Can CBD Help Hyperactive Dogs, and if So, How?
- Hyperactivity is a canine disorder often distinguished by frenetic activity, lack of self-control, and short attention spans. Dogs with the condition show outward signs of rapid heart rate, salivation, panting, abnormal urination, and failing to adapt to familiar stimuli such as thunderstorms.
- Common stimulant drugs, such as methylphenidate and d-amphetamine, are toxic to dogs(1). In severe cases, the ingestion of stimulants may even be life-threatening. Gabapentin and trazodone are much safer and also better when used in combination(2).
- A survey conducted in 2016 shows that pet owners often promote CBD to others because of their perceived improvements in conditions like anxiety in dogs(3). Canines with anxiety health issues often display hyperactive behaviors(4-5).
- CBD trials conducted on humans and other animals reveal that the hemp extract provides anxiolytic effects upon consumption(6). Since mammals have the same endocannabinoid system (ECS), experts believe that administering CBD oil to dogs may help ease anxiety and thus prevent hyperactivity.
Why Dog Owners Are Turning to CBD Oil for Dogs
Hyperactivity (hyperkinesis) is a condition in canines characterized by frenetic activity, impulsive behavior, and short attention spans. Dogs with this condition exhibit signals including rapid heart rate, panting, drooling, lack of trainability, infrequent urination, and failure to adapt to external stimuli.
A study in 1993 states that hyperactivity in dogs is not a physiological disorder, but is either normal behavior in specific breeds or behavior conditioned by the owner. The study mentions that dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin are the main chemicals in the brain that are involved in the condition(7).
Hyperkinetic dogs are said to have attention deficits or difficulty in staying focused. However, common stimulant drugs, such as methylphenidate and d-amphetamine, are toxic to dogs(8).
Organizations like the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) consider these medications harmful(9).
Dogs that ingest these stimulants could result in severe cases that can be life-threatening(10). Common signs include increased activity, heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature.
The risks associated with these conventional medicines are the main reasons why a growing number of dog owners are looking for alternative and holistic treatments(11-12). Natural therapy in the form of CBD is one such treatment.
The Cannabis sativa plant possesses two main compounds, which are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the primary psychoactive component of medical marijuana, while CBD is known for its pharmaceutical effects.
A survey conducted in 2016 reveals that most pet owners endorse CBD because of its perceived improvements in conditions such as pain, inflammation, and anxiety(13). Dogs that have anxiety disorders display behavior very similar to hyperkinesis.
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), canine anxiety often has symptoms such as aggression, destructive behavior, excessive barking, pacing, restlessness, and compulsive behavior(14). These are the same signs of hyperactivity in dogs, which leads researchers to believe that the condition and anxiety are related(15).
Numerous animal and human studies show that consuming CBD provided anxiolytic effects in patients suffering from anxiety disorders. Although CBD’s effective dose and mechanism of action are not yet fully understood, scientists conclude that, like the approved drugs, CBD helps with stress(16).
There is also evidence that supports the anxiolytic effects of CBD being possible due to its interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) (17). The ECS is a recently discovered system present in all animals which can be targeted by cannabinoids like CBD to trigger specific positive responses, one of which is relief from anxiety (18).
How CBD Oil Works to Help Dogs
It is possible to attribute the potential therapeutic effects of CBD in hyperactive dogs due to how similar the ECS functions in both humans and canines. The ECS consists of transmitters with the CB1 and CB2 receptors being the most well-established of them all.
Research shows that humans and dogs share many conditions that scientists can use as suitable models to understand various diseases between the two species(19). They were also able to map out the spatial distribution of CB1 receptors in the central nervous system of healthy dogs.
Before this research, accurate knowledge of CB1 receptors in canines is not fully understood. These expert findings show that, just like humans, dogs could benefit from external cannabinoids like CBD because of how their ECS works similarly(20).
Another study in 2019 supports the idea that humans and animals share the same structure of the endocannabinoid system. In this same study, the researchers learn that dogs have far more CB1 receptors in their brains than in the human model(21).
A study that targeted these receptors in the ECS was conducted on humans as early as the 1990s. The subjects took conventional anxiety drugs along with CBD.
Researchers found that administering 300 mg of purified human-grade CBD isolate is capable of treating anxiety. They also determined that its effects were comparable to the anxiety relief medication benzodiazepine(22).
The term “benzodiazepine” refers to the drug class that includes diazepam, the generic name for Valium.
Scientists hypothesize that by regulating the presence of serotonin, CBD may help balance moods while reducing anxiety.The Neurochemical Research Journal published findings on CBD, indicating that the compound can reduce the reuptake of serotonin, which makes it more available in the body(23). Serotonin is a chemical affecting many functions that contribute to the wellbeing and happiness of an individual.
In dogs, anxiety can lead to undesirable behaviors with common symptoms very similar to hyperactivity in canines, and which is why it is often associated with the disorder.
Since dogs and humans share the same endocannabinoid system, there is a possibility that the same health benefits of CBD in humans could also be felt in canines.
However, pet parents should always consult their veterinarians before choosing to include CBD in their dog’s diet.
The Pros and Cons of CBD Oil for Dogs
- Trials in humans have proven that CBD does have therapeutic applications that can treat different conditions and disorders. Since all mammals share the same ECS, hyperactive canines could benefit from CBD use.
- Various studies have shown that CBD has properties that can contribute to treating anxious dogs, thereby preventing the symptoms of hyperactivity.
- CBD is well-tolerated in dogs at doses ranging from 2 to 2.5 mg/kg, according to the Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (JAHVMA) (24).
- Numerous manufacturers in the United States sell CBD products, which are also available in various formats.
- Although strictly controlled, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not received any direct reports of harmful side effects in animals given Cannabis products(25).
- There are a limited number of trials on CBD use in dogs for specific conditions or diseases, and understanding of its long-term effects are not yet available.
- The possible side effects of using CBD in canines include low blood pressure, drowsiness, and dry mouth(26).
- CBD may have interactions with other drugs, mainly veterinarian prescribed medications.
- The FDA does not approve the use of Cannabis and its constituents in animals. Consulting a veterinarian is highly recommended for pet owners considering CBD.
How CBD Oil Compares to Alternative Treatments for Dogs
Herbal remedies are popular alternative treatments for hyper dogs. Several herbs are said to have nerve-calming properties, such as:
- Lemon Balm
These herbs are said to reduce separation anxiety in dogs that are stressed and thus could inhibit hyperactive reactions. The plants are often consumed by cooking or by making tea, but owners can also apply them as calming aromas.
Likewise, CBD for dogs can be consumed in almost similar ways as herbal remedies, including teas and edibles. There are also reports of people using CBD oil in their humidifiers, but these are not as effective as oral intake.
Cannabidiol, just like herbal therapy, provides anxiolytic effects that could reduce anxiety in dogs. Since canine anxiety is commonly linked with hyperactivity, treating it can help prevent hyperkinesis.
Some veterinarians also believe that CBD regulates the presence of serotonin in the body, which can stabilize moods and further alleviate anxiety.
How to Choose the Best CBD Oil for Dogs
There are three varieties of CBD products sold in the market, namely full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolates. Each type has certain advantages and disadvantages and may not bring about the same effects on individual canines.
Pet owners need to know what to expect with each type of CBD oil when choosing the best CBD for their hyperactive dogs.
The first is full-spectrum CBD oil, which possesses all of the chemical compounds present in the Cannabis sativa plant. There are even traces of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are said to have anti-inflammatory effects when consumed.
However, full-spectrum CBD also has tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is a psychoactive component that can make a dog high. Although present in minimal amounts due to being obtained from the hemp plant, THC is reportedly dangerous for canines.
A study published in 2016 reveals that dogs that were given baked goods containing concentrated medical-grade THC died afterward (27). Since dogs are said to have more cannabinoid receptors than humans, researchers hint that they may be more sensitive to the toxic effects of cannabinoids, primarily THC.
On the other hand, broad-spectrum CBD oil seems to be a safer alternative for dogs. Broad-spectrum CBD is very similar to full-spectrum in that it also provides the same cannabinoids and terpenes except for THC.
Despite being THC-free, veterinarians warn pet parents to take caution when buying broad-spectrum CBD as some animals may overreact to the presence of other cannabinoids.
Finally, cannabidiol as an isolate is just pure CBD oil via CO2 extraction. This type of CBD is often provided to animals during clinical trials to minimize inaccuracy.
CBD isolates are considered 99.9% purified and are the most commonly recommended product for pet owners that want to try CBD.
The following are additional information in choosing a safe and reliable CBD pet product in treating hyperactivity in dogs:
- Always look for a Certificate of Analysis (COA) as this document lists all of the active cannabinoids found in the CBD product. This label can also indicate whether it is non-GMO or if contaminants like heavy metals or other additives are included. Look for lab results of the product if the COA is not available.
- CBD oil in liquid form is highly recommended by many veterinarians, as these are easier to administer and adjust when needed. Pet parents should strictly follow the dosing instructions provided to them by their veterinarian to avoid adverse reactions.
- CBD products that contain organic cannabinoids and natural ingredients are the best for hyperactive dogs. Pay close attention when selecting CBD canine treats, as some may have additional components such as herbs, coconut oil, and other elements.
- Look for CBD oil manufacturers that provide GMO-free and industrial hemp-based pet products. Reputable pet CBD companies are CBD-compliant and follow quality processes in producing their goods.
- Pet parents should first consult a veterinarian, particularly a vet that knows about Cannabis, prior to applying CBD to a hyperactive dog.
CBD Dosage for Dogs
There is no standard CBD dosage chart for dogs at this time. The main reason for this is because the FDA has not yet approved CBD for use in animals.
Pet owners and veterinarians may look at past studies to see how canines fared when given precise doses.
In a clinical trial in 2019, epileptic dogs were given 2.5 mg/kg of CBD hemp products twice a day for 12 weeks without observing any adverse reaction(28). Another study reveals that 2 mg/kg of CBD twice each day shows increased comfort and activity levels in dogs with joint pain(29).
Based on these studies, it is safe to assume that 2 to 2.5mg/kg of CBD two times per day is well-tolerated among healthy dogs. The findings also show that canines can withstand daily doses of CBD for several weeks without experiencing life-threatening reactions.
Keep in mind, however, that the studies were done on dogs that have very different conditions. Hyperactive canines may have a different reaction when subjected to this dosing range.
The best course of action is to consult a veterinarian as these professionals have the most knowledge with regards to recommended CBD dosage for dogs.
How Hyperactive Dogs Can Take CBD Oil
CBD hemp oil is available in different forms, which allows dog owners to choose the one that is preferred by their pets.
The following are the most suitable CBD formats for canines with hyperkinesis:
CBD, in the form of tinctures, is one of the most common ways to administer the product to dogs. Owners will usually find these with droppers so they can apply CBD oil under the tongue of their canine.
Tinctures are also easier to apply the exact dosage suggested by a veterinarian. Administering CBD oil under the tongue means that the compound enters the body immediately, allowing its effects to be felt faster than other forms of CBD.
CBD oil products are also available as pet treats, which is probably the easiest way to administer cannabidiol to dogs. These CBD dog treats are made to be very enticing for canines with the product available in various flavors, sizes, and dosage levels.
Pet owners should inspect the labels on these treat packages for the proper canine dosage based on their dog’s weight.
People can also find dog CBD oil in the form of vegan capsules and pills, which are applied just like most medications. Pet owners should hide hemp seed oil capsules in dog treats or food to mask the undesirable taste that comes with it.
How to Calm a High Energy Dog
Many pet owners are quick to say that their high energy canine is hyperactive, but this may not be the case. The book Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Small Animals states that real hyperactivity in dogs is rare.
An energetic dog may not be getting the right amounts of physical, mental, and social needs met regularly.
Canines that have a difficult time settling down may have to deal with several factors such as poor diet, lack of stimulation, or breed drive. Spaying and neutering also help with hyperactivity.
The following is a multi-step approach that can help pet parents address the needs of a high energy dog.
Exercise the Body
One of the first things to consider is if the dog is getting the right amount of exercise per day. A high-drive canine with a sporting or herding heritage should have a workout routine prepared.
Although there is no standard in canine exercise, it is safe to assume that dogs that are still active by the end of the day could get more of it. Playing focused games with the canine such as tug and fetch can release some of the excess energy in their body.
Constant tugging and running around are both excellent ways to burn energy. Adding rules to the game can also transform an ordinary routine into small training exercises.
Dog owners may also want to consider getting their pets involved in sports such as lure and agility coursing. These two activities are bound to exhaust them even more and are great ways to keep them physically fit.
Agility training, while time-consuming, can make a huge difference.
Visiting a dog park for positive social interaction with other canines can also help, especially for dogs that enjoy the company of others.
Exercise the Brain
Although exercising the body is integral in keeping dogs calm, another part that should also receive attention is their brain. Mental workouts can effectively wear out a dog.
Most canines are athletic, and it is not always easy to work them out to physical exhaustion. However, pet owners may be surprised to know that working on their brains is a lot easier to get them to ask for a break.
Even a simple shaping game using a clicker can encourage a dog to use their brain creatively and test new things. Owners may also try teaching them new tricks that require attention and focus.
Games that use a dog’s nose can also force them to tap into their senses and challenge their brains. Lastly, puzzle games that make dogs work for their food can turn mealtimes into challenging brain teasers that can exhaust their minds.
Establish Proper Manners
Canines that jump at pet owners during walk time, constantly bark when it is time to eat, or regularly seek attention can easily be mistaken for hyperactivity. However, these inappropriate behaviors may just be signs of a lack of manners rather than hyperkinesis.
Instilling proper manners through training can teach a dog how to engage with owners the right way to get what they want. Doing so also helps them to control their impulsiveness, which is usually the missing link in seemingly hyper canines.
The central concept in manners training is to teach a furry pooch to ask the right way by sitting down for anything they want. Canines that want owners to do something for them are told to sit first.
Upon achieving this, pet owners should be quick to reward their dogs but without any extra treat. Canines are going to understand that saying “sit” can make good things happen, and with consistency, will do the action on their own rather than act pushy.
Analyze the Food
It can be very tempting for dog owners to grab a bag of affordable canine food at the local store to save on cost. However, what goes into their stomachs can have a direct impact on their behavior.
Most cheap dog foods are usually loaded with filler ingredients, coloring, sugar, and byproducts. It is the same as when a person eats junk food, which results in altered moods and negatively affects the body.
Feeding a pet low-quality food can adversely impact their behavior, so it only makes sense to consider what they eat. Pet owners should look into feeding them high-quality meals and soft chews with ingredients that are easy to identify with fewer fillers.
Hyperactivity, also called hyperkinesis, is a canine disorder that is characterized by constant frenetic activity, short attention spans, and high impulsive behavior. A hyper dog exhibits signs such as rapid heart rate, salivation, panting, infrequent urination, and the failure to adapt to familiar stimuli.
A study in 1993 mentions that hyperkinesis is not a physiological problem in dogs, but is either standard behavior in specific breeds or one that has been conditioned by their owners. Hyperkinetic dogs are usually described to have attention gaps and are traditionally treated with stimulant drugs.
The problem here is that conventional medications are considered to be harmful to canines. Dogs that consume stimulants can experience life-threatening symptoms such as high body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate.
These risks are among the main reasons why a growing number of pet owners are starting to look for a more natural and holistic treatment for hyperactivity in dogs.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one such treatment today. This extract is derived from the Cannabis plant, particularly organic hemp, and is said to have calming effects on canines.
A survey in 2016 reveals that most pet owners endorse CBD to others because of their belief that it improves conditions such as chronic pain, inflammation, and anxiety. Dogs that are suffering from anxiety problems display behavior similar to hyperactivity.
Studies on both humans and other animals prove that CBD has anxiolytic properties that may be therapeutic for hyper canines. Since all mammals share the same ECS, it is possible that consuming CBD oil could be beneficial to calm down hyperactive dogs.
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