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CBD Oil in Pets

Posted 12.17.18 by Dr. Katie Wooden, DVM

Cannabis and CBD products are the latest trend in human medicine. More and more people are turning to cannabis as a natural treatment for their health issues due to it’s purported positive impact on inflammation and other ailments. CBD oil has recently become popular due to its  availability online, as well in many local pet stores, grocery stores, and pharmacies. While there are many unknowns about CBD, pet owners are starting to wonder if CBD could help their pets.

What is CBD Oil?

CBD oils contain a high concentration of the medically promising compound cannibidiol (CBD). CBD is a component of both the marijuana plant and it’s close cousin, the hemp plant. Almost all of the CBD oil on the market is sourced from hemp. CBD is different from THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the compound responsible for the euphoric “high” that marijuana smokers experience. CBD oils must contain less then 0.3% THC, so should not cause any psychoactive effects.Bottle Glass CBD Oil

The effects of CBD on the body are still being researched, but it is believed that CBD activates a number of receptors in the body that affect body temperature, pain perception, inflammation, sleep, appetite, and cognition. While there is little scientific evidence, CBD oils are marketed to help with medical conditions such as seizures, anxiety, osteoarthritis, appetite stimulation, and inflammation.

There are currently several clinical trials in progress hoping to better understand the effects of CBD in dogs and cats. One of the most anticipated studies is Colorado State’s clinical trial to test the effects of cannabidiol on dogs with unresponsive epilepsy. There are also ongoing studies to test CBD’s effects on osteoarthritis, as well as studies aiming to determine a more accurate dosing regimen.

Is it safe?

While a preliminary safety study at Colorado State University suggests that CBD is safe in dogs, dosages and frequency are still unknown. Since the FDA does not regulate CBD products on the market, consumers can not be sure that the products they purchase have the listed amount of CBD, if any at all. Products should come with a suggested serving size, but these are likely estimates. Common side effects may include sedation and gastrointestinal upset.

It is important to remember that while CBD products are typically safe, marijuana plants and it’s products are not. Due to dogs having the highest concentration of CB1 receptors in studied mammals, dogs are more sensitive to THC than humans and other animals. Marijuana toxicity can cause drooling, sedation, disorientation, weakness, and neurologic dysfunction. Always keep cannabis products stored safely away from pets and children.

Is it legal?

Like most things with marijuana laws, the legality of CBD products is unclear. While CBD oil has <0.3% THC, it is a marijuana derivative and is considered a Scheduled 1 Controlled Substance by the DEA. The American Veterinary Medical Association released a statement to all veterinarians in January 2018 stating the following:

  • “Marijuana and its derivatives are ILLEGAL and not approved by the FDA for ANY medical use.”
  • “Even in states where medical marijuana is legal, it is illegal for a veterinarian to prescribe marijuana for animal use. “
  • “There are no FDA-approved marijuana or hemp products for use in animals”

You may be able to buy CBD oil at a pet food store, but due to it’s DEA classification, veterinarians may be putting their medical license in jeopardy by recommending it. While Tennessee legislators are currently working to change the classification of CBD-related products, the Tennessee Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners has not come forward to let veterinarians know how to handle CBD products.

Marijuana leaf CBD oil

CBD is extremely promising and has the potential the change the way we treat many diseases, but there are still many unknowns. We encourage pet owners to proceed with caution when it comes to CBD. While your veterinarian may not be able to officially recommend or prescribe CBD oil and cannabis products, we recommend discussing treatment of your pet with your veterinarian prior to initiating any therapy.

If you choose to use CBD oil in your pet, research products and ensure that the company you choose has a good reputation and does adequate product testing. Recent FDA testing on several over the counter CBD oils showed little to no CBD in the majority of their products. While we are optimistic that CBD may be a favorable treatment option for pets in the future, more research is needed before we can determine its true benefits. We also caution that pet owners should consider CBD a supplement that could possible increase their pet’s comfort and quality of life and not expect is to cure specific ailments.

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