CBD and Pets

With widespread legalization of marijuana and a surge in hemp and CBD-based products, interest in how these products may help our canine and feline companions is steadily growing.  CBD and hemp products made specifically for pets are flooding the markets, and many owners have questions about their safety and efficacy. We’re here to help clarify what we do and don’t know about these products to help you make a more informed decision as to whether or not they are right for your pet.

What We Do Know

1) There are some proven benefits to CBD in pets. A study performed at Cornell University found that pets given 2 mg/kg of a highly bioavailable CBD were perceived to be more comfortable and active by their owners and veterinarians. However, no unbiased or double-blinded studies have been performed on the effects of CBD on anxiety or other illnesses in pets.

2) There is no FDA regulation of over-the-counter supplements, including CBD products. Therefore, these products only undergo laboratory analysis of their contents if the manufacturer insists.  A recent analysis of 29 different pet products revealed some shocking results:

– Only TEN of the 29 products contained between 90-110% of the cannabinoids claimed on the label.

– Two of the products tested contained no cannabinoids at all!

– Four of the products tested positive for heavy metals. The most common contaminants were lead and arsenic.

3) There is potential for severe drug interactions. CBD has been shown in multiple human studies to be a potent inhibitor of a set of liver enzymes collectively called cytochrome P450. These enzymes are responsible for the metabolism of many drugs such as pain and seizure medications.  Inhibition of these enzymes can make those drugs stay in the body for longer leading to potential overdoses and other complications

What We Don’t Know

The biggest thing that we don’t know about CBD use in pets is how safe it is.  There are no long-term safety studies on the use of CBD in pets.  Several short-term studies have shown elevations in liver values after only a few weeks on CBD products.  No one knows the long-term side effects of cytochrome p450 inhibition, or what other enzymes in the body may be affected by long-term cannabinoid use.  Many more studies need to be done before we will have these answers, and it will more than likely take decades before we fully understand the pros and cons of these supplements.

Where We Stand

1)  We do feel that CBD can be helpful in palliative care of old, arthritic patients and cancer patients. We are comfortable with its use in these pets but do recommend that you keep a close eye out for any drug interactions.

2) We do not recommend CBD for long term use. Until there are long-term safety studies, we do not feel comfortable recommending them for daily use in young dogs.  If you choose to use cannabinoid products for your pet, tell your veterinarian and ask them to run annual bloodwork to monitor liver and kidney values.

3) Almost no data exists on CBD’s safety in cats. Cats metabolize drugs differently than dogs, and we would not recommend giving CBD to cats until cat-specific safety and efficacy studies have been performed.

4) We recommend that you only buy CBD products from reputable companies and reputable sources. A random store on Amazon DOESN’T COUNT! As the CBD craze continues, more and more companies will churn out these products to make a quick buck. Choose a manufacturer that can provide a COA (certificate of analysis) that shows how many milligrams of cannabinoids are in their products and that the product is free of heavy metal contamination.  We recommend “Chroniquin” by Nutramax Laboratories or Ellevet Sciences “Mobility” products.


Have an old pet suffering from arthritis?  Be sure to also check out our blog article A Multimodal Approach to Arthritis