When you and your pet are together, it may seem like nothing in the world can go wrong. You probably wish you could take your pet with you everywhere — from board meetings (or is it bored?) to doctor’s visits and more. Even when you’re gone for a short time, to your pet, it could feel like an eternity. Especially if you rescued your pet from a less-than-ideal previous owner, he or she may experience significant stress in your absence. In addition to other conditions in pets, can CBD soothe symptoms of separation anxiety?
What Is Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety can manifest in different ways in different pets. Simply explaining to your pet that you’re “just going to work” or “running a quick errand,” even if you throw an overwhelming number of “good boys” or “good girls” in there — this isn’t enough to reason with them, unfortunately.
If you have the otherwise most well-trained or intelligent pet, leaving them alone can still send them spiraling. A visit from a mailperson, pest control worker, or worse, an intense storm, may upset them so much so that they can’t calm back down.
According to the American Kennel Club, an estimated 14% of dogs have separation anxiety. As a result of your absence, your pet may exhibit “bad behavior” that’s simply the by-product of stress or paranoia. Anxiety can also set in as dogs age, due to a dementia-like condition. Some of these presentations may even occur as you’re preparing to leave — making it even harder to do so.
Symptoms of separation anxiety
Symptoms vary depending on the type of pet you have, but generally, cats and dogs present similarly:
- Destructive tendencies: This is when your pet chews or claws up furniture, rugs, curtains, appliances, clothing, shoes, etc. — maybe even your homework.
- Incontinence: Even if your pet is properly potty trained and can hold it for hours on end while you’re at home with them, they may get too anxious to wait. It’s not uncommon for pets to defecate where they shouldn’t if they have separation anxiety. What’s worse, your pet may exhibit coprophagia, or, in layman’s terms, eat their own feces.
- Excessive whining or barking: When you’re in trouble yourself or simply want attention, what do you do? You say something! Maybe even yell. Your dog may bark excessively while you’re gone, as they’re trying to call out to you to return. Your cat may meow excessively in your absence as well — the difference is, your neighbor probably can’t hear it and complain.
- Displacement behaviors: Your dog may lick, flick their ears, yawn, or do some otherwise normal behavior compulsively as an outlet for their nervous energy. This may not sound all bad; however, it’s possible for dogs to lick themselves too much, resulting in sores on their skin or paws.
- Panting or pacing: Your dog may get worked up and pant excessively, maybe not even in front of you, making it harder to notice. Your or dog or cat may pace around your home and expend a ton of energy. This isn’t the same as playtime or exercise, and your pet certainly doesn’t enjoy it.
Behavior when you return
You probably welcome the excitement from your pet when you greet them after being gone. However, if your pet has separation anxiety, he or she may get too excited and exhibit any of the above behaviors, or simply be obnoxious or pushy.
Research Supporting CBD as a Solution
Now that you know more about what separation anxiety is and what the signs are, can you use CBD as a treatment? According to an article published in Neurotherapeutics, CBD is a promising avenue to address a variety of anxiety disorders with little-to-no adverse effects in humans. The article also references evidence from a study among rats, which yielded similarly positive results.
But what about dogs or cats?
There is currently no completed research for CBD as a treatment for separation anxiety in dogs or cats, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an option. CBD is natural when extracted responsibly. Animals have an endocannabinoid system that is predisposed to accept CBD to help the body regulate mood, sleep, and more.
While there are traditional medications to address anxiety in pets, the popularity of CBD comes down to shared user feedback, that it’s of natural origin, and that it can be more affordable. Cannabinol was studied for other ailments in dogs, such as osteoarthritis, and showed promise without side effects. Why can’t it help separation anxiety too?
How to Choose the Right CBD Products for Your Pet
According to the American Kennel Club, you should choose organic, high-quality CBD products for your pet. If you don’t want to take it yourself, obviously, don’t give it to your pet. (Unless, of course, it’s because the item is tuna-flavored!) The AKC also recommends tinctures and oils since they are easy to add to food or drop on your pet’s tongue. They also come in a variety of strengths, so servings are adjustable.
Potential side effects in pets who are given CBD are about the same as adults. Your pet may experience dry mouth, drowsiness, or lower blood pressure.
If your pet tolerates CBD well, other products such as chewable treats are available, so you can mix it up. Finding out how much CBD your pet needs is a matter of trial and error. Follow the serving sizes that are recommended, but always try less than you think is needed, just to be sure. You should also supervise your pet the first time you give them CBD.
If you’re interested in giving your pets CBD for separation anxiety, consult your veterinarian first. He or she may recommend other options that are worth looking into. Veterinarians are trained professionals, and they love pets as much as you do!