Dr. Angie Krause, a holistic veterinarian in Boulder, Colorado, noticed more and more patients started asking her about using CBD to treat pet ailments in 2015, three years after her state legalized marijuana for recreational use.
“As I interacted with my clients in Boulder, people would say, ‘I take marijuana for my aches and pains, can I use it for my dog?’” Dr. Krause says.
To be clear, marijuana is considered toxic to dogs. Unlike marijuana, CBD oil has .3 percent or less of the psychoactive component THC and therefore does not intoxicate pets. CBD oil has not proven to be toxic to dogs and has been anecdotally hailed as a treatment for ailments like anxiety, seizures and arthritis. When the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp in all 50 states, it opened the door for an even larger market for CBD pet products — even Martha Stewart hopped the bandwagon.
Still, the FDA has not approved it for use on dogs. California became the first state in the country to recognize cannabis in veterinary medicine, which provided legal protection to veterinarians who talk with pet owners about its use. Last year, a bill that would have made California the first state in the country to authorize veterinarians to recommend cannabis as medicine was put on hold until 2020.
Research on its efficacy is limited but promising. A 2018 Cornell study showed using CBD oil twice per day increased comfort and daily activity in dogs with arthritis. In a 2018 clinical trial by Colorado State University, 89 percent of dogs who used CBD oil saw a reduction in seizures.
Jodi Ziskin, who focuses on pet health and communications for Treatibles, a CBD oil chew brand, expects more research now that hemp is legal nationwide and, within the next year or so, FDA regulations. In the meantime, she says that pet parents should look for a brand that works with the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC).
“The NASC works with the FDA, and there are certain things that any compliant hemp company will not be doing,” Jodi says.
Words on labels matter
“You cannot make claims or make mention of any diseases on websites or marketing materials,” Jodi says. “These are important things because we are … a dosage form animal product. In that case, there are certain things we can’t say, just like you cannot say vitamins cure colds.”
It’s also essential to find a company that does third-party lab testing and shares the results with customers.
“It’s really important to know what you are getting, making sure there are no bio-contaminants and heavy metals,” Jodi says. “When you are looking at third-party lab test results, you can see what that is.”
Dr. Krause advises pet parents to call the brand and ask for a certificate of analysis.
“If you go to the store and look at a brand, you want to make sure you can go online or call the brand, and they’ll tell you how much THC is in here, how much CBD, proof we don’t have pesticides or chemical residue,” she says.
Though vets are limited in what they can say to people who want to try CBD oil on their dogs, Dr. Ochoa, DVM, advises pet parents to keep them in the loop.
“[I want to] know what is going on, what you are giving them, [and be able to advise] how it interacts with certain medications,” says Dr. Ochoa, a small animal and exotic veterinarian in Texas and a veterinary consultant for doglab.com,
Common side effects include increased drowsiness and diarrhea. Dog parents should consult the veterinarian if they notice a change in behavior.
And pet shop associates and brands are also getting educated on CBD oils.
“It is confusing out there. It seems like everyone is jumping on the bandwagon,” Jodi says. “if you are talking to people in pet shops, a lot of them have the education … feel free to reach out to the companies. We want to talk to them and help them with their pets.”
Top photograph: Aleksandr Zotov / Getty Images
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