CBD for Pets 101

It seems like discussions about CBD (cannabidiol) oil are everywhere. It’s on the news. Celebrities are bringing up the subject in interviews. You might have even heard about it by the watercooler at work today.

It’s very likely that news story, celebrity or coworker brought up the usage of CBD for four-legged friends, as CBD-infused pet products are becoming increasingly popular. Pet owners are increasingly turning to natural and organic wellness—and that’s exactly what CBD may aid in.

But while the popularity of CBD has exploded in recent years and many clinical studies have taken place that point to potential health benefits, some health organizations have yet to approve it as an alternative medicine. This is partially due to cannabis, of which CBD is derived, still being federally illegal and thus making research projects difficult to get off the ground. Due to a lack of scientific study, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved the use of cannabis (marijuana or THC-free hemp) for animals.

According to a report released by the American Veterinary Medical Association, it’s because of the lack of FDA approval that the AVMA “cautions pet owners against the use of such products.” Even though this might be the case, many veterinarians are choosing to buck the law and discuss CBD with their patients.

“I’ve chosen to flout federal law in favor of patient care. Most of the patients I’ve medicated with CBD oil have thrived,” Miami-based veterinarian Patty Khuly said in a July 2018 article for Veterinary Practice News. “After recommending it to hundreds of patients (I carry it in-house now), I’ve not yet observed an adverse reaction.”

In that same article, Khuly advises curious pet owners to do their research. If possible, find a vet who will discuss CBD treatment or talk to a pharmacist to ensure there is no THC in the product you choose.

In an interview with American Kennel Club Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Jerry Klein, he echoed Khuly’s advice to seek out as much information as possible. While the law prevents vets from bringing up or prescribing CBD to patients, that doesn’t mean the patient can’t bring the issue up to their vet.

“If you want to explore using CBD oil for your dog, let your veterinarian know,” says Klein. “Keeping your veterinarian in the loop about your decision to use CBD oil for your dog will also help them advise you about any potential contraindications with medications your pet may be taking.” Klein also advised pet owners to know that the product brands they choose are ones they can trust.

Common facts to look for when purchasing a CBD product for your pet include testing information, if there are any added (and undesirable) ingredients, and where the product was made and sourced.

And as for CBD dosage, there is no FDA dosing chart. A number of veterinarians and CBD providers have advised to start with the lowest amount possible. After observing its effects, the pet owner can gradually increase to achieve the desired effect. After a lengthy disclaimer regarding the legality of marijuana laws and how they relate to veterinarians, Portland, Oregon’s Hawthorne Veterinary Clinic recommends starting with 0.05 mg/kg/day. The clinic advises increasing the dose every five days or so, depending on its effects, and recommend an upper oral dose limit around 1 mg/kg/day.

While there may be some time to wait until we will see CBD ads and displays in veterinarian waiting rooms across America, there has been progress. Veterinarians in California are now legally allowed to talk with patients about CBD (and cannabis as a whole) as an option for their pets, after a law was passed and subsequently signed in September 2018.