CBD for Pets? What Are the Latest Trends in the Animal Care Industry?

Monday, January 13th, 2020
animal care

Veterinary cannabis use is relatively new, given the fact that the use of recreational and medicinal marijuana has only become legal in the last decade. CBD pet use for pain, seizure disorders, and anxiety continues to rise – CBD for pets is a market expected to reach $125 million by 2022. While the demand increases, research and regulation efforts are still ongoing in many places.

This article highlights everything you should know before using CBD in its various forms for your pet’s needs. Read on to learn more.

Background Information about CBD

CBD, or Cannabidiol, is a member of the cannabinoid family, which are chemicals naturally found in cannabis plants. Cannabinoids are compounds that affect the body’s endocannabinoid system, helping with homeostasis. Homeostasis in the body is the system that maintains the body’s natural equilibrium.

The more popular cannabinoid is THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the compound that gives you a “high” when you use cannabis. CBD does have a psychoactive effect, but it doesn’t make you high, unlike THC.

How is CBD Administered for Pet Care?

CBD products for pets look just like the CBD products used for humans. They include edible CBD, such as capsules and chewable treats, topical balms and creams rubbed onto the skin, and oils that can be placed under the tongue or added in food. Depending on the method of administration, CBD has different effects on the body of pets, particularly dogs. 

Pharmacokinetic data shows that the three methods have different effects in terms of distribution and bioavailability of CBD in the body. In simple terms, the three delivery methods result in different blood concentrations of CBD over time. Therefore, it’s just as important to know the right delivery method depending on the effect you wish to induce. 

Of the three, CBD oils or tinctures have the best bioavailability, which means that they reach the highest blood concentrations and stay in the bloodstream longest. As a result, they offer maximum therapeutic effects. Additionally, CBD tinctures performed consistently regardless of the dog species where they were administered.

Is CBD for Animals Safe?

WHO research has shown that in its purest forms, CBD is safe and well-tolerated by pets. It is noteworthy, however, that animals undergoing CBD therapy usually show elevated ALP in the liver (alkaline phosphatase enzyme, which is a liver function test parameter). It is unclear whether this is caused by something benign or sets up the animal for more severe liver problems in the longer term.

Therefore, CBD must not be administered to a pet with known liver issues, particularly since it appears to be metabolized in the liver. Additionally, CBD must not be combined with other medications that are metabolized in the liver to prevent undesirable interactions. Be sure to visit with an experienced vet before using CBD for pets.

Benefits of CBD for Animal Care

The exact mechanism of action of CBD in animals is still being researched. As stated earlier, the use of medicinal forms of cannabis is relatively new, even among human beings. However, there are some health benefits of CBD in animals.

For example, a study showed that CBD products could help increase activity and comfort for osteoarthritic dogs. Another study showed that administering CBD to epileptic dogs may help to decrease the number of seizures. Bear in mind that these are initial studies, which means that much more research is needed before these findings are accepted as a universal truth.

However, veterinarians don’t often have many options to treat osteoarthritis in cats and dogs, and so CBD is gaining popularity for this condition. Some of the existing drugs already have debilitating side effects, unlike CBD. In the meantime, more extensive studies in both dogs and cats are ongoing.

Quality Control

The other concern related to CBD administration in pets is ensuring quality control of the CBD product. Remember that the CBD market is relatively new, and hence not as well-regulated as other medicines. 

The biggest danger with CBD products is residual amounts of THC, which is known to be toxic to cats and dogs. The best CBD products are those which contain 0.0% of THC, although trace amounts not exceeding 0.3% are legally permissible.

You can ensure your pets are using the best products by only buying those products which come with certificates of analysis (COA). Check that the batch number on the product packaging or label matches the one on the COA. Independent laboratories issue COAs after they have tested the products to confirm potency and ingredients, among other factors.

Final Thoughts

No matter how much you have heard from fellow pet owners, use CBD for your own pet with caution. Where CBD is legal, you can administer CBD without a vet’s intervention, but we discourage this strongly. Your vet can answer many of the questions where there’s still uncertainty after assessing your pet’s physical state.


Remember that research is still in its infancy on basics like modes of administration and dosages. Have realistic expectations on the efficacy of CBD treatment, depending on your pet’s condition.

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