Anxiety: CBD May Reduce Aggressive Behaviour Towards Humans in Shelter Dogs

Anxiety: CBD May Reduce Aggressive Behaviour Towards Humans in Shelter Dogs

Cannabis sativa L. may reduce aggressive behaviour towards humans in shelter dogs

Corsetti, S. Borruso, L. Malandrucco, V. Spallucci, L. Maragliano, R.  Perino, P. D’Agostino, E. Natoli

2021

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • After CBD administration, aggressive behavior towards humans showed a significant decrease 
  • Fear and anxiety are a common cause of aggressive conducts in dogs 
  • Dogs in the study did not show any of the symptoms referable to CBD intolerance
  • CBD treatment did not decrease the activity nor level of attention towards the environment of the dogs studied, as already highlighted for other species 
  • The positive outcomes in this defiant environment are promising for more friendlier ones 

OBJECTIVES & HYPOTHESIS Entering a kennel can be extremely stressful for dogs and it's not unusual for them to express their discomfort by having aggressive behaviors towards humans. Furthermore, these conducts might be related to stress, since dogs tend to become overly aggressive when they are in a state of heightened anxiety. The purpose of this study was to determine whether CBD treatment can decrease disturbed, stressed and aggressive behaviors in shelter dogs. 

METHODS 24 sheltered dogs with various kinds of behavioral troubles were alternately assigned forming 2 groups (treated and control) of 12 dogs each. The treatment group received 5% CBD based oil (dose of 1 drop/2kg) and the placebo group received olive oil, dispensed daily for 45 days. Data collection during behavioral observations consisted of more than 100 behavioral patterns recorded by means of the focal animal sampling method. Before starting the administration of CBD and placebo, each dog was observed for 1h/day for 3 days (T0), at three different times of the day. This observation was repeated in the same way after 15 (T1) and 45 (T2) days from the beginning of the treatment, and 15 days (T3) after the end of the treatment. Every day the shelter operators monitored the dogs to spot symptoms or adverse effects. 

RESULTSAggressive behavior towards humans decreased significantly over time in the CBD treatment group. On the contrary, in the control group, the aggressive behavior towards humans did not decrease after placebo administration. These results clearly suggest that CBD treatment might be effectively used to decrease aggressive behavior towards humans and improve welfare in dogs housed in a shelter.  Moreover, these outcomes acquire extra value since they suggest a possibility of response to CBD treatment in a challenging environment, that could be even greater in a harmonious one. Finally, if CBD treatment causes a reduction in the aggressive behavior of the dogs, this, in turn, might improve the relationships between the dogs and the kennel staff, facilitating dog management and increasing the level of dog welfare. 

Figure 1: Number of aggressive behaviors following CBD treatment at the start of the study (T0), after 15 (T1) and 45 (T2) days from the beginning of the treatment, and 15 days after the end of the administration of CBD (T3)

No dogs showed disease symptoms during the study, except for one that had a single episode of diarrhea that disappeared without pharmacological intervention meaning dogs well tolerated olive oil with the addition of CBD.
 Treatment with CBD did not reduce the level of attention of dogs and did not make them less perceptive of the environment and stimuli that surrounded them. 


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