CBD Oil May Reduce Stress in Dogs

Jim Crocker
27th February, 2024

CBD Oil May Reduce Stress in Dogs

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Research studies have supported cannabidiol (CBD) as a potentially viable treatment of a number of anxiety disorders in humans, including social anxiety[2]. The question as to whether such beneficial mechanisms may also be applicable to animals suffering from mental health conditions has not reached the same level of clarity. A recent study[1] examined whether dogs, which are often exposed to stressful conditions, may benefit from CBD treatment, particularly in relation to car travel. Dogs are of course an integral part of modern human society, being "man's best friend", they accompany many of us wherever we may go, including whilst we're driving. Whilst many dogs seem to enjoy car travel, an opportunity to put their head out the window and experience the blowing breeze, research has shown that some dogs may in fact be stressed by car travel, especially if the environment is unfamiliar to them, or they are otherwise more predisposed to being anxious in general. Researchers from the Waltham Petcare Science Institute in the UK put a theory to the test: does CBD treatment for anxiety conditions, which has shown efficacy in humans, also work with dogs? And how could this be tested? The research team acquired a group of 19 dogs not familiar with vehicular transport, and gave them a number of car rides, ascertaining their stress levels both before and after the journeys. To test whether CBD had any effect on dog stress, the dogs were divided into two groups: one group of 9 dogs receiving CBD treatment (a dose of CBD equivalent to 4 mg/kg of dog body weight 2 hours before the journeys), the other group of 10 no treatment (acting as the control group). It was found that car riding was indeed more stressful for the dogs, resulting in elevated cortisol level and heart rate levels. Behavioral changes such as whining, lip licking and yawning also took place after the journeys (these are typical behaviors which can be indicative of stress in dogs). These behavioral changes were scored using a Qualitative Behavior Assessment (QBA) and an ethogram, which are common procedures in determining behavior. 'Smart collars' were also used to collect more precise behavioral data. The interesting part however was that these stress responses in the group of 9 dogs that took CBD before their car journeys were significantly reduced compared to the control group which did not take CBD. This evidence suggests that CBD can act as a preventative measure to stress in dogs that may be susceptible to anxiety in car travel. Whether this evidence can be extrapolated to reducing anxiety in general in dogs will require further testing, but does look promising. With the growing body of evidence that CBD could be beneficial to humans for a number of mental health conditions, it's interesting to see that such benefits may also extend to our canine friends, and perhaps even other animals. As always though, caution is recommended before jumping to conclusions without further research. In terms of our best friends, it's necessary to consult with a veterinarian for guidance if stress is observed in a dog, rather than attempting treatment one's self.

BiochemAnimal Science

References

Main Study

1) Daily dosing of cannabidiol (CBD) demonstrates a positive effect on measures of stress in dogs during repeated exposure to car travel.

Published 3rd January, 2024

https://doi.org/10.1093/jas/skad414


Related Studies

2) Systematic literature review of human studies assessing the efficacy of cannabidiol for social anxiety.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psycom.2022.100074



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