Upon completion of intake exams, the dogs underwent a 7-day acclimation period for adjustment to the environment, diet, collars, and daily routine ( Table 1 ). Kennels were maintained on a 12-h light schedule. Dogs received two 15-min exercise periods each day, with the morning exercise occurring between 0700 and 0900 h and the evening exercise occurring between 1,700 and 1,900 h. During the exercise periods, dogs that were aggressive toward other dogs were individually hand-walked by research personnel; all other dogs were allowed to exercise freely in playgroups of two to four dogs in one of two adjacent grassy enclosures. The numbers of dogs being hand-walked and those in playgroups were balanced across all treatments. Four hours each day—from 1,000 to 1,200 h (a.m.) and from 1,330 to 1,530 h (p.m.)—were designated as times when no people were allowed to enter the kennels. Two of those 4 h were designated as Quiet time and the other 2 h as Music time, when calming music was played over speakers in each kennel. Quiet and Music sessions were randomly allotted to either a.m. or p.m. time each day. All dogs started receiving control treats (0 mg CBD) twice daily as a reward for kennel reentry after the twice-daily exercise.
Experimental Design and Data Collection
After the acclimation period, Vetrax® activity sensors (AgLogica Holdings, Norcross, GA) were fitted to dogs’ collars using the attachment provided by the manufacturer and placed ventral to the mandible. These triaxial accelerometers were used for the continuous collection of activity variables—activity points, activity duration (in minutes), duration of no activity (in hours), duration of resting (in hours), running duration (in minutes), walking duration (in minutes), scratching duration (in seconds), head shaking duration (in seconds), and sleep quality ( Table 2 ). Data collected by the sensors were automatically uploaded to the Vetrax® server via Wi-Fi once an hour for behavior algorithm processing, which has been previously validated (8). Except for a weekly consistent 2- to 3-h charging period, sensors remained on the dogs at all times. Before the start of the experiment, the data were collected over a 14-day baseline period to block dogs by mean daily activity—high (mean = 118.6 min, range = 88.6–157.5 min) or low (mean = 59.3 min, range = 30.2–85.1 min)—before stratifying dogs by age, weight, and sex and randomly assigning dogs within each block to treatments. Dogs were stratified by treatment and sex, evenly distributed between the two kennels, and adapted to treatments for 7 days before another 14-day collection of activity via Vetrax® sensors ( Table 1 ).
While there was no observed effect on the overall daily activity with CBD treatment, it tended to influence activity during different times of the day. The dogs in the current study were more active in the p.m. than in the a.m. regardless of treatment and type of session. Playing calming music in the kennels (Music session) did reduce activity compared to when no music was played (Quiet session), which supports previous work showing that playing music can reduce stress and increase relaxed behaviors in kenneled dogs (54–56). This effect, however, appears to be independent of the effect of CBD as there was no interaction between treatment and session nor a treatment by session by time interaction. The tendency for dogs in the HIGH CBD treatment to be less active than CON dogs in the p.m. may indicate that CBD exerted some sedative or calming effect on the dogs. However, this potential sedative effect was expected to be observed in the a.m., as previous pharmacokinetic reports have shown a half-life for CBD of 1–4 h (35, 51, 52, 57). As this effect was not observed during the a.m. sessions, exercise periods, or overall daily activity, these collective results do not support a sedative or calming effect of CBD in dogs. Thus, the claim that CBD exerts a sedative or calming effect in dogs remains unsubstantiated, but further investigation may provide clarification of these results.
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