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The use of cannabidiol (CBD) has skyrocketed in popularity. Derived from hemp and cannabis plants, CBD has been hailed for its potential therapeutic benefits in humans and pets.
But how does CBD make dogs feel? Can it truly help with issues like anxiety, pain, and certain health conditions? And are there any potential risks or side effects that dog owners should be aware of? In this article, we'll explore what science has to say about how CBD makes a dog feel.
Understanding the Endocannabinoid System in Dogs
It's crucial to understand the biological system it interacts with: the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a complex cell-signaling system that plays a pivotal role in maintaining the body's homeostasis, or internal balance. It's involved in a variety of physiological processes, including mood, appetite, sleep, immune response, and pain sensation.
Dogs, like humans, have an endocannabinoid system. This system is composed of two main types of receptors: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are primarily found in the brain and central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are more commonly found in peripheral organs and cells associated with the immune system.
Endocannabinoids are naturally produced compounds in the body that bind to these receptors to signal the ECS to take action. When a dog's body experiences an imbalance—like inflammation or stress—it produces endocannabinoids that bind to these receptors, signaling the ECS to help return the body to its normal state.
This is where CBD comes in. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a type of cannabinoid found in cannabis and hemp plants. Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), another well-known cannabinoid, CBD doesn't produce a "high." Instead, it interacts with the ECS in a way that can promote a sense of calm and well-being.
CBD doesn't bind directly to CB1 or CB2 receptors. Instead, it seems to work by preventing the breakdown of endocannabinoids, allowing them to have a greater effect on the body. It may also interact with other receptors in the body, like the serotonin receptor, which can influence mood.
How CBD Can Affect Mood and Behavior in Dogs
When it comes to dogs, owners and researchers have reported several potential effects of CBD on mood and behavior:
Anxiety Reduction: One of the most common reasons dog owners turn to CBD is to help manage their pets' anxiety. Dogs can experience various forms of anxiety, including separation anxiety, noise anxiety, and travel anxiety. Anecdotal reports and some preliminary research suggest that CBD may help to calm dogs, reducing their anxiety and helping them to cope with stressful situations.
Improved Mood: Some dog owners have noted an improvement in their pets' overall mood and demeanor when using CBD. This could be due to CBD's interaction with the serotonin receptor, which plays a significant role in mood regulation.
Behavioral Changes: CBD may also influence certain behaviors in dogs. For instance, it might help reduce aggression or excessive barking in some dogs. However, it's important to note that these effects can vary widely depending on the individual dog, the dosage of CBD, and other factors.
Increased Sociability: Some owners have reported that their dogs seem more sociable and interactive after taking CBD. This could be particularly beneficial for dogs that are typically shy or withdrawn.
Pain Relief: In studies researchers found that pain caused by mobility-related issues was reduced when dogs were given CBD. It has also been demonstrated to have anti-inflammatory properties which are useful in pain reduction.
While these effects are promising, it's important to note that you should consult with a veterinarian before starting your dog on any new CBD regiment, to make sure that it will be safe and in line with your dog's current health goals.
How Different CBD Products Can Have Different Effects
There are two kinds of CBD products primarily available today. Most CBD products are 'full spectrum', and contain THC. In a 2017 study, over 75% participants who had bought a full spectrum CBD product for dog reported panic reactions as a side effect.
The second main kind of CBD product is broad spectrum, which does not contain any THC. In a recent study, 100% of dogs given broad spectrum CBD at 4mg/kg doses experienced decreased anxiety in normally anxiety-inducing situations: car rides and being separated from their owners.
So the way that CBD can make a dog feel does depend on the kind of CBD product that the dog is given. If the dog is given a full spectrum CBD product, there is a chance that the dog will experience a panic reaction, or increased anxiety, as well as the other side effects of THC: lethargy, dry mouth, or ataxia.
However, if the dog is given a broad spectrum product that contains no THC, the dog will not experience the THC-associated negative side effects, and will instead have a decrease in overall anxiety levels as well as the benefits outlined earlier.
So How Does CBD Actually Make a Dog Feel?
It's hard to quantify what other people may feel when they take CBD, let alone dogs. But the best way we can think of to describe it is a sense of wellness, rather than something akin to pleasure. CBD is not like opiates, or even like THC, in their intoxicating effects. Its similarity to molecules the body naturally produces just brings the body into a balanced state, rather than pulling it towards another extreme.
It's also important to get the right kind of CBD for dogs: broad spectrum is most suitable. Look for a CBD product that is USDA organic and has lab results published for every batch, to ensure your dog gets a high-quality safe product.
What can be said for sure, is that CBD has had a positive influence on the lives of thousands of dogs and pet parents, and will continue to do so for many years to come.