CBD For Anxiety in Horses
Just like us, and our pets, horses can also suffer from anxiety and stress. The two most common types of anxiety in horses include performance anxiety and separation anxiety. Anxiety in horses must be handled with care, in order to ensure a horse’s well-being. Determining why your horse is anxious may be troublesome at first, but the more you observe their behavior, the easier it is to track the cause or trigger.
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Causes of Anxiety in Horses
What stresses our horses may be very different than what stresses us, our dogs, or our cats. Unlike dogs and cats, horses are herd animals and a prey species. This means, by nature, they are more prone to a flight response when they become fearful.
Horses will instinctively run when something is frightening or stress-causing. In the wild, horses who run faster can more effectively escape predators, ensuring survival. This characteristic still resides within our domesticated horses today, just as many of our dogs’ traits are derived from their ancestors. This makes horses a bit more susceptible to anxiety-based behaviors than our dogs and cats are.
Horses also travel in herds and, therefore, possess a herd mentality and seek companionship in order to feel safe and secure. Safety is found in numbers to a horse. We are generally known to be our horse’s safe haven, especially if there aren’t any other horses in the barn or pasture with them.
When their natural instincts aren’t supported, that’s where anxiety may kick in. For example, when your mare or stallion is stuck in a 12’ x 12’ stall, that doesn’t exactly suit their natural environment. Naturally, they are born to be able to walk around, graze, eat small meals, and experience freedom among other horses.
Symptoms of Anxiety in Horses
Depending on the cause, horses may exhibit several behaviors in response to their anxiety including:
- Weave-walking: Weaving from side-to-side or swaying side-to-side. They may walk sideways a few steps and then continue the same routine continuously. If the stall is large enough, you may also notice pacing or walking in circles.
- Shaking: Horses may shake or tremble while standing or being walked/ridden. You will likely be able to visibly notice her skin switching.
- Rolled eyes: When a horse is frightened, you may see her eyes roll back with a tight posture.
- Backing into the Corner: If a horse is confined to a stall, you may notice her back herself into the corner to feel more secure.
- Bolting: The horse may run off to another area if he or she isn’t confined
Reducing Anxiety in Horses
If you are a skilled trainer, or knowledgeable about horses, there are a few steps you can take yourself to reduce a horse’s anxiety levels. Before you work on the behavioral side, you should first have your horse examined by a veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical causes for the anxiety. Some symptoms of anxiety in horses may be due to pain or inflammation, or some other type of medical condition.
Once your horse has been provided a good bill of health from the veterinarian, you can begin to help ease your horse’s anxiety by making them feel safe and secure. Spending additional time with your horse, especially if you have been absent, is particularly important. Grooming your horse on a regular basis and hand-feeding can help them feel closer to you.
Establishing a routine can also make horses feel more at ease. Providing structure through the day can help give your horse added security. Feed your horse at the same time each day, walk them at the same time each day, and/or ride at about the same time each day. Establishing a social routine is equally as important as a feeding routine.
Making sure that changes to their life and environment are limited may also help. If there are new surroundings, provide a sufficient amount of time for them to acclimate to the new environment. Don’t expect too much too quickly.
CBD for Anxiety in Horses
Providing a dose of CBD for anxiety in horses may help calm and ease your horse’s stress and anxiety, especially in cases where a horse hasn’t had much socialization or has experienced some type of trauma. Every animal possesses something known as the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating many processes within the body and keeping them in balance (homeostasis). Within the endocannabinoid system, there are various receptors that react to cannabinoids, like CBD. That’s how anxiety may be reduced; with the use of CBD and it’s interaction with your horse’s endocannabinoid system.
According to research, “CBD has a broad pharmacological profile, including interactions with several receptors known to regulate fear and anxiety-related behaviors, specifically the cannabinoid type 1 receptor (CB1R), the serotonin 5-HT1A receptor, and the transient receptor potential (TRP) vanilloid type 1 (TRPV1) receptor.” Essentially, what this means is, by reacting with receptors within the endocannabinoid system, CBD communicates with hormones to reduce feelings of anxiety. Hormones, like serotonin, are responsible for balancing mood, happiness, and well-being. When the serotonin receptor communicates with CBD, it allows more serotonin to remain in the body thus boosting mood and reducing anxiety.
A 2013 article published in Neuropharmacology found that “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 means CBD can help in facilitating the removal of aversive (bad) memories to reduce symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, or panic disorders in people and animals.
Sleep is also associated with stress and anxiety. Studies have found CBD can assist with the regulation of sleep patterns in both people and animals. A 2019 study published in the Permanente Journal found that CBD has a calming effect on the central nervous system and can improve both how much sleep a mammal (like us or our animals) gets as well as the depth of sleep. And, CBD is better tolerated than other psychiatric medications commonly recommended in the traditional world of medicine.
Is CBD Safe for Horses?
When reviewing the safety of CBD, studies show safety and side effects of CBD in humans is CBD is very safe to use with only minor side effects such as diarrhea, tiredness, and changes in mood and appetite. Studies on pets also have similar results. For example, a research study regarding the use of CBD for dogs with arthritis found no observable side effects.
A survey provided to veterinarians also found an increasing number of veterinary professionals are beginning to recommend CBD for pets. Many note that they’ve been able to give CBD to animals safely with no harm whatsoever. CBD is very safe for your animals, but ensure you are providing a high quality, animal-based full-spectrum product.
A study conducted by LSU School of Veterinary Medicine recently conducted a study involving horses focused on safety, comfort, mobility, confidence, and behavior. The purpose of the study was to determine if CBD leads to any negative effects in horses in particular. The horses were monitored daily for any signs of adverse reactions. Bloodwork was evaluated on days 28 and 56 approximately two hours following administration of the CBD supplement.
The study concluded there were no adverse effects from CBD supplementation in horses. The CBD supplement did not cause sedation or any lack of muscle control. And, did not change the horse’s gait. CBD was determined to be completely safe.
CBD has been shown to have minimal adverse side effects, no risk of addiction, and it is impossible to overdose on CBD. CBD is an extremely risk-free substance, but it’s critical our animals use animal-targeted products specifically and not a product designed for humans. It’s also important to mention, not all products are created equal. One CBD product can be completely different than the next.
CBD is an unregulated field. To ensure you are purchasing a high-quality, pure product, request the company provide you with a certificate of analysis to prove what IS in the bottle, as well as what isn’t (like heavy metals and toxic pesticides). If the company isn’t willing to do so, there’s likely a reason.
CALM: CBD for Horse Anxiety, Stress & Fear
Our CALM: CBD for Anxiety in Horses is a proprietary, full-spectrum hemp extract formula perfect for situational and chronic anxiety, fear and reactivity in horses. This high potency tincture contains simple, high quality ingredients, including California-grown Lavender, MCT-3 Oil, and full spectrum hemp extract, rich in CBD and other naturally occurring cannabinoids. Formulated for horses, donkeys, mules and other equine breeds.
Our Full Spectrum Hemp CBD is extracted from premium, organically grown hemp. Formulated specifically for your equine, using only the highest quality ingredients. Our CBD salves for horses and CBD oil for horses help to reduce inflammation, calm anxiety and restore balance to the equine body and mind.
As with any animal, or person, patience is key when handling anxiety. Anxiety in horses, pets or even humans isn’t a condition that will go away in a day; it’s something that must be managed on a regular basis. With the steps above, you should begin to see an improvement. For some horses with anxiety, this may take as few as a couple of weeks. For others, it may be a month or longer before you can visibly notice improvement.