A Veterinarian’s Take on CBD Oil for Pets

CBD products are gaining popularity for patients everywhere – including our precious, four-legged fur babies. In fact, veterinarians across the United States are entrusting hemp oils that cater to household pets as a possible tool to provide mood and pain relief. According to the American Kennel Club, when you buy CBD oil for your pet, look for organic products that are additive-free and in liquid form (like CBD tinctures). It is also important to ensure the CBD brand of your choosing includes a proper analysis on the amount of cannabidiol CBD and includes pet-safe ingredients. (However, as a rule of thumb, always talk to your pet’s veterinarian prior to integrating hemp extract into any treatment plan.)

Veterinarians like Dr. Allison Pepich, a small-animal primary care veterinarian who practices at North Shore Family Pet in Northbrook, Illinois, recently jumped on the pet cannabidiol oil bandwagon. Dr. Pepich has been recommending THC-free, pure CBD oil to her patients for the past year – primarily for dogs and some cats. We spoke to Dr. Pepich to gain a better understanding of the CBD benefits for our beloved pets.

What is CBD used for in terms of treating pet illnesses and ailments?

It can be beneficial for pain relief – specifically orthopedic pain, like CBD for arthritis or back pain, as well as CBD for anxiety relief. We have had a few patients respond very positively to the use of CBD products for pets for relief of chronic arthritis pain.

Which types of animals do you prescribe hemp oil to the most? 

I tend to recommend cannabidiol most in dogs because the reasons [I recommend] it – pain and anxiety – are most easily evident in this species. It is very useful in cats, though, as we have fewer pain medication options for this species, and cats do get arthritis, as well. 

Tip: Keep in mind that human CBD dosages differ from pet CBD extract recommendations. Talk to your veterinarian about how much CBD oil your pet should ingest, and how many times per day. 

When looking for the best CBD oil for pets on the open marketplace, what should a pet owner look out for, in terms of labeling, testing and/or ingredients? 

CBD hemp oil is not as well-regulated [as other supplements or prescription drugs], and there is a wide variety of products available, so it is important to look for a product that has research studies to support the results. Anyone can say that their hemp oil product works well, but to have proof that it's an effective and safe product is essential. There are very few products available that do this. The CBD oil product should never contain THC. Always avoid an ingredient called xylitol, which is an artificial sweetener, as xylitol can be toxic to pets.

Note: CBD products that are labeled as broad spectrum CBD or CBD isolate do not contain THC. Full spectrum CBD, on the other hand, does contain 0.3 percent THC. While this amount of THC is considered federally legal in the U.S., consult your veterinarian prior to administering CBD with THC to your pet. 

Have you encountered any negative pet reactions from CBD tincture uses? 

Some pets just don't like the taste of CBD hemp oil, and refuse to eat it. I also had one patient who seemed to experience stomach upset after we began using CBD oil that resolved after stopping the product. Other than that, I have not observed negative reactions from CBD. 

Click here to review advice on human CBD oil consumption from a naturopath. 

When recommending cannabidiol for a pet, and the pet owner is anti-cannabis/CBD, how do you try to convince the pet owner to give this treatment option a chance? 

Most pet owners are becoming more accepting of CBD hemp oil as a treatment option, and are amenable to my recommendations regarding these products. More often, I encounter a situation where a pet owner is requesting (or already using) a CBD product for a condition in which it is not/would not be beneficial, and we discuss an alternative treatment plan that will yield better success and comfort for the pet.

Even though CBD oil is more popular for human consumption, it is certainly gaining attention as a treatment for animals, as well. Why do you feel CBD as a plant-based treatment is a positive addition to your repertoire as a practicing veterinarian in 2020? 

I feel that it is important to have an open-minded approach to treatment options for our patients. "Nutraceuticals" and certain integrative and alternative medicine options do have their place when used in conjunction with the more typical Western medicine approach. While CBD doesn't help all pets, a good-quality hemp oil product might bring significant comfort to a pet, and I am very happy to have it as a treatment option. 

Click here to learn more about cannabidiol CBD and how it works.