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Reviewed for accuracy on February 16, 2020 by Sarah Wallace, DVM.
Over the last few years, marijuana has become ubiquitous in a variety of lifestyle sectors. From weed weddings in states where recreational use is approved to beauty products infused with the stuff, it seems only natural that it’s now readily available for our pets. Yep, pet-approved “weed snacks” are totally a thing — and we’re not just talking about good old catnip! Here’s what you need to know before throwing Spot or Sylvester a cannabis-infused treat.
What is CBD Oil?
First, let’s do a little unpacking. The cannabis sativa plant contains both THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). While THC is what’s responsible for the psychoactive “high” that marijuana is known for, CBD does not get you (or your pets) high. Derived from hemp, CBD is often used medicinally to relieve pain, inflammation, anxiety, and other disorders and ailments.
Is CBD Oil Legal?
Though CBD oil is found in hemp, the legal non-psychoactive component of cannabis, it is not 100% legal in all 50 states. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp products and extracts containing less than 0.3% THC, but all CBD sold in the US is still in violation of the FDA. (One exception is an anti-seizure medication for children called Epidiolex). The act of selling CBD products is also technically in violation of FDA and state law, but only if the state restricts the sale of CBD to licensed dispensaries – this varies by state. However, the FDA does not enforce the laws around CBD unless the CBD product claims to prevent, diagnose or treat a disease or if it is labeled as a dietary supplement.
Is CBD Oil Safe for Pets?
We recommend that you speak to your veterinarian about CBD oil for your pet. CBD that has been tested for purity by third-party verification, and has been shown to be free of pesticides, solvent residues, microbial contamination or heavy metals are generally considered safe by veterinarians. Research has found that CBD has no known toxicity and that you cannot overdose on it. It has been used medicinally for countless years across myriad cultures in humans, and anecdotal findings of usage in pets have been positive. The most common side effects in pets are lethargy/sedation, diarrhea, and an allergic reaction (rare).
How Can CBD Oil Help Pets?
“While there is emerging research on the use of cannabis for dogs, much of what we know today is anecdotal or extrapolated from human medicine,” writes veterinarian Dr. Angie Krause for Boulder Holistic Vet. “Anecdotal evidence is mainly composed of individual reports. For example, a dog or cat might have accidentally ingested some medical marijuana and the guardian noticed a resolution of symptoms. Maybe after consuming the cannabis, the pet was able to jump on the bed again or was more playful.”
For cats, she wrote that CBD oil can be helpful in cats who have irritable bowel disease, pancreatitis, arthritis, cancer, and asthma. It can reduce symptoms — including pain and discomfort — and even lengthen lifespans. Much like in cats, soothing anxiety is one of the best uses of CBD oil for canines, Dr. Krause wrote.
For both dogs and cats, it can also help with situational anxiety, such as loud storms, traveling, separation, moving into a new home, introducing a new pet, or having guests in your home. Lots of pet parents use CBD oil treats for Independence Day or New Year’s Eve, and it can also be used to manage arthritis and control seizures/epilepsy.
As we mentioned above, make sure to do your research before buying CBD oil for your pets. It is also advised that you get input from your vet about how much your pet should take (this website also provides guidance). One way to get the information you need is by contacting the company and asking for the following:
- Proof of third-arty verification of purity
- Proof that the product is free from pesticides, solvent residues, microbial contamination, and heavy metals
- Clear labeling on the packaging of CBD concentration per drop or per cc
Remember that CBD is not a treat, so giving the proper dosage is essential to seeing results. Ask your veterinarian to help you determine the correct dose for your pet. The following brands are a great place to start:
- Companion CBD – This company, owned by a veterinarian with extensive knowledge of CBD and its use in dogs and cats sells CBD soft chews.
- Ellevet Sciences – A company associated with Cornell University of Veterinary Medicine that sells CBD chews and drops for dogs and cats.
- Canopy Animal Health – Currently engaged in extensive CBD research in companion animals. They may or may not produce products in the future.
Healthy Paws does not cover CBD oil treats or supplements, however, should an accident or illness occur, you’d be covered by the Healthy Paws Pet Insurance plan. If you’re not already part of our pack, start by getting a free quote today.