CBD Pet Products Are Becoming More Popular, But Are They Actually Safe or Effective?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is having a moment. Although the idea of using any derivative of the marijuana plant used to be taboo in some circles, many Americans have realized that they can benefit from CBD’s healing properties without the high. These days, CBD can be found in everything from lotions and creams (which can contain oils in concentrations ranging from 1-99%) to trendy beverages. And although the research surrounding CBD is still rather slim, it’s been mostly accepted — when sourced reputably, at least — in today’s society to address a wide variety of ailments. But should CBD products be used for our furrier family members?

In a recent survey, roughly 80% of respondents found CBD products to be either very or extremely effective. But the jury is still out when it comes to our pets. For one thing, animals can’t consent to be given CBD like we can. But, of course, they can’t give their consent to be given any other kind of veterinarian-recommended medication, either. And because CBD products don’t (or aren’t supposed to, at least) contain THC — the component of cannabis that produces a high — many pet owners argue that CBD products should be regarded in the same way as conventional medicines are.

Indeed, countless pet parents have noticed a major difference since they first administered CBD oil and CBD-infused products to their animals. Some say that the products help with everything from anxiety and arthritis to seizures. And since most households in the U.S. have at least one pet, it’s likely that millions of canines could benefit from reduced pain and improved quality of life with just a drop each day.

By now, CBD products for pets have become rather mainstream, with Walgreens, CVS, and even Martha Stewart poised to premiere their own versions on store shelves in the near future. Willie Nelson is also releasing pet CBD products through his cannabis company. There are topical creams, tinctures, capsules, and even chewable treats that contain the stuff — and because they’re readily available, most pet parents assume that it’s a good idea to give these products to their pups. But veterinarians caution that we don’t know enough yet to say CBD is definitively safe or recommended for animals.

Although recent studies have found that CBD can increase comfort among dogs with osteoarthritis and reduce the frequency of seizures experienced by epileptic dogs, much more research needs to be completed. As of now, most of what we know about CBD’s positive effects is anecdotal. And while many vets are optimistic about the possibilities, others worry about the dosage and the product manufacturing process; because CBD isn’t regulated for humans or for animals, the onus is on the consumer to do their homework and ensure the ingredients are safe and that the products have been tested. It’s also a good idea for pet owners to talk to their vets prior to giving their animals any kind of CBD products to ensure it won’t interact poorly with medications.

Forbes Magazine reported that 92% of pet owners spent the same or more on their pets during the most recent recession period. But even knowing the risks, some animal owners will continue to give CBD oils and treats to their pets due to the improvements they’ve observed or the negative experiences they’ve had with traditional medications. And since even the American Kennel Club admits that the possible side effects of CBD in animals are rather mild (e.g., dry mouth, drowsiness, and temporary lowered blood pressure), many owners feel it’s worth it to give their good boy or girl some much-deserved relief.

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