CBD Safety and Effectiveness for Pets


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Put simply, it’s all a mess. Hemp products are least considered safe for pets, but how effective are they? The answer remains unclear. However, cannabidiol (CBD) products for pets may be safe or not. Many are imported (greatly from China) and there remains zero U.S. regulation regarding CBD supplementation.

So there are actually two questions regarding CBD, one is safety and the second is effectiveness.

Regarding safety, absolutely some veterinary-based or supported products are likely to be safe. However, others are everywhere, sold at places ranging from gas stations to convenient stores to stores specializing in selling CBD and THC (psychoactive) products to humans. Some of the CBD products, particularly those imported, may contain trace elements of substances you’d never want a pet to ingest.

According to a report from 2022 in Open Government Access, CBD interactions with other prescribed veterinary drugs are not fully understood. Lack of product regulation was apparent in a study of 29 over-the-counter dog CBD products, which found that only 10 had CBD concentrations within 90 to 110 percent of the label claim and two had unsafe levels of arsenic and lead. Other studies have found high levels of pesticides used in marijuana fields in CBD products.

To help meet this need for empirical information about CBD safety in pet supplements, researchers with Colorado State University and Hill’s Pet Nutrition collaborated in a long-term study of CBD’s effects on dogs. After 36 weeks of CBD supplementation, none of the dogs in the study showed serious health problems. Only at the highest dosage did some of the dogs get loose stools. However, this study was conducted on products thought to be safe based on where they were manufactured and by whom.

This study shows that while the doses are well-tolerated, there is a reported adverse event of softer stools and one liver enzyme is consistently elevated, although not enough to be significant. This was a short-term study; long-term effects have not been studied.

However, studies are trickling in regarding effectiveness of CBD for arthritis, some types of seizures and moderately working as an appetite stimulant. The big question has been using CBD to help anxious pets for conditions like car travel or separation anxiety, and while anecdotally many pet parents suggest there is a positive effect, this has yet to be shown scientifically (greatly because the studies haven’t been done).

THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol is the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis, and THC is potentially toxic to pets.