Hemp For Anxiety in Pets
Before my journey began with Hemp Dog Health, I was lucky enough to be touring all over the country with two Broadway musicals, School of Rock by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Kinky Boots by Cindy Lauper! Every 1-4 weeks our cast and crew traveled from city to city on planes and buses. For both of these tours, I always traveled with my beautiful Shih Tzu rescue, Blanche. Blanche is one of the most well-behaved dogs I’ve ever met and is loved by everyone! There was only one problem – ANXIETY! She hated traveling on planes, hated loud noises like thunder, and more than anything she HATED being left alone. Her separation anxiety when left alone at a hotel was so bad that she actually got me kicked out for her barking. I tried everything – thunder shirts, blankets, leaving my clothes on the floor, crate training… you name it, I tried it.
After the third time I was kicked out of a hotel I called a long-time friend, Angela Ardolino for advice. She recommended this new thing she had been learning about at The University of Vermont’s School of Medicine, CBD. I laughed and said, “I don’t wanna get my dog stoned!” She assured me that it wouldn’t and told me to give it a shot. She sent me a bottle and that first night I gave her a dose, went to work and something incredible happened. There was no phone call from the hotel complaining about her barking! I thought it was a fluke, so I tried again the next day – once more no complaints. I couldn’t believe it!
The next test was our flight to the upcoming city on our tour. Because Blanche is registered as an emotional support animal, she gets to fly with me on my lap. I gave her the same dose that had been working before. I saw some improvement but not completely calm, so I gave her a little bit more. Ten minutes later, she was asleep on my lap! FIRST TIME EVER! I could not believe it. How was I just hearing about this?
This is when my curiosity to learn more about CBD really started growing and eventually led to me joining Angela in starting CBD Dog Health! Now it has become my life long mission to help educate pet parents on this incredible natural medicine. Whether for anxiety, seizures, cancer, or allergies, it’s inhumane to keep this incredible plant from our pets. And ALL pets and humans can take this medicine!
So let’s learn a little bit more about your pet’s type of anxiety. What kind of anxiety do they have? What signs should you look for? How does CBD help? And the most asked question, how much should you give?
“CBD is beneficial in a behavior anxiety situation, especially for hyper puppies at night. The endocannabinoid system is a regulator; it puts everything in balance where it should be.”- Dr. Zac Pilossoph, Fear-Free Certified DVM, CAVM, and CBD Professional, and Chief Veterinary Officer for CBD Dog Health.
Separation anxiety is when a pet is incredibly attached to their owner and feel very distressed when they’re left alone. Sadly, this is the second leading cause of owners giving up their pets to pounds or to be euthanized.
This was Blanche’s biggest issue and it’s probably what brought me more stress than anything too! I personally know how awful it is to have moments of extreme anxiety (yes, I take CBD for this too!), so leaving my beautiful girl in that state tore me to pieces. Not to mention the complaints from the hotels and the amount of money that I had to pay for scratched up doors.
What are a few signs that your dog is suffering from separation anxiety?
- Excessive barking that can last for hours
- Scratching and digging at doors
- Whining and howling
- Excessive licking and chewing of paws
- Peeing and pooping throughout the house
- Destroying anything they can get their paws on (Blanche destroyed many curtains!)
What causes separation anxiety? Dogs, by nature, belong in packs. So, when you, their pack leader, leaves them alone it can cause extreme anxiety. They just love you THAT MUCH! Here are a few other reasons your dog could be suffering from separation anxiety.
- Not enough social interaction
- If they were removed from their mother too young
- Insecurities (yes even your dog can have insecurities)
How much CBD should I give my dog FOR separation anxiety?
Finding the correct dose for separation anxiety can be tough. How the heck do you know if it’s working when you’re not home to see their reaction? This took me some time to figure out but here’s what I recommend.
Take an afternoon to play a little game. Try a specific dose, leave your house or apartment but stay in earshot of the door. If they are still barking or scratching after about 20 minutes go in and administer more until you find what works. CBD has been proven to be safe in even extremely high doses so you have nothing to worry about.
Based on our experience we recommend starting with about 9-12mg of our CALM tincture applied directly to the gums or in the inner ears. Gradually increase every 15-20 minutes until your dog is calm.
A few other natural strategies that could help their anxiety.
- Playing relaxing music
- Leave some of your worn clothes out for them to smell you
- Give them a good amount of exercise before leaving
- Hide CBD treats around the house to keep them entertained (Blanche loves this one)
- Feed your dog their larger meal before you leave
Our pets can gain a lot of anixety from different noise environments.
THUNDERSTORMS AND FIREWORKS
I spend half my time in New York City and the other at our rescue farm, Fire Flake Farm, which happens to be in Tampa, Florida which is the lightning capital of the world! We hated seeing our dogs in complete fear, hiding under the table, and shaking. I’ll never forget the first time I saw our Doberman, Nina, receive a dropper full of CALM during a storm and watching her completely relax within a minute!
It is not just dogs who suffer when fireworks explode. In a 2010 study surveying 3,527 dogs and cats, roughly 46 percent of cats displayed a level of fear of fireworks that was recognizable to the pet owners. The study also revealed that although dogs exhibit a more outward display or fear of fireworks while cats exhibit cowering behaviors, the duration of fear-based responses did not differ between dogs and cats. Of the animals observed, six percent were injured because of their fear-based reactions.
Unfortunately, anxiety due to things like thunderstorms and fireworks can lead to much more serious issues. In recent years, multiple reports have surfaced of older dogs and even puppies suffering heart attacks which lead to their death during fireworks displays. Additionally, during these noisy celebrations, there are increased incidents of dogs running through sliding glass doors or running away. In fact, more dogs are lost on July 4 and January 1 than any other days of the year.
Regardless of what you’ve heard, dosing CBD is not done by weight, but by the level of anxiety (or ailment). For example, on our rescue farm it takes Nina, our 60 pound Doberman, about 7mg to relax in about a minute. It takes Odie, our 10 pound schnauzer, about 20-25mg and it takes him about 10-15 minutes to relax! It’s all about your specific pet’s needs. Based on our experience, we recommend starting with about 9-12mg of our CALM tincture applied directly to the gums or in the inner ears. Gradually increase every 15-20 minutes until your dog is calm.
GROOMING & VET TRIPS
One of our other adventures in the CBD Dog Health world is our all-natural grooming and boarding shops, Beautify the Beast. Every single day we see anxious dogs come in and out. Not only does it make the groomer’s job more difficult to make your fur baby look as cute as you want them to look, but your animal spends an hour suffering from anxiety, possibly biting the groomer, and the worst case, which has not happened in our shop, the occasional heart attack!
Many pet parents come in with Benadryl or Xanax to help keep their animals calm. Not only is this dangerous but it makes the groomer’s job even harder when pets are so knocked out they can barely stand up. Although many vets recommend giving your pets Benadryl, it is important to remember that this drug is not intended for animals and may have side effects. For example, Benadryl can put a strain on a dog’s liver and kidneys if they are already experiencing issues in those areas. I once gave Benadryl to Blanche for a red-eye flight and it actually made her anxiety much worse. CBD is a safer, natural solution to keeping your pet relaxed and it works! We keep a house bottle of CALM CBD oil on hand at our grooming shop for anxious pets. This allows them to have a stress free visit, come out looking adorable, and their pet parents are amazed at how relaxed they are. Most of the time they end up walking out with a bottle to use at home.
Based on our experience we recommend starting with about 9-12mg of our CALM CBD tincture applied directly to the gums or in the inner ears. Gradually increase every 15-20 minutes until your dog is calm.
OK, so your pet doesn’t have anything that triggers their anxiety…they’re just anxious ALL DAY EVERY DAY.
We’ve covered a few ways to spot your dog’s anxiety, but how do you spot your cat’s anxiety?
- Constant sleeping
- Going outside of the litterbox
- Hides when the doorbell rings
I’ve personally never owned a cat but I know two crazy cat ladies that can help you find other tools to help with their anxiety!
HOW DO YOU DETERMINE YOUR PET’S DOSAGE?
Finding the right dose may take a few weeks to figure out and there’s going to be some trial and error. It is SO important to keep a journal on hand to track the daily dose in order to find your pet’s exact calming dose. I always like to compare it to when my doctor prescribed me antidepressants (which I’m happy to say I have replaced with CBD). He started me on 10mg a day and then checked back with me to see if it helped. It didn’t, so we added another 10mg and so on until we found what helped me. We’re going to find your baby’s dose like this. Based on our experience we recommend starting with about 9-12mg of our CALM tincture applied directly to the gums or in the inner ears every day. If you can split the dose into 2-3 times a day that’s even better so it continually stays in their bloodstream. Maintain a starting dose for about a week and a half and then ask yourself. Have you noticed enough of a difference? Yes? Great, then that is their dose. No? Let’s add another 5-10mg and check about two weeks later and so on.
Make sure to be patient and give it time. Some pets have many deficiencies in their endocannabinoid system that need more time to regulate.
IS CBD SAFE? YES!
Studies and reports consistently show just how safe it is to use for pets and humans. Using CBD has minimal side effects, no risk of addiction, and it is impossible to injure or kill your animal. It’s an extremely risk-free substance, however, it is important to note that pets should be taking pet products specifically and not a product designed for humans. That being said, NOT ALL PRODUCTS ARE CREATED EQUAL! CBD is an unregulated field. It is extremely important that the company provides a certificate of analysis to not only prove what IS in the bottle (how much CBD and THC) but also what is NOT in the bottle, such as heavy metals and pesticides.
A research review on the safety and side effects of CBD in humans notes that CBD is very safe to use with only minor side effects such as diarrhea, tiredness, and changes in mood and appetite. Studies on pets also have similar results. For instance, a study on using CBD for dogs with Arthritis found no observable side effects. Similarly, clinical trials found that it was safe to use CBD for dogs with epilepsy.
A survey of vets also found that an increasing number are beginning to recommend CBD for pets. Many note that they’ve been able to give CBD to dogs safely with no harm whatsoever. All in all, CBD is very safe for your pets, although you should avoid giving them human products – especially edibles.
Are there studies to prove that it works for anxiety? YEP!
A 2013 article published in Neuropharmacology found that:
“In addition to modulating basal anxiety states, recent studies suggest an important role for the endocannabinoid (eCB) and glucocorticoid systems in the modulation of emotional states and extinction of aversive memories in animals.”
This means that CBD can help in facilitating extinction of aversive memories to treat PTSD, anxiety, or panic disorders in people and animals.
Research is also promising that CBD is a viable treatment option for sleep disorders in people and pets. A 2019 study published in the Permanente Journal found that CBD has a calming effect on the central nervous system and can improve the amount and depth of sleep in those suffering from sleep disorders, plus CBD is better tolerated than other psychiatric medications.
A 1993 study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that pain relief, reduction of anxiety, and reduction of inflammation were the most common reasons for the use of cannabis in dogs, and when tested in animal models, CBD was shown to have anxiolytic properties (Zuardi and Karniol 1993), as confirmed in a number of studies in humans.
So whether your babe is suffering from separation, noise, or general anxiety there is an all-natural medicine called CBD that is going to help! Today, I’m comfortable leaving Blanche alone while I run to the store, gym, or a night out with friends and it makes me so happy. Nobody likes to see their pet suffer. I sure didn’t, and now that I have found this incredible healing plant to help her, I have made it my mission to spread the word, educate, and end the stigma about CBD to help heal all of our animals – NATURALLY!
About Hernando Umana
Father of Blanche, and 8-year old Shih Tzu and senior rescue Linda, Hernando Umana is a Broadway performer in New York City and works tirelessly to share the benefits of full-spectrum hemp extract with pet parents across the country. He graduated from Dr. Sulak’s Healer Dosage Protocols and Methodologies. Despite his confidence and talent, Hernando found himself struggling after graduation. In a profession where anxiety is absolutely crippling, he wasn’t getting the kind of work he knew he should be getting. Thankfully, during one of his many visits to Angie in Florida, she introduced him to full-spectrum hemp extract and he has never looked back. Four years later, he had opened two first national tours, been on Broadway, worked with Cyndi Lauper, Brendan Urie, Andrew Loyd Webber, and many others. And now – Hernando is Co-Owner of Hemp Dog Health. Full-spectrum hemp extract was life-changing for both of them, and he could not be happier to be in a business doing something he loves so much that helps dogs like Blanche live a happy, stress-free life.
About Angela Ardolino
Angela Ardolino is a holistic pet expert who has been caring for animals for over 20 years and operates a rescue farm, Fire Flake Farm, in Florida. She is also the owner of Beautify the Beast, a natural pet salon and shop. After getting her certificate in Medical Hemp Biology and Therapeutic use from the University of Vermont School of Medicine, she founded Hemp Dog Health to provide high quality, all-natural medical hemp products designed specifically for pets. Angela has seven dogs, Odie a 12-year-old mini-schnauzer, Nina an 8-year-old Doberman. Jolene a 7-year-old mutt, Maza a 7-year-old mutt, Rhemi an 8-year-old poodle, Potato a 15-year-old shih-tzu, and Miss Daisie a 15-year-old black lab, plus 4-10 more at any time she is fostering or boarding. She uses Full Spectrum Hemp Extract on all her pets at her rescue farm every day, and has since 2016. She is a member of the Society of hemp Clinicians, the Veterinary Hemp Association and has trained hundreds of medical doctors and veterinarians about the therapeutic uses of medical hemp on animals. Visit www.angelaardolino.com for more information.