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For sure we have all experienced the torment of having to leave our dogs at home, hearing their cries and whimpers as we walk out the door. And most of us have also surely experienced coming back home to find our house soiled with the contents of our trash bins scattered everywhere. The emotions we humans feel, our dogs also have. These emotions we share with them include all the good, but unfortunately, also include all the bad. From time to time, we feel this uncontrollable anticipation of things that goes hand in hand with irrational fear about things going wrong; this certain mixture of feelings is a symptom of anxiety. It hits us humans like a plague and may manifest in many forms. The same happens to dogs. Sometimes, there are dogs that cannot control when their anxiety strikes or what triggers it. Fireworks, thunders, new environments, the presence of other pets, big crowds, and even the absence of people may cause our dogs to panic. We cannot know for sure when our dogs’ anxiety will strike, but we can observe their patterns. It is not impossible to see how certain sounds and places, no matter how much they’re exposed, can still cause them to shake in fear. When this happens, good dog owners will do everything to comfort our fur babies and make them feel safe. New Year’s Eve and mornings when we leave our dogs at home with other family members usually have high anxiety rates for dogs of all ages and sizes.
There are two types of anxiety in dogs: situational and behavioral. In situational anxiety, a pattern can be observed in relation to specific situations and events that trigger our dogs’ anxiety. Behavioral anxiety doesn’t have much observable patterns. Our dogs may have behavioral anxiety when they get nervous and stressed out in random day to day situations such as being left alone at home or their human owners cleaning up their toys. Dogs can be trained to confront the things that make them anxious. We can allow them to have positive associations with the things that freak them out. However, some dogs just cannot be trained when they are anxious because the process may upset and stress them out even more. In dogs, anxiety is quite difficult to detect. The symptoms are easy to dismiss as simple behavioral issues or signs of physiological illnesses. Some symptoms that we should look for if we suspect that our dogs are suffering from anxiety include hiding during a thunderstorm, soiling the house when left alone, avoiding or growling at new people, uncontrollable peeing, loss of appetite, shaking, whining, panting, licking of the lips, increased grooming, and scratching at doors. When anxiety manifests through aggression towards their human owners and other pets, their illness affects their day to day lives. This keeps them from living a happy life and learning how to make positive associations with various places and people. Owners of dogs with separation anxiety may also experience distress when leaving their upset dogs at home when they run errands. Dogs with anxiety may need medication in order to effectively facilitate their behavioral training.
There are many medications on the market that are primarily man-made. These medications are a result of different chemical compounds that are put together in laboratories to produce a formula that will treat anxiety. The catch with these man-made medications is that they often have side effects like drowsiness, tiredness, muscle weakness, uncontrollable twitching of muscles, headache, dizziness, and excessive saliva. CBD is the best alternative for these orthodox medications. Although it also goes through researchers and chemists in laboratories, unlike conventional medications, it is derived from nature. It is extracted from hemp plant and diluted in coconut or hemp seed oil. But what is CBD? What does CBD stand for? Is it safe and will it really calm down our anxious dogs? CBD stands for Cannabidiol, and is a popular natural treatment for many common ailments. It is one of the many chemical compounds that can be found in marijuana plant. Primarily, it is beneficial in treating anxiety, learning, pain, and movement disorders. In oil form, it can be administered to dogs by their owners in times of stress. CBD can be found in medical marijuana. Because it contains negligible amounts of compounds that can affect perception, understanding, mood, and behavior, our dogs would not end up getting high or sedated. This means that using CBD to treat our dogs’ anxiety and pain will address the symptoms without the mind-altering effects of marijuana and conventional medicines that will keep them from functioning normally. The almost non-existent presence of this compound makes CBD nontoxic to dogs.
Because it is derived from a plant called hemp, a strain of weed, it wouldn’t be harmful to administer it in anticipation of a trigger that may cause our dogs to freak out. Dogs who have situational anxiety for example, can be fed a meal with a couple of drops of CBD oil a few hours before New Year’s Eve festivities. This will be enough to keep our dogs calm and relaxed for the entire night. Just as repeated distress can take a toll on our dogs’ long term health, repeated occasional use of CBD oil also have tons of additional benefits for dogs. In addition to anxiety, CBD oil treats symptoms of ageing and degrading mental health in dogs. It can relieve dogs of seizures, dementia, stroke, seizure, and pain. Successful treatment of anxiety and these other illnesses can greatly improve the quality of life that our dogs get to live. Once CBD treats our dogs’ anxiety, we can begin training them to behave properly and gradually condition them not to freak out over their triggers. This way, CBD as a medication will not function as the end cure but as a means to overcome certain stressors. When our dogs overcome these stressors, they can learn to reduce intake of CBD oil and even to live without it. Other anxiety medications also work, but are more expensive and may contribute to the development of other illnesses; they can therefore end up depleting the health of our dogs in the long run.
Once CBD enters our dogs’ bodies, it will work its way through their nervous system to relieve the parts of their bodies that are affected by the symptoms of anxiety. The part that shows the primary symptoms of anxiety is the brain. CBD will enter their brains and allow it to release serotonin, a chemical associated with feelings of well-being and happiness. Serotonin will then calm their bodies down, reducing anxiety.
Although CBD is getting a cult following from dog owners and veterinarians alike because of the emergence of as research linking it to the positive benefits it can provide for humans who have anxiety, cancer, or seizures, there is still not enough studies about its safety and risks for dogs. While no studies have been conducted yet to test the potential side effects of CBD in dogs, it is worth noting its side effects on humans. In humans, CBD is found to decrease the production of saliva, temporarily lower blood pressure, create a momentary feeling of light-headedness, and in higher doses, cause slight drowsiness. Despite the relief it provides, the use of cannabis oil in treating anxiety will remain as an alternative option or as a traditional form of medication until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves it and issues the corresponding dosing chart. Without approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the manufacturing of CBD is not regulated. The lack of regulation puts consumers at risk of falling victim to some manufacturers’ false declaration of concentration of its components. As discussed earlier, CBD contains very little amount of the compound that gives the feeling of high. Without proper regulation in the quality control of manufacturers, this compound that should be barely there may be present in higher concentrations. Paired with the absence of a dosing chart, there is a potential risk for dogs to experience overdosing. Although it’s nontoxic in the experience of many, and the fatal risks for dogs from CBD is rare, it is difficult to determine the size of dosage that would make it toxic. If a dog shows signs of overdose or poisoning, the dog must be taken to the veterinarian immediately. Little is also known about the risk of reaction or allergy it carries; and even if CBD doesn’t carry the risk of reaction or allergy, the oil it’s diluted in and the other ingredients present in the formula may have adverse effects on our dogs. It is therefore important to seek the help of other dog owners who have already experienced administering CBD to their pets. It’s important to start out with small doses, and closely monitor the effects. Although CBD oil is being hailed as a cure-all and is popular with the overly ambitious claims of its users, as with administering other kinds of medication, it’s best to consult a veterinarian first.
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