CBD Oil for Dogs with Anxiety: How Can It Help?

illustration of a smiling dog relieved from anxiety
Written by Nina Julia | Last updated: September 15, 2021

Anxiety can take a serious toll on your dog’s mental health. Regardless of the cause — whether it’s PTSD, fear of loud noises, separation anxiety, etc. — they all can deteriorate your dog’s quality of life.

Many dog parents are reaching for a bottle of CBD oil to ease anxiety in their canine friends. More and more people are hailing it for its ability to calm the mind and curb anxiety before it turns into a full-blown episode of severe stress.

How exactly does CBD oil work for dogs with anxiety? Is it any better than conventional solutions — and how to avoid wasting money on poor-quality products?

Here’s everything you need to know.

Let’s start with our picks for the best CBD oils for dogs with anxiety.

Best CBD Oil for Dogs with Anxiety

  • Royal CBD – Editor’s Choice, Best CBD Oil Overall
  • Gold Bee – Runner Up, Best Organic Formula

1. Royal CBD (Editor’s Choice)

RoyalCBD 125mg Pet Oil Bacon flavor

Get 15% off all Royal CBD products.  Use code “CFAH” at checkout.

Pros:

  • Organic hemp
  • CO3 extraction
  • Premium hemp extracts at a competitive price
  • Full-spectrum products
  • High levels of CBD, CBC, and CBG

Cons:

  • Not available in local stores (yet)

There are two reasons why we consider Royal CBD the best pick for dogs with anxiety:

  • These oils are designed specifically with dogs in mind (dog-friendly bacon flavor and strengths)
  • These oils contain above-average concentrations of anti-anxiety cannabinoids like CBC, CBG, and CBN (more than just CBD)

Royal CBD has been known for making award-winning products for quite some time now. The company uses premium-quality ingredients (organic hemp, co2 extraction, meticulous lab-testing, organic carrier oils). Many Royal CBD reviews are online and even mentioned by prestigious websites such as Observer, SF Weekly, We Be High, Weed News, and Metro Times.

The certificates of analysis from the last batch of the Royal CBD Paws oil indicate high levels of the supportive cannabinoid — cannabichromene (CBC). This compound has garnered a lot of attention lately for its ability to reduce anxiety. Some experts even argue it has a stronger anxiolytic effect than CBD, but this needs to be confirmed by more research on this subject.

Overall, these pet oils offer the best value for the money — and make for reliable support for managing your dog’s stress response, easing anxiety, promoting a sense of relaxation, and reducing the bouts of panic in the future.

2. Gold Bee (Runner Up)

Gold Bee Bones CBD Pet Oil

Pros:

  • Organic hemp
  • Excellent price/quality ratio (very good value)
  • Certificates of Analysis available on the company’s website

Cons:

  • Only one potency is available
  • The product is sometimes out of stock due to high demand

Gold Bee CBD oils are often mentioned among the top-tier CBD brands. Not only are they rich in cannabinoids, terpenes, and other bioactive hemp derivatives, but they also use organic hemp plants with relevant certificates of analysis that one would expect from a top-notch brand.

The only reason why Gold Bee isn’t at the top of our ranking is that they only offer one potency of its pet-specific oils — 600 mg. At 20 mg of CBD in every milliliter, the oil is affordable for medium-sized and large breeds, but it can be difficult to dose with smaller dogs.

Gold Bee has been reviewed by top websites and has received recommendations from magazines like CL Tampa, CityBeat, Riverfront Times, and Cleveland Scene despite being a relatively young brand.

Types of Anxiety in Dogs

Dogs can experience episodes of anxiety just like humans do. The only difference is that your dog won’t tell you, “Hey, I’m feeling anxious. Let’s do something about it.”

They will, however, display some indicative symptoms that can help you guess where the problem is. They will also determine the type of anxiety your dog is suffering from.

The most common types of anxiety in dogs include:

  • Separation Anxiety humans are important for dogs; they usually treat them as their parents and associate everything they value in life with their humans, from going on walks, food, playing, and more. When their companions leave, it may trigger anxiety and strong fear of losing a person they love. Separation anxiety is the most common type of anxiety in dogs, especially if you spend a lot of time with your buddy.
  • Age-related Anxiety – your dog’s cognitive functions may start to decline as they age. They may experience issues with memory, perception, learning, and emotions. One of the major side effects of aging in dogs is stress and anxiety.
  • PTSD-related Anxiety – dogs that have gone through trauma in the past may experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) throughout their life. Factors that often are at play include abusive past, abandonment at a young age, or exposure to aggressive dogs.
  • Fear-related Anxiety – Dogs see the world in a different way than we do. They don’t understand certain sources of loud or disturbing noises. Thunder, fireworks, crowds of people, or construction noises can cause your dog to experience fear and anxiety.

Common Symptoms of Anxiety in Dogs

Anxious dogs exhibit certain signs of distress, such as:

  • Aggression
  • Constant drooling or licking
  • Excessive barking
  • Repetitive behaviors
  • Constant pacing
  • Depression or lethargy
  • Urinating or defecating in the house

Can CBD Oil Help Dogs with Anxiety?

While CBD isn’t a sedative, it offers considerable relaxing effects on the mind and body. It produces these effects through a system known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The ECS has its receptors spread throughout the body and regulates a wide range of essentially biological processes — maintaining homeostasis (balance) between various systems and organs. This includes the activity of the nervous system. When the neurons are firing out of control — it happens every time during an anxiety attack — the ECS starts releasing its own cannabinoids (endocannabinoids) to help the body return to the electrical balance in the brain, blocking the effects of stress hormone (cortisol) and inducing physical relaxation.

On top of that, CBD interacts with the serotonin receptors in the brain and modulates the activity of the GABA receptor, which your nervous system uses as a handbrake to reduce the hyperactivity of the nerve cells.

Where to Buy CBD Oil for Dogs with Anxiety

It goes without saying that CBD has a lot to offer dogs with anxiety symptoms. Still, it’s important to know what makes a high-quality CBD oil — and how to distinguish between decent products and overpriced extracts from mass-produced hemp.

The popularity of CBD and the lack of regulation surrounding the manufacturing and labeling standards have created room for many brands churning out products with outrageous markups that contain little to no active CBD per dose. Some companies sell hemp seed oil as CBD oil, labeling it as a “hemp extract.”

Worse yet, some manufacturers are sourcing cheap, potentially contaminated hemp from overseas to cut production costs. Many of these contaminants can trigger inflammation and compromise your dog’s hormonal balance, making anxiety even worse.

Make sure to ask the following questions when looking for CBD oils for your dog:

  • Is the manufacturer trustworthy? What are other customers saying about the brand and its products?
  • Does the oil contain less than 0.3% THC?
  • Has it been tested by a third-party laboratory to prove it’s contaminant-free?
  • What’s the potency of CBD oil?
  • How much do you need to pay per milligram of CBD?
  • Does the oil contain any pet-friendly flavors, such as bacon, peanut butter, cheese, or chicken?
  • What are the company’s shipping and return policies?
  • Is the product made from a full-spectrum extract, or does it use CBD isolate?

How to Give CBD to Anxious Dogs

Woman holding her anxious dog as he looks at the camera with her hand on his head

There are two types of CBD products for dogs that you can use to ease anxiety in your four-legged friends: CBD pet oil and CBD dog treats.

Here’s how you can give them to your dog:

CBD Oil Tinctures for Dogs

High-quality CBD oil for dogs contains a full-spectrum hemp extract suspended in a food-grade carrier oil to improve the bioavailability and absorption of CBD. You can drop the oil right into your dog’s mouth using the included dropper. Doing so will cause the CBD to absorb through tiny blood vessels in their mouth, ensuring faster-acting effects and better absorption rates.

If your dog dislikes the earthy taste of unflavored CBD oil, you can either buy a flavored version or mix the oil into wet food or dry food. Just add it to the bowl and mix, allowing it to soak in. You can also mix it into a small portion of peanut butter to make it even more enjoyable.

Some dogs drink CBD oil in their water, although they may notice it since these two ingredients don’t mix.

CBD Dog Treats

Treats are great if your dog fusses over the taste of CBD oil. Some dogs refuse to swallow even the flavored drops, where CBD dog treats come into play. Aside from providing a more enjoyable way to consume CBD for your pet, these CBD-infused dog treats are more convenient when it comes to dosage. Each treat is infused with a fixed amount of CBD, taking a lot of guesswork. The effects of CBD treats also last longer than the ones from oil because the CBD is released gradually by the liver into the bloodstream.

That being said, CBD dog treats come with two drawbacks. First, the onset of effects is delayed since CBD passes through the GI tract before making it to your circulatory system. Secondly, and more importantly, they lose some of their potency on the way because of that. The bioavailability of oral forms of CBD has been measured at 20% at best, compared to 35% in oils and 56% in vaping products.

How Much CBD Oil Should I Give My Dog for Anxiety?

You may need to experiment with different dosages to find the right dosage of CBD for your dog. That’s because every dog is different and requires an individual approach. Holistic veterinarians typically recommend giving the dog 1-5 mg of CBD per 10 pounds of body weight. The toxicity level of CBD in dogs is unknown, although the WHO has acknowledged that CBD is a safe and well-tolerated compound by animals and humans.

Start with a dose in the middle of the recommended range and observe your dog’s behavior. You should notice the calming effects within up to 30 minutes. If not, you may want to increase the dose to the upper dosing recommendation. 

Once you see your dog become calmer with less panting, pacing, and whining — and the dog doesn’t seem lethargic, this means that you’ve supplied the right amount.

Is CBD Safe for Dogs with Anxiety?

As mentioned above, CBD is considered safe for dogs. It only causes a few mild side effects that can occur when you overdo the amount of CBD oil in your dog’s food. 

Common side effects of taking too much CBD oil include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Lethargy
  • Irritation
  • Changes in appetite
  • Diarrhea (from taking too much of the carrier oil)

If you give your dog medications for anxiety or any other conditions, consult the use of CBD with a holistic or integrative veterinarian. Such professionals are usually familiar with CBD and will answer your questions and establish the right routine to avoid potential CBD-drug interactions.

Final Thoughts on Giving CBD Oil to Dogs with Anxiety

CBD oil is one of the most effective natural health supplements you can give to dogs with anxiety. 

Unfortunately, many brands in this industry produce CBD oils far away from what we call the “golden standard.” Many of such products contain far less CBD than advertised, and some of these products are downright dangerous, with all these contaminants like pesticides, heavy metals, and toxic solvent residue.

The best CBD oils for dogs with anxiety contain a full-spectrum hemp extract and carrier oil — with optional flavorings to make the product more appealing to our four-legged friends. Look for extracts that come backed with a complete lab analysis to prove the oil’s strength and purity.

Our top-rated pick for dogs with anxiety is Royal CBD. These oils have everything it takes to be touted as the best CBD oils for dogs and come in a variety of strengths, not to mention a delicious bacon flavor your dog will enjoy with every single drop.

Reference links

  1. Stampanoni Bassi, M., Gilio, L., Maffei, P., Dolcetti, E., Bruno, A., Buttari, F., Centonze, D., & Iezzi, E. (2018). Exploiting the Multifaceted Effects of Cannabinoids on Mood to Boost Their Therapeutic Use Against Anxiety and Depression. Frontiers in molecular neuroscience, 11, 424. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnmol.2018.00424  (1)
  2. Linge, R., Jiménez-Sánchez, L., Campa, L., Pilar-Cuéllar, F., Vidal, R., Pazos, A., Adell, A., & Díaz, Á. (2016). Cannabidiol induces rapid-acting antidepressant-like effects and enhances cortical 5-HT/glutamate neurotransmission: role of 5-HT1A receptors. Neuropharmacology, 103, 16–26. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropharm.2015.12.017  (2)
  3. Pretzsch, C. M., Freyberg, J., Voinescu, B., Lythgoe, D., Horder, J., Mendez, M. A., Wichers, R., Ajram, L., Ivin, G., Heasman, M., Edden, R., Williams, S., Murphy, D., Daly, E., & McAlonan, G. M. (2019). Effects of cannabidiol on brain excitation and inhibition systems; a randomized placebo-controlled single-dose trial during magnetic resonance spectroscopy in adults with and without autism spectrum disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology: official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 44(8), 1398–1405. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41386-019-0333-8 (3)

Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.

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