By Angela Ardolino
Updated on December 21, 2020
PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is a debilitating, chronic anxiety disorder following any sort of traumatic event. Despite a large public awareness of this disorder, there is not much known about the pathophysiology of this disorder (the way it works) and there has not been a significant amount of research conducted when it comes to how to fight it. Luckily, there has been some research conducted circling around how the endocannabinoid system, or ECS, can help when it comes to PTSD.
According to Janice Huntingford, DVM, “The symptoms of PTSD in dogs are similar to those seen in separation anxiety or other forms of canine anxiety disorders. Elimination, vocalization and destruction are the most commonly reported signs of separation anxiety and of PTSD. Sudden, intense responses to thunderstorms or other noises may manifest as extreme escape behavior in these dogs.”
PTSD Evident in Military Dogs
PTSD is a relatively recent phenomenon found in dogs. Scientists were not aware dogs could experience symptoms of PTSD and many veterinarians remain hesitant to diagnose a dog with PTSD due to the lack of research and information available currently. There is also a misconception that only people can experience PTSD. But, that doesn’t make much sense, does it? Dogs have negative experiences just as we do. There are dogs who are believed to have PTSD due to past experiences like dogs who have served in the military or in the police force.
The clearest evidence of PTSD can be found by studying military dogs. In 2010, there were dogs sent home from war with symptoms that would resemble PTSD. In 2012, dogs were found to be experiencing symptoms including irritability, depression, and avoidance of people, places, and certain objects. The dogs who were experiencing these symptoms had not displayed any type of PTSD-related signs prior to deployment. Dogs who have experienced symptoms of PTSD have often been sent home due to their refusal to complete the job at hand; the jobs they were trained to do.
According to Dr. Sara Rose Knox, a Veterinarian in the military, “most people know that post-traumatic stress disorder can afflict service men and women, but it can also be apparent in military dogs. As dogs are becoming more and more involved in our war fighting experience—whether they are patrol dogs, working dogs or bomb dogs—they experience the same things we do and they get nervous as well. She continued to state “It’s a new area we are studying. We’ve dedicated a lot of time and education on it. We get constant reminders of what to look for, how to start preliminary treatment and then where to send them if [they need help]. These dogs are considered just like military members, and they get the same care that we do.”
CBD and PTSD
Research suggests endocannabinoids, like anandamide and 2-AG, play a role in the development, response, and progression of PTSD. These endocannabinoids are particularly important in regulating stress responses. These two endocannabinoids work with both endocannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2).
CB1 receptors have been found to be more critical in this circuit thus far. The CB1 receptors are abundant in the nervous system and are often found within the PTSD circuit of the system. CB1 receptors are also responsible for removing negative memories and fear-based emotions.
In a study published by the British Journal of Pharmacology, preclinical studies found CBD reduces fear in mice by facilitating the extinction of memories. According to this recent research, CBD was found to disrupt negative memories up to one hour following a fear stimulus. This study found anandamide, CB1, and CB2 receptors responsive during this process.
Despite a lack of research in PTSD in particular, there has been a significant amount of research in relation to CBD and anxiety that could prove helpful. An article in Neuropharmacology stated, “in addition to modulating basal anxiety states, recent studies suggest an important role for the endocannabinoid (eCB) and glucocorticoid systems in the modulation of emotional states and extinction of aversive memories in animals.” This leads us to believe CBD can aid in the elimination of aversive memories to treat severe anxiety disorders like PTSD.
The CALM Tincture
The CALM tincture is recommended for dogs with fear-based emotions. The cannabinoids within the tincture bind to the CB1 receptor, as discussed above, mimicking a ‘happy compound’ known as serotonin by binding and activating the body’s serotonin receptors. Serotonin receptors (along with serotonin) are responsible for emotional balance and well-being resulting in a potential therapeutic effect for dogs experiencing PTSD.
Take a look at the video below of Angela Ardolino, the Founder of CBD Dog Health, discussing how the CALM tincture helps her dog, Nina, with her fear of loud noises (particularly thunderstorms). As you’ll see, Nina asks for the CALM tincture before thunderstorms to help her relax.
Further research is necessary regarding dogs and PTSD so we are able to better resolve any problems they are experiencing. While we are waiting for research to catch up, we can use what we know. We know CBD can help significantly with anxiety and conditions with symptoms like PTSD. Knowing this bit of information can help our dogs become calmer, more functional, and less fear-prone.
If you have questions about a CBD regimen, Angela Ardolino (Founder of CBD Dog Health) and Dr. Zac Pilossoph can help. Book a consultation with them today to determine how your dog can benefit from CBD and design a plan to implement CBD into your dog’s regular routine.
About Angela Ardolino
Angela Ardolino is a holistic pet expert who has been caring for animals for over 20 years and operates a rescue farm, Fire Flake Farm, in Florida. She is also the owner of Beautify the Beast, a natural pet salon and shop. After getting her certificate in Medical Cannabis Biology and Therapeutic use from the University of Vermont School of Medicine, she founded CBD Dog Health to provide high quality, all-natural medical cannabis products designed specifically for pets. Angela has seven dogs, Odie a 12-year-old mini-schnauzer, Nina an 8-year-old Doberman. Jolene a 7-year-old mutt, Maza a 7-year-old mutt, Rhemi an 8-year-old poodle, Potato a 15-year-old shih-tzu, and Miss Daisie a 15-year-old black lab, plus 4-10 more at any time she is fostering or boarding. She uses Full Spectrum Hemp Extract on all her pets at her rescue farm every day, and has since 2016. She is a member of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, the Veterinary Cannabis Association and has trained hundreds medical doctors and veterinarians about the therapeutic uses of medical cannabis on animals. Visit www.angelaardolino.com for more information.