CBD for Pets: Does it Work and Is it Safe?
Many people have experienced improvements in their health after consuming supplements and other products that contain cannabidiol (CBD). Now, some are asking an obvious and important question: “Is CBD safe for pets, the same way it’s helped me and my family?”
Research into the effects of CBD on cats, dogs and other animals is ongoing. Early results are highly promising, and there is ample anecdotal evidence to suggest CBD can help alleviate the symptoms of many conditions that affect pets. Pet parents and veterinarians alike are providing testimony about their positive experiences with CBD, and on occasion they’re offering reports that border on the miraculous.
People want to know if CBD really works for animals, without a doubt. But they also want to be sure that CBD for pets is safe, in both the short-term and long-term. Responsible pet parents aren’t going to purchase CBD supplements or treats for their cats and dogs until they’re certain these products won’t cause unpleasant or hazardous side effects.
Fortunately, the research results that have been collected up to now have not revealed any clear safety issues. At this point, the data that has accumulated on the effect of CBD on pets have all been positive.
CBD for Pets is a True Growth Industry
While research into CBD’s potential impact on animal health is still in its nascent stage, the companions of companion animals aren’t waiting around for permission to give CBD to their pets.
A 2019 report from the market research company Packaged Facts found that 11 percent of dog owners and eight percent of cat owners had already given cannabidiol supplements or treats to their pets—and this percentage is expanding at an accelerating rate.
“Product innovation featuring cannabidiol (CBD), an active ingredient in cannabis derived from hemp, in products for humans and pets alike has arguably been the most discussed trend of 2019,” the Packaged Fact report noted.
“Pet owner interest in CBD has surged along with the soaring popularity of CBD among humans, driven by the growing media coverage of the benefits CBD is said to offer,” said Shannon Brown, the company’s senior pet market analyst
Interestingly, another recent report from a marketing data firm called Grand View Research revealed that approximately 24 percent of all U.S. pet owners have purchased CBD products, for use on themselves, their pets or for both.
Even more intriguingly, the 2019-2020 American Pet Products Association National Pet Owners Survey found that 39 percent of dog owners and 34 percent of cat owners expressed a preference for CBD-infused pet products in comparison to possible alternatives. Since these percentages are significantly higher than the number of people who’ve actually tried CBD on their cats and dogs, according to the Packaged Facts survey, it appears that millions of pet parents who have yet to give CBD to their companion animals plan to do so in the very near future.
Projected growth in demand for the CBD-based supplement and treat industry for pets would seem to verify this hypothesis. Grand View Research is forecasting a compound annual growth rate of 40.3 percent for the CBD-for-pets industry between 2020 and 2027, and if this is true it means the global market for CBD pet products will hit the $400 million mark in just six years’ time. Focusing on the domestic market, the analytics firm Neilson Global Connect predicts that by the year 2025, CBD supplements and treats will represent one-fourth of all animal supplements purchased by consumers in the United States.
The Evidence Mounts: CBD is Safe and Beneficial for Cats and Dogs
Such rapid growth could be scary, if there were any reason to question the efficacy and/or the safety of CBD products. But no such reasons have emerged.
On a macro-scale, research on CBD for use in pets is still in its preliminary phase. But the controlled, peer-reviewed studies that have been performed so far have produced highly promising results.
For example, in 2018 a team of researchers from Cornell University tested the effectiveness of commercial-quality CBD products on dogs with osteoarthritis. This study found that 80 percent of the dogs showed significant improvements in their mobility, while also experiencing a measurable and notable reduction in the levels of pain they were experiencing.
Another 2019 research initiative, on the impact of CBD on dogs that experience idiopathic seizures (a malady that up to five percent of dogs will develop), also produced remarkable results. Under the supervision of Stephanie McGrath from the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Colorado State University, this study found that when dogs afflicted with this condition were given CBD, their incidence of seizures shrunk by 89 percent.
In order to evaluate the safety of CBD when administered orally, the Portland, Maine-based CBD manufacturer ElleVet Sciences arranged a test that included both dogs and cats. The animals in the study were administered CBD at 10 times the normal dose, and even at this elevated quantity absolutely no adverse health effects were observed in either type of animal.
While studies like this have been limited in number, impressive anecdotal evidence has been accumulating at a much faster rate. Pet parents and veterinarians have reported success when using CBD to ameliorate the symptoms of a variety of painful and unpleasant disorders and conditions.
Jeffrey Powers, a veterinarian from Michigan who chairs the Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents for the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), gave CBD products to his St. Bernard Ella, who suffered from arthritis and severe storm anxiety.
“I tried almost all of the products available for the treatment of those conditions, but found them ineffective,” he told Today’s Veterinary Nurse. “I decided to try hemp CBD oil and chews and Ella has done extremely well from several standpoints. CBD may be a good alternative to NSAIDs, which can cause problems in some pets.”
Casara Andre, a Colorado-based veterinarian who founded the organization Veterinary Cannabis Education and Consulting, is another practitioner who’s learned from personal experience how effective CBD can be for pets. She gave CBD oil to her aging cat, Mattie, who was suffering from arthritis, kidney problems and inflammatory bowel disease.
“I saw dramatic improvements,” she recalled. “Mattie started eating better, playing, and no more IBD. It gave me my cat back, and gave Mattie four more amazing years.”
Just like human beings, cats and dogs (and other animals) possess endocannabinoid systems that can deliver significant therapeutic effects when stimulated by the presence of cannabinoids like CBD or THC. The endocannabinoid system is a true gift from nature, and one that we’re fortunate to share with many other species that occupy this planetary space.
CBD for Pets and the Veterinary Profession
CBD oil is derived from hemp, and the legalization of hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill dramatically improved the prospects for the CBD industry as a whole.
Despite this important shift in CBD’s legal status, state veterinary boards have yet to endorse the use of CBD for animal health issues. In fact, they generally provide no guidance at all to veterinarians, who are being asked more and more often by pet parents about the possible benefits of CBD-infused treats and supplements.
As the most influential organization in the veterinary profession, the American Veterinary Medical Association could push state boards in a more progressive direction, by standing up for CBD and promoting the emerging science. But they have been reluctant to say much of anything.
Their official statement on CBD and pets states the following:
“Although cannabinoids such as CBD appear to hold therapeutic promise in areas such as the treatment of epilepsy and the management of pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, the available scientific evidence pertaining to their use in animals is currently limited. While findings from a few well-controlled studies have been published, much of what we know is related to anecdotal or case reports or has been gleaned from studies related to use in humans … The AVMA continues to encourage well-controlled clinical research and pursuit of FDA approval by manufacturers of cannabis-derived products, so that high-quality products of known safety and efficacy can be made available for veterinarians and their patients.”
Essentially, they’re passing the buck to the FDA, which is notoriously slow to approve non-pharmaceutically-based products. This ultimately puts the onus on individual veterinarians, who must rely on their own judgment before deciding whether to discuss the potential benefits of CBD with pet parents who inquire.
Ideally, you should speak to your veterinarian before purchasing a CBD-based gel, tincture, chew, jerky or other type of oral treat or supplement for your cat or dog. If you’re fortunate, your veterinarian will agree to talk to you and share what they know, if they’ve been keeping up-to-date with the latest research and/or have enlightening stories to tell about how CBD products have helped other pet parents successfully treat their animal’s pain, inflammation, anxiety, arthritis, epilepsy, or other serious health problems.
Should your veterinarian be unwilling or unable to help, you can visit the website of the American Holistic Veterinary Association and use their search tools to find veterinarians who practice holistic medicine in your areas. Practitioners who’ve joined this forward-thinking organization are generally more familiar with CBD and other types of natural remedies, and can offer you advice that will help you make the wisest choice.
The Importance of Quality Control in the CBD Industry
There is currently no reason to believe CBD products produced by reliable manufacturers and sold by trustworthy retailers are unsafe. Quality assurance is important, however, which is why you should only purchase CBD from vendors who can provide you with proof that their products have been tested and evaluated by a third-party laboratory that has been licensed to perform such work.
At Zen Garden Organics, all of our CBD supplements have been thoroughly tested and authenticated by Stillwater Laboratories, an independent company with a sterling reputation in the industry. When you purchase our phytocannabinoid-rich hemp oil tincture for your pets, you can rest assured that you’ll be providing your beloved companions with a natural substance that contains only the highest-quality ingredients—which you’ll be able to verify by checking out the Certificate of Analysis available on our site.
When you obtain your CBD products from ZGO, you’ll be guaranteeing your pet—and yourself—a safe and potentially life-transforming experience.
By: Nathan Falde