Planning a vacation or business trip soon? There are so many things to consider : what to pack, what time to schedule your flight, and how to fit in coffee with that long-distance friend.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Anxiety in Dogs
2. General Ideas for Anxiety for Dogs
3. Homeopathic Remedies for Anxiety in Dogs
4. Prescription Medications for Anxiety in Dogs
5. What is CBD Oil? Can it Help my Anxious Dog?
6. How Do I Choose the Right CBD Products?
7. What Else Can CBD Do?
8. Final Thought on CBD Calming Treats
What about your dog’s travel anxiety? That can leave you with another layer of concern during your trip preparation. You don’t want your pet to be stressed out the whole time!
Luckily, there is an easy answer for this one: calming treats containing CBD oil!
Anxiety In Dogs
Dogs show their anxiety in a number of ways; some of them are remarkably similar to anxious behaviors in humans.
It may differ from pet to pet, but in general your dog may:
- Pant excessively
- Shake uncontrollably
- Run and hide, in particular in places that feel like a safe den, like under a bed or in his crate
- Come to you for comfort
- Whine, bark, and howl (especially if the noise is out of character for your pet)
- Lick or chew his own body, or pull on his own hair
- Display unusual aggression
- Destroy your possessions
- Have accidents in the house
- Appear hyperactive (this is very similar to a human pacing around when nervous)
- Display repetitive, compulsive behaviors
Anxiety in pets is VERY common and is usually caused by a change in his environment. Situational anxiety is caused by things like fireworks or moving to a new house. Behavioral anxiety is caused by things like being left home alone (called separation anxiety). Both these types of anxiety may come into play during travel.
There are other factors that can cause chronic anxiety in your dog. Any illness or pain, for instance, can make your dog more uncomfortable. Your dog may also display more anxious tendencies as he gets older.
While situation avoidance is sometimes the easiest method of averting a canine panic attack, sometimes anxiety is unavoidable, especially while traveling. Any necessary change of plans, however slight to you, may be the trigger for your dog to melt down. Remember - he may not understand what is happening and the confusion and stress seem bigger to him than it may to you.
If your dog struggles with chronic anxiety or you just cannot circumvent the stressor, there is hope!
General Ideas for Anxiety for Dogs
There are a number of treatment options you can pursue for treating your dog’s anxiety. Talk to your veterinarian for more information.
Some non-medicinal ideas that can help calm your pet include:
- Using weighted blankets during anxiety attacks. Deep touch pressure can offer relief because it forces his body to release more serotonin, the chemical responsible for calming him down.
- Using a covered dog crate. This can mimic the safe hiding place your dog would seek out on his own. Blankets and chew toys inside can help make the crate feel like his own space. Put a thick blanket on the top to block out the light and sound. Make sure to leave room for air to circulate!
- Exercise can help if your dog is displaying excess nervous energy. Playing, especially out in nature, and going for long walks may may also help tire him out. A tired dog is not going to have the energy to be a destructive dog when anxious.
- Training with treats, bringing out new toys, and playing novel games are time-tested methods of distraction that could help soothe your dog. If your dog seems unable to concentrate on training, practice tricks he already knows so he does not get discouraged. Make sure you follow up with lots of encouragement and treats!
- Massage can help! Cuddling with your dog, applying heavy-handed massage, can comfort him during a panic attack.
- Diffusing essential oils may help. Lavender is a good option. Avoid thyme, anise, and wintergreen oils.
Make sure that your own body language stays neutral. Your dog can most likely sense that you are tense (even if you are only tense because you are worried about him!) and will be unable to relax.
You may also wish to research counterconditioning. This is when you train your dog to respond differently to stimuli. For instance, if your dog usually gets anxious and aggressive around a new person, training him to sit and do a trick may help lessen the negative response and eventually replace it with a positive one.
Another good choice would be desensitization. Slowly introducing your dog to the frightening, anxiety-inducing stimulus - in very small doses - over long periods of time could help him be calmer during stressful situations. Repeated exposure, especially when combined with positive reinforcement, could help immensely.
Homeopathic Remedies for Anxiety in Dogs
If none of these seem to be helping, researching homeopathic remedies and prescription medicines may be your next choice. There are several good options. Again, discuss with your vet before giving your pet any drugs.
Homeopathic calming products, including sprays and edibles, are a popular option. They typically include plants and herbs (like valerian, chamomile, and hemp) and synthetic hormones or pheromones (like melatonin).
Some pet owners may also choose to give their dog an antihistamine like diphenhydramine (Benadryl) to encourage them to sleep through the most stressful part of their negative experiences.
Prescription Medications for Anxiety
Prescription medication is not generally an immediate short-term relief option. It requires an initial vet visit, as well as regular follow-up visits, and is generally given every day. This can be a great choice for chronic anxiety sufferers.
Some options for medication include:
- Clomipramine (FDA approved for pet use)
- Amitriptyline (a tricyclic antidepressant)
- Any of a number of benzodiazepines (a class of sedatives) can be prescribed for a predictable set of disruptions, like fireworks on Independence Day.
Medication like these are primarily prescribed as pills or caplets, but some are available as a liquid or a transmucosal gel- a gel film not meant to be swallowed but rather absorbed by the mucus membranes in the cheek.
What Is CBD Oil? Can it help my anxious dog?
In addition to trying non-medicinal strategies for improving your dog’s anxiety, you may be interested in experimenting with CBD products.
CBD has suddenly become a hot topic in natural health circles. You may have heard it discussed in social media groups, or in the news, or by your own friends. You may even take CBD Oil yourself!
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a complex chemical compound derived from hemp. You may know hemp as a close cousin of marijuana, but without the higher concentrations of THC, the chemical that causes the psychoactive high.
High-quality CBD oil (with less than .3% THC) can not intoxicate your pet.
Cannabidiol is extracted from the leaves and stems of the hemp plant, isolated from impurities, and distilled in alcohol. It is then bottled or packaged in various forms and sold.
CBD is most often suspended in a carrier oil to make it more readily absorbed by your body. Some examples of dog-safe carrier oils include olive oil, almond oil, and coconut oil.
Many products are sold made with hemp oil. These could potentially increase the efficacy of the CBD through the “entourage effect”.
CBD oil comes in many varieties.
- Softgels or capsules of oil or powder. For a human, these can be swallowed. For most pets they would need to be broken open into food.
- Tinctures (which are placed underneath the tongue or inside the cheek) are the strongest and fastest way of getting the active ingredients into your body. These products may also provide the best way of accurately measuring the dose given. Many pet owners choose tinctures because they offer better control.
- Edibles (like the dog treats you may be eyeing for your trip!) like snacks and gummies. Infused teas and coffees (for humans!) are an option too.
- Topicals like lotion and creams are a popular choice for treating eczema and psoriasis. There are also products made specifically for sore muscles (sometimes they include Epsom salts for magnesium and essential oils to encourage relaxation!)
- Vape pen cartridges
CBD oil is readily available online from various vendors. Should you decide to buy online, it is imperative that you find a quality product. At best, a low-quality product could be ineffective and a waste of money. At worst, your CBD oil could be full of toxic impurities and be dangerous for you or your pet.
How Do I Choose the Right CBD Products?
To ensure the safety and purity of your product, there are a few general guidelines while searching online.
- Pay close attention to how professional a company’s website is. Make sure their payment processing is sophisticated and encrypted to protect your information. Look for their contact information - a reputable company should have their full name, address, and phone number listed at the bottom of every site page. If you choose to contact customer service, there should be several methods of doing so - and you should get a professional response quickly.
- Each product page should have plenty of information about the quality of the oil. Concentration, other ingredients added, and dosage instructions should be clear in the description. It should match the label on the bottle (and any inserts in a product box). Packaging should look professional and clean and should have tamper-proof stickers or seals.
- Make sure your CBD oil is grown in the USA. The United States has rigorous standards in place for growing hemp and marketing health supplements. These standards ensure your oil is safe and pure. The EPA (The Environmental Protection Agency), the USDA (The United States Department of Agriculture) and the FDA (the Food and Drug Administration) all work together to oversee the entire process.
- Organic CBD oil has less risk of containing toxic pesticide residue.
- Make sure your oil is less than .3% THC. That’s the industry standard limit for hemp health care products. Anything higher than that and you risk your dog being drugged.
Do not expect quality CBD oil to be inexpensive. The old adage “you get what you pay for” is absolutely true here.
Make absolutely certain you see the lab analysis of any CBD product you want to purchase. This information will tell you exactly what the concentration of CBD is, as well as what else is present in the formula. Many less expensive formulas contain only a tiny amount of cannabidiol, and some contain high levels of THC.
You may have some oil on hand for yourself and wonder if it is safe to give your dog. It may be!
CBD oil meant for humans and pets contains the same active ingredient and is generally safe to use on either one. The website and packaging should obviously specify who the product is for, but it is still safe (for the most part!) if your dog gets human CBD oil.
Be aware that on occasion your dog’s CBD oil products may have flavoring agents added. They can help encourage picky eaters to take a full dose without a fuss. These may be natural flavoring additives (like essential oils, may also be labeled terpenes) or artificial chemicals and scents. The formula label will tell you what else was added to that particular product.
Never ever give your dog a product with the artificial sweetener xylitol. Even in small doses it can be very dangerous for your pet. You may find xylitol in human CBD products (like gummies) so make sure you carefully read the label before swapping treats.
Certain essential oils that may be present in human products can be harmful to dogs. Remember to avoid cinnamon, peppermint, tea tree, and citrus oils in your pet-friendly products.
If you have other questions or would like to see about finding CBD products locally, a quick Google search should tell you where you can go. Many natural health stores are actively stocking many CBD options because of increased demand.
What Else Can CBD Oil Do?
CBD isn’t just a spectacular choice for anxiety. Because CBD interacts with a specialized network of receptor cells all over your body called the ECS (the endocannabinoid system), it is a spectacular choice for overall health and well-being too!
Cannabidiol has been shown to:
- Promote good quality sleep
- Improve appetite and improve digestion. It can treat nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It can also improve chronic inflammatory bowel disease and restore normal gut motility.
- Reduce inflammation all throughout the body, especially from autoimmune disease. It can decrease the rate of cytokine production. It can also reduce allergen and sensitivity responses.
- Minimize pain, including from chronic conditions
- Can improve cardiovascular health. It can protect the blood vessels and heart from damage as well as help heal where damage has already occurred. It can lower heart rate and blood pressure.
- Help protect the nervous system from neurodegenerative disorders. It can help prevent and treat ALS and Parkinson’s. It can also help with other types of tremors and nerve issues.
- Decreases muscle recovery time after exercise
- Improves overall health
- Can help control and manage a wide range of chronic health issues like glaucoma and epilepsy
- Can reduce side effects from prescription medicines
- Can control the symptoms of arthritis and improve joint health
- Control diabetes
Final Thought on CBD Calming Treats
CBD is safe for your dog. The general recommendation is to start slowly, introducing a low dose at a low concentration, and steadily increase from there.
You can easily find dosing charts online that depend on the concentration of CBD and your dog’s weight. If you have more questions or would like personalized recommendations, your vet may be able to help.
CBD does have the capacity to interact with some prescription medicines (because it can decrease the activity and efficiency of certain liver enzymes necessary to metabolizing the drugs) so make sure to check with your veterinarian before giving anything to your dog.
Some dogs (and some humans!) show immediate improvement when using CBD oil. Others may require longer use. Be patient. It can take weeks of everyday use to see the full effect of CBD.
It may help to keep a journal of your dog’s dose and a concurrent symptom log. It may also help to write a quick journal-type entry each day. It could be helpful to look back and see what attempts at anxiety relief worked in response to what stimulus.
Your vet may also want to see improvement using CBD if you wish to reduce or eliminate the need for pharmaceuticals. A journal of decreased anxiety symptoms may help.
As always, double check every label, talk to your vet, and watch your dog carefully when introducing a new tactic for reducing anxiety. Any abrupt change in behavior or health may be a sign that something is wrong, so be vigilant.
Most of all, be diligent. It may not happen overnight, but with lots of love, patience, and attention, your dog will be less anxious.
Your canine traveling companion may be nervous, but that does not have to hold you back from being on the go! Talk to your vet and try adding CBD oil to your dog’s calming regimen before your next trip!