Taking your dog to the vet or anywhere that involves moving vehicles is stressful. For you, let alone the poor pup. But your favorite plant, particularly CBD, could make the experience easier for them. And, yes, you’re allowed to have some, too.
Dogs who enjoy a daily dose of CBD see “significant reductions” in stress and anxiety related to car travel, according to a new study. Scientists at Waltham Petcare Science Institute in the United Kingdom looked at both the behavioral and physiological stress response in canines given CBD (THC-free cannabis) and a placebo group who did not ingest CBD. They studied the doggos before, during, and after car trips. For the study, researchers partnered with the pet food and vet company Mars Petcare.
Twenty dogs participated in the study. And these weren’t dogs who jump at the chance to stick their head out the window of a car and eagerly wave their tongue into the wind. To qualify, they all showed symptoms of anxiety and stress regarding car trips. But when given CBD, in this case, two hours before the required drive, every man’s best friend given CBD showed “meaningful improvements” during the 24 weeks the study lasted.
How you may ask, did they level dogs’ stress levels? The researchers monitored cortisol levels, a steroid hormone produced and released by your adrenal glands, which are endocrine glands situated above your kidneys, associated with stress. They also looked at more obvious factors, such as how much they whined. The results suggest that these stress indicators “were significantly influenced by CBD administration,” the study says, “indicating daily dosing at 4 mg/kg may have a mild anxiolytic effect on dogs when traveling in a car.”
The placebo group’s stress levels also went down. In humans, the placebo effect can be extremely effective; if you believe you’re taking something, your brain often reacts as if this is the case. But dogs don’t understand (as far as we know) the implications of taking an agent such as CBD, so the study assumes that the lowering of anxiety in the placebo group is the result of dogs getting used to driving. But, before we assume that this is why those who did take CBD showed less stress, note that this group of dogs, on average, had lower levels of cortisol post-test than they did when the study began.
But the stress indicators, such as cortisol, didn’t go away completely. As a result, the study’s authors suggest that, just like for you, CBD is most effective in reducing anxiety in dogs as part of a comprehensive approach, noting that CBD is “best used in combination with other interventions, such as behavioral modification therapy, in order to fully alleviate canine stress…These results, combined with the established pharmacokinetics of CBD oil to reach peak levels at 1.5 to 2 hours, with a half-life of 1 to 4 hours, suggests CBD could be used efficaciously as a single dose treatment prior to acute stressors.”
The researchers concluded that “Additional research is warranted to better understand the effect of CBD at other dosages on improving dog emotional wellbeing.”
Enjoying the calming effect of CBD isn’t the only thing humans have in common with dogs. Just like with our brains and bodies, stress can be pretty detrimental to your pet. Anxious dogs experience a range of symptoms, from physiological changes like increased heart rate and suppressed digestion to behavioral shifts, including heightened reactivity or depression. Stress can also lead to digestive problems such as diarrhea and vomiting, peeing more often or with less control, and obsessive-like behaviors like pacing and overgrooming. Poor things! Stress in dogs can also lead to heightened aggression, demonstrated through growling or biting. Over time, a high level of stress starts to have a negative cumulative effect on your dog’s health, which is all the more reason for you both to keep calm and chill out with CBD.
This certainly isn’t the only research showing that dogs can benefit from cannabis. One 2018 study suggests that CBD can reduce seizures in dogs, while another from the same year finds that it can alleviate arthritis pain, Marijuana Moment reports. However, the legalization is putting weed-sniffing police jobs out of work. But perhaps getting to retire early is also good for reducing their stress levels, so it’s another win for canines and cannabis.