Everything You Need To Know About Preventing & Treating Anxiety In Dogs And How Hemp Can Help
Anxiety is one of the most prevalent diseases in dogs. So how about we don’t let that happen to our little fur nuggets! You have probably heard a lot about hemp lately. It seems like it’s all people ever talk about anymore, and well, there are good reasons for it. It can save lives, it has saved lives, and it’s giving a lot of people hope when there was none before.
Here’s how to calm an anxious dog with hemp, and how to prevent anxiety from ever happening in the first place.
The Nature of Anxiety
Anxiety is one of the strangest illness when you think about it — for far too long it wasn’t even considered a disease. There are still many people to this day, who don’t treat it with the severity it deserves. Not only has this created a world of issues for people that suffer from it, but our dogs have greatly suffered from it as well.
How often do you think this following scenario happens?
An owner comes home to find their dog tore up something valuable, they then proceed to yell and scold the dog. This happens a lot, and it can feel natural to scold them, or OK to yell at the moment, but this is terrible! The majority of the time when a dog destroys something, it's because they are anxious — there are times when they are just bored, but it’s easy to tell the difference *see below*.
It can be difficult to not immediately fall into anger, but the second you yell your dog internalizes it, and this increases and reinforces their anxiety. This means the next time your dog gets anxious, there is a good chance it will be worse.
It’s a domino effect, and it incredibly difficult to notice it happening if you aren't actively preventing it when they are young. Anxiety doesn’t first show itself with destruction, but with the dog pacing and pinning their ears back.
How We Can Hurt by Helping
Many dogs are naturally prone to anxiety, and it’s hard to not trigger it from happening — this is why hemp has been so helpful for treatment, but more on that later. It’s actually an understatement to say they are just prone — even signs of reassurance when they act frighten can trigger the anxiety domino effect.
The key to treating anxiety is prevention, so let’s look at the common scenario where anxiety first forms.
You recently adopted a new pup six months ago, and they are around 10 months old. Today happens to be the Fourth of July, and this is the first time your pup will experience fireworks. You know that many dogs hate this day, so you start worrying about how tonight’s loud thunderous roars are going to go over.
The night rolls around and the fireworks start, your dog perks up and you immediately reassure them that it’s OK. Instead of being reassured, your dog makes a mental note that there is something to warrant their scared behavior. The next time the fireworks roll around, they react more which causes you to react more. This is how anxiety starts and grows, — and anxiety just doesn’t translate into a scared dog.
In this scenario, your pup is around 5 months of age. You decide to take them to the doggy park, but things don’t go perfectly. A bigger dog comes running up and scares your pup, so you pull them back and decide to wait until your pup is older before you introduce them to other dogs again.
This means that that scary event for your dog stays in their head; it’s their only association when around another dog. The problem is you wait to reintroduce them to their fellow dogs until they are 11 months old. This time, however, you find them growling and pinning their ears back. The best medicine is getting them back up on that horse — the imagery for this is hilariously perfect.
Signs of Anxiety
Anxiety is planted like a seed in fertile soil, so how can you stop it from sprouting up?
First, kill the soil — you know that staying calm is the best bet whether they are scared, acting aggressive, etc. Keep a low and calm voice, and try to act as normal as possible — the last part is big during storms, fireworks, parades, etc.
Keep the phrase “If you react, they react” in mind and hold it dear. Especially when they are young and so impressionable — they always are, but they are literal sponges when pups.
With this in mind, you’ll want to learn early signs of anxiety next so you can pull sprouts before they blossom. Nip it in the bud early and treatment is so much easier — Pun City!
- Seeking comfort or affection
- Excessive licking or chewing
- High energy
- Excessive barking and howling
- Accidents in the house
- Panic attacks
The trick is to watch for these early signs and understanding when it’s anxiety or not. For example, a dog may excessively lick their lips, but this could mean they are about to vomit. You don’t want to ignore this situation, you need to determine whether they are showing other signs of anxiety or not.
Becoming aware of your surrounding is key. Ask yourself if there are any reason your pup may be getting anxious? Is there a noise outside, did you and your significant-other fight in front of your dog, etc.?
There are two main forms of anxiety: temporary/situational and behavioral.
How CBD Treats Anxiety
CBD is fantastic because can be used for all forms of anxiety as it will reduce their heightened state. By reducing their overactive fear response, triggers disappear giving your pup enough time to interpret the situation. CBD won’t dull their emotions in any way; it simply stifles them when they are overreacting.
This is how CBD and cannabinoids work in general — the brain produces its own endogenous cannabinoids that move throughout the body. When a cannabinoid comes to a region or function in the body that’s overreacting, it activates receptors in the area which lower activity levels back to normal.
A region or biological function usually overreacts because it’s under heavy stress — this is how good inflammation because bad, why chronic pain is both mental and physical, and why cells mutate and become cancerous.
Endocannabinoids can help keep all of these functions in line — when they are in short supply both us and our dogs get sick. But fortunately, CBD works by protecting endocannabinoids — endocannabinoids are helpers, but sometimes they need their own help.
Treating Situational Anxiety
For situational anxiety, simply stay calm and wait for the issue to pass. Your pup will have these occurrences throughout their lives — once your pup is two years of age, triggering anxiety is less of a worry. Prescription medication isn’t usually recommended for this form because it’s fleeting and relatively mild. However, watching your pup suffer is no fun, and we can fix this issue with CBD oil.
Combine CBD with our “stay calm yourself” rule, and the temporary anxiety should mostly wane itself out fairly quickly. So the next time the Fourth of July rolls around, you’ll want to give your pup CBD an hour or two before you expect the fireworks to start. When the fireworks start, pay no attention to them or to your dog when they react. Easy peasy — the hardest part is being disciplined yourself.
If the fireworks are happening all day or if there are all day thunderstorms, feel free to give them CBD throughout the day. CBD will last 6-8 hours and take 30-60 min to kick in — you can dose them 2 to even 3 times per day if needed.
Treating Behavioral Anxiety
Separation anxiety and aggressive behavior are the two main results of behavioral anxiety. Unlike situational anxiety, this type is a learned behavior and will require more work and time than just staying calm and giving CBD oil.
CBD can effectively treat situational anxiety — simply throw them a CBD pill when you see the environmental trigger. Behavioral is different because it can be triggered often and by a plethora of things. Behavioral anxiety results in destruction or aggression, and you can tell right away that your pup’s anxiety is severe and require serious action.
This point is getting driven home, but do NOT yell when you see destructive behavior from your dog. They are not truly responsible for their actions as a literal hurricane is going off in their brain when they feel anxiety.
People who suffer from serious anxiety know they can’t turn it off. Even when you understand what’s happening and what’s causing it, anxiety makes you feel helpless to change it. Our poor pups can’t conceptualize anxiety to the extent that we do, and this means they have no idea it will eventually end. Even worse, in the case of separation anxiety, their one hope (you) is missing.
Treating behavioral anxiety will take time and training as you will slowly desensitize them to the treat. While CBD won’t cure behavioral anxiety, it can temporarily stifle it. This is huge because a lot of destruction can happen in the months it takes for training to correct the issue.
For separation anxiety, training can be done on your own. Here’s a step by step guide for it.
- Step 1: Find a day when you have access to your house at all times of the day.
- Step 2: Give your pup an average dose of CBD.
- Step 3: Leave your house for 15 minutes an hour or two after administering CBD.
- Step 4: When you leave and come home do not make a fuss about it.
- Step 5: Rise and repeat by slowly increasing time away each time.
Bonus Tip: You can prevent separation anxiety from ever happening by separating yourself from your pup when you’re both home together. When you're home all day, place them in a crate for 30 minutes even though you’re not leaving the house. When they get older (6 months+), simply remove yourself from the room they are in and don’t let them follow. They will whine in the crate, and you’re going to feel bad, but this a much more ideal situation then them developing anxiety and you having to leave for work for 8 hours.
Whether you can effectively treat aggressive behavior on your own, will depend on the severity and your training knowledge. For mild cases — barking, but no physical aggression — CBD and short interactions are key.
The issue will be, where do you have this interaction and this creates a catch-22 depending on your dog. While an aggressive dog might feel more comfortable in their environment, the second a new dog comes into the area they might become territorial. Now the logical answer would be to place both dogs in a new area, but the aggressive dog may become afraid and feel uncomfortable with their new surrounding.
Fear is what produces aggression, and since you know your dog the best, you will have to weigh which option is better. All of this makes tackling aggressive behavior without professional help tricky and risky, and it's why many recommend you seek help.
Which CBD is Best for Managing Anxiety?
There are a lot of forms of CBD from oil to capsules to treats. All are fantastic for natural anxiety relief, and the most important factor is that its derived from hemp. Which all of our CBD products are! For first-timers, we recommend CBD oil as it gives you the most control over dosing compared to any other form.
For more information on Hemp Oil for Dog Anxiety, click here!