Should you give your pet CBD oil for anxiety?

A dog around a bonfire outside of Fairbanks, Alaska.
A dog around a bonfire outside of Fairbanks, Alaska.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Many pets will experience noise anxiety from the sound of fireworks this week. Some pet owners are using cannabidiol, or CBD oil, derived from the hemp plant, to calm their anxieties, but is it safe?

Some veterinarians are skeptical. CBD oil isn't currently regulated by the FDA, and Dr. Justine Lee at Animal Emergency and Referral Center of Minnesota said the dosage in products varies.

"The FDA several years ago issued a statement that when they actually measured the levels of CBD in different varieties of CBD oil, there was almost no CBD to the exact labeled amount but you do have to be very careful because there can be other heavy metals that are in the oil," she said.

Lee said CBD oil isn't her recommended method until there's more evidence on its effectiveness.

Dr. Tim Shu of Vet CBD in California said pet owners should look for brands that have been tested in research labs for toxins or metals. 

"Who is it formulated by, who is it developed by, is it by veterinary professionals that have intimate knowledge of an animals physiological system and the appropriate dosage of what they would need for their conditions," Shu said.

Lee said pet owners should look for the signs of noise anxiety in your dog or pet.

"A lot of pet owners actually miss the signs of noise phobia. It could be something as subtle as a dog lip licking or yawning, trying to escape from the house or the room, hiding, panting," she said. 

The most noticeable signs are trembling, shaking, ears back and barking. 

Lee recommends taking preemptive steps to mask out the noise and create a calming environment.

"Put your dog or your cat in the most quiet room in the house, that may be in a bed room, in a basement downstairs, providing ambient noise, so having a fan on, turning on the AC, closing the shades, anything you can do for a noise barrier," she said.

If it's more severe, Lee said you can try prescription drugs or other holistic options such as zylkene or CBD oil.

"A lot of these over the counter products that you can purchase from a veterinarian have milk casings so they're hydrolyzed milk proteins that are thought to have calming properties," she said

Most importantly, Lee said July 4 is a day that many dogs and cats get lost. She encourages pet owners to talk to their veterinarian about microchipping your pet.

If your dog or pet does have noise anxiety, Shu recommends testing out products before July 4 to ensure they work.

This story originally appeared at: https://www.mprnews.org/story/2019/07/01/should-you-give-your-pet-cbd-oil-for-anxiety of story Questions or requests? Contact MPR News editor Meg Martin at newspartners@mpr.org © 2019 Minnesota Public Radio. All rights reserved.