Using CBD Oil to Treat Phobias in Dogs and Cats
Just like people, dogs and cats can also suffer from phobias. It is our duty as responsible pet owners to help them deal with these mental health issues.
What Are Phobias In Pets?
Fear is an emotion that is natural to both people and animals. Fear acts as a defense mechanism to protect us from danger. Phobias, however, are a persistent and intense fear that happens when the animal is confronted by a triggering cue. This cue is something that feels threatening to them, such as loud noises or thunderstorms.’
There are many reasons why dogs might develop phobias. For instance, the triggering cue might be associated with a past negative life experience. The phobia might also be related to the lack of early socialization. And in some cases, it might be linked to genetics.
Symptoms of Phobias in Dogs and Cats
Dogs express fears and phobias in similar ways. They may bark, whine, cower, shake or hide. They may also display fear reactivity, which is often mistaken for aggressive behavior. However, a phobic dog may display fear behavior in a way that seems out of proportion to the cause.
Cats may display fear by hiding, freezing, running away and losing control of their bowels. They may refuse to use their litter box when they go. They may also display aggressive behavior such as hissing, puffing up their fur and spitting. And they may also show changes in normal eating habits.
Different Types of Phobias
In dogs, the most common phobias encountered by vets are:
- Loud noises. These include gunshots, fireworks, firecrackers and thunder. In some breeds, such as those bred for herding, this phobia may be inherited.
- Needles. Just like humans, dogs can also have a phobia for blood injections. These may develop since the circumstances around visiting the vet are often unpleasant, such as when the dog is sick or in pain.
- Separation anxiety. This is the most common type of situational phobia, in which the dog acts fearful when confronted with a particular situation, such as being separated from its owner.
- Strangers. This fear can extend both to strange people and dogs. Many dogs develop this phobia after a traumatic experience.
Aside from loud noises, common cat phobias include:
- Quick movements. Just like loud noises, cats may see these movements as threatening and may trigger the cat’s fear reaction.
- Unfamiliar environments. Cats, like dogs, are creatures of habit and so a new environment can be stressful to them and cause a phobia.
- Stressful events. These can include vet visits and being put in a carrier. Cats may find these events unpleasant, and they may eventually become a phobia.
Of course, apart from the ones listed above, virtually anything can become a phobia for a cat or dog. For instance, if a dog receives a painful bite from an insect, it may develop a phobia of insects.
How to Prevent Phobias in Pets
The most common way to treat phobias in dogs is behavior modification. This involves both the dog and the owner being retrained in new behavior patterns. Successful behavior modification also involves planning ahead, as you can conduct training during events that might trigger the dog’s phobia, such as July 4th when there are fireworks.
One suggestion for helping a dog overcome a phobia is for the owner to apply steady pressure to the dog, such as putting a hand on its back. This helps the dog to calm down. Although behavior modification is not appropriate for cats, there are some things you can do to help them overcome their phobia in the moment. The first step is to identify the cause of the phobia if it is not apparent.
Next, you have to lure them to a safe place where you can comfort them. You can use treats or toys to lure a scared cat out of its hiding place. Never force them to confront their fears since this can just make the phobia worse. Over the long term, you can help your cat overcome its phobia through creating a consistent routine, such as feeding them at the same times daily and with the same amount of food. You can also create safe hiding places for them.
Both dogs and cats may also be able to benefit from medication therapies, such as calming sprays in rooms that they frequent and anti-anxiety medicine. But you should consult with your vet to see if these are appropriate for your pet. One promising alternative therapy for dogs and cats is cannabidol (CBD). This is a compound that is derived from the hemp plant but is not psychoactive so it will not cause your pet to get high.
The most common form of CBD is hemp oil, which can be added to beverages, or placed under the tongue. Many veterinarians are now also recommending CBD to treat various symptoms in dogs and cats. These can range from anxiety, seizures, back pain, stress, pet aggression and it can even be used to alleviate cancer symptoms.
The pets feel relief when the CBD interacts with their endocannabinoid system, regulates vital body functions such as digestion, brain function, blood temperature, energy consumption, protein breakdown and sugar levels. There are no serious side effects from taking CBD provided that it is given in the proper dosage.
How Much CBD Should I Give My Pets With Phobias?
Refer to our CBD Oil dosage Chart For Dogs to have in depth information.