CBD and pets: Using pot on your dog or cat

Pet owners will do just about anything to help ease their pet's suffering, so it's no shock the hottest trend in health care would eventually trickle down to our pups and kitties.

Cannabinoids are more commonly known as the chemical compound behind CBD. It's important to note that CBD oil is derived from hemp and does not contain THC, which is the compound that gives marijuana its psychoactive effects.

CBD is increasingly popular for pets that suffer from arthritis, as it reportedly reduces inflammation and reduces pain. There's also reports it helps pets that suffer from seizures. CBD oil is available for pets but there isn't much research on its benefits or even effects. However, a recent study at Cornell connected CBD with alleviating arthritis pain in pets.

Various treatment oils for pets

"Veterinary literature as of today suggests it may be useful for chronic pain and, possibly, seizure activity," study participant Dr. Joseph J. Wakshlag, DVM, Ph.D., told FOX Business. "There is a lot to learn about CBD and other cannabinoids as medicine. In the clinical study I did with ElleVet, the dogs in the trial all had a significant or dramatic improvement, and these were very old dogs with severe osteoarthritis. There is much to learn, but the potential is there in areas like seizure, IBD, oncology, dermatology and other areas. We have just begun to scratch the surface."

The dogs in the trial all had a significant or dramatic improvement.

- Dr. Joseph J. Wakshlag, DVM, PhD

CBD oils are popping up in many shops across the country, but it's crucial to know not all CBD oils are equal. In fact, CBD oil contains a concentrated amount of hemp, so there's always a risk giving it to your pet as there is not a good guideline on how much to give them. There's also the possible impurities in it, including heavy metals that are found in the soil or even pesticides that may have been sprayed on the hemp plant.

"With so many bad products on the market now, it is hard for both vets and consumers to navigate good versus bad products," Wakshlag said. "Pet owners need to make sure they are getting a good product, and then, it is a wonderful option for pets when you have the right product and can help, especially older pets, tremendously. CBD could become the first line of defense in treating pets over traditional medications."

CBD could become the first line of defense in treating pets over traditional medications.

- Dr. Joseph J. Wakshlag, DVM, PhD

The American Veterinary Medical Association remains cautiously optimistic as well.

Dog treat and cannabis leaves (iStock)

"Although we are encouraged by the therapeutic potential demonstrated by preliminary investigations in conditions such as epilepsy and osteoarthritis, there are limited peer-reviewed published studies addressing the therapeutic potential to veterinary patients, and the results have been inconsistent," an American Veterinary Medical Association spokesperson told FOX Business. "This is not to say that such benefits may not exist. There is real potential for cannabis-derived products in the veterinary space and the path to market must support the pursuit of the necessary research to produce safe and efficacious products with valid label claims."

The results have been inconsistent.

- The American Veterinary Medical Association

The AVMA says another aspect pet owners should consider is how the CBD product would interact with other medications the animals may already be taking. They also echoed Wakshlag's concerns about possible toxic contaminants that may be in current CBD products in the marketplace.

In 2017, the AKC Canine Health Foundation teamed up with the Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences to study the use of CBD in epileptic dogs that haven't responded to mainstream treatment plans. The results of that study have yet to be released.

Use of CBD oil on dogs?

The Food and Drug Administration knows some cannabis products are being marketed as animal health products, but they are emphasizing that they have not approved any products and cannot ensure their safety.

"It would be a real shame if the Food and Drug Administration were to ban this type of supplement from the market," Wakshlag said. "As it stands now, there are other plant-based supplements on the market that are effective and do not receive this sort of scrutiny. Politics appear to be playing a role rather than what is best for your pets. That said, the veterinarian in me feels there needs to be more safety and efficacy data so that everyone is comfortable with dosing and products on the market. I did a safety study with Ellevet products on dogs and cats, but more studies to add to the data would be helpful."

Politics appear to be playing a role rather than what is best for your pets.

- Dr. Joseph J. Wakshlag, DVM, PhD

Wakshlag said while there is no "crystal ball" to predict what the FDA will do, he thinks the study's findings are promising.

"The AVMA, like other stakeholders, is anxiously awaiting the outcome of FDA’s deliberations and is actively advocating that any pathway to market assures the safety and efficacy of products that are administered to veterinary patients," the AVMA told FOX Business.


The FDA recommends people talk to their pet's veterinarian about CBD oil as a treatment option.