Research Supports other Alternative Therapies
A friend started using CBD oil for her dog that has severe epilepsy and it seems to be minimizing the number of seizures. I wanted to see if it might be a possibility for my dog. He freaks out when he sees strangers and he gets startled sometimes at just regular noises around the house.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is derived from hemp and contains only miniscule amounts of the “high” producing chemical THC. There is some published information on CBD’s presumed mode of action for the treatment of human pain, schizophrenia, and epilepsy but I have not encountered a good neurochemical explanation for how it could reduce canine anxiety. Our pets are not little people in furry suits. There are important species differences in many physical and behavioral functions. I can’t ethically recommend it for your dog. I worry that it could worsen his behavior.
Your boy’s reactions to unfamiliar people and sudden household noises suggest a serious anxiety disorder. If a thorough behavioral evaluation supported this diagnosis there may be multiple good treatment choices. Natural therapies work as well as medications in some cases. Combinations of supplements and drugs often allow us to reduce anxiety with lower dosages, avoiding side effects.
There are alternative remedies that can be helpful for anxious dogs. The supplement SAMe is present in all living cells and is essential to the normal functioning of major biochemical pathways and metabolic reactions. Veterinary preparations, Denosyl and Novifit, are formulated for dogs, meaning that they absorb more reliably. The hydrolyzed milk protein in Zylkene, also available from your veterinarian, reduces mild to moderate anxiety. The pheromone in Adaptil collars and diffusers has a calming effect.
Beyond adjusting the neurochemistry in your dog’s brain you will need to set him up for success. Avoidance of unfamiliar people will help him abandon his old fears. Teaching him response substitutions, like targeting and clicker training, can be fun for you and your dog. He’ll learn that good things happen when he encounters a stranger.
Cannabis for you? Well, my specialty is veterinary behavior medicine. I don’t treat human animals. Your brain can decide what’s best for it
Each week Dr. Jeff Nichol makes a short video or podcast to help bring out the best in pets. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Dr. Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). You can post pet behavioral or physical questions at facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.