October 29, 2020 10 min read

If you have a dog that gets nervous during thunderstorms or anxious when there’s thunder, CBD pet products may be beneficial. Dog thunderstorm anxiety is a real thing with classic treatment being desensitization to the sound of thunder using thunder sound tapes, the use of thunder shirts, and canine Prozac. The good news is that today there’s CBD that may be beneficial in easing thunderstorm phobia and anxiety in pets.

Sound sensitivity is more common in larger dog breeds like the German Shepherd, Border Collie, Retriever, Labrador, and the Northern breeds. Herding dog breeds also seem to be most affected to thunderstorm phobia. That said, this phobia can affect dogs at any stage of their lives.

Today, countless dogs are given anxiety meds like canine Prozac to help ease thunderstorm anxiety. In this blog, we’re going to discuss the association between pain and anxiety, and discuss how cannabidiol for dogs may be beneficial in helping with pain and anxiety in dogs.

Why Are Dogs Scared of Thunder Storms?

Veterinarians explain that there are many contributing factors to storm phobia, and anxiety may stem from the following:

  • Lack of environmental exposure to storms during puppyhood
  • Genetic predisposition
  • A pet owner’s anxiety during a storm may trigger anxiety in their dogs

Dogs that are scared of storms may feel the barometric pressure dropping, may react to the sound of thunder, lightning strikes, and even to the electrical charges in the air during a storm.

Signs of Thunderstorm Anxiety

As many as 40% of dogs suffer from noise anxiety with it becoming worse during the summer.Dogs that are anxious will display excessive fear, pacing, drooling, panic, and will also have an increased heart rate. CBD research has demonstrated that CBD hemp oil supplements may be effective for pets suffering from anxiety. Dogs that suffer from storm phobia may do the following:

  • Be extra vigilant
  • Excessive pacing
  • Tense muscles
  • Panicky
  • Panting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Excessive licking
  • Hiding
  • Self-trauma
  • Howling and whimpering
  • Excessive destructiveness

How CBD Can Help by Relieving Stress

New research from Israel explains how CBD was beneficial in relieving stress in dogs that wereanxious due to rocket attacks and the sounds of sirens. According to an early July report on theMaariv news site, dogsin shelters in southern Israeli communities are in need ofR&R in the wake of repeated sirens and rocket attacks from Gaza. “Examinations conducted by veterinarians from the Israel Medical Cannabis Association show that over 50 percent of dogs have anxiety symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting, and pressing against walls,” reads the Hebrew media report.

CBD research has demonstrated that CBD hemp oil supplements may be effective for pets suffering from anxiety. One of the best ways of getting optimal benefits from pet CBD products for thunderstorm phobia is to first consult with a holistic veterinarian for a diagnosis, and then to get a personalized dosage for your dog based on his weight and medical condition.

Thunderstorm-phobia in Dogs

In “Dogs Behaving Badly” by Dr. Nicholas Dodman, BVMS, MRCVS, he explains that “even before a storm arrives (changing electrical fields?) they start to look anxious and begin to pace and whimper, sometimes seeking solace from their owner. As the wind and rain pick up and the storm rumbles closer, the state that some dogs enter can only be described as one of panic or sheer terror. It is even worse for the dogs if they happen to be alone during the storm, and many tear through the screens, some hurtling out of second or third story windows to the ground below and injuring themselves in the process.”

Dr. Dodman adds that owners of dogs with thunderstorm phobia often state that their dogs were mildly anxious during storms as pups and that this mild anxiety carried on for a few years before a cataclysmic worsening that could be related to a particular storm on a particular day.

A 2018study on dogs with noise sensitivity adds that “Dogs which show fear or anxiety when faced with loud or sudden noises should be routinely assessed for pain by veterinarians, according to new research.

Researchers believe that pain, which could be undiagnosed, could be exacerbated when a noise makes the dogs tense up or 'start', putting extra stress on muscles or joints which are already inflamed leading to and associated with a loud or startling noise,” viaScience Daily.

Professor Daniel Mills from the University of Lincoln's School of Life Sciences explains that they believe that undiagnosed pain could be exacerbated when dogs react to a noise that makes a dog tense up putting extra stress on inflamed muscles and joints, causing more pain.

The researchers explain that the “pain is then associated with a loud or startling noise, leading to a sensitivity to noise and avoidance of situations where they had previously had a bad experience -- for example a local park, or a louder room in the house.”

The researchers concluded:"We found that these dogs which had pain do indeed show different signs, in particular, they seem to form much wider associations with the noise, for example, they would often tend to avoid not just the place where they had the bad experience but much larger areas too. These dogs also tended to avoid other dogs as well. The findings of this study are really important because they contribute to the dog's welfare and improved behavior as pain could be identified and subsequently treated," via Science Daily.

Another study has gained insight into how domestic dogs react to noises. “Our results suggest that the characteristics of dogs, their early environment, and exposure to specific noises are involved in the development of fear responses to noises,” says Dr. Rachel Casey, who led the study at theSchool of Veterinary Sciences, University of Bristol, via Claudia Bensimoun, Animal Wellness.

Dr. Casey explains that “almost half the people interviewed reported their dogs showed at least one behavioral sign of typical fear when exposed to noises such as fireworks, thunder and gunshots, even though only a quarter reported their dogs were fearful of noises.”

Apparently the most commonly reported behavioral responses included vocalizing, trembling, shaking, hiding, and seeking people. Fear responses to loud noises from fireworks, gunshots and thunder appear to commonly co-occur, suggesting generalization between these stimuli. Interestingly, many responses to less salient sounds, such as traffic and TV noises, apparently co-occurred with other signs of fear or anxiety; but responses to fireworks, gunshots, and thunder did not commonly co-occur with separation-related behavior or behaviors linked to fear or anxiety.”

The study concluded that fear responses to less important noises (TV, traffic) probably reflect fearful personality characteristics (as with Penny and the truck-hating poodle), while those to very significant noises (gunshots, thunder, fireworks), may reflect specific exposures and experiences.

Desensitization During Puppyhood

Dr. Monique Udell, assistant professor of Animal and Rangeland Sciences at Oregon State University says that “Exposure to sounds early in life, especially those a dog is likely to encounter as an adult, is an important part of socialization,” “Think of humans who have grown up in the city versus those who have grown up in the country – traffic sounds at night are often less disruptive to the former than the latter,” via Claudia Bensimoun, Animal Wellness.

She goes on to add that “Puppies that have the opportunity to experience…sounds that might otherwise be frightening to them as adults, might indeed fare better in some cases, especially if there are other adult dogs or humans around who show either little reaction or a positive one, to those sounds. However, I think there is still a lot of research to be done on the conditions in which these general predictions hold true, and the situations in which they might not, and to what degree.”

Veterinarian Dr. Kathryn Lord teaches courses in animal behavior and has spent thousands of hoursobserving hand-reared puppies and wolves. She began to consider how early life experiences contribute to sound sensitivity and adds that “Dogs’ ears open around three weeks of age,” she says. “At that point, they have little or no fear of novelty. So this is a good time to start introducing them to sounds,” viaClaudia Bensimoun, Animal Wellness.

“She goes on to explain that sounds they hear at this point, up through eight weeks, will not be frightening later. Fear increases as they approach eight weeks, so caution should be taken the closer they get to this age. It is best to introduce novel sounds when pups are in a comfortable and familiar place. Many sound phobias start from bad experiences with novel sounds. If dogs are familiar with a variety of sounds, they are less likely to develop phobias down the road.”

What is CBD Oil for Dogs?

Cannabidiol is a component of the cannabis plant that does not have a psychoactive effect when it is free of delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Pet CBD products should contain less than 0.3 % THC, if any at all. CBD is a non-psychotropic phytocannabinoid and offers both therapeutic and medicinal purposes for humans and pets naturally in the form of capsules, dog treats, transdermal patches, and tinctures made specifically for pets.

CBD is the most important cannabinoid in the cannabis plant and has numerous medical and veterinary benefits. Unlike THC which binds with both CB1 and CB2 receptors, CBD will bind lightly with CB1 receptors.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a supplement that supports natural healing in dogs. It is a good alternative to long term pharmaceuticals which may have side effects. Before using hemp-derived CBD for pets, it’s important to understand that a complete health check-up with yourveterinarian anddiagnosis is key to optimal health in pets. It’s also important to note that pet parents need to triple check their CBD pet product of choice to make sure that there is no THC.

A CBD study from Cornell University concluded that CBD works for pets with chronic pain, and demonstrated evidence that CBD effectively reduced inflammation and chronic pain in pets. The Cornell study also found that pets taking CBD did not build up a tolerance to CBD, so doses did not have to increase with time.

CBD Overall Benefits 

Cannabidiol can help dogs with anxiety, and may also help with many of the same symptoms, conditions, and diseases in dogs as it does for people. Here are some other benefits that a high-quality, reliable CBD pet brand may offer:

  • Pain reliever
  • May help with canine depression resulting from pain 
  • May provide relief from cancer side effects like chemotherapy and radiation
  • Promotes healthy skin and coat by preventing sebaceous gland cells from secreting too much sebum
  • May provide benefits to dogs with neurological disorders
  • Helps decrease inflammation in dogs
  • May help prevent cognitive decline
  • May be beneficial for cardiac health
  • CBD may be beneficial in preventing tumor growth 
  • CBD helps with diabetes prevention by reducing diabetes up to 56%, and reducing associated inflammation in diabetic dogs.
  • Digestive issues
  • Blood disorders
  • Fights off free radicals, and may prevent the development of cancer

The Benefits of the Entourage Effect

This is the synergistic interaction of all hemp compounds like cannabinoids, flavonoids, fatty acids, and terpenes. When all of these compounds work together they offer more health benefits than if they worked alone. It is thought to be better if you use all the beneficial compounds from the entire hemp plant and also opt for an extraction method like the CO2 method to purify, resulting in the product retaining as much of the plant for maximum health benefits.

What to Look for in CBD Pet Products? 

  • Hemp CBD should be 100% food grade
  • Should be made using CO2 extraction
  • No solvents like butane
  • Full-spectrum lab testing by a third party for purity and potency
  • Lab certificates need to be available for all pet parents
  • Pesticide and herbicide free
  • Made with non-GMO hemp
  • High- quality CBD pet products with good reviews
  • Numerous flavors in treats like pumpkin, turkey, sweet potato, blueberry with antioxidant properties work well with CBD oil.

Purchase from reputable US pet companies that have been in business for years

  • CBD pet products should be veterinary-approved before using them on your dog
  • Purchase US-sourced CBD pet products only, and refrain from purchasing cheap, low-quality CBD oil that could make your dog sick.
  • Understand CBD dosing. Start off at the lowest recommended dose, and work your way up.
Sold out

Natural Doggie Organic CBD Hemp Oil helps relieve pain and anxiety in pets. Utilizing only the best natural products, the difference in our oil is that is derived from the highest quality Non-GMO, organic Colorado hemp. All dogs can benefit as this product is a perfect supplement to your animal’s diet and will help keep them happy and healthy. If your animal suffers from anxiety or chronic pain, you will see a noticeable difference in your dog immediately.

Visit Your Veterinarian

You should consult with your veterinarian to make sure that your dog does not have an underlying health condition that would cause similar behavioral responses like pain, anxiety, and neurological issues.

Although you will most likely be the only one that knows your dog well enough to recognize behavioral changes that are associated with pain, it’s important to discuss any subtle behavioral changes with your vet during routine checkups. If you live in an area with regular storms, talk to your vet about the best ways to help manage your dog’s anxiety during storms.

Final Thoughts

Thunder shirts can help dogs with storm phobia since they’re designed to apply pressure to certain acupuncture points like the neck, belly, shoulders, chest, midsection, and hindquarters. Storm phobia is so difficult to treat. Discuss desensitization and counter-conditioning techniques to help restore your dog’s confidence. 

Victoria Stilwell’s Canine Noise Phobia Series (CNP) is specifically designed to reduce and prevent noise phobias and anxiety in dogs, and have been proven to work.  These are specialized audio recordings and innovative training methods to help your dog through storm phobia and anxiety. 

CNP combines clinically demonstrated psychoacoustic calming music together with gradually increasing levels of thunderstorm sounds. In this way, pups and adult dogs get used to thunderstorm noises in a controlled and safe environment and learn how to ignore thunder and lightning sounds.

By working with your dog and gradually exposing him to the noise that triggers his fear and associating it with something that’s less stressful, you’ll be helping him work through his phobia. With that said, there some dogs that can only improve with a combination of anxiety-reducing pet meds or CBD.As usual, work with your veterinarian so that you get the most desired results.

As usual, look out for essential oils that have medicinal purposes. Some CBD products may have added these within the CBD product. Dogs are often sensitive to essential oil additives, so you should check the labels for chemical additives or preservatives, and lastly consult with your holistic vet prior to purchasing to ensure 100% product safety for your furry best friend.

Claudia Bensimoun

Claudia Bensimoun author of CBD for storm phobia in dogs

Claudia Bensimoun is a freelance journalist and author, and specializes in veterinary content, and eBooks. She's a long-time feature writer for Animal Wellness magazine, Fido Friendly magazine, and the United States Dog Agility Association. In addition, Bensimoun has written for numerous pet websites, magazines, newspapers and online publications. Her interests include wildlife conservation, animal welfare, disaster/ humanitarian relief, veterinary research, and veganism.

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