CBD and aggressive dogs: can it help?

October 19, 2021

An Italian study explored the connection between CBD and aggressive dogs, turning up positive results. Here, results showed that when treated with CBD, these dogs exhibited fewer signs of hostility. But what does this mean for your dog, and should you really turn to CBD?

Well, it entirely depends on your situation. Between 2020 and 2021, animal shelters across the UK and Ireland reported a significant increase in pet adoption. While choosing a rescue is a noble cause, this could come with its own set of hurdles.

Older rescue dogs commonly exhibit behavioural issues such as resource guarding, misdirected aggression, and reactivity. This could deter potential owners from jumping on the #adoptdontshop campaign. However, CBD could be a game-changer – calming rescue dogs and helping them adjust to their new surroundings.

Setting up the study

Published in Scientific Reports earlier this year, the study explored the connection between CBD and aggressive dogs. Researchers expressed a desire to investigate this, following the 2019 trend of vets recommending CBD as an alternative remedy. According to the study, vets now recommend CBD for anxiety, inflammation, pain, and seizures in pets.

Therefore, researchers hypothesised that CBD could potentially help with canine aggression and stress-related behaviours. To explore this, they turned to Muratella, a dog shelter in Rome that houses over 400 rescue dogs. Of these dogs, researchers noted that over 90% exhibited negative, stress-related behaviours.

These issues included bared teeth, destructive tendencies, growling, and self-injury. Researchers noted that these behaviours are intensified in a shelter environment, as the dogs exhibited high levels of stress due to a change in habitat. However, they were also able to verify that the animals weren't at all mistreated at the shelter.

CBD and aggressive dogs – the study begins

After laying the groundwork, researchers then shortlisted 24 dogs from the shelter, splitting them into two control groups. 12 dogs were treated with CBD-infused olive oil, mixed with meat. Here, researchers solely used CBD, without the addition of THC.

The other 12 dogs were given a similar combination. However, the placebo exclusively contained meat and olive oil.

To ensure canine wellness throughout the experiment, shelter staff monitored the dogs for potential negative reactions to CBD. This included digestive issues like vomiting and diarrhoea. However, researchers reported that both sets of dogs reacted well to the meat — both with and without CBD.

Researchers administered the CBD-infused meat (and placebo) to the separate control groups in the morning, before breakfast. This continued for a period of 45 days. During this time, researchers instructed shelter staff to continue with the dogs' daily routines, as any change to this could cause additional stress.

cbd and aggressive dogs

What did the results show?

In the case of CBD and aggressive dogs, researchers concluded that results were positive. To observe behavioural changes, external observers monitored the dogs for an hour each day. This went on for three consecutive days.

Given that the observers didn't know which dogs were treated with CBD, they could make completely forthright observations about the dogs' behaviours. Based on these observations, researchers concluded that in the CBD group, the dogs' aggressive behaviour towards humans significantly decreased throughout the experiment. However, in the placebo group, there was no decrease (nor was there an increase) in aggressive behaviour.

While there was a marked improvement in aggressiveness towards humans, researchers noted that there wasn't much of a change in other stress-related behaviours. Therefore, when it comes to CBD and aggressive dogs, cannabidiol could be a viable treatment option.

CBD, an aggressive dog's new must-have?

It's safe to say that this study is a game-changer, in terms of canine wellness. Not only does it treat aggression with CBD, but it also explores shelter dogs — a significantly underrepresented demographic. In fact, this study might inspire more people to adopt shelter dogs, and attempt to give them better lives.

However, this study is also the first of its kind. Before we can proclaim outright that CBD and aggressive dogs should go hand-in-hand, we need more research. Further exploration of this could help understand whether or not CBD can actually help with canine aggression.

That being said, it's a step in the right direction. By turning to alternative methods, we could see a rise in more adoptable dogs, as they continue to adjust to new situations and environments, and build trust in human beings. This could be groundbreaking, especially in countries like Italy, where kill shelters are illegal.

My dog is aggressive; should I try CBD?

As mentioned earlier, this study is the first of its kind. Therefore, before introducing CBD to your dog's diet, consider paying the vet a visit. This is especially important if you've recently adopted a new dog, and want to help it adjust better to its new surroundings.

A visit to the vet can establish any other issues your new dog might face. A vet can also pinpoint where the aggression might be coming from. For example, your rescue dog might be in pain and, therefore, it could need medical intervention. In this case, it's likely that CBD, on its own, won't help.

However, if you've recently adopted a dog, it might simply have trouble adjusting, or be coping with previous trauma. In this case, speak with a professional dog trainer, who can help you iron out canine behavioural issues, bringing your furry friend up to speed.

That being said, CBD and aggressive dogs seem to be an excellent match. Why not supplement training sessions with a CBD-infused treat or two? After all, based on the study, results could be apparent — as quickly as three days into your rescue dog's new life!

You may also like to read: CBD Oil for Dogs

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