The holiday season should be filled with nothing but happiness and the warmth that comes with time spent with family and friends. However, for our furry friends, this season is a time that can be fraught with all sorts of hidden dangers. Christmas trees, ornaments, fabulous foods and celebrations can be enjoyed by you, but be hazardous for your pets. In particular, loud celebrations, fireworks and the merriment of strangers in the home can produce stress, anxiety and fear in our household animals.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a supplement that has been garnering quite a bit of attention for its ability to safely manage stress and anxiety with few side effects. CBD is a “phytocannabinoid”, a plant-derived compound derived from the hemp plant, which mimics the action of chemicals that are essential for normal functioning of our brain and body. Pets and people have a system of cellular receptors that are collectively referred to as the endocannabinoid system. In the last ten to fifteen years, our understanding of the functions of this system have brought CBD into the limelight as a valuable and therapeutic option for many conditions, including stress and anxiety.

With our veterinary patients (principally dogs and cats), we have begun to use CBD to manage anxiety and behavioral disorders, with an ever-increasing measure of success. The action and effect of CBD, which often varies from patient to patient, is best discussed with your veterinarian prior to use. CBD may require several hours to take effect once administered and may interact with other medications your pet may be taking.

Due to the elasticity in dosing, a trial with CBD may be appropriate prior to a planned event in order to determine the most effective dose for your pet. CBD can be used in both cats and dogs. When administered at an appropriate dose and in a “pet-friendly form”, it provides the necessary relief from the chaos and stress that can occur during the merriment of the holidays.

Unlike some of the more commonly used medications to manage anxiety and stress, CBD does not require regular dosing to be effective. Administration of CBD several hours prior to an event will allow it to be active and in effect. Whenever possible, it is also important to restrict your pet’s access to the event to minimize the possibility of escaping, eating foods that may be toxic (i.e. raisins, macadamia nuts, chocolate, etc.), or being startled by the approach of strangers and loud noises.

Your veterinarian is your pet’s best advocate, and knowledgeable about the varied options available to make the holiday season enjoyable for you and your pets. Talk to your vet about CBD and its many benefits.

Josh Sosnow, DVM, is the Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of CompanionCBD. He has been a practicing veterinarian in small animal medicine and surgery for over 18 years and is the owner of North Scottsdale Animal Hospital and Desert View Animal Hospital. Prior to CompanionCBD, Josh was a veterinary consultant to Mission Pharmacal, advising the company on the formulation of nutritional supplements for the pet marketplace. He also co-founded, an online retailer of organic, “green” and recyclable pet products.