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PETS NOVEMBER 27, 2018

Pets, Anxiety and Wellness – How To Help Your Best Friend Feel Better

Across the globe, pet anxiety has become a widespread concern, epitomized by the distressing tale of Seamus, the Australian shepherd, traumatized by the resounding clamor of fireworks. While prescription anti-anxiety drugs have traditionally been a go-to solution, a significant shift towards natural remedies is evident, especially within the hemp sector.

 

A recent study highlighted that an astounding 83% of pets showed a decrease in stress when treated with THC-free CBD. As anxiety-related behaviors bear uncanny resemblances to PTSD symptoms in humans, the promise of cannabis to produce stress reduction without the side effects of conventional medications is garnering significant attention among pet owners.

 

Causes of Anxiety in Pets

 

Anxiety in pets can be attributed to a myriad of causes, each varying in intensity and influence:

 

  1. Loud Noises: Unexpected, sharp sounds like fireworks, thunderstorms, and heavy machinery can be jarring for animals, leading to intense fear and distress.

  2. Separation from Owners: Separation anxiety is a common affliction, with pets becoming anxious when left alone, fearing their primary caregivers may not return.

  3. Changes in Environment or Routine: A new home, introduction of a new pet or family member, or even a shift in daily routine can be unsettling for pets.

  4. Past Trauma or Abuse: Animals that have suffered mistreatment, neglect, or physical abuse in the past may carry deep-rooted anxieties and fears.

  5. Illness or Pain: Medical conditions, especially those causing discomfort or pain, can lead to behavioral changes and heightened anxiety.

  6. Aging and Cognitive Decline: As pets age, they may experience cognitive dysfunctions, leading to confusion, forgetfulness, and resultant anxiety.

  7. Boarding or Kenneling: Stays at unfamiliar places, especially without their owners, can be stressful for some pets.

  8. Travel and Transportation: Moving between locations, especially when constrained or in moving vehicles, can cause anxiety for many animals.

  9. Unfamiliar People or Animals: Encounters with unfamiliar faces or other pets, especially in their territory, can cause stress and defensive anxiety.

 

Understanding these triggers is crucial for pet owners as it aids in providing the right interventions and ensuring the well-being of their furry companions.

 

golden retriever dog and cbd oil

 

Effects of Chronic Anxiety on Pets

 

When your furry friend is constantly plagued by anxiety, it can take a toll on their health – both physical and mental. From digestive troubles to immune system woes, chronic anxiety can spell trouble for our pets. Below are some of the harmful effects that persistent stress and anxiety can have on our beloved companions:

 

  • Weaken immune systems: Chronic stress makes it harder for pets to fend off diseases.

  • Elevate blood pressure: Just as with humans, persistent anxiety can cause high blood pressure in pets.

  • Contribute to heart, gastrointestinal, respiratory, and skin conditions: A stressed animal may face a range of internal and external health issues.

  • Decrease in appetite: Anxious pets may lose interest in their food.

  • Diarrhoea, vomiting or colitis: Digestive problems can arise due to prolonged stress.


Chronic anxiety doesn't just rob pets of their joy and playfulness; it impacts their very health and lifespan. Hence, it's essential for pet owners to understand these effects and seek interventions when necessary. For a deeper dive into this topic, consider visiting Sandia Animal Clinic, where we've sourced much of this invaluable information.

 

dog and hemp seed oil

 

How Humans and Pets Share Emotional Bonds

 

Emotional Anchors:

  • Pets offer unconditional love and support.
  • Especially beneficial for those with mental health conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, and PTSD.
  • They act as a calming presence, providing non-judgmental companionship.

 

Anxiety Reducers:

  • Studies show pets, especially dogs, can significantly reduce anxiety levels in children.
  • Their mere presence can calm nerves, lower stress, and provide comfort.

 

Welcome Distractions:

  • Pets need playtime, walks, and attention.
  • These activities can divert our attention from personal stresses or mental health issues.

 

Feeling Valued and Needed:

  • Pets rely on us for care, feeding, and affection.
  • This responsibility instills a sense of purpose, enhancing mental well-being.

 

Physical Health Boosters:

  • Activities with pets, like walking or playing, encourage physical movement.
  • This not only promotes physical health but also releases endorphins which elevate mood.

 

The relationship between humans and pets is a two-way street. While we care for them, they reciprocate with unwavering affection, emotional support, and numerous health benefits.

 

Current Treatments for Anxiety in Pets

 

In the face of growing anxiety concerns among pets, a range of treatments has surfaced to address these challenges. One prevalent approach involves specially designed medications, such as supplements and anxiolytics, tailored to soothe pets and alleviate their distress.

 

Simultaneously, training and behavioral modification programs have been designed specifically to target and reduce anxiety in our furry friends, offering them a chance at a more peaceful existence.

 

Regardless of the treatment avenue pursued, it's crucial for pet owners to collaborate closely with a veterinarian. Their expertise can guide the selection of the most appropriate and effective therapy, ensuring our pets receive the best possible care for their unique needs.

 

dog in cannabis farm

 

Cannabis and Hemp as Alternatives

 

The world of pet care has been evolving rapidly, and the integration of plant-based therapies, such as cannabis and hemp, into the treatment of pet anxiety is an emerging development. These natural alternatives are garnering increasing attention and interest from pet owners and the veterinary community alike.

 

Here, we explore how cannabis and hemp, particularly CBD (cannabidiol), can be used as alternatives to conventional treatments for anxiety in pets:

 

Aspect Details
Clinical Trials Recently, the Ministry of Health in Canada granted approval to Canopy Animal Health to conduct clinical trials with CBD for pet anxiety. This initiative aims to investigate the potential benefits of CBD in managing anxiety-related behaviors in pets.
Endocannabinoid System Both humans and animals have an endocannabinoid system, a complex network of receptors scattered throughout the body, including the brain and central nervous system. This system regulates various functions such as sleep, mood, and pain. CBD and other cannabinoids can interact with the endocannabinoid system and modulate its responses.
How It Works CBD and other non-psychoactive cannabinoids, polyphenols, and terpenes extracted from the hemp plant can have potent healing properties. These compounds work on the endocannabinoid system in the body, helping to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, stress responses, aggression, digestive issues, and arthritis.
Administration Treating pets with cannabis or hemp is straightforward and can be done through a few drops of hemp oil placed directly on their tongue or mixed in with their food. The dosage varies with the pet's size, and it's advised to start with a low dose and gradually increase it as needed. It's safe for external application as well, which can help with skin conditions.
Safety Concerns It is important to note that THC, another cannabinoid found in cannabis, is not recommended for pets as it can produce psychoactive effects and potentially harm them. Instead, THC-free CBD and other non-psychoactive compounds extracted from hemp are the focus of research and use for pet health.

 

The increasing acceptance and legalisation of cannabis and hemp products for medical and therapeutic purposes in many countries are propelling the exploration of their potential benefits for pets. However, it's essential to consult with a veterinarian before starting any alternative treatments to ensure that it's suitable for your pet's specific needs.

 

How Cannabis and Hemp Work for Pets

 

The key to understanding how cannabis and hemp work for pets lies in the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), a complex system present in all vertebrates, including our furry friends. The ECS plays a vital role in maintaining the body's internal balance, regulating functions such as sleep, mood, and pain.

 

The ECS consists of a network of receptors, primarily CB1 and CB2, distributed throughout the body, including the brain, central nervous system, peripheral organs, and immune cells. It also includes endocannabinoids, natural compounds produced by the body that interact with these receptors.

 

Here's how cannabinoids from cannabis and hemp interact with the ECS:

 

  1. Mimicking Endocannabinoids: Cannabinoids like CBD (cannabidiol) are structurally similar to endocannabinoids, enabling them to bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors. This interaction can influence the receptors' activity and help modulate various physiological responses, such as reducing inflammation or alleviating pain.

  2. Inhibiting Enzymes: Certain enzymes break down endocannabinoids, limiting their effects. CBD can inhibit these enzymes, prolonging the presence and action of endocannabinoids in the system. This can enhance the ECS's ability to maintain balance and support overall well-being.

  3. Boosting Serotonin Levels: CBD can also interact with serotonin receptors, which are involved in regulating mood, anxiety, and stress. By enhancing serotonin activity, CBD can contribute to reducing anxiety and promoting a sense of calm.

 

The potential benefits of cannabis and hemp for pets are increasingly recognized, thanks to their interaction with the ECS. However, it's essential to note that while CBD and other non-psychoactive cannabinoids can offer therapeutic effects, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) can be harmful to pets.

 

Therefore, when considering cannabis or hemp products for pets, it's crucial to choose THC-free options and consult with a veterinarian for proper guidance.

 

Tips for Using Cannabis and Hemp for Pets

 

  1. Start Low and Go Slow: When introducing cannabis or hemp-derived products to your pet, it's essential to start with a minimal dose. Monitor your pet's reactions, and if necessary, gradually increase the dosage over time. This ensures your pet acclimatizes without any adverse effects.

  2. Consult Your Veterinarian: Before starting any new treatment, especially one involving cannabinoids, always consult with a veterinarian. They can provide guidance on suitable dosages, potential interactions with other medications, and monitor the pet's progress and health.

  3. Quality Matters: Invest in high-quality CBD or hemp products for your pets. Ensure the product is derived from organic sources, free from harmful chemicals, and has undergone third-party testing to verify its purity and potency.

  4. Avoid THC: While THC might be beneficial for humans, it's not suitable for pets and can even be harmful. Always choose products that are specifically designed for pets and are THC-free.

  5. Stay Informed and Observe: Stay updated on the latest research and findings related to cannabis and hemp for pets. Observe your pet closely for any changes – both positive and negative – to ensure the product is beneficial and safe.

 

Incorporating these tips will help pet owners ensure that their furry friends benefit from the therapeutic potential of cannabis and hemp, while also ensuring their safety and well-being.

 

four puppies and their hemp smoothies

 

Conclusion

The evolving landscape of cannabis and hemp research has showcased their potential in treating various ailments, including anxiety in pets. While these natural remedies can offer significant benefits, it's paramount to ensure they are used safely and effectively. Addressing the underlying causes of a pet's anxiety remains crucial to ensuring their overall well-being. Before turning to alternative treatments, consultation with professionals is indispensable.

 

Have you tried using cannabis or hemp products for your pets? We'd love to hear your experiences. If you're still on the fence or have questions, delve into the experiences of others on our testimonial and review pages. Share your stories, ask questions, and let's navigate this journey together for the betterment of our furry companions.

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