CBD in Veterinary Medicine 

CBD:  Center for Biological Diversity

CBD:  Common Bile Duct

CBD:  Central Business District

C…B…D:  Cannabidiol!  Let’s face it, that’s the only CBD that anyone cares about these days, right?  Unless you have been living under a rock, you have heard about CBD being used by grandmothers, young adults, baby boomers, and veterans.  Of course, the inevitable question that follows is “Can I use it in my pets?” There is so much information out there and it’s so difficult to sort through what is correct and incorrect!  We would like to try to provide some factual information and hopefully answer some of your biggest questions about CBD.  

This will be an overview of where CBD comes from, what it may be used for, and things to look out for when purchasing CBD products.  Unfortunately, at this time, veterinarians are still unable to fully prescribe or recommend CBD products, but we are available to answer questions that you may have to help you more safely choose a product.  While hopefully these laws will be changing soon, the only state that has passed legislation to allow veterinarians to specifically recommend and prescribe these products is California.  

Question:  Is CBD the same as marijuana? 

Answer:  No. While both marijuana and hemp arise from different strains of the same plant (Cannabis sativa), they are highly varied in their content of THC (the psychoactive compound that creates the “high”) and CBD (the more medicinal compound).  Most CBD products are derived from the hemp plant, which by law is required to contain less than 0.3% THC. While you can get marijuana-based CBD products as well, they are only legally available in states in which recreational marijuana is allowed.  


Question:   What is CBD used for in pets?  

Answer:   Right now, research is being done to establish safe dosing levels of CBD in animals, and to determine what conditions may best respond to the use of CBD products.  It was initially suggested that CBD in pets may help with arthritis pain, improve appetite, control seizures, and slow tumor growth in cancer patients, but not all of these things have been investigated yet. 

CBD has been even less studied in cats, and given that they often metabolize drugs and other substances very differently than dogs, you should never assume that a CBD dog product or dose is safe for a cat to consume.  

Question:   Is there any research being done using CBD in pets?

Answer:   Yes, only very recently were some veterinary trials allowed to move forward to study the effects of CBD in particular conditions in dogs.  A small double-blinded trial of 22 client-owned dogs with osteoarthritis has been published as of July 2019 from Cornell University. This study showed that dogs that received CBD oil experienced a significant 

reduction in pain and an increase in activity compared to dogs that were given placebo.  

Another study of 16 dogs with epilepsy studied at Colorado State University revealed that 90% of the patients had a significant decrease in the number of seizures they experienced.  Colorado State has received a large grant to go forward with more in-depth research based on these preliminary findings.  


Question:   Well I can buy CBD anywhere now.  If I can take it, my dog can take it, right? 

Answer:   No, this is definitely not the case.  Unfortunately human CBD products may be formulated with additives that can be toxic to dogs and cats.  Some contain things like xylitol, which is toxic to our pets. You should also choose products from reputable sources, as many CBD products have been found to be contaminated with heavy metals, toxins, mold, and some products have been found to actually contain no CBD at all!  It is important to do your research and look for well-established companies that provide very thorough and specific information about their products, source their hemp responsibly, and perform rigorous quality control.  

One important thing to look for is to see if the company provides a certificate of analysis (COA) on their website, or will provide one if you ask.  This reveals the amount of THC and CBD in each product, as well as any testing they have done to confirm there are no contaminants present. If you cannot view a company’s COA, this presents a red flag about the safety of their products.  


Question:   Will CBD make my pet high?  Are there side effects? 

Answer:   As mentioned previously, the current hemp-based CBD products that can be legally sold in the Ark-la-tex will not make your pet ‘high’ due to their low THC content.  While side effects are rarely reported in pets, early trials have shown some effects such as an increase in ALP (a liver enzyme) in some dogs. Therefore, more research is needed to evaluate the safety of these products in dogs, and particularly cats. 

If you choose to use CBD in your pets, it is important to always start at a low dose and work your way up to allow you to slowly evaluate their response.  You should always use CBD products under the supervision of your veterinarian, and always let them know you are giving it in case other medications or supplements could interact with it.  

If you have questions about the use of CBD in your pet, please contact UVH at 318-797-5522.  Our goal is to provide correct and relevant information regarding CBD to keep your pet safe and happy.