As a veterinary surgeon, one of the most difficult issues I see in my patients, both dog and cat, are anxiety related behavioural problems.
These anxieties may be triggered by thunderstorms, car rides, other dogs or cats or new people in the house or separation (stress when an owner leaves the house). And they can be incredible troubling, both to the pets and to their families. Some pets may hide away in fear, some may become destructive, tearing apart furniture. Some may bark excessively or even self-harm. Some may house soil, going to the toilet on a carpet, sofa or bed to show the owner they are stressed. And unfortunately, in a number of pets, this anxiety can bubble over into fear aggression, where a pet is so scared they become aggressive to try to protect themselves.
Anxiety behaviours in pets aren’t always rational. There’s no real reason to be scared of thunder, or scared of new people in the house. But it’s not easy to convince a pet that the thunder doesn’t mean them any harm. Anxiety issues are becoming more and more common, seemingly related to increased numbers of pets living in apartments, being less socialised with other animals, or in some cases, nervous due to breed and genetic issues. This anxiety can have a significant effect on a pets quality of life, and can also damage relationships with owners and families, who can become frustrated or even scared of an anxious pet. The animal often picks up on these feelings, making them more anxious, and a vicious cycle develops.
Behaviour disorders, especially anxiety, have traditionally been very difficult to treat in pets. As a vet, we previously were limited to three options – desensitisation therapy, where a dog or cat is gently exposed to the trigger many times in a safe and supportive environment, to try to reduce the stress associated with the trigger. For example, if a dog is nervous of thunderstorms, an owner may download a sound clip of a storm and play it on their computer again and again while giving the dog treats and support. Desensitisation is difficult, and to be honest it’s not often that effective.
The second option is pheromone diffusers such as Adaptil. These produce a natural signalling pheromone that dogs can detect, promoting calmness and relaxation. I do like these diffusers as they are very safe and there is no harm, but their effect is very mild and is unlikely to help a dog with marked anxiety issues.
The third option up to now is strong drugs like Prozac and Clomicalm. Although these drugs have a place and in some dogs and cats they can be very beneficial when used carefully, they are also strong medication, and are not something I’d want to use unless it was necessary.
Recently, a new wellness supplement, CBD has become available with strong science and data to validate and prove the benefits. Our own clinical trials showed that 80% of patients had reduced anxiety when taking CBD, and this matches a recent trial in a US Veterinary university which showed that over 80% of dogs benefitted from CBD.
Furthermore, CBD is completely legal in Hong Kong, extremely safe, non-addictive and will not get a pet “high”. CBD works by acting on the endocannabinoid receptor system, a signalling pathway in the body that reduces perceived stress and increases homeostasis and balance.
These benefits, as well as proved effects supporting joint health, osteoarthritis and pain, inspired my team and I to partner with one of the leading CBD producers in the US, a PhD Pet Nutrition scientist and an expert team to produce an effective wellness supplement with real results for Hong Kong dogs.
We believe this is the best pet CBD product available and we called it The Wellness Oil.
It’s my goal to help pets live happier, healthier lives. I believe we’re now one step closer.
How CBD helps my anxious dog? Is there any research supporting the claim?