Many pet owners hail CBD oil as a remedy for aggressive, agitated, or barking dogs. In fact, cannabidiol is known to have a soothing effect on anxious or nervous dogs, stimulating their brain and making them feel more relaxed. CBD can also ease pain and discomfort which is often a cause for aggressive behavior.
But before we get into the details of how CBD oil works for dogs with aggression, the proper dosage, and potential side effects, it’s important to remember that aggression in dogs can be a serious and dangerous issue. What’s more, it is often made worse by inadequate training methods and tools, such as shock collars and basket muzzles.
To properly address this type of behavior, you first need to understand aggression in dogs and what causes it.
What Is Dog Aggression And What Causes it?
Dog aggression is a behavioral issue that can cause the dog to become agitated, bark, growl, or even attack other animals or people. It is common for all dog breeds, from the smallest Chihuahua to the massive Newfoundland.
Aggression in dogs is almost always connected to an underlying issue.
Here are the most common types of aggression and the reasons why your dog might act hostile or violent.
It is not uncommon for dogs to guard what they perceive as their property or territory. This usually extends to the house or yard—since dogs are territorial animals they are likely to bark, growl, or bite an intruder.
Protecting what dogs perceive as theirs doesn’t cover property only. Dogs usually guard family members regardless of location.
If your dog has had negative experiences with other animals before or has been abused, he may display defensive aggression, especially if he feels cornered or trapped.
Illness, pain, or discomfort
Also known as pain-elicited aggression, this type of aggressive behavior is caused by a certain illness or discomfort, such as hip dysplasia or arthritis. Studies show that pain is a likely cause of aggression in dogs that have never displayed irritation or hostility before.
If this is the case, consult your vet and get your pooch a complete checkup to discover any underlying medical conditions.
Just like fearful dogs, anxious canines can quickly turn aggressive, especially if they are separated from their owners, other pets, or if they are being introduced to a new environment.
Possessive aggression (or resource guarding)
Dogs tend to guard items they believe are essential for their survival, such as food, bones, or even toys.
Pets that are not used to the company of other canines or people may act in an aggressive manner when put in social situations.
Social aggression is also quite common among puppies, in particular ones suffering from littermate syndrome—being separated from their siblings, may cause a puppy to exhibit hostility and aggression.
In certain instances, enthusiasm and even curiosity may turn into hostility when the dog is prevented from reaching his objective, such as chasing after another animal. This feeling can make dogs more agitated and even cause them to direct their aggression toward the person nearest to them, usually the owner (a phenomenon known as redirected aggression).
Dogs may show signs of predatory behaviors by displaying hostility towards animals they view as prey.
Dogs can become aggressive when in heat. Like predatory aggression, this is a natural instinct in all dogs, both males and females.
If your pup has been overly constrained by his leash, he may start acting aggressively whenever you try to put the leash on. To avoid this situation, make sure you have the right type of leash accessory for your dog’s breed and size.
How Can CBD Oil Help a Dog with Aggression?
CBD oil has many benefits for your furry companion.
Cannabidiol oil interacts with the endocannabinoid system which controls mood, sleep, and inflammation in all mammals, including dogs. CBD actually stimulates the ECS receptors in the canine’s immune system, controlling the release of hormones and enzymes that affect anxiety and pain—two of the most common triggers for aggression in dogs.
It also helps regulate other main functions in the body, including sleep, digestion, and immunity.
Here are some other ways CBD oil can be effective for aggressive dogs.
1. Calms dogs down
As mentioned above CBD binds to the ECS receptors in the body, brain, and nervous system, bringing the mind and body into balance and resulting in a calm, relaxed pooch.
2. Improves mood
CBD can affect a dog’s mood, making him more relaxed and at ease. This should help with pets that are showing signs of possessive or territorial aggression, even leash aggression—a dog that is calm and happy is less likely to react aggressively.
3. Helps with PTSD and fear
Some studies show that CBD may help erase a dog’s bad memories which is particularly useful for canines that have been through a traumatic experience, such as being abused, used in dog fights, or working for the police or military.
4. Reduces pain and inflammation
The anti-inflammatory uses of CBD have been well documented. In fact, many pet owners use CBD oil to alleviate the symptoms of some of the most common medical conditions in dogs, including hip dysplasia, arthritis, and infections.
5. Boosts the immune system
CBD oil can help balance the dog’s immune system and reduce swelling and inflammation, as well as regulate sleep and digestion. All of this can make your dog healthier and happier and less likely to show aggression towards you, other animals, or people.
Is there proof that CBD can help dogs with aggression?
Several dog owners have described successful experiences with CBD oil and aggressive dogs, especially when it comes to calming down their pets.
Many use cannabidiol oil regularly in the form of CBD oil dog treats or tinctures to address common aggression triggers such as fear, pain, and anxiety. In addition to regular treatment, pet owners also use CBD to soothe pups on special occasions such as 4th of July fireworks and trips to the vet.
That said, there is not much scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of CBD oil in aggressive dogs since most of the research carried out so far has focused on relieving pain symptoms and physical ailments.
There are three studies that provide some insight into how effective CBD oil is for aggression in animals.
- The first was carried out in Italy in 2019 and found that the aggressive behavior of dogs that were given CBD reduced considerably over time. The canines that were given olive oil instead of CBD did not show signs of reduced aggression toward humans.
- The second study was published by Brazilian scientists and discovered that mice dosed with CBD showed lower levels of aggression when intruders were released in their cages.
- The third study, published in 2012, was also carried out on rats and tested their reactions to panic and fear. When introduced to a snake, their natural predator, the rats who were given CBD oil were not as afraid, meaning that CBD oil can reduce some of the aggression borne out of fear and anxiety.
While none of the studies is conclusive, all three show great promise for future research. It’s important to remember that it takes years of studies and large-scale research before CBD can be recommended as a treatment for aggression and anxiety.
Are there any side effects of using CBD on aggressive dogs?
In general, no, there are no serious side effects of using CBD oil for dogs or dependency issues. At the most, your dog may experience some drowsiness, dry mouth, or an overactive appetite. These symptoms, though, are very mild and should disappear quickly.
To ensure that your dog stays safe, you need to choose a high-quality CBD oil so do your research before making a purchase. Look for full or broad-spectrum CBD oil that is designed specifically for dogs—human CBD contains THC which may be harmful to your four-legged friend.
You must also administer the right dosage. All the best CBD oils for dogs contain a dosing chart, but as a rule of thumb, you should give your dog no more than 1 to 2 mg per 10 pounds.
Keep in mind that the dosage might need to be adjusted based on your pet’s weight, size, diet, and tolerance. If you are not seeing any effects or your dog exhibits signs of discomfort or is feeling sick and drowsy, call your vet and readjust the dosage.
Finally, make sure that you are giving CBD oil in the right form—some dogs may not like the taste of CBD tinctures, so you might need to mix it in with their food or try edibles or ointments instead.
While some studies show that CBD is quite helpful in soothing aggressive or anxious dogs, the effects of CBD oil on dogs have not been tested in full. It’s best to talk to your vet before giving your dog any medication no matter how natural it is or how much anecdotal evidence there is to support its effectiveness.
It’s also crucial to remember that CBD oil can help alleviate some of the causes of dog aggression, but cannot treat the underlying issue or change your pet’s behavior overnight. Hence, it is best used in combination with positive reinforcement, training, and other tools such as clickers, dog muzzles, or leashes (but only if used humanely).
Can CBD make my dog drowsy, weak, and lazy?
In some cases, CBD oil may cause your dog to feel sleepy, hungry, or thirsty. These are usually mild symptoms, but if you notice that they are becoming more pronounced, or your dog starts feeling sick or lethargic, call your vet immediately.
Can CBD oil get your dog high?
No, CBD for dogs is made from hemp plants, not marijuana so there is little to no THC present in CBD oil products for canines (THC is the psychoactive component, i.e. the one that gets you high).
How is CBD oil different from alternative treatments for dog aggression?
Several traditional medications for dog aggression come with negative effects, including vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. Since CBD oil only has mild side effects it is considered safer and more natural than Prozac and similar medication.