The Current Status of CBD for Pets

There is A LOT of confusion surrounding the use of CBD in pets. Thousands of companies, both good and bad, are marketing products that may or may not be beneficial for pets and people. While the pace of research is accelerating, it is still in its early stages. Even so, the lack of safety and efficacy data hasn't stopped thousands of pet owners from giving chews and oils to their cats and dogs. Veterinarians have little solid information to use to educate clients and many are unwilling to even discuss use of CBD products.

Laws vary state by state regarding veterinary dispensing of CBD products. Even in states where recreational use of marijuana is approved, veterinary use of CBD may be prohibited and discussions between veterinarians and their clients about CBD may not be allowed (even though pet owners can buy CBD over-the-counter from many pet stores and other outlets). It seems to me that veterinarians would be best suited to discuss benefits or drawbacks of the product, but many are still uneducated on this topic.

CBD is neither an approved food ingredient nor GRAS (generally recognized as safe) by FDA. Products containing CBD are currently being sold under regulatory discretion and tolerated if the company does not make drug claims or misleading statements on their labels or in advertising. FDA has issued warning letters to violators offering cures or treatment of specific medical issues.

Quality assurance standards for CBD are not routinely evaluated, which means many CBD products on the market may be contaminated with pesticides and heavy metals. When purchasing products, ask for the certificate of analysis showing the product is free from heavy metals and pesticides and contains less than 0.3% THC (the hallucinogenic ingredient in marijuana). Hemp products contain less than 0.3% THC. Marijuana and hemp are both classifed as Cannabis sativa plant.

Dogs respond much differently to marijuana than people. Dogs have higher sensitivity to THC because they have a higher number of CB1 receptors in their body, which means more binding of THC. CBD contains so little THC that exposure is not an issue.

There are no approved CBD drugs for animals and no efficacy claims can currently be made for their use (we cannot state that CBD treats or cures any illnesses). Investigations are ongoing regarding use of CBD for arthritis pain, appetite stimulation, seizure disorders, cancer, and other conditions. 

Some products on the market do not contain the levels of CBD claimed on the package. In fact, products made from hemp SEED oil contain NO CBD at all. Since regulations are lacking, the pet owner must rely on unregulated companies to provide high quality products that will help, and not harm, pets. 

Photo by Kym MacKinnon on Unsplash

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