As the pandemic stubbornly lingers, pet owners’ lives return to patterns they followed before the massive disruptions of COVID-19. However, for pets, two aspects of the old normal may be stressful. As people travel more, they also bring their dogs with them. The dog poking her head from a car window is a quintessential part of the classic road trip. Despite the archetype, many dogs fear car travel and find travel stressful. At the same time, many pet owners have returned to offices or other employment sites, after working from home and close to their pets. Dogs may feel stressed by this sudden absence of their formerly omnipresent owners. A single-dose of cannabidiol (CBD) may address both situations.
Scientists with Mars Petcare’s Waltham Petcare Science Institute conducted an experiment to study the effectiveness of cannabidiol (CBD) supplements on dogs being left alone or traveling. In the study, a single oral dose (4 mgs per kg of body weight) of THC-free CBD significantly relieved multiple measures of dogs' stress in both scenarios. The journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science published the research.
Experiment using CBD for dogs left alone or traveling in a car
Adapted from a press release:
The blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled study looked at how CBD impacted the experience of 20 dogs in two commonplace activities that were anticipated to cause stress - car journeys and being left alone. Researchers collected a range of physiological (e.g., blood levels of cortisol, ear temperature, heart rate) and behavioral measures (e.g., whining, trembling, panting) at different times during the study. There were significant changes in several stress-related measures, with the car journey eliciting a more pronounced stress response.
Dogs then received either a placebo or CBD capsule (~4mg/kg bodyweight) and, two hours after administration, were exposed to either the separation event or car travel. Researchers found multiple measures of the dogs' stress improved following administration of CBD. Specifically, dogs treated with CBD were scored as significantly less "sad," had significantly lower cortisol levels, exhibited less whining and were in a more relaxed emotional state overall than dogs that received a placebo.
Mars does not manufacture or sell products with CBD. Currently, CBD is mostly available as an unregulated supplement. In the UK, new CBD food, drink, or supplement products require an approved Novel Food application to enter the market. CBD products are regulated in many US states. In the European Union, CBD use as an ingredient or an additive in pet food is still under review by the regulatory authorities and not yet approved.