CBD for pets is now legal almost everywhere. It’s available as treats, capsules and most commonly sold as an oil, designed to be sprinkled over pets’ food before eating.
Pet-related CBD products make up a significant portion of the over $6 billion cannabis industry, and that number is only growing. Over 92% of veterinarians say they’ve been asked by their clients about using CBD for their pets.
Let’s get everything out on the table on what you need to know about CBD, whether it’s a good option for your pet, and most importantly, how to talk to your veterinarian about it.
What is CBD?
CBD stands for cannabidiol. Cannabidiol is a compound that can be extracted from cannabis, the plant that produces both marijuana and hemp. Cannabinoids like CBD interact with the endocannabinoid receptors located in the central and peripheral nervous systems.
CBD is typically made into an oil. Sometimes the oil is sold as a tincture and in other cases it’s used to produce standalone products such as foodstuffs, drinks, or even chewing gum. CBD use among both humans and domesticated animals is on the rise.
It’s important to note that CBD does not contain THC, the other primary compound found in cannabis. This is important because THC is what produces the “high” typically associated with marijuana. Pure CBD does not produce any psychoactive effects whatsoever.
Why do people give CBD to their pets?
There are a lot of reasons people give CBD to their pets. Some pet parents argue it’s alleviated their pet’s arthritis pain, inflammation, and even decreased the incidence of seizures in epileptic animals. CBD is touted by some to help bowel disorders, provide relief from nausea, and stimulate appetite in animals who won’t eat. There’s even some anecdotal evidence that says CBD might offer cardiac benefits or even stop the growth of cancer cells.
Because it’s newly legalized (more on that in a minute), CBD for pets has not been extensively studied. There are dozens of studies currently underway in various states across the country, but actual scientific data on the effectiveness – and safety – of CBD for pets is sparse.
Is CBD legal for pets?
There are two kinds of CBD: Marijuana-derived and hemp-derived. The laws differ by type. Marijuana-dervived CBD is far more regulated than the hemp-derived form.
Hemp-derived CBD is legal in all states as long as it is produced within the regulations defined by agricultural law. It must contain less than 0.3% THC, must be grown by a properly licensed grower, and must adhere to all state and federal regulations. Many pet-related CBD products are made using hemp-derived CBD because there is lower risk of THC contamination.
Marijuana-derived CBD is only fully legal in 10 states: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. The laws vary by type and breadth in the other 40 states. If you’re considering using CBD for your pet, it’s important to check your state’s specific laws regarding the compound.
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Is CBD safe for pets?
The million dollar question. Because CBD is so new, the veterinary community is still very divided on how safe CBD products are for pets. It’s not uncommon for two vets in the same practice to have wildly different opinions on the use of CBD. No CBD products for pets have been evaluated or approved by the FDA.
What are the risks of CBD for pets?
Drug Interaction – CBD can interact with your pet’s other medications; it actually increases the efficacy of some medicines so dosages should be scaled up slowly.
THC Contamination – THC is dangerous for pets. Because the CBD industry is so unregulated, product quality is unreliable. There are many cases of pets being harmed by CBD products that were improperly stored, mislabeled, or that contained more THC than they were supposed to.
Side Effects – Even for pets whose symptoms are alleviated by CBD, some side effects have been reported.
What should you ask your vet about CBD?
You should never, ever give your pet CBD without talking to your veterinarian first.
Did you know that California is the only state in which it’s legal for veterinarians to bring up CBD with their clients? Even in CA, vets can’t legally dispense CBD products. In all other states, pet owners looking for more information should bring the issue up themselves, listening closely to their vet’s advice.
If your vet can’t actually dispense CBD, what should you ask her? Good questions might include the type of CBD she suggests, the correct dosages, and the dosing schedule. You should also ask her how to store the CBD and how to tell if it’s working. Most importantly, you should ask her what signs to look for that would indicate you should stop giving your pet the compound.
What should you look for when buying CBD?
It’s important to be very careful about what you buy when searching for CBD. The industry is highly unregulated and it’s not a product you should skimp on. Pay more for quality assurance.
You can buy CBD online, in a store, or even at a dispensary. Products that claim to follow Good Manufacturing Practices or that have a seal from the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) are good places to start. These certifications mean the product has been made with safe ingredients in a clean environment. The gold standard for CBD products are those that have had an independent third-party test done and can provide a Certificate of Analysis (COA.)
Don’t give your pet CBD products that are intended for humans. These could have other ingredients such as grapeseed oil or xylitol that could be toxic to animals.
When should you stop giving your pet CBD?
If you notice any signs of distress from your pet, stop giving the CBD immediately and take your pet to an emergency veterinary clinic if you have any reason to think the issue is dire.
After you start giving CBD, watch for drug interactions with any other medications your pet may be taking. Side effects you might expect to see include dry mouth, lowered blood pressure, or drowsiness. If any of these side effects seem to be serious or affecting your pet’s overall quality of life, talk to your vet as soon as possible.