Petagrees: Is it really safe to give CBD products to your dog or cat? | Lifestyles

With small bits of information, it seems that CBD products would be safe for your dog or cat. It appears to be a natural product, it is sold at many pet supply shops, online retailers and grocery stores in the form of oils, in treats and as food supplements so it should be ok, right? Packaging, internet and publications tout the benefits and safety of CBD to assist with pets’ arthritis, anxiety, boredom, aggression, chronic pain and as appetite stimulants. If this sounds almost too good to be true, you may be right, at least for now.

To begin, let’s briefly look at the science of what CBD is

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (which regulates pet products) website. “Cannabis is a plant of the Cannabaceae family and contains more than eighty biologically active chemical compounds. The most commonly known compounds are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the component that produces the “high” associated with marijuana use. Much interest has been seen around CBD and its potential related to health benefits.

“Marijuana is different from CBD. CBD is a single compound in the cannabis plant, and marijuana is a type of cannabis plant or plant material that contains many naturally occurring compounds, including CBD and THC.”

So, with that information in hand, it sounds like a natural, safe product to use for your dog or cat, just like the package or company information says — but there are some problems not being discussed. According to Ryan Yamka, a board certified pet nutrition consultant, there is plenty to worry about. In his March 8 article, “Regulating CBD: The pet food industry or the Wild West?” — well worth the read — Yamka brings up some vitally important points.

Yamka raises the question regarding why you can purchase CBD and hemp products from your pet in stores and online if it is illegal. Lack of oversight, budget and the sheer number of companies currently marketing the CBD products has made the process difficult to enforce although some companies have been cited.

According to the FDA, CBD is not legal or approved for use with companion animals in the U.S. It remains illegal as of March 2021. Hemp and hemp-derived products are not approved for usage in animals in foods and treats.

The FDA cannot ensure the safety or effectiveness of any product containing CBD. There is no existing format for regulating concentration of the additive for pets, and companies can create their own claims of the hemp/CBD formulation.

It is illegal in New York for a veterinarian to tell a pet owner how to appropriately use any cannabis products, including CBD.

The FDA is concerned with the current lack of appropriate processing controls and practices. For example, the agency has tested the chemical content of cannabinoid compounds in some of the pet products, and many were found to not contain the levels of CBD they claimed.

Can CBD be helpful in treating dogs?

It’s possible, even likely, that CBD can be beneficial but the scientific data so far has plenty of flaws, including potential side effects. As explained by the American Kennel Club’s chief veterinary officer, Dr. Jerry Klein, CBD is used because of its anti-inflammatory properties, cardiac benefits, anti-nausea effects, appetite stimulation, anti-anxiety impact and for possible anti-cancer benefits, although there’s no conclusive data on this use. The AKC is sponsoring a study through Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine for the efficacy of CBD in treating otherwise untreatable epilepsy in dogs.

Canine side effects that have been studied include decreased production of saliva and increased thirst, lowered blood pressure that can cause dizziness and loss of balance, and drowsiness that may cause slower reflexes. Animals rely heavily on all of their senses and, when there is impairment, their responses can become unpredictable.

Is CBD oil safe for cats?

In an online article in by Kate Hughes that addresses the subject of CBD and cats, Hughes gathered information from professionals in the field. Included was Dr. Liza Guess, a clinical assistant professor at the Ohio State University Department of Veterinary Medicine in Columbus, Ohio, who said the lack of official, documented research into the affects of cannabis products for cats would make her hesitant to recommend them.

Guess explained that the therapeutic benefits such as relief from nerve pain and seizures, and appetite stimulation that may be gained from cannabis are all therapies that can be obtained from well researched, FDA approved products instead. Guess also said while CBD, after more research and regulation may be found safe for cats, the cannabis plants are not. Cats that nibble on those plants can be in serious danger.

Pet owners should be aware

Any pet owner, animal caregiver and dog or cat lover will agree that we all want what is best for our furry, fantastic friends and companions, but it is wise to thoroughly question the items we purchase for our pets, including CBD and hemp products. There are concerns about overdosing, pesticides, fungicides, solvents and herbicide contamination as well as allergic reactions alone or in combination with other medications or supplements that your pet may be on.

A regulation of formulas or concentrations is needed and keeping these formulas out of pre-dosed pet treats, opting instead for set dosing standards that can be applied to a pet treat or food by dropper in known, regulated amounts, specific to that individual pet following careful, intelligent research. Until then, be aware.

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Terry Hannum is a licensed veterinary technician, a farmer and an animal advocate. If you have a subject you would like to have her address, email Her columns can be found at

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