactive properties, is only present in measurable amounts in cannabis, which contains very little CBD. Conversely, industrial hemp has high levels of CBD and virtually no THC. It’s important to note that THC can be toxic to dogs and cats, but CBD is safe. The most important differentiation to remember is that hemp CBD offers all the benefits without the THC, so you can be assured that your dog or cat won’t get high–instead, they’ll experience a level of mild relaxation without any intoxication.

CBD oil made especially for pets will not contain any harmful added ingredients and will be formulated to appropriate dosing levels. CBD does not pose a risk of addiction and generally has no side effects. It is safe for most pets in the right doses and with the right products. However, you should consult with your veterinarian, especially if your pet is taking prescription drugs. 

What is the best CBD oil for my dog or cat?

Due to sometimes confusing labeling and advertising restrictions, you’ll want to shop carefully to find the best CBD for your dog.

First, find a brand that you can trust. Look into how and where the hemp is grown, and make sure it’s pesticide-free, and lab-tested for potency and purity. An independent study conducted by Leafly found concerning variances in the amount of CBD that products contained, so checking lab results is important.

For a dog who is not likely to be put off by a potentially grassy taste, consider full-spectrum CBD. This CBD offers the greatest amount of terpenes and beneficial natural plant compounds that work synergistically with the CBD to maximize effectiveness. If you have a cat or a pickier pup, opt for isolate CBD products that contain no plant compounds, making them flavorless.

Because potencies vary, make sure to compare the total amount of CBD in the product, usually stated in mg, not the package weight or bottle size. Then, compare the amount of CBD that is the appropriate dose for your dog’s needs to find the best potency. The most affordable CBD oils for larger dogs or dogs who will benefit from long-term use would be larger bottles of higher potency.

Another important differentiation to understand is that is that CBD oil and hemp oil are not the same thing, especially for calming purposes. Though they’re from the same plant and neither product is psychoactive, hemp oil is made from pressed hemp seeds, which do not contain CBD. In comparison, CBD oil is extracted from the hemp flowers, leaves and stalks. Be sure to choose products that contain stated levels of CBD, not just hemp oil.

How much CBD should you give your dog or cat for anxiety?

You may need to do some experimenting to find the right dose because every pet and every situation is different. The typical recommendation is 1–5 mg per 10 pounds of body weight, but there is no known toxicity level.

Try a dose in the middle of the recommended range and watch for calming effects. You should notice a difference within an hour. If not, you may want to give more CBD to total up to the upper dosing recommendation. Your pet will not seem lethargic, just calmer once you’ve supplied the right dose.

You can offer CBD just when it’s needed, or on a regular basis for pets with chronic anxiety, usually every 8 – 12 hours.

Michael McDonagh

Micheal has a degree in psychology and is a health and wellness expert focusing on fitness, lifestyle and popular culture. In his spare time, he enjoys watching Netflix with his beloved pug Shmoggy, rummaging through the vintage market in brick lane and photography.

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