CBD products for my pet- Can they help?
In my last blog, I talked about marijuana and the need to keep marijuana away from your pets since dogs and cats are hyper-sensitive to the psycho-active ingredient THC. So, what’s the difference between THC and it’s cousin CBD that you may have heard about? There have been lots of fantastic claims out there, so what can you truly believe? I’ll try to answer that- and more.
What is CBD?
CBD is short for cannabidiol, which is one of the chemical compounds found in the hemp plant. The major difference between CBD and marijuana is that CBD contains little to no THC. THC is the psycho-active chemical component that produces the high when consuming marijuana.
So, CBD does not get your pet stoned. Dogs are highly sensitive to THC, so lots of folks in favor of marijuana are considering or using alternatives like CBD oils, treats and other therapies or supplements for a variety of ailments. Manufacturers and marketers of CBD products- whether they are in the form of oils, treats or chews- claim that CBD can relieve or alleviate effects of the following conditions:
- Bowel Disease
- Joint Pain
- Pain Relief
- Appetite Stimulant
Please note, that I am not denying nor supporting these claims. These are claims are widely espoused on numerous websites, including sellers and manufacturers of these products- so you can take these claims for what they’re worth.
Do you recommend CBD products?
With the lack of empirical evidence, it’s hard for me to do so with enthusiasm. I do believe that there may be a variety of ailments that CBD may be able to help with. Perhaps not as a cure to these ailments, but more likely as a palliative therapy. I won’t discourage a pet owner from seeking out alternatives when they’re legally available, but don’t expect me to recommend it outright. It’s still a bit of a gray area as to what we can and can’t recommend legally- so my veterinary license could be on the line. I prefer to err on the side of caution when it comes to my livelihood.
But I am a realist. I do realize that there are likely a number of benefits of CBD products for certain pets with certain, specific ailments. I will not discourage someone from considering said products for their pets with certain ailments and discussing the results that have been realized.
CBD is still highly unregulated
In doing further research for this blog, I’m pretty amazed at some of the claims that some websites have put out there. “It cures cancer” says one website. It lessened a dog’s heart murmur- claims another. Unfortunately, the miraculous claims regarding CBD remains purely anecdotal at best, and has not been backed up by scientific research.
It is very important to realize that CBD supplements or their claims are not regulated by the FDA, and many of these products are manufactured overseas with little or no oversight. It is impossible to know exactly what may be in these supplements that may harm your pet- whether it be short term or long term.
Further, little research has been done on CBD for pets. Although more research studies are beginning soon, it puts me in a difficult position. I do want to be able to recommend products that may be able to benefit your pet. But it is hard for me to do so with little more than anecdotal claims which are difficult to prove.
Why hasn’t there been more research?
Mainly because the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) still has cannabis and CBD as a schedule I drug. Their definition of schedule I means that marijuana is a drug that has no accepted medical use and has a high potential for abuse. While the ‘no accepted medical use’ is certainly up for debate, the fact that it is schedule I means that it is difficult for researchers to get their hands on it. If they can get their hands on it, it’s usually expensive.
If you do wish to consider these products for your pets, do your research. If a products claims seem outlandish, they probably are. Watch carefully for buzzwords like ‘all natural’ . Although hemp and marijuana are products of nature, it is all eventually processed which alters the natural product. With CBD, it is not uncommon for chemical solvents like butane or hexane to be used in the extraction process. These toxic chemicals may not be removed completely from the finished product.
Research the companies that you choose to buy from. Look for recent, unbiased reviews. Pay particular attention to the negative reviews, as shady companies often pay for positive reviews on bad products. Sad, but true.
I do hope that this helps clarify some of your questions regarding CBD products. I hate being wishy-washy on the matter- because I do think that there is a lot of potential benefits here- I just can’t get behind it 100% yet, until I see more legitimate research data and movement from a legal standpoint.
If you are providing your pet with CBD products, it is important to let your veterinarian know. Like most other supplements, your vet should be told about any products you give your pet during your pet’s annual exams. From a learning standpoint, I would enjoy the opportunity to see if your pet’s conditions improve while on these products- so that I can write about some success stories I’ve seen personally and share the results with my colleagues. Keep me in the loop so we can continue to contribute to the bigger conversation.