CBD Cannabidiol and pets
by Claire Dosenberry, DVM

The use of CBD products is growing rapidly in both pets and people. Unfortunately it is growing faster than we can conduct necessary studies to figure out the pharmacokinetics (how it enters and is processed by the body), safe doses and even what ailments whe should try to treat with it.

So, what is CBD?

CBD is short for cannabidiol, one of the chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. The marijuana plant and the hemp plant are closely related but have a very important difference. The marijuana plant has been bred to have higher levels of THC, which is the psycho-active compound people seek to get “high” or “stoned”. In contrast, the hemp plant has very low levels of THC (<0.03% by definition) and this is the plant used to extract CBD products. THC is toxic to animals and products containing THC—including marijuana—have no place being near your furry friend.

Is CBD safe for pets?

The short answer is yes, but it is a bit more complicated than that. There are no FDA regulations when it comes to CBD products. You have to be very careful when selecting a product to give to your pet.

Because it is not regulated, companies can say just about anything regarding what is in the product and what it can do. CBD product websites have some pretty alluring claims and it is easy to get sucked in. Without doing your research, you might be spending $100 on a little bottle of olive oil and wondering why it’s not helping with Fluffy’s arthritis pain.

On the other hand, pure broad spectrum organic CBD products have been shown to be safe at appropriate doses; finding these products out of the line up is where the challenge comes in.

Do I recommend CBD?

This is a complicated question because it is still illegal on a federal level and by law your veterinarian cannot recommend using CBD to treat illness. However, we know people are going to use these products anyway, so please talk to us about it. We can certainly try to guide you in the right direction.

A recent study at Cornell University looked at CBD oil and the treatment of Osteoarthritis in dogs. 80% of the animals in the study improved, showing an increase in both comfort and activity. The CBD product used in the study was made by ElleVet Sciences, and their products have proven to be both safe and effective when it comes to managing arthritis pain in dogs. Other studies are currently in the works but we do not yet have any results.

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Ann Arbor Animal Hospital is a locally-owned animal hospital operating for over 90 years in Ann Arbor, MI.