Have you noticed that your normally cool dog has suddenly developed separation anxiety? You are not alone. Separation anxiety in dogs is not all that uncommon, and there has been a relative increase in incidences of separation anxiety in dogs as a result of the pandemic.
Think about it. Many dog owners have been in lockdown for months and their dogs have become used to them being at home. Now that some of us are returning to the office or other places of work, and the children are back at school, our dogs are not happy with the change in the status quo.
In fact, veterinarians have noticed a marked increase in the number of dogs that present with behavioral problems that indicate separation anxiety.
Dogs may also experience separation anxiety when they have to spend some time in kennels because their owners are not at home.
Other causes of separation anxiety in dogs
Scientists don’t know why dogs develop separation anxiety, but there is no doubt that they do. Since dogs who have stayed in shelters often show signs of anxiety, more so than dogs who have always had a home, it is thought that separation anxiety is linked to the absence or loss of a significant person in a dog’s life.
Other situations can also cause the condition. Pet owners and veterinarians have noticed that dogs can develop separation anxiety in the following circumstances.
- A change in living situation – when the family moves to a new address.
- A change in routine – when a dog is left alone at different times than before.
- When a family member leaves and is no longer part of the household.
- Being given to another owner or family.
- Being left at the boarding kennels while the family is on vacation.
Signs of separation anxiety
Different dogs will exhibit different signs of being stressed. A dog may show one or more of the following signs.
- Destructive behavior, scratching or chewing furniture when left alone.
- Incessant whining, barking, or howling.
- Vomiting, urinating, or loss of bowel function.
- Excessive licking or drooling.
- Panting although he has not been active.
- Refusing food.
- Pacing, being restless.
- Scratching at doors and windows.
- Hunched body posture with ears flat to the back.
- Noticeable shedding.
Are some breeds more prone to separation anxiety?
Absolutely. Separation anxiety in dogs does not affect all breeds equally. Some dogs are naturally more highly strung and tend to suffer from anxiety when left on their own. Other breeds, although attached to their humans, may simply have lower energy levels and sleep the whole day away, leaving little time for them to miss their human pals.
Breeds of dogs that don’t demand a lot of attention and don’t mind being left alone include the French Bulldog, Bullmastiff, Shar Pei, Chow Chow, Lhasa Apso, and the Pug. Pit Bulls and Bull Terriers take their work as protectors of the property too seriously to miss their owners.
Breeds that are most prone to separation anxiety include work dogs that need a lot of stimulation, dogs that have been bred as companion dogs, and hunting dogs. Companion dogs include the Toy Poodle, Bichon Frise, Irish Wolfhound, and Labradors. Work dogs become destructive when they are left alone for too long, these include the German Shepherd, Australian Shepherd, and Border Collies.
This does not mean that all members of these breeds suffer from separation anxiety. Some do and others don’t, and no one is exactly sure why this is the case.
Can CBD oil help with separation anxiety?
Cannabidiol, or CBD Oil, is a compound produced by cannabis plants and usually extracted from the hemp strain of the plant. CBD is safe for dogs and can help with anxiety.
People often confuse hemp and marijuana. Though they are both strains of the cannabis plant there are some important differences. Marijuana plants produce high levels of THC. THC is the compound in marijuana that gets people ‘’high’’. Dogs are highly sensitive to THC. Even a very small amount could get them very high and potentially cause them to experience anxiety or nausea as a result. Giving your dog a product with anything more than 0.3% THC could be a bad idea.
Hemp plants, on the other hand, produce high amounts of CBD and very low amounts of THC. CBD oil can help to reduce a dog’s anxiety symptoms and also counteracts the psychoactive effects of THC. Pet parents should always verify the THC content of the CBD oil they intend to give their dog, and make sure that the THC content is either zero, or less than 0.3%.
How does CBD oil reduce anxiety in dogs?
Research shows CBD oil interacts with the body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS). All mammals, including humans, have this natural system in their bodies. You probably have not heard of it before because it’s a relatively new discovery and scientists still have a lot to learn about it. The main function of the ECS is to promote balance within bodily systems so that the body can function optimally. The ECS isn’t well understood yet, but may play a role regulating a large number of physiological and cognitive processes, including fertility, pregnancy, various immune system functions, appetite, pain-sensation, memory, mood, and memory, and in mediating the pharmacological effects of various cannabinoids.
Mammals have endocannabinoid system receptors throughout the nervous system as well as the organs and brain.
Interestingly, ECS receptors interact with the endocannabinoids produced by our own bodies as well as the cannabinoids produced by cannabis and hemp plants. This is why cannabinoids produced by plants. like CBD, can have such far-reaching effects in our bodies and minds.
When a person ingests CBD oil, the cannabidiol in the oil interacts with various different kinds of ECS receptors in the body, which then triggers a variety of effects, such as reducing inflammation, or raising serotonin levels. The end result is usually a reduction in pain, inflammation and anxiety.
Choosing a good-quality CBD oil for your dog
Because the CBD oil industry is not formally regulated, not all CBD products on the market meet with quality standards. So how do you know what is safe to buy for your dog?
Here are some things to consider.
Ask whether the CBD oil is organic and how was it extracted. High-quality CBD oils are made from organically grown hemp, and CBD is extracted using supercritical CO2 or with pharmaceutical-grade ethanol. Petroleum-based solvents like hexane and butane are not fit for consumption and can be toxic.
Always check whether the product was tested by a third party laboratory. You should be able to find proof of independent laboratory testing by asking for a certificate of analysis (COA). Check the third-party lab tests to make sure there are no pesticides or contaminants, as well as to ensure that the product contains the right amount of CBD.
Also, pet parents should check whether the product contains any THC. Most people avoid THC in their pet products, but a tiny bit is ok. If you are buying a “full spectrum” CBD product for your pet, check the lab tests to make sure that there is no more than .03% THC in the product.
What about the price? While a high price does not necessarily guarantee a high-quality product, a cheap price almost certainly guarantees a cheap product. You can expect to pay a bit more for a quality CBD oil.
Is CBD safe for separation anxiety in dogs?
Absolutely. CBD is non-toxic and non-addictive and well-tolerated by dogs in large doses. If you suspect that your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, visit your veterinarian and discuss your options with them.
If your dog is on any prescription medications, speak with your veterinarian first. CBD can interfere with medications in the same way that grapefruits do.
When starting out, give your dog a small dose and observe them to see if there is any improvement. Raise the dose by 2-5mg after a week and observe again. After a few weeks you should be able to develop a sense for what dose works best.
Recommended reading: CBD Oil Dosage for Dogs