CBD, or cannabidiol, is all the rage right now. There's a huge array of CBD items available for sale, including CBD products for cats and dogs. But what is CBD, and how should it be used when it comes to pets?
What is CBD?
CBD is a cannabinoid, meaning a chemical compound, in the cannabis plant. The cannabis plant contains many different cannabinoids. Some say there are over 60, some say over 100 — science isn't really sure yet. Of these cannabinoids, the types you've probably heard of are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the compound that makes you feel stoned. CBD does not give you that stoned feeling, but does have therapeutic benefits, and can be especially helpful in managing pain.
What it isn't
Though it comes from the cannabis plant, CBD isn't a means to getting high. This is true for humans as well as animals. Giving your pet CBD isn't the same as just giving them marijuana (which you should not do).
How to safely use CBD for pets
There's a lot of scientific evidence suggesting that CBD is effective at treating pain in humans. However, there is much less research on the use of CBD in cats and dogs. That doesn't mean CBD is unsafe, just that veterinary science can't prove its efficacy at this point in time. It's also not regulated by a governing body, and your vet can't write a prescription for it.
Despite the lack of scientific research around it, many pet owners claim that CBD products like treats and oils have been extremely effective in treating their pets' pain and anxiety. When dosed properly, many people claim success using CBD to treat their pets' nausea, arthritic pain, stress, and a variety of other conditions. The key here is to make sure you don't give them more than the recommended dosage — in fact, it's safest to start with a smaller-than-suggested dose, and work your way up.
Risks and benefits of CBD for pets.
CBD pet products are not regulated by the FDA or any other governing body. The FDA's official position is that CBD is an unapproved drug.
Some vets are wary of the lack of regulation. Dr. Lisa Moses, a vet who serves on the board of the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management, says "the lack of oversight, quality control and utter inability to know what is actually in the product" is what bothers her. Though it would be difficult and almost unheard of for your pet to overdose on a CBD product, it's technically possible, especially if there is any amount of THC in the product. Since these products are not regulated, it's impossible to guarantee that you're getting exactly what the packaging claims.
Still, other vets, like the late Dr. Robert Kramer, laud CBD for its perceived pain management benefits. Dr. Kramer claimed that CBD did wonders for his dog, who had untreatable cancer. He didn't claim that it cured her, just that it greatly improved her quality of life. (Countless other stories like this exist online.)
Is CBD right for your pet? There's no correct answer. There's a lot of anecdotal evidence that it helps pets manage pain and anxiety, but no real scientific evidence. The risk to your pet is low, but it does exist, and there is no real regulation of these products. Ultimately, only you can decide what's best for your pet.