Today, a growing number of Americans are using cannabidiol (CBD) to treat their pets’ health conditions, from anxiety to arthritis to epilepsy. While there’s no data on the exact number of dogs, cats, and other furry family members who are taking the non-intoxicating cannabinoid, it’s clear that CBD is quickly becoming ubiquitous in the pet world — according to New Frontier Data, Americans spent $48 million on CBD pet products in 2018, up from just $13 million in 2017. This year, that number is expected to reach $135 million.
It’s clear that more people are using CBD for their pets, but what isn’t clear (in many cases, at least) is whether those products are 1) worth the money, or 2) being used most effectively if they are. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has expressed concerns about many CBD pet products, and just like the items intended for human use, they tend to be quite expensive.
With that in mind, pet parents who are considering CBD would be wise to do a bit of research before they pull out their wallets. A good place to start is this definitive guide to CBD pet products, but if you’re looking for additional tips, the list below should help you make informed decisions and avoid mistakes.
There are countless anecdotal reports of CBD use in pets, with varying degrees of success. Mistakes are inevitably made, but the community of pet parents and veterinary professionals can benefit from the knowledge of these combined experiences.
To help you avoid repeating them, here are some examples of common mistakes I’ve encountered:
Don’t buy products that claim to contain “hemp extract” or “hemp oil” without listing their cannabinoids by name. While the product will contain an extract from hemp, this term itself is misleading and won’t provide any actual information for determining a CBD dose for your pet. For example, a label may read “2 mg hemp extract per ml.” While this may be an accurate assessment from the manufacturer’s perspective, it doesn’t indicate if this hemp extract has any cannabinoids at all. A product labeled as such may still be worthwhile, but the certificate of analysis (COA) is necessary to confirm the potency.
Don’t use multiple sources of CBD for your pet .The prevalence of CBD-containing items makes it easy for pet parents to use different types of products at once — for example, feeding treats containing cannabinoids while also using a CBD-infused oil. While this may be tempting for various reasons, it will be next to impossible to effectively attribute the effects to the proper product, whether they are positive or negative. Consistency is key for evaluating results and adjusting the regimen.
Don’t buy a product before talking to your veterinarian (and having an approximate dose in mind). There are many different choices, and products come in varying concentrations. Clearly, a 5-pound cat and a 60-pound dog would need very different products. For example, if your pet’s starting dose is 1 mg of CBD per day, find a product with a concentration that makes it easy to give this dose accurately.
Don’t give up too soon! A common mistake people and pet owners make is that they give up too quickly. “I tried CBD for a week, it didn’t work.” While CBD is not a panacea, and it is not for every individual, patience and diligence can be rewarded.
Don’t buy any product that makes outrageous claims about what it can do. Use common sense and don’t be misled by clever marketing ploys. The FDA is cracking down on CBD companies making medical claims, and these companies will soon find themselves in legal trouble.