CBD for Dogs With Aggression: Why and How It Works
CBD for dogs with aggression might be an unexpected remedy for a behavior problem that has plagued countless dogs (and their owners) over the past decades. Statistics show an increase in bite-related hospitalizations, even fatalities.
Being the owner of an aggressive dog is a very stressful experience because of the ever-present, lingering fear that your dog might seriously hurt another person or another dog. This, of course, does not mean that you love your dog any less. You want to help him become a safer member of society and gain a calmer state of mind.
As CBD oil is rising in popularity and taking the world by storm, the pet industry is welcoming a variety of CBD-based products on the market. Many dog owners are now wondering if this is just another hype or something that could actually help their sick, anxious, and aggressive dog. Can CBD truly be helpful for canine aggression?
Aggression in Dogs
How are fear and aggression connected?
Aggression is a strong violent reaction to a perceived external threat. Just like humans, dogs have three natural fear responses: fight, flight, and freeze. Aggression is a manifestation of the fight response. This is how we know that all aggression is essentially born out of fear.
There are many different threats a dog can perceive, such as other dogs, competitors, intruders, etc. Fearful and aggressive dogs cannot discern between an actual threat and a perceived threat. This is why many aggressive dogs are called unpredictable, as their owners struggle to understand their triggers.
Studies have shown that the majority of dog bites happen at home, where one would expect dogs to feel safe. Over half of all people who get bitten are children. Dogs with aggression are suffering from internal fear and opting for the fight response, ultimately making them very challenging to live with.
The idea of a supplement that could help these dogs feel calmer in their environment, not to mention in the world at large, comes as a saving grace to many dog owners who are struggling with fear in their own homes. Thankfully, more and more connections have been made between CBD oil and the improved moods of anxious dogs, giving hope to many owners that their aggressive dogs can be helped after all.
CBD Oil for Dogs
What is CBD? Can a dog get high?
CBD stands for cannabidiol and it comes from the cannabis plant. It can be used as an ingredient in a variety of products, such as edibles, ointments, tinctures, and oils. The CBD in these products is primarily derived from hemp (not marijuana), meaning it contains little to no THC and therefore does not have any psychoactive consequences. Your dog will not get high from CBD.
How does CBD work?
All mammals have a natural endocannabinoid system, known as the ECS. This is a system that regulates many functions in our body, most notable ones being sleep, inflammation, pain, memory, and moods. The way CBD works is by stimulating the ECS receptors, therefore impacting all functions regulated by this system.
Dogs with anxiety and aggression notably suffer from imbalanced moods, sometimes even as a result of physical pain or sickness. Since CBD oil impacts exactly the receptors that regulate moods and pain, it could ease several of these symptoms at once, resulting in a more balanced system and a calmer dog.
CBD Oil and Canine Aggression
Is there proof that CBD can help dogs with fear aggression?
Most of the feedback on successful CBD help for aggressive dogs has come directly from the owners that have reported seeing changes in their dogs’ state of mind. CBD oil can be used as a regular treatment or as extra help on special occasions, such as the New Year’s Eve fireworks, welcoming a new family member, taking a trip to the vet, etc.
Take Barnaby, for example. A 15-year-old dog who has become reactive and fear aggressive as a result of old age. It only took a week of taking CBD for his owners to already notice a change in his mood, which made it easier to work on his behaviors. Stories like these are an inspiration to struggling owners, but they can also be an encouragement to those who work in rescue and daily encounter anxious and aggressive dogs.
One foster dog mom has noticed how much calmer her PTSD fosters are, after giving them CBD treats. She notes that the visible shift in their mood opened the doors to easier socialization and further behavior modification.
While there is much research still to be done on this topic specifically (the first veterinary studies have mainly been focusing on the physical ailments), there are two notable studies that give us a good insight into the value of CBD for aggression in dogs.
In the first study, researchers studied mice who exhibited territorial aggression and found that CBD reduced their aggressive reactions and behaviors. In the cases where aggressive attacks still happened, they were much shorter in duration.
The second study exposed rats to a snake, their predator, with the intent to observe the panic-induced reactions. When faced with the threat, the rats dosed with CBD had significantly diminished fear responses. In both cases, the researchers concluded that CBD could help prevent or reduce fear-born behaviors, such as panic and aggression.
While the research on this topic is still at the beginning, it is evident that the starting point is already more than promising, indicating that there is massive potential for helping fear aggressive dogs with CBD.
Are there any dangers to using CBD for dogs with aggression?
While CBD is generally considered safe, there are still some things you should keep in mind before giving it to your anxious and aggressive dog. Always consult your holistic vet before making any significant changes in your dog’s diet, which includes adding a supplement such as CBD. It is also important to find a good product of high quality, so please do your research before deciding on a final purchase.
The most important thing with CBD is the dosage, which is why you should always carefully read and follow the instructions of the manufacturer. Some possible side effects may include lower blood pressure, drowsiness, and an increased notion of thirst. If you notice any of these symptoms, be sure to check-in with your vet and readjust the dosage.
Finally, it is crucial to understand that CBD can help dogs with anxiety and aggression, but it cannot cure them or take away the cause. It is a very valuable asset for managing aggression in dogs but should not be considered a replacement for consistent training.
Fear is always present in the life of aggressive dogs. It controls their responses, putting their owners in a state of anxiety as well. Many owners are now finding comfort in recognizing the value of CBD oil for dogs with fear and aggression. It can be used alongside their regular training and rehabilitation. CBD oil stimulates the natural system that regulates the dog’s moods, resulting in a calmer dog with a more relaxed state of mind.
While there is still much research to be done, the first studies have been very promising. They indicate that there is an optimistic future ahead for dogs with aggression. This comes as a relief to the owners who are walking this challenging path with them every single day. Since living with an anxious dog often feels like a dead-end street, there is strong hope in knowing the promising effects of CBD for dogs with aggression.
Kriss, Randa. “CBD Oil for Dogs: What You Need to Know.” American Kennel Club, 05/02/2019.
Hartmann, Alice. Lisboa, Sabrina Francesca. Buzolin Sonego, Andreza. Coutinho, Débora. Villela Gomes, Felipe. Silveira Guimarães, Francisco. “Cannabidiol attenuates aggressive behavior induced by social isolation in mice: Involvement of 5-HT1A and CB1 receptors.” Science Direct, 02/05/2019.
De Mello Schier, Alexandre Rafael. Pinho de Oliveira Ribeiro, Natalia. Cardoso de Oliveira e Silva, Adriana. Cecílio Hallak, Jaime Eduardo. S. Crippa, José Alexandre. E. Nardi, Antonio. Waldo Zuardi, Antonio. “Cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent, as an anxiolytic drug.” Brazilian Journal for Psychiatry, June 2012.
Luna’s passion for learning about canine psychology and behavior began when she adopted a severely reactive puppy from a local shelter. She is now a big advocate for positive reinforcement and compassionate training. As a writer, she strives to spotlight the topics that fly under the radar and be the voice for all who cannot speak for themselves.
Take Barnaby, for example. A 15-year-old dog who has become reactive and fear aggressive as a result of old age. It only took a week of taking CBD for his owners to already notice a change in his mood, which made it easier to work on his behaviors.