Can CBD Help Your High-Strung Pet?

Photo by Zen Sekizawa

Every night, around three in the morning, just as my girlfriend and I have fully fallen asleep, there’s a loud bang on our bedroom door. Followed by three more loud bangs. The door looks like its about to be torn off its hinges. It sounds as if a fully grown 300-pound man is taking a running start and then thrusting his body angrily against it. But no, that’s just Archie, my anxious five-year-old, 10-pound Maine Coon.

Archie, who I bought off Craigslist five years ago after a stray cat had a litter of kittens, is extremely territorial and hates new people–especially men, which might just make him intuitive, actually—and loud noises. He also hates when we don’t let him jump on us in the middle of the night while we sleep. When we have guests, we give him a prescription medication from the vet that sedates him without being too intense. It’s not as extreme as a tranquilizer, more like a kitty klonopin), but giving him that every day seems unnecessary (and expensive).

So, we decided to try CBD, or cannabidiol, made specifically for pets.

My friend Dariah uses CBD oil with her dog Bacon, a 6-year-old Golden Lab, and swears by it. “I feel so much less guilt when I leave for work during the day,” she says. Dariah works as a graphic designer in Manhattan and is gone for most of the work day, but has a dog walker check in on Bacon. “She at least seems a lot less traumatized when I get home now, and she’s had less accidents.”

Irie Pet CBD Oil TinctureIrie Pet CBD Oil Tincture, $35

Archie's First CBD

The first day I put four drops of the CBD oil in Archie’s wet food, I noticed he ate it a lot quicker than the other medications I’ve tried to sneak into his food before. A few minutes later, he was sleeping soundly in his cat bed in the corner.

He proceeded to nap the rest of the day, which isn’t necessarily unusual. The real test came at night, when he’s typically the most anxious.

To my surprise, and my girlfriend’s, Archie didn’t attempt to take the door down at 3am. The following morning, usually eager to run into our bedroom and find things to chew on or break, he slept in—snuggled comfortably in his bed until my girlfriend left for work. After a few days of using the CBD oil consistently, we realized the late-night panic attacks he was having were happening less and less.

Apparently Archie isn’t alone. According to Dr. Tim Shu, founder and CEO of Vet CBD, administering CBD orally to pets has been shown to decrease anxiety, including separation and noise anxiety. “Dosing can vary from individual to individual,” he says, “which is why we provide a general dosing guideline for pet owners and recommend that they start at a lower dose and gradually increase the dose as needed.”

He added that because CBD isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution: “Oils may be more or less effective depending on whether other cannabinoids are present.” For instance, “many studies and our own experience has shown that CBD with small amounts of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and other cannabinoids like CBC (cannabichromene) or CBG (cannabigerol), are more effective than when CBD is used alone.” In other words, look for a “full spectrum” CBD oil for your fluffy friend.

CBD has also been proven to be effective for pets with physical ailments, like arthritis and seizures. In addition to coping better with her separation anxiety, Dariah noticed Bacon was getting around their backyard a lot easier after taking the oil for a few months. “She has more energy on the weekends now,” she says. “ I think because she’s not exerting herself so much when I’m not around.”

While Archie is by no means a fully changed cat—and we still experience those abrasive 3 a.m. wake-up calls every few days—CBD is something that keeps him calmer for longer, and it’s a relief to know it isn’t going to cause any long term side-effects or damage internally. The next step will be experimenting with the recommended “full spectrum” pet CBD to up the amount of terpenes, THC, and other cannabinoids ever so slightly—as in trace amounts—like Dr. Shu suggests, because honestly, I’ll do anything for a good night’s sleep.

Image: @Muaddibthecat (our favorite cat)

Jerico Mandybur is Miss Grass’ resident Weed Witch. The best-selling author, modern spiritual guide, and former editorial director of Miss Grass, is our go-to source for all things tarot, magic, and witch-related.