Proponents say CBD is helpful for pets' anxiety and other conditions. Opponents say the products aren't regulated. Even our furry friends are now enjoying the benefits of CBD.
CBD for Pets – Top 3 Pros and Cons
Source: Austin Community College Vet Tech Program, “Veterinary Tech Students from Austin Community College Are Involved in Helping with Heartworm, FeLV, FIV, and Socializing and Cleaning up the Animals at Bastrop Animal Control and Shelter,” flickr.com, Nov. 10, 2014, creative commons license
When people talk about giving marijuana to pets, they are really talking about the use of CBD products derived from hemp. The California Veterinary Medical Board explains that CBD is the “abbreviation for cannabidiol, which is one out of 60 naturally occurring compounds present in cannabis. It is the second-most prevalent cannabinoid in both hemp and marijuana and is nonpsychoactive.” CBD extracted from hemp contains less than 0.3% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the compound in marijuana that causes the high. 
THC is toxic for cats and dogs even in small amounts. The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center reported a 765% increase in calls regarding animals ingesting marijuana from 2018 to 2019. 
In 2020, pet owners spent about $99 billion on their furry friends, a growth of 12 times over 2019 as more people worked from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. The market for CBD products aimed at companion animals jumped from $32 million in 2018 to $400 million in 2019. During the pandemic, in 2020 sales rose to $426 million and are expected to jump to $629 million in 2021.    
A survey found that 11% of dog owners and 8% of cat owners gave CBD to their pets in 2019, often in the form of pet treats, tinctures administered under the tongue, and salves or creams applied topically. Reasons cited for giving CBD to companion animals included caring for aging pets and treating conditions such as anxiety, pain, and seizures.    
Is CBD Good for Pets?
A majority of veterinarians agree that CBD helps animals.
A Veterinary Information Network survey found that 79% of vets with clinical experience using cannabis products said CBD was somewhat or very helpful for chronic pain in animals; over 62% said it was helpful for managing anxiety. Over 80% of those vets said there were no reports of adverse effects aside from sedation. 
A study published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science found that 82.2% of veterinarians agreed or strongly agreed that there are medicinal uses of CBD products for dogs from a medical standpoint. 
Jeffrey Judkins, DVM, holistic veterinarian at Animalkind Veterinarian Clinic, said that CBD is “100% non-toxic. You can’t overdose on CBD. It might make pets sleepy, but there’s no toxicity.” Judkins reported success in using CBD to alleviate pain and anxiety in animals, stating, “Recently I was able to significantly reduce the amount of a narcotic pain drug a dog was being given (with adverse side effects) by substituting a cannabis product.”  
Studies about CBD use in pets have had positive results.
A clinical trial found that 89% of dogs who were given CBD oil experienced fewer seizures. Researchers at Cornell University who performed a double-blind cross-over trial on dogs with osteoarthritis found “a significant decrease in pain and increase in activity” with CBD oil. There were no observed side effects from the CBD treatment. Studies on laboratory animals have shown benefits for cardiovascular health, the respiratory system, and cancer and pain treatment.   
While experts acknowledge that research in this area is preliminary, they speak positively about the results to date.
Stephanie McGrath, DVM, neurologist at Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, stated, “We saw a correlation between how high the levels of CBD were in these dogs with how great the seizure reduction was. It’s really exciting that perhaps we can start looking at CBD in the future as an alternative to existing anticonvulsive drugs.” 
Pet owners report success in treating their animals with CBD.
Many pet owners swear by the use of CBD to treat ailments such as anxiety, pain, digestive issues, and inflammation. Their positive experiences are reflected in the growing market for CBD pet products. The industry was estimated at $400 million in 2019, and could jump to $1.7 billion by 2023.  
A study of people who gave their dogs CBD found that less than 5% reported any side effects, and the most common side effect was lethargy (a lack of energy). 
Joshua Hartsel, PhD, chemist and CEO of Delta-9 Technologies, stated that since all mammals have an endocannabinoid system, “the same or similar benefits of cannabinoids found in humans can also be applied to most veterinary species.” In fact, people have been giving medical cannabis to pets and farm animals since the 1800s. 
CBD pet products are unregulated.
The lack of regulation means pet owners could be buying CBD with unlisted ingredients that are potentially toxic to their pets, such as THC. Experts say these products are in need of testing for the presence of heavy metals, pesticides, and THC. “It’s really the Wild West out there,” said S. David Moche, MBA, CEO of a veterinary medicine company that sells CBD products.   
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that 70% of the CBD products they analyzed didn’t match the concentration listed on the label, and 21% of their samples contained THC despite it not being on the label. 
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said in a statement, “We want to stress that FDA has not approved cannabis for any use in animals, and the agency cannot ensure the safety or effectiveness of these products.” According to the FDA, animals who ingest cannabis could suffer negative side effects such as “lethargy, depression, heavy drooling, vomiting, agitation, tremors, and convulsions.” 
There isn’t enough scientific evidence to support giving CBD to pets.
Research in this area is so new that no one knows the long-term impacts of CBD use in companion animals, or what an effective and safe dose would be. 
Sue Lowum, DVM, a veterinarian and associate professor at the University of Minnesota, said she wouldn’t recommend CBD for pets because “We just don’t have enough information at this point to draw any legitimate conclusions… there is no assurance the CBD oil they purchase is safe or effective.” Veterinarians’ knowledge about CBD use in pets is purely anecdotal at the moment because of the limited scientific evidence available.  
Further, researchers found that some seller’s websites contain “blatant lies” about CBD.  The American Veterinary Medical Association stated, “While both marijuana and industrial hemp products are available, no studies, doses, or uses in veterinary medicine have been determined… AVMA cautions pet owners against the use of such products.” 
Using CBD instead of traditional medicine may harm animals.
A phenomenon called the “caregiver placebo effect” may cause pet owners to misread their animals’ response to CBD. This might lead to suffering in animals that could have been helped by veterinarian-prescribed medications with scientifically proven effectiveness. 
Alex Avery, BVSc, veterinary surgeon and founder of Our Pets Health, said, “Because we are so invested in our pet, we really want to see them improve and likely believe the treatment will work… There is a real risk we will see improvement even when it is not there.” 
Much of what we know about therapeutic CBD is specific to humans, and its effects on companion animals could be quite different because they don’t metabolize it the same way. CBD could also cause dangerous interactions with pharmaceutical drugs prescribed by a vet.   
Click for an Encyclopaedia Britannica video about the chemistry of marijuana
and how its potency and safety is determined.
1. What is the difference between anecdotal evidence and scientific evidence? Should one be trusted more than the other?
2. Should veterinarians be legally allowed to talk about cannabis with their patients? What reasons might there be to restrict those conversations?
3. Would you give your pets CBD products for medical reasons? Why or why not?
1. Learn about the debate from Mercey Livingston’s CNET article.
2. Explore the difference between CBD and THC for dogs at Pet MD.
3. Consider the debate via a Washington Post article by Maura Judkis.
4. Consider how you felt about the issue before reading this article. After reading the pros and cons on this topic, has your thinking changed? If so, how? List two to three ways. If your thoughts have not changed, list two to three ways your better understanding of the “other side of the issue” now helps you better argue your position.
5. Push for the position and policies you support by writing US national senators and representatives.
The Pros (and Con) of CBD for Pets
Cannabis contains hundreds of cannabinoids. Of all these compounds, the most important are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The former is known for its psychoactive effects, while the latter is known for its numerous health benefits. Throughout the years, CBD has risen to become a formidable health and wellness product for people. Now, people are using it to change the lives of their pets.
Potential Benefits of CBD for Pets
CBD is a wonderful supplement for cats, dogs, and other animals. The compound can prevent convulsions, inflammation, stress, cancer, and more. Most of these effects are felt by humans as well. Perhaps the most important benefit that animals could get from CBD is that it helps them relax easier. The compound will help them get through stressful periods that could otherwise have adverse effects on their health.
Every fur parent knows how horrible it is to see our pets suffer through thunderstorms and the loud noises made by fireworks during New Year’s Eve. This distress could result in abnormal breathing and heart rate, a suppressed immune system, and more.
With its benefits aside, is CBD really safe to use in dogs, cats, and other animals? Many dog owners seem to believe so, and they are standing by their decision to incorporate CBD into their pet’s life.
Potential Side Effects
While the benefits may be enticing, CBD users should understand that there are a few side effects worth knowing about first. A study published in the Cannabis and Cannabinoid Journal reveals that humans can feel tiredness, diarrhea, and even appetite loss when consuming CBD. The good thing is that animals don’t suffer the same side effects. In fact, the only drawback they might experience is slight drowsiness.
The Rally Behind CBD Use for Pets
Those who rally behind the use of CBD for animals are pushing to share the compound’s benefits with their pets. Those who stand against it, on the other hand, are still on the fence about CBD’s effects on animals, and they are simply waiting for more scientific research to back up the many claims. Once more research is done, the CBD pet product industry will be able to fully reach its capacity.
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The good greatly outweighs the bad in this case, so it should not be surprising to see a growing demand for CBD products that are tailor-made for our furry friends.
Getting the Best CBD Products
Now that there is a clear market for CBD pet products, many companies are willing to expand their product line with animal-friendly items. One brand that has been there to support pet owners from the beginning is PotNetwork Holdings, Inc. (POTN).
Types of Products Available
POTN distributes a wide selection of products through its wholly owned subsidiary, Diamond CBD, Inc., including creams, dabs, flavored oils, and more. Diamond CBD offers a growing line of CBD pet products which includes treats, capsules, and oils. Aside from coming in packed with the miracle compound, these products are made palatable for cats’ and dogs’ taste buds.
A bestseller from the category is Pet CBD Food Bacon Flavor. The oil can be added to a pet’s food or water 1–2 times a day. Since it comes in a flavor that dogs know and love, they will not hesitate to eat or drink it instantly. Another best seller is the MediPets CBD Beef Wrap Dog Treats. One jar of the product contains chewy treats that have 3mg of CBD per piece. It serves as a great reward for good boys to keep their tails wagging.
POTN’s products are nothing short of being high-quality. All the hemp plants used in CBD production are carefully handpicked to guarantee each plant used surpasses standards. As an added measure, POTN manually inspects all products before giving them the go signal for distribution.
The company’s dedication to creating quality products has resulted in major revenue growth. During the first half of 2018, POTN was able to yield more than $12 million in revenue, which is more than double its earnings when compared year-over-year.
CBD Is a Growing Industry for People and Pets
The CBD industry is able to touch many users thanks to its versatility and benefits. It is not only humans that deserve a dose of the miracle compound, as our lovable pet friends should have access to these too. As more studies about CBD use on animals are being conducted, we can expect more companies to pitch in the growing market which will make it more accessible to pet owners.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.