CBD For Pets: What You Need To Know

by Chris Rose

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We’ve all heard the stories about how cannabidiol, or CBD, is being used as a natural remedy for all kinds of ailments, from curing minor aches and pains to preventing seizures. This trend of using CBD is extending to pets as well, and you can now find many pet products that include CBD on the ingredient label. This raises a lot of question from consumers, who want to know if feeding their pets CBD is beneficial and, more importantly, safe.

How do we know that manufacturers are being scientific about formulating these products, given the lack of published research on CBD use for pets? The packages often give guidelines for dosages, but what are these guidelines based on? It’s hard for the average consumer to feel confident about the safety of CBD for pets when the reality is that CBD, technically, has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as safe for humans or pets.

There is a wide variety of products available for your pet, Treatibles®, for example makes functional chews, tinctures and supplements containing full-spectrum hemp oils

In a July 2018 statement, California Department of Public Health (CDPH) said that the FDA “has concluded that it is a prohibited act to introduce or deliver for introduction into interstate commerce any food (including any animal food or feed) to which tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or CBD has been added. This is regardless of the source of the CBD—either derived from industrial hemp or cannabis. Therefore, although California currently allows the manufacturing and sales of cannabis products (including edibles), the use of industrial hemp as the source of CBD to be added to food products is prohibited. Until the FDA rules that industrial hemp-derived CBD oil and CBD products can be used as a food or California makes a determination that they are safe to use for human and animal consumption, CBD products are not an approved food, food ingredient, food additive, or dietary supplement.”

The CDPH responded to an inquiry from the website Natural Products Insider® that same month, saying “CDPH is aware that there has been some confusion on the legal use of CBD and CBD oil since the legalization of medicinal and adult-use cannabis. We will continue to work with all of our partners, including industry and local public health departments, in order to educate them on CBD and CBD oil and to assist manufacturers as needed to assure compliance.”

Just last month, the Los Angeles Times reported that in states such as California, where recreational and medical marijuana is legal, CBD derived from the cannabis plant is taxed and regulated and can be sold at cannabis dispensaries. However, CBD extracted from industrial hemp is largely unregulated and is not subject to any excise tax in the state of California.

Despite this, the San Francisco Chronicle reported in November that “hemp-derived CBD is widely available in convenience stores, natural foods stores and online in capsules, tinctures, gummy candies and coffee, and [therefore] may or may not be tested the way products sold in licensed stores are tested for purity and potency.”

According to the California Bureau of Cannabis Control, CBD derived from marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) standards—and that makes even studying it difficult, because that’s illegal, too. Technically. However, CBD is also present in industrial hemp, which is legally distinct from marijuana.

In the words of attorney Daniel Shortt of the cannabis-focused law firm Harris Bricken, “Both the terms ‘industrial hemp’ and ‘marijuana’ refer to the cannabis plant, but they are treated very differently under federal law.” This is because the 2014 Farm Bill established a legal pathway to cultivate industrial hemp, which is defined as cannabis that has less than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis. The 2014 Farm Bill allows states to issue licenses to grow hemp. States like Colorado, Kentucky, and Oregon have implemented industrial hemp programs which allow for the cultivation and processing of industrial hemp. According to Shortt, “the 2014 Farm Bill is light on details but has provided a legal basis for the processing and distributing of CBD products derived from industrial hemp.” Shortt went on to say that, “if a CBD product is solely derived from industrial hemp, then you have a pretty good argument that it’s not a controlled substance.”

Researchers in two states, New York and Colorado, have reported promising results in the use of CBD in pets. A study led by Joe Wakshlag, DVM, PhD, DACVN, DACVSMR, associate professor and section chief of nutrition at Cornell University, found that 2mg/kg of CBD oil twice a day helped increase comfort and activity in dogs with osteoarthritis. And neurologist Stephanie McGrath, lead researcher for an ongoing study at Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, reported that 89 percent of dogs who received CBD in a clinical trial had a reduction in the frequency of seizures.

Jodi Ziskin is Director of Communications at Treatibles®, makers of functional chews, tinctures and supplements containing full-spectrum hemp oils. Ziskin explained that the use of the term “full-spectrum hemp oil” is a result of the company’s intent to be both National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) and FDA compliant—by removing the term “CBD” from its website and packaging. On its website, the company discloses, “This transition in terminology to full-spectrum hemp oil is necessary so we can continue to provide our customers with the Treatibles line of cannabidiol-rich products. Quite simply, our products have not changed, just the language used.”

Founded in 2013 by Julianna Carella, Treatibles was an outgrowth of Carella’s first company, Auntie Dolores, which in 2008 began creating gourmet medical cannabis edibles for people. Treatibles uses only full-spectrum hemp oil that is organically grown in four states, in an industry that Ziskin says is “still largely self-regulating.” The company formulates its products based on the results of research conducted by veterinarian Dr. Rob Silver, who the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) lists as past president of the Veterinary Botanical Medical Association, a former board member of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, and the author of Medical Marijuana and Your Pet.

Treatibles products “go through third-party testing for exact cannabinoid levels,” according to Ziskin. “Every batch is tested for consistency, ensuring that each product contains the exact milligrams of phytocan-nabinoids per serving stated on the package. She states that the standard generally accepted for dosage is approximately 1 mg of hemp oil per 10 lb of body weight, emphasizing that this is a “very basic” standard used by veterinarians. She notes that dogs and cats process chemicals very differently—dogs are sensitive, she says, because they have more receptors. In fact, she points out, “Cats generally need about two times as much by weight as dogs.”

Another company manufacturing pet products containing CBD is Isodiol International Inc., which recently launched its new Pawceuticals line for “restoring pet health and improving overall wellness.” Designed for both dogs and cats, Pawceuticals are “scientifically formulated with a proprietary blend of adaptogens,” the company reports.

Christopher Hussey, Director of Communications at Isodiol, says, “Veterinary use of CBD is a relatively new field, but early research is providing very positive results. It could take years or decades for extensive findings from research, but pets and their owners simply cannot wait that long. CBD doesn’t damage the liver, kidneys, or GI tract like a lot of traditional medications, and the emerging research shows pertinent and incredible promise.”

“In addition to CBD, our formulas are created with ingredients that are proven to benefit these individual conditions,” Hussey adds. “By combining CBD with already proven ingredients, pets using our products are able to experience results that are above and beyond those already demonstrated by the ingredients or CBD individually.”

Another product line for pets is Mary’s Whole Pet, created by Mary’s Nutritionals in collaboration with Elite Botanicals. The company is now partnered with Colorado State University School of Veterinary Medicine in its canine cannabidiol research project. Elle Welch, Marketing & Communications Manager, reports “Initial takeaways from the first phases of the study confirm the efficacy of different delivery methods that we offer.” Welch says the company always recommends “starting low and slow.” She explains, “The Whole Pet Transdermal Gel Pen is accurately dosed as 1 mg of CBD per pump. It is important for pet owners to know exactly how much their pet is getting.”

Chief Scientist Jeremy Riggle, Ph.D, oversees the R&D, formulation, and testing of Mary’s Whole Pet products to ensure consistency, potency, purity, and safety.

What’s the bottom line? The use of CBD in pet products is a growing industry that has created a whole lot of interest from pet owners and clearly shows promise. But, because these products are not yet regulated, it’s an atmosphere of “buyer beware”—we pet owners will want to use caution when purchasing these products, reading the labels and consulting our veterinarians before we feed any CBD-based product to our pets. It certainly appears that in time, the industry will be regulated and monitored for safe standards, but until that day, play it safe and get some expert advice before you explore the benefits of CBD for your cat or dog.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol—CBD—is a cannabis compound derived from either hemp or cannabis, one of at least 113 cannabinoids present in both plants. Unlike THC, the psychotropic component of cannabis, CBD does not produce a “high” feeling in users—in fact, it can actually counteract the psychoactivity of THC. CBD is credited with many medical benefits, including providing relief from inflammation, pain, anxiety, psychosis, seizures, spasms, and other conditions.

What is industrial hemp?

Industrial hemp, as defined in section 7606 of the Agriculture Act of 2014, also known as the 2014 Farm Bill, means “the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a [THC] concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.” Industrial hemp does not get you high, but it got caught up in America’s indiscriminate war on marijuana. Cultivation of industrial hemp is permitted under the 2014 Farm Bill so long as it is overseen by state’s department of agriculture and is done for research purposes. The 2014 Farm Bill did not define “research” and the term has been interpreted by many states to allow hemp cultivators to commercially sell hemp-derived products which may or may not include CBD.

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