According to sleep expert Matthew Walker, “Sleep is the Swiss army knife of health. When sleep is deficient, there is sickness and disease. And when sleep is abundant, there is vitality and health.”
There’s no question that a sound, restful night of slumber recharges our batteries and allows us to take on the world with a spring in our step. The importance of sleep isn’t simply confined to humans though–it’s essential for all animals, including our beloved canine companions.
Dogs that enjoy a full night of sleep wake up more energized, heal more quickly from injury and illness and have more robust immune systems, to name just a few benefits.
Research specifically exploring the effects of CBD on dogs is now emerging, though studies are still few and far between. It’s critical to acknowledge that our understanding of the effects of CBD on key physiological processes such as sleep is very much in its nascent stages, and there’s still much to learn. It’s therefore vital to consult with your veterinarian before considering giving your pet CBD or any other natural wellness product to ensure it’s right for them.
Nonetheless, research is being released that suggests CBD may support sleep, with positive effects often shared in anecdotes. In one 2020 study investigating people’s expectations and motivations for using cannabis products on their pets, dog owners shared the following observations: ‘The CBD products I have used have enabled my dog to rest better and be more active’; ‘She seems more relaxed and can sleep for longer periods of time’, and ‘It helps Milo sleep better’.
Research suggests that CBD is non-intoxicating, safe and well-tolerated. Is there evidence it can help support healthy sleep in your canine companion?
Causes of Dog Insomnia
Similar to humans, dog sleep can be afflicted by a number of different conditions. According to a recent 2021 study, insomnia in dogs can be a symptom of a range of health issues, including:
Narcolepsy is a disorder of the nervous system that mainly affects young dogs. A narcoleptic episode involves a sudden collapse and immediate loss of movement. The pet literally falls asleep while physically active, then wakes up abruptly and continues as if nothing has happened.
REM sleep behavior disorder
Many of us may have fondly watched our dog twitch and yelp in their sleep as though they’re chasing something in their dreams. While a little movement may be normal during the dreaming phase, violent or extreme behavior–like trying to attack something–can be indicative of REM sleep behavior disorder. REM sleep behavior disorder can significantly impact sleep quality.
Sleep breathing disorders
Sleep breathing disorders include conditions such as sleep apnea, where breathing becomes difficult due to weight or abnormal respiratory anatomy. While sleep breathing disorders are fairly rare, some dogs are more prone to these conditions, such as obese dogs or flat-faced breeds such as English Bulldogs, Boston Terriers and Pugs. Dogs with sleep apnea experience a temporary collapse or narrowing of the airway, which causes them to jolt awake for 10 to 20 seconds. These constant sleep interruptions lead to tiredness throughout the day. A common symptom of sleep apnea is loud, chronic snoring.
Other illnesses or issues that cause sleeplessness
Finally, there is a range of other health conditions that can make it hard for your canine companion to catch a good night’s rest. Arthritis, injuries, kidney disease, allergies, anxiety, and stress can all contribute to poor sleep. Senior dogs can also experience canine cognitive dysfunction that impacts sleep patterns.
Finally, other triggers such as moving house, separation anxiety, loud noises, or changing up routines could also affect your furry friend and lead to stress and sleep disturbances. Dogs are pack animals and often experience unrest when other members of their pack (that’s you) are unsettled. If your dog is generally a sound sleeper but starts experiencing episodes of insomnia, it could be a sign that something is up and it’s time for a visit to the vet.
Why is it so important for dogs to sleep well?
When a dog’s sleep is disturbed it can detrimentally affect the animal's overall physical and mental health. Sleeplessness can lower critical physiological functions such as cognitive and physical performance, immune response, pain sensation, and also increase the risk of disease. Healthy sleep, on the other hand, boosts your pet’s immune system, enhances mood, assists metabolic processes, and elevates energy levels. Sleep also influences how your dog learns and processes new information–one recent study found that a dog’s ability to learn new tasks and consolidate learning memories strongly depends on their sleep quality.
Dog owners who are affected by their pet’s wakefulness can also become stressed and sleep deprived. Suffice to say, it’s in the interest of both dog and pet parent to get healthy sleep patterns back on track!
How CBD Can Help
CBD has been shown to possess properties that may support healthy sleep patterns. The Animal Medical Center of Mid-America notes that this non-intoxicating cannabinoid can relieve pain and inflammation, produce calming effects, and ease symptoms related to diverse health issues in pets.
Like humans, dogs face issues as varied as osteoarthritis, joint pain, pain associated with injuries, inflammation, and stiffness. The discomfort these conditions cause can result in restless sleep, making it hard for your furry friend to get comfortable.
Scientific research in human and animal studies over the last decade has found that CBD has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. These studies often indicate that CBD may exert a positive influence in diminishing discomfort and inflammation. Although the science is far from settled on how the non-intoxicating cannabinoid exerts these effects, one prominent hypothesis is that the cannabinoid helps to inhibit the activity of various inflammatory cells in the body. Moreover, research also suggests that long-term CBD treatment may help achieve long-term prolonged anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, without any significant side effects or the development of tolerance. One recent study specific to osteoarthritic dogs found a twice-daily dose of CBD could help provide comfort and promote activity.
CBD is possibly best-known for its ability to instill feelings of calm with diverse clinical trials noting its anxiolytic effects. The cannabinoid interacts with the endocannabinoid system and wider bodily systems to subtly alter mood, easing feelings of stress and anxiety and subduing excessive mental stimulation.
According to a recent survey, anxiety relief is the second most popular reason that pet owners talk to vets about using CBD for their pet (pain and discomfort is the first). Stress relief may help prime your pet for a restful, peaceful night of slumber. Research has also found that CBD products can positively impact sleep quality and improve sleep disturbances in REM sleep behavior disorder, thanks to its anxiety-easing properties.
Allergies and skin conditions
Finally, allergies represent another overlooked issue in pets that can make catching a sound night of slumber challenging. Dog allergies can be triggered by environmental factors, or seasonal changes, or food. Discomfort, itching and swelling are all common symptoms of allergies–and all of these can also detract from sleep.
The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD and its beneficial effects on the skin render it a helpful treatment in reducing itchiness, soreness and swelling. A recent study that specifically investigated the effects of CBD on dogs found that the cannabinoid could be beneficial as a treatment for allergies and other skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis or pruritus. Other research also corroborates this claim, with another study reporting that CBD reduced total daily scratching compared with dogs in the control group (that didn’t receive the CBD intervention).
The High Falls Hemp Difference
In the Wild West that is the current CBD market, a lack of regulations means that there is a proliferation of inferior, unsafe products. High Falls Hemp has established itself as a leader within the CBD industry, creating both human and pet products that adhere to the highest quality standards. Here at High Falls Hemp, we pride ourselves on standing out from the competition in several fundamental ways:
Third party laboratory reports
We ensure each and every batch we create undergoes independent triple lab testing. You’ll find potency panel reports for all of our products that can be easily accessed by the QR codes on the labels or via our Lab Reports and Compliance tab on our website. These reports provide you with assurance that your dog is receiving the quantity of CBD promised on the label–and no more than 0.3% THC.
Organically grown CBD and natural formulations
We grow our hemp in the Hudson Valley, an oasis that provides optimal conditions for hemp crops to flourish. Our hemp is cultivated according to organic farming protocols so the CBD your pet consumes is free from unwanted pesticides and contaminants. We then blend the CBD oil we have extracted in formulations that use minimal products that are always of natural origins. For example, High Falls Hemp CBD Pet Tincture or Large Dog CBD Tincture, contain only two ingredients–CBD extract and hemp seed oil, which is rich in beneficial fatty acids.
Popular demand has led High Falls Hemp to innovate a pet product completely free of THC, focused instead on the broad-spectrum benefits of CBD, minor cannabinoids and terpenes. Keep an eye out for our THC-free tincture, which is coming soon!
The Bottom Line
Research exploring the effects of CBD in pets is still in its very early stages. There’s a lack of conclusive research regarding the effects of CBD on dogs in general. Nonetheless, preclinical and clinical research suggests CBD possesses analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and anxiolytic properties–and the reduction of inflammation, pain, and anxiety may support healthy sleep.
If your dog is experiencing sleeplessness and you’re interested in trying CBD, talk to your vet to see if CBD products may be suitable for your furry friend and how they can best be incorporated into their regime. If you’re unsure about dosing, take a look at our helpful dosage guidelines for pets and people.