Yes, it is a burgeoning market, with a growing number of new products hitting pet store and health store shelves.
As with humans, there are a range of uses for CBD products, from anxiety to joint pain to general health.
CBD, or cannibidiol, is one of the chemical components of marijuana and hemp. It’s not the psychoactive one — that’s THC — and the American Kennel Club notes that THC is poisonous to dogs and says it is important to keep cannabis products designed for humans away from pets.
CBD, on the other hand, has been seen to have a medicinal qualities, and both cat and dog owners seek it out when their pets need help.
Noting that CBD has become a popular wellness trend, the kennel club website states, “While there’s no definitive scientific data on using CBD to treat dogs, there’s anecdotal evidence from dog owners suggesting it can treat pain, especially neuropathic pain, as well as helping to control seizures.”
The AKC website (akc.org) also notes, “CBD is also 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.”
You can find a variety of CBD products for pets in pet stores and health food stores.
Robin Knakkergaard, herb and supplements buyer for The Local Grocer in Intervale, says the store carries a small selection of CBD products for pets, but for those searching for more variety or help with pet needs, she sends people to Four Your Paws Only.
“They do a great job over there,” she said.
Brian Ahearn, who with his wife Kathy, owns Four Your Paws Only, the local pet supply store in North Conway that has been carrying CBD products for about six years, says the products are a very hot commodity these days.
“It started about three years ago gaining in popularity,” he said, and these days he often gets calls from manufacturers asking if he would be interested in carrying their product.
By far the most common request from people who come into the store looking for CBD products is something to help with their pet’s anxiety — whether generalized or for use in special situations.
“Travel anxiety is very common,” Ahearn said, adding that some pets also have anxiety when they are left alone.
He said Super Snout’s Chill+Out is one of their most popular products. It is described as “a full spectrum, phyto-cannabinoid rich, water soluble, functional soft hemp chew formulated by a veterinarian,” and comes with recommendations for use based on body weight.
The market has evolved over the years since CBD became available, beginning with tinctures and oils, and moving into water-based products, which Ahearn said are better because they are absorbed more quickly.
To give CBD oils directly, Ahearn said, you need to put it under the animal’s tongue for 60-90 seconds, “and what dog is going to sit still for that?”
Pet-owners can now find CBD in chewable treats, cookies, peanut butter, capsules and balms.
Ahearn gets his supplies from a few manufacturers, including Super Snout, a Colorado-based company that was one of the first products that Four Your Paws carried, to a small Vermont company that makes CBD dog biscuits.
While Four Your Paws has its own pet bakery, it does not create CBD products.
While its most common use is for anxiety, Ahearn said, there are also CBD formulations for animal arthritis, joint pain, inflammation, bone health, skin and coat health and overall health.
He notes, “It doesn’t work for everyone, but you know right away if it’s going to work.”
There are also a few side effects that pet owners should be aware of, including dry mouth or increased thirst, lowered blood pressure and drowsiness, and the AKC notes that more research is needed to understand the effects, both positive and negative, in animals.
Ahearn says he uses CBD products for his own pets — the family has several dogs — some for anxiety and one for other health issues.
“One of my dogs uses it regularly,” he said, as one part of a treatment for cancer recommended by local holistic veterinarian Monique Kramer, who owns The Art of Alternative Animal Healing in Fryeburg, Maine.
“Sawyer is almost 7. He was diagnosed at 2 1/2 with a mast cell tumor,” he said. The tumor was removed but returned, and regular vets recommended a traditional course of treatment with chemotherapy and radiation and told the family the dog would probably only live for a year.
They opted for a holistic approach instead, changing Sawyer’s diet and adding a number of herbal supplements. CBD products are only one part of that regimen, but Ahearn believes it has helped.
“I do believe the CBD works very well. I’m a firm believer in it,” he said. “Most of us have used it for our own dogs.”
“I wish more vets would get behind it,” he said.
That, however, may have to wait for laws to change.
The American Veterinary Medical Association hosted its first symposium on the therapeutic use of cannabis products in animals last September and put out a guide for vets — “Cannabis in Veterinary Medicine” in August of 2020 — find it at tinyurl.com/kwmsvz5z.
The guide notes that while hemp has been legalized, thus removing barriers to medical research, the authority for scheduling hemp-derived products for therapeutic purposes remains intact.
Dietary supplements are legal, but the cannabis veterinary guide notes, “Various states have legalized medical marijuana, recreational marijuana, or both for human use only. Currently, these laws do not authorize veterinarians to prescribe or recommend medical marijuana for dogs or cats in any state.”