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There’s been a lot of talk lately about pets and the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s also been a lot of talk about the stress it causes humans. As states essentially shut down and many people were required to start working from home or, sadly, laid off or furloughed for an indeterminate amount of time, it’s safe to say that the world as we know it was upended. The same is true for your dog, in a slightly similar way. If you’ve been wondering if CBD oil for dogs may help alleviate some of the stress you feel your dog is experiencing, you’re not alone.

Much of the talk regarding pets and the stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders put a positive spin on our relationship with pets – after all, dogs and cats are getting what has jokingly been described as their biggest wish: their humans are home all day (or most of the day) instead of leaving for work or school. While this is certainly true for many pets, it doesn’t change the fact their lives were also upended.

You may have wondered if CBD for pets is good or bad, helpful or harmful. As dogs are “man’s best friend” – and don’t worry, ladies, we know they are often women’s best friends, too! – we have their best interest at heart. Seeing them uncomfortable and stressed puts many of us in the position to find natural ways to help alleviate the symptoms of stress our pets are experiencing.

The Cause: How Quarantine May Affect Your Pooch

Dogs are creatures of habit and fall into routines much like we do. Even when a human makes a positive change in their life, stress can follow due to the change in everyday routine. Your dog’s sleeping schedules have probably been disrupted, they may be getting more exercise or playtime than they’re used to, they are probably getting much more attention throughout their day than they’re used to.

When humans are forced to spend a greater amount of time together in confined spaces such as a home, it’s not uncommon to get a little testy or – in some cases – depressed. Your dog is experiencing this, too. While cats are more likely to express their stress or depression by turning away from humans, dogs tend to turn to their humans.

Signs of Stress: How to Read Your Dog’s Behaviors

Common symptoms of stress in dogs include a wide range of behaviors that are much different than humans. Dogs communicate greatly through body language. A stressed dog may ‘freeze up’, becoming stiff and still, with a lowered head. Some dogs will tuck their tails and ears. They may exhibit different behaviors, such as pacing back and forth, panting heavily, excessively licking their lips, or trembling. 

You may have noticed your dog is a little needier than before. They may also act differently in other ways – such as wanting to go outside more or finding ways to comfort themselves such as chewing. Maybe they’re barking a little more excessively. Because you’re with them so much more, these seemingly little behaviors may tend to get on your nerves more, or be a tipping point for your stress levels. 

The American Kennel Club recommends learning your dog’s specific ways of communicating how they’re feeling. One of the biggest things to remember is if your dog is exhibiting a new or increased behavior, check it out and keep an eye on it and try to discover what is triggering the change. 

How to Help: The Little Things You Can do to Help Alleviate Stress

If your dog is exhibiting an extreme change in behavior, always speak with your veterinarian to rule out a medical condition. Many dogs will exhibit the stress symptoms above when they are ill. If you’re considering CBD oil for dogs, talk to your vet about options and your pet’s individual needs. Many vets will give the go-ahead to try CBD with your dog as clinical studies show potential for helping with the symptoms of stress. 

Many options at home also exist for helping to curb your dog’s stress levels during a time of uncertainty and quarantine. These small tips may help alleviate some of your stress, as well, making it a win-win!

Remember how you felt when your routine all but disappeared – think of your dog’s routine as you do yours. Try to set a certain routine at home to mimic what everyday life was before the quarantine and what it is going to return to – this will also help when you return to work and your dog’s world is upended again. Put feeding times and walks on a schedule to follow several days a week, preferably somewhat close to the schedule you’ll have when you return to work.

Make sure your dog has some alone time to himself, preferably in a quiet room or their favorite place. Does your dog always lay on the same spot on the couch? Make a rule that nobody is allowed to bother him while he’s lying there. Do you crate your dog while you’re at work? Consider giving him or her some quiet time in her crate for periods throughout the day, maybe with a special chew or toy (always check on your dog frequently and quietly to ensure they’re playing safe).  

Another option is online training courses. You may have noticed that some of your dog’s regular behaviors are a little more troublesome now that you’re spending so much more time with them. Online training courses can help you and your dog bond, set boundaries and create replacements for ‘bad’ behaviors such as barking, chewing on the wrong things, or rushing the windows when someone walks by. 

Conclusion: Improving You and Your Dog’s Relationship While Alleviating Stress

Our lives have changed so much in a three-month span and the uncertainty is unnerving. Because we rely so heavily on our dogs and cats for comfort and vice versa, maintaining healthy coping mechanisms can improve our — and our pet’s — lives. Knowing how to recognize your pet’s ‘calls for help’ will help ensure you maintain a healthy relationship with your dog or cat while keeping both your and their mental health stable. CBD oil for pets may help, so speak with your vet and see if it might be a good choice for your best pal.

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