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What's The Best CBD Oil For Dogs With Stress & Anxiety?

Learn how pet owners are using CBD oils to support separation anxiety, post traumatic stress, & other forms of anxiety in their dogs.

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Daily CBD , last updated on November 19, 2020

Dogs get stressed out and anxious — just like us. 

Common causes of anxiety in dogs include separation anxiety when we leave for work, fear from loud noises like thunder or construction, or stress while having guests over or traveling. 

Learning how to spot anxiety and how to prevent it will go a long way towards improving your dog’s quality of life. 

Here, you’ll learn all about using CBD oil to help your dog with anxiety. I’ll cover how to tell if your dog is feeling anxious, how CBD oil works to prevent it, and which products to consider using first. 

Let’s get started with the best CBD oils for dogs with anxiety. 

  • Table of Contents

Best CBD Oil For Dogs With Anxiety

What Are The Benefits of CBD Oil For Anxiety in Dogs?

There’s a ton of evidence to support the anti-anxiety effects of a quality CBD oil for dogs. 

CBD works by interacting with a series of receptors that make up the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system is responsible for regulating the activity of your dog’s nervous system. 

When the neurons are firing out of control, it presents as anxiety. 

Supplements like CBD help by activating the ECS —which reverse the effects of anxiety and promote a more relaxed mental state.

CBD oil also helps with some of the side effects of anxiety episodes — including muscle tension, sleep disorders, obsessive behavior, and depression

The benefits of CBD oil for anxiety in dogs include: 

  • Reduces the secretion of stress hormones (cortisol)
  • Alleviates hyperactivity in the brain (glutamate)
  • Supports mood (serotonin)

1. Reduces Cortisol Secretion

The stress response works the same in dogs as it does in humans. 

A stress trigger — such as loud noises or separation from loved ones — activates a region in the brain called the hypothalamus.

A signal is sent from the hypothalamus to the adrenal glands, which sit above each of your dog’s kidneys. This organ then starts pumping out hormones like cortisol, which causes the physical manifestations of stress and anxiety (rapid heartbeat, elevations in blood pressure, a sense of panic, etc.). 

Recent clinical studies have shown that CBD oil can reduce cortisol levels in the blood after a single dose [1]. This ability to reduce cortisol secretions is likely one of the main ways CBD oil can prevent or alleviate anxiety attacks in dogs. 

2. Alleviates Hyperactivity In The Brain (Manifestation of Anxiety)

One of the effects of cortisol is to stimulate brain activity — which is what causes the effects of anxiety. 

Stimulating neurotransmitters (such as glutamate and norepinephrine) become highly active during an anxiety attack. These changes are meant to increase focus and alertness after being exposed to a stressor. 

When they become too active, anxiety attacks can leave your dog feeling paralyzed with fear. 

CBD helps by mitigating the effects of glutamate and increasing the activity of GABA — another neurotransmitter that inhibits the effects of glutamate and other stimulating neurotransmitters. 

CBD can reverse mental stimulation associated with anxiety by shifting the balance of neurotransmitters from glutamate to GABA. 

A recent meta-analysis explored the results of 49 individual studies involving the use of CBD for anxiety [2]. The study found that CBD could significantly improve symptoms of several different types of anxiety. These studies were done on humans, but the impact can be applied to dogs as well. CBD is likely to reduce neurostimulation and anxiety in dogs suffering from many different types of anxiety. 

3. Supports Mood

Anxiety is often correlated with mood disorders. Alterations in brain chemistry associated with chronic stress and anxiety can lead to depression or other mood disorders. This, in turn, leads to more anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and worsening of symptoms over time. 

CBD has been shown to improve depressive symptoms in animals by increasing serotonin activity in the brain [3]. 

Canine Anxiety: Causes, Signs & Symptoms, Treatment

Anxiety disorders in dogs are very common. The Service of Clinical Ethology of the Veterinary Faculty of Madrid reported that roughly 88% of the animals treated suffered from anxiety-related disorders. 

Anxiety can present many different ways in dogs. Some signs are obvious, like quivering or shaking, while others are much more subtle — such as sleep dysfunction, excessive licking, or loss of appetite. 

Just like humans, every dog is different. Some dogs will tell you when they’re anxious or stressed — other dogs will turn inward and socially isolate themselves instead. 

Here are some of the most common signs of anxiety to be on the lookout for with your dog: 

Signs Your Dog May Have Anxiety

  1. Pacing back and forth
  2. Excessive licking or chewing
  3. Shaking or trembling
  4. Lack of appetite
  5. Frequent hiding or isolation
  6. Aggressive behavior
  7. Whimpering 

What Causes of Anxiety in Dogs?

The first step to helping your dog with their anxiety is to identify the cause. If you can find out what’s making them anxious, you can take steps to either eliminate the problem or help your dog develop the necessary skills to cope with it. 

Some of the most common causes of anxiety in dogs include: 

  • Loud noises (thunder, construction)
  • New people or animals entering the home
  • Separation or isolation
  • Boredom
  • Illness
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Dehydration
  • Past trauma or experience (violence, separation, or near-death experiences)

Anxiety Disorders in Dogs: Types of Anxiety in Pets

The type of anxiety your dog is experiencing depends on what’s causing the condition. Separation anxiety, for example, is caused by being separated from the ones they love (you). 

You are everything to your dog — you’re their source of food, enjoyment, and safety. When you’re gone, your dog may associate those things as being missing. This can be very distressing to an animal, especially younger pets who haven’t had a chance to learn how to cope with being on their own. 

Other forms of anxiety include PTSD from being abused or illness-related anxiety from other health conditions like arthritis or chronic pain. 

The most common types of anxiety in dogs include: 

  1. Separation anxiety
  2. Post-traumatic stress disorder
  3. Generalized anxiety disorder
  4. Illness-induced anxiety
  5. Aggressiveness

Conventional Treatments For Canine Anxiety

When you bring your dog to the vet, they may suggest a few approaches to help with symptoms and improve your animal’s quality of life. 

A) Prescription Medications

Medications may include benzodiazepines, or tricyclic antidepressants are the most common options for dogs. A drug called Fluoxetine, in particular, is the most common prescription anti-anxiety medication for dogs. 

B) Behavior Modification Techniques

A process called “habituation” or “counterconditioning” is an effective way of teaching your dog how to manage their anxiety and alleviate the primary cause of anxiety. 

The process works by identifying what makes your dog anxious (the vacuum cleaner, separation, other dogs). From here, you can expose the dog to a small amount of this trigger, followed by positive reinforcement — such as giving them a treat or affection. 

Doing this repeatedly while gradually increasing exposure to the stressor will eventually retrain your dog to no longer associate that trigger as a source of stress. 

C) Relaxation Techniques

Most of the treatments for anxiety in dogs involve preventing anxiety, to begin with. However, even with treatment, your dog may still experience anxiety attacks. If this happens, the best way to relieve symptoms is to step in and actively help your dog relax. 

Turn off any loud noises or bright lights and try to remove your dog from the trigger (if possible). Let your dog lie down and comfort them. 

Avoid comforting your dog with food or treats. This can lead to negative reinforcement in the future — causing your dog to “act” anxious as a way to get access to food. 

How to Use CBD Oil With Dogs

Giving your dog CBD is very simple and straightforward. The best way to give them CBD oil is to mix it in with their food. 

Most dogs will barely notice the addition of CBD oil to their meal. However, some picky dogs may turn their noses up at the meal no matter what you do. 

For these dogs, it can help to use a CBD pet oil that comes with a dog-friendly flavor — such as bacon or beef. 

If this still doesn’t work, you may have to do it the old fashioned way. Open their mouth and squirt a dose of CBD oil directly into their mouth. Close their mouth and hold it there for a few seconds to make sure they don’t spit the oil out. 

This is a standard technique vets use to give dogs oral medications. It won’t hurt your animal — but it may annoy them quite a bit. You can follow it up with a delicious treat to help them forget about it and wash down the taste. 

What Dose Should I Use to Manage My Dog’s Anxiety?

The dose of CBD oil can vary based on the severity of your dog’s symptoms and their size. 

Most research involving CBD oil and dogs have shown that a dose of around 2 mg per kilogram of bodyweight has the most reliable effects while keeping the potential for side effects at a minimum. 

Some dogs may need a little more — others need a little less. 

If you’re using CBD with your dog for the first time, you may need to adjust the dose depending on how they respond. 

CBD Dosage Chart For Dogs With Anxiety

Dog Size & WeightDosage Range(Low-Dose)Dosage Range (High-Dose)Recommended CBD Oil Potency
Very Small Dogs (2-15 lbs)1 – 7 mg2 – 14 mg150 mg CBD Oil
Small Dogs (15-30 lbs)7 – 14 mg14 – 28 mg300 mg CBD Oil
Medium Dogs (30-60 lbs)14 – 27 mg28 – 54 mg300 – 600 mg CBD Oil
Large Dogs (60-150 lbs)27 – 60 mg54 – 120 mg600 – 1500 mg CBD Oil

CBD Treats vs. CBD Pet Oil For Anxiety

There are two different ways of using CBD products with dogs — CBD dog treats and CBD pet oils

Both options work, but each have their own set of pros and cons. 

When it comes to managing anxiety, I like using CBD oils better. It helps to avoid giving your dog something they may view as a “reward” while trying to give teach them the coping mechanisms necessary to avoid anxiety attacks on their own. 

CBD oils also tend to be more cost-effective in the long-run. 

With that said, CBD dog treats work perfectly fine for anxiety too. Some even come with other anti-anxiety herbs and nutrients that support the effects of CBD. 

You can find specific CBD dog treats formulated to help relax your animal — such as the Calming Treats from Royal CBD (contains chamomile and CBD). 

What To Look For When Buying CBD Oils For Dogs

CBD is a popular supplement for use with dogs these days. There are a ton of companies selling CBD products for pets. 

Unfortunately, many of these products aren’t worth the money. 

It’s common for a CBD brand to take a cheap CBD oil, position it as a “specialty pet product,” and mark the price up by about 10 – 15 percent

People will pay this higher price because they believe the product they’re getting is optimized for use with pets — when it’s not. CBD oil works the same way in pets as it does in humans. Most regular CBD oils are already well-suited for use with your dog. 

The main difference is the potency (dogs tend to use a lower dose) and flavor (dogs prefer flavors like bacon or chicken to fruity or sweet flavors).

Here are a few tips to consider when shopping for CBD oils to use with your dog to help you avoid disappointment and get the best value for your money. 

1. Go Full-Spectrum

There are three main types of CBD products — full-spectrum, CBD isolate, and broad-spectrum

Full-spectrum CBD oil is considered the cream of the crop. They’re made in a way that preserves the entire phytochemical makeup of the hemp plant. This includes CBD along with accessory cannabinoids like CBG, CBN, CBC, THCV, and even trace amounts of THC (well-below psychoactive doses). 

Other ingredients in full-spectrum oils, such as cannabis-derived terpenes, play a major role in the overall therapeutic effect profile. Terpenes such as bisabolol, linalool, terpinolene, and borneol are especially effective for alleviating anxiety symptoms. 

CBD isolate oils are also common, but most experts agree these products are less effective at the same dose compared to a full-spectrum product. Isolate oils are made by further processing the hemp extract to remove everything except pure CBD. It’s the closest thing to a pharmaceutical version of CBD. 

The third-type of extract, broad-spectrum hemp extract, sits in the middle of the other two options. It contains most of the cannabinoids made in hemp, but the THC content has been completely removed. The only problem with this is that while removing the THC, some of the other active ingredients are also damaged in the process. 

2. Consider the Potency

The potency of CBD oil you buy is directly related to the dose. If you buy a high potency CBD oil, you only need a small amount of oil to hit the target dose of CBD. 

It’s important to match the potency of the oil with the size of your dog.

This isn’t an exact science, but you’ll want to be at least within the same ballpark. 

Suggested CBD oil potencies depending on the target dose: 

  • 1 – 15 mg CBD — 100–300 mg CBD oil
  • 15 – 60 mg CBD — 300 – 600 mg CBD oil
  • 60 – 150 mg CBD — 600 – 1200 mg CBD oil

Here’s an example to illustrate why the potency of the oil matters. 

Imagine you have a tiny dog that weighs around 5 pounds. The dose for a dog of this size is around 5 mg of CBD. Now let’s say you bought an ultra-high-strength CBD oil to use with your dog — it has 2500 mg of CBD per bottle. This potency works out to around 85 mg/mL or 2.7 mg per drop. 

For a dog of this size, you only need two drops to reach the desired dose. 

One drop too many could provide a dose 50% higher than you meant to administer. It’s easy to use too much CBD with your dog when using oils this potent. 

It makes more sense to use a CBD oil with a potency of around 125 mg per bottle for a dog of this size. 

125 mg works out to 4.2 mg/mL or 0.15 mg per drop. For a dose of 5 mg of CBD, you need to use roughly 35 drops. If you accidentally give them a few extra drops, it’s not going to make any difference for your pet. 

On the other side of this, you’ll want to avoid the low potency oils for larger dogs. The average golden retriever weighs about 65 pounds. This means the dose is somewhere in the ballpark of 55 mg of CBD. 

If using a 150 mg oil, this would work out to roughly 12 mL of oil — which is about a third of the entire bottle. You’ll only get about three doses with these lower potency oils. 

Instead, opt for a 1200 mg CBD oil, which would bring the dose down to around 1.5 mL (20 doses per bottle). 

3. Third-Party Testing Is Important

Third-party testing is the only way to verify the claims a CBD company makes about its products.

It’s a voluntary step reputable CBD brands take to prove the contents of their oil are exactly as the company claims. 

Always look for evidence of these tests when shopping for CBD. Companies that either don’t take this important step to verify their oils or who received a failing score will avoid publishing the results. 

CBD oils that contain contaminants can be harmful to your dog’s health, and products that contain less CBD than advertised are a waste of money. 

If there are not tests available — you should ask yourself what the company has to hide.

4. Dog-Friendly Flavors

One of the key differentiating factors of a CBD oil for humans from CBD oils for dogs is the flavors added to the oil. 

Human CBD oils usually have flavors like berry, vanilla, mint, citrus, or other fruity options. 

Dogs don’t like these flavors and are more likely to turn their nose up at a CBD oil that tastes this way, 

Companies that make pet oils usually add different flavors that are more in line with the dogs’ taste preferences — such as bacon, chicken, beef, or peanut butter. 

While finding a CBD oil that has a dog-friendly flavor isn’t required, it can make a big difference towards convincing your dog to take the oil on their own. 

5. Assess Value, Over Cost

The best way to assess the value of a CBD product is the “cost per milligram.” 

This metric allows us to compare the cost of CBD oils regardless of the bottle size and potency. It measures the amount of money you’re spending for every milligram of active CBD — rather than the product as a whole. 

Getting the best value for your money means finding oils with a low cost per milligram. The best value usually comes from CBD oils that have a higher initial cost. 

More expensive CBD oils can cost upwards of $75 each, but you get much better value compared to cheap $30 oils. They cost more but pack a lot more CBD (and therefore last much longer). 

Here’s a comparison of three CBD oils to illustrate this: 

CBD Oil TierTotal CostTotal CBD ContentCost per mg CBD
Cheap CBD Oil$30 100 mg$0.30
Moderate CBD Oil$75500 mg$0.15
Expensive CBD Oil$2302500 mg$0.09

Key Takeaways: CBD Oils For Anxiety In Dogs

CBD oil is a powerful tool pet owners can use to alleviate anxiety symptoms in their beloved animals. 

Using a quality CBD oil on a regular basis may dramatically reduce the severity and frequency of anxiety episodes in their animals. 

It works by reducing cortisol levels in the blood (the main stress hormone), promoting the activity of relaxing neurotransmitters in the brain (such as GABA), and helps maintain a stable mood in animals that are frequently stressed. 

The best CBD oils for dogs with anxiety are made from a high-grade full-spectrum extract, come in a variety of potencies to match the size of your dog, and have complete third-party test panels to verify the potency and safety of the oil. 

To get the best value for your money, it helps to err on the side of higher potency oil — these products tend to deliver the lowest cost per milligram of active CBD (better value). 

References Cited in This Article

  1. Zuardi, A. W., Guimaraes, F. S., & Moreira, A. C. (1993). Effect of cannabidiol on plasma prolactin, growth hormone, and cortisol in human volunteers. Brazilian journal of medical and biological research. Revista brasileira de pesquisas medicas e biologicas, 26(2), 213-217.
  2. Blessing, E. M., Steenkamp, M. M., Manzanares, J., & Marmar, C. R. (2015). Cannabidiol as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders. Neurotherapeutics, 12(4), 825-836.
  3. Sales, A. J., Crestani, C. C., Guimarães, F. S., & Joca, S. R. (2018). Antidepressant-like effects induced by Cannabidiol are dependent on brain serotonin levels. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 86, 255-261.

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