Taking a cannabidiol (CBD) supplement didn’t seem to reduce dogs’ fearful behavior or stress hormones when they heard a recording of fireworks in an experiment.
“Considering the increased interest of CBD use in companion animals, continued research is essential to understanding the mechanisms by which CBD may exert anxiolytic effects as well as possible risks, like drug interactions, associated with CBD administration,” the scientists wrote in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Medicine.
Experiment on CBD and fear in dogs
Scientists gave 16 dogs either CBD, trazodone, a combination of CBD and trazodone, or nothing as a control. Trazodone is not labeled for use with dogs, but the researchers wrote that off-label use is common for the treatment of anxiety disorders and to reduce post-surgery confinement stresses. The dogs received 1.4 milligrams of CBD per kilogram of body weight per day. After seven days of taking the supplement, the researchers played a three-minute fireworks track to scare the dogs without harming them. The scientists collected blood samples one hour before, immediately after and one hour following the fireworks. They analyzed the levels of cortisol in the dogs’ blood. Cortisol is a hormone associated with stressful situations in both dogs and humans. To observe the dogs’ behaviors, the researchers videotaped the experiment and counted the amount of time dog’s spent with ears relaxed, ears erect, tail stiff and other movements associated with fear or relaxation.
The dogs taking trazodone had lowered levels of cortisol in their blood plasma, after the loud noises, whereas the dogs in the CBD, trazodone/CBD group and control groups did not. Similarly, the CBD didn’t reduce the dogs’ fearful behavior during the fireworks. The scientists concluded that the dosage of CBD they used didn’t seem to have an anti-anxiety effect. They suggested that future studies try higher doses of CBD.
“It may be inadvisable to administer CBD concomitantly with other products or medications as the results from this study highlight potential drug interactions associated with CBD use,” the researchers wrote.