It’s 8:15 a.m. and you’re running late for work. As you grab your keys and scramble for the door, there’s a “boop” against your calf. At your feet sits a sad canine with big, mournful eyes, begging you not to leave.
It’s a daily experience for many dog owners. If only there were some way to calm their fears and leave them in a more relaxed state …
Reportedly, separation-related anxiety is the cause of up to 50% of referral cases to behaviorists. Recent research published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science found CBD may help. The study is just one in a growing body of veterinary research around cannabinoids.
Separation and travel can cause anxiety for dogs. Trips in the car create an intense combination of noise and visual stimulation.
The study reported behaviors like trembling, panting, shaking, or whining in one of four dogs during transportation.
Treatments for this type of distress include pharmaceutical options such as antidepressants or pheromone-based substances. But, pharmaceuticals have several associated side effects, including lethargy, seizures, and vomiting.
Considering the inconsistent and often undesirable effects of drug interventions for canine stress, CBD is gaining traction as a possible alternative.
A separate 6-month study (“Long-term daily feeding of cannabidiol is well-tolerated by healthy dogs”) found that CBD is well-tolerated and safe for healthy dogs when fed appropriately.
It’s one of many studies indicating researchers can safely study CBD’s effect on dogs without fear of harming participating canines.
The “CBD’s influence on dog stress during travel and separation” case study monitored 40 dogs over six months, measuring stress via wearables, video cameras, and blood sampling.
The blinded, parallel design study placed half the dogs in a control (placebo) group and half in a CBD group.
The CBD group was administered a single 4 mg/kg dose of THC-free broad-spectrum CBD distillate during car tests and separation tests over six months.
Researchers determined dog stress levels by analyzing cortisol levels, body temperature, and behavioral signals, among other factors.
Cortisol levels increased during car travel and separation, but the CBD group did not show significant increases during the separation test or when the car and separation tests were combined.
Temperatures for the CBD group remained higher than those in the control group, while heart rate was statistically unaffected.
The CBD group was deemed less sad, stressed, tense, or uncomfortable compared to the placebo group during stress tests.
Ultimately, the analysis determined that the CBD group was less stressed than the placebo group.
Researchers noted, “some measures of stress in dogs were significantly affected following administration of CBD, suggesting it may have efficacy as an intervention for acute stress in dogs.”
Veterinarian Ivana Crnec responded to the study, noting, “Based on current information, CBD can help alleviate inflammation and pain, reduce anxiety, and manage seizures. However, it is highly advisable to talk to a licensed veterinarian before use.”
As more peer-reviewed scientific data becomes available, veterinarians may find it easier to discuss CBD as a treatment option for their patients.
This article first appeared in Volume 5 Issue 1 of Cannabis & Tech Today. Read the full issue here.