May 16, 2023 8 min read
CBD dog treats and CBD oil marketed for dogs have become a popular resource that some pup parents use to calm their dogs. As pup parents, we all want the best for our dogs, including helping them calm down if they are experiencing anxiety. Still, it is also incredibly important to ensure that the things you give your dog are scientifically proven to be safe and are vet-approved.
At Puppington, we have been following the debate surrounding CBD for dogs. Our brand does not use CBD or its derivatives in making anxiety-easing and calming dog treats. We think it’s important to explain why we took a different route in making our dog-calming treats and chews with alternative natural ingredients. Read on to find out why we choose to opt out of CBD when it comes to our treats, and why it may be the best choice for your dog, too.
There are indeed numerous published articles and many customer reviews regarding the benefits of CBD for dogs. Dog parents have claimed that CBD can reduce nausea, boost appetites, cure inflammation, and alleviate canine anxiety. A study by Colorado State University produced promising findings about the effects of CBD in epileptic dogs. Another study by Cornell University revealed that CBD could improve canine arthritis.
With such a shining backstory, it is tempting to want to jump on the CBD bandwagon as well. However, from our extensive research on CBD or cannabidiol, as a calming dog treat ingredient, we believe as a brand that more research is still needed before concluding whether CBD is safe for all dogs.
For starters, many veterinarians agree that CBD is potentially dangerous for pets if it contains the psychoactive compound, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Granted, most CBD products sold as calming dog treats are likely THC-free.
Pup parent tip: Always check for the availability of independent third party testing results before you buy any CBD product! Reputable brands are transparent and will disclose these on their websites and/or via packaging QR codes.
We feel it’s still too soon to tell if even THC-free CBD will do more harm than good to our furry friends. Clinical studies on the issue remain ongoing, and scientists have yet to reveal concrete findings that allow them to reach a broad consensus.
The legal issues surrounding the production and use of CBD oils are still murky as well. Currently, US federal law classifies CBD as a drug in the same group as heroin and LSD if a product contains more than 0.3% THC. According to the U.S. government, many CBD product labels may be misleading because the products often contain higher levels of THC than the product label indicates.
Furthermore, the CBD supplement market is poorly-regulated, essentially creating large loopholes for untested and unverified cannabidiol products that flood the market.
The FDA has issued numerous warning letters to companies because their products contain more CBD than indicated on the product label. This makes us question the purity of many CBD-infused anxiety dog treats we see in pet stores today. Most do not share independent third-party testing results that would help buyers know exactly what they are buying for their dogs.
This is why we aren’t quite convinced by the hype labeling CBD as an 'organic' or ‘all-natural’ ingredient. CBD oils on the market today are often derived from raw cannabis processed with various solvents to extract the oils. Many CBD companies do not disclose the chemicals used in this extraction process.
There is also not yet a fool-proof, widely agreed-upon scale to determine the correct dosage of CBD oil for various use cases for dogs of all ages and sizes. This means that there is potentially a greater risk of overdose if a product contains more THC than indicated and pup parents cannot be extremely careful.
Potential side effects of CBD calming treats for dogs
As we previously stated, we haven’t seen research that definitively proves the positive effects of CBD oil on dogs without very specific conditions such as epilepsy. There is some evidence that CBD-based treats and supplements can trigger side effects in dogs.
Possible side effects of CBD in dogs include:
Issues surrounding the safety of CBD dog treats for anxious dogs and the effects of CBD on dogs (both positive or negative) remain a gray area. More research is certainly needed on the topic. We at Puppington choose to err on the side of caution by seeking healthy alternatives to CBD that provide a similar calming effect for dogs.
Although we don’t recommend giving your pups CBD oil in their treats, there are absolutely other healthy alternatives that can help your pup calm down a bit! There are plenty of organic alternatives to CBD in the market today. Popular ones include magnesium, chamomile herb, flaxseed, melatonin, l-tryptophan, and valerian root.
Magnesium is a mineral that has a profound calming effect and is even depleted in times of high stress. Magnesium boosts the brain’s ability to help lower stress and reduce anxiety. It acts by blocking activity from stimulating neurotransmitters and binding to calming receptors in the brain. This relieves anxiety and promotes calm.
Chamomile addresses issues such as stress and mild anxiety in dogs. This organic herb supplement functions as a sedative, muscle relaxer, and ingredient for reducing inflammation. When ingested, chamomile helps treat ulcers and gastrointestinal inflammation in both young and old dogs. Always check with your vet and be careful to give your dog the correct amount; chamomile can cause an upset stomach if dogs ingest too much.
Melatonin is one of the safer human supplements that we can give dogs. If given in the correct dosage, melatonin can help calm a moody, hyperactive, or anxious pup. Melatonin improves a dog's sleep cycle and helps relax dogs if they are anxious or upset. Ask the vet to confirm the optimal dosage for your dog.
Valerian root is another perfect alternative to CBD oil for dogs. It is used to calm anxious, fearful, or stressed dogs. Valerian root is suitable for older dogs but should not be given to puppies. These herbal supplements are also not indicated for pregnant or lactating females.
It’s a good idea to confirm the correct dosing before administering valerian root supplements to dogs, as the optimal dosage depends on the level of stress experienced. Note that some dogs may experience lethargy or dizziness from the effects of this supplement. Keep an eye on your dog anytime you’re trying a new supplement and connect with the vet if you see anything that concerns you.
L-tryptophan is an example of an amino acid, a building block of protein in humans and animals. This vital amino acid also helps the brain produce specific neurotransmitter chemicals. L-tryptophan initiates the production of niacin, a compound used to produce serotonin. Serotonin is a 'feel good’ hormone that improves mood and quality of sleep.
L-tryptophan is great for use in dogs that are showing signs of stress or aggression
The correct L-tryptophan dosage can help reduce stress and aggression in dogs. This amino acid can be a great choice when it comes to helping your dog cope better in stressful situations since L-tryptophan directly affects serotonin levels in your dog's body.
Start by supplementing with low doses of L-tryptophan, then gradually increase the dosage according to your dog's age and size.
At Puppington, we believe that a happy dog is a less stressed, and therefore healthier dog. Our assorted calming dog treats are made with safe ingredients that are ideal alternatives to CBD dog treats and CBD oil for dogs. We sourced ingredients that have been used in ancient and modern medicine to treat and relieve stress, balance moods, strengthen the body, nourish the digestive system, and improve the overall well-being of dogs.
We derive our adaptogens from shrooms and herbs. Adaptogens may improve your dog’s ability to handle stressful situations. Vets recommend adaptogens for older dogs that need a natural boost of their stress response, as well as dogs who need to improve their immune system and cognitive function.
Ashwagandha is an ancient ayurvedic herb that improves health and quality of life. This herb is rich in alkaloids which have shown to have anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties. Ashwagandha is believed to be a natural pain reliever, hormone balancer, and mood booster. This herb is rich in plant proteins and the mineral iron.
Amur cork bark
Phellodendron amurense, derived from the bark of the Amur cork tree, has medicinal properties that help address behavioral issues in dogs such as fear and anxiety. Amur cork extract calms your pet down, improves their mood, and helps relax their muscles.
L-theanine, found in green and black tea, is a naturally occurring amino acid that helps calm fearful dogs. Used in our dog anxiety treats, L-theanine will naturally help calm a troubled pup that likes to bark incessantly or chew up your shoes or cushions. L-theanine is also used to help dogs relax during stressful periods like thunderstorms, fireworks, or visits to the vet.
According to apublication in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior Clinical Applications and Research, a group of scientists studied the correlation between L-theanine and noise phobia. Their discovery was that L-theanine combined with behavior therapy can help reduce unwanted behavior such as panting, drooling, excessive licking, incessant barking, inappropriate elimination (peeing and pooping in the wrong places), and aggressive behavior.
L-tryptophan is naturally found in animal proteins. Aclinical study on tryptophan effects on the serotonergic systemshows that a drop in this amino acid could negatively affect the moods of both humans and animals. Maintaining optimal levels of tryptophan triggers serotonin production, which in turn boost moods and alleviates anxiety in dogs. L-tryptophan triggers the release of serotonin which is a mood-boosting hormone.
The mineral magnesium actively relaxes muscles and improves your dog’s mood. According to a publication in the Open Veterinary Journal, dogs exposed to external forms of stress recorded a significant drop in magnesium serum levels in their blood. The mineral magnesium is necessary for protection both in humans and pets from mental, physical, and environmental stress. Our dog calming treats are made from magnesium-rich foods such as beans, squash and pumpkin, and leafy greens.
Fish oil is high in Omega fatty acids. Omega fatty acids are used to reduce anxiety symptoms. Fish oil also has a calming effect by normalizing dopamine levels.
Omega fatty acids also support your dog’s joint, skin, and coat health. Also, fish oil with high levels of Eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, can help reduce depression in dogs. Fish oil promotes a healthy heart in your dog as well.
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