Why Vets May Not Want to (or Can’t) Talk About CBD for Your Pet

Why Vets May Not Want to (or Can’t) Talk About CBD for Your Pet

August 5, 2022

As CBD becomes more widely available for humans, we are starting to learn more about its benefits for various health problems. Every day people use CBD products to treat arthritis, stress, sleep disorders, and chronic pain. So why can’t CBD products be used for cats and dogs?

The answer is that it can! So why is it that many pet parents experience closed doors when it comes to discussing CBD products with veterinarians? Are veterinarians opposed to it, or are other factors at play? We’ll get into the nitty-gritty details below.

What’s the deal? Why won’t vets talk about CBD?

CBD has become increasingly popular for use in pets as the human industry is booming. Multiple companies have started to formulate their pet-safe versions to help dogs and cats with similar health problems like joint pain, stress, behavioral disorders, etc. So why is it so hard to discuss the use of this product with veterinarians? After all, we want our veterinarian to be on board with the health decisions we are making for our pets. Also, we need guidance to know which products are safe for use.

The CBD industry has transformed in many ways as marijuana is becoming legalized across the country. Its association with THC has created a stigma that it is related to the drug and may be harmful. This is especially true for cats and dogs as THC is quite toxic and may even be life-threatening. Reputable CBD products list the percentage of THC on their labels (and should be free of THC), but this may still cause veterinarians to take pause. Many products are considered nutriceuticals so therefore these products are not regulated by the FDA to ensure safety or efficacy, but the use of CBD is still regulated by the FDA. Many of these products do not undergo trials in human or veterinary patients before they are released on the market, so safety cannot be guaranteed. There are currently no FDA-approved CBD products for veterinary patients: Source – https://www.avma.org/cannabis-cannabis-derived-and-cannabis-related-products-regulatory-status-faq?check_logged_in=1

Because CBD products are not FDA approved, veterinarians approving or recommending these drugs are at legal risk if harm were to occur. While many states have approved cannabis products to be used without FDA approval, the same extension is not applied to use in animals. Some states, like California, have allowed veterinarians to discuss the use of these products with their clients, but these products cannot be legally distributed to animal patients. In many states, cannabis products are still considered controlled substances and veterinarians may be prosecuted for the administration or use of these drugs in their patients.

Aside from concerns centered around the products themselves, there’s also the issue that cannabinoids have not been extensively studied in dogs and cats. This means that effective dosing, safety margins, and potential adverse effects have not been determined. There have been studies evaluating the use of CBD in dogs, but they are few and far between. The FDA has explicitly stated concern about the use of unregulated products in human and animal patients: “Selling unapproved products with unsubstantiated therapeutic claims is not only a violation of the law but can also put patients at risk, as the products have not been proven to be safe or effective.”

With all these factors at play, it is can be challenging or even illegal for veterinarians to recommend these products. This very well may be the reason your veterinarian is averse to a discussion about CBD products.

A Brief History Of How Products Get Approval For Use in Veterinary Care

Veterinarians have to abide by laws when it comes to the use of prescription medications, just like human physicians. There is a veterinary formulary for prescription drugs. For veterinarians to use a drug legally, it must be licensed and labeled for use in veterinary patients. Some drugs may be used “off label”, but this is only appropriate when alternative labeled medications are not available. Using drugs off-label without strong rationale can put veterinarians at risk of fines, legal action, or even losing their license – especially if harm is caused by the drug.

Supplements and nutraceuticals do not fall into the same criteria as they are not considered drugs. Many veterinarians will recommend supplements developed by companies they know and trust. These companies have rigorous quality control testing, safety assurance, and have researched their products.

Where’s CBD at in the Process of Being Adopted Into Universal Practice?

CBD products are regulated by the FDA and the FDA dictates whether or not veterinarians can recommend or discuss these medications. At this time, CBD products are not supported by the FDA and therefore, in many states, veterinarians cannot sell or recommend these products. Some states allow discussion of the products, but many still cannot sell CBD products.

As more research is being done about the potential benefits for humans and animals, the FDA is likely to loosen its regulations surrounding the product. Only time will tell, but the research is promising.

What About Vets That DO Support CBD as an Option For Pets?

Despite the factors we discussed, many veterinarians are big proponents of the use of CBD products in pets. There have been several studies that have shown a beneficial effect on various disease processes in dogs. This is new research but has been very promising! As veterinarians, we are lifelong learners, and we try to stay on top of all the newest research findings. We are constantly looking for safe treatment options to improve the quality of life of our patients, so if CBD is a safe option, many of us are all ears!

Dr. Simons’ Personal Opinion

While I haven’t used CBD with my pets, I have met many pet owners that rave about it! I’ve seen that many dogs have had pain relief, improvement in mobility, decreased stress, and an overall better sense of well-being. With careful research and using a trusted product, I do believe many patients can experience the true benefits of CBD products. I’m hopeful for positive findings within the field of CBD research in animals and for the FDA to welcome the product into the veterinary world.

What to do if YOUR Vet Won’t Talk About CBD

Not all vets will want to discuss CBD with their clients, and that’s ok! Understand as veterinarians, we can face serious consequences if we do not abide by state laws surrounding CBD. This means your veterinarian may not be comfortable having that discussion with you. You can always ask them to be honest about their feelings and see if they are willing to have a frank discussion. If not, you can always consider asking if your pet has any medical issues that the use of CBD may be contraindicated. You can also ask if they are on any medications that may have a negative interaction with CBD products. You can also consider seeking advice from a holistic veterinarian that may be a proponent of CBD products or even consider a telemedicine consult from a veterinarian in a state where discussion of CBD is legal. Always notify your veterinarian when you are considering the use of a CBD product so they can be informed, even if they are not supporters of CBD.

What to Look for in a Pet CBD Product

Unfortunately, as CBD products are not regulated, it can be difficult to choose the right product for our pets. I would recommend identifying companies that have been developing their products with strict quality control standards. Products should not contain THC (Must be 0%) as this is toxic for dogs. These products should not contain xylitol and should have undergone some form of research/testing. Dosing is truly dependent on the concentration of the product and may be different from dog to dog. Look for companies that back their products and will replace or refund the product if you don’t see the results you’re looking for. Ensure the product clearly lists that it contains CBD. Some products only contain hemp which is not the active ingredient we are looking for.

Why I Feel That Cannanine Is The Best CBD Brand For Pets

My recommendation is Cannanine CBD due to the fact that it’s 3rd party tested at multiple stages of the manufacturing process. Also – it’s guaranteed through this testing that there are no trace amounts of THC, meaning that it’s 0% (Which is what you need for pets). They keep their test results public so you can rest easy knowing that it’s safe and effective. You can look into their CBD soft chews and oils here: Cannanine CBD For Pets