Is CBD Legal for Pets in the United States?

Christine Colbert March 29, 2021 0 comments

Although these products are widely available, CBD is technically not legal for pets.

Thanks to the legalization of hemp in the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, accessing CBD is easier than ever. CBD is derived from the ‘marijuana plant’ or from hemp, but it is the latter that is deemed federally legal by this Bill. But, what about our furry friends throughout the country? Is CBD legal for pets? Anecdotally, pet owners say CBD helps soothe anxiety, lower inflammation and may even calm seizures. Even still, there are no FDA-approved CBD products for pets.

What CBD Legalization in Unites States Means for Pets

First, let it be known that giving a dog or cat cannabis containing any THC is dangerous. THC is toxic to dogs and cats. Pet products should be solely made from hemp-derived CBD. The few studies that have been done on the subject of animals and CBD note that it seems relatively safe. Unfortunately, there is no definitive study-based conclusion about its safety for pets (yet), so vets would prefer pet owners exercised caution.

As stated in this study in Toxicology Communications (2018), there is still quite a lot we don’t know about how CBD affects pets.[1]Alexandra Greb & Birgit Puschner, et al. Cannabinoid Treats as Adjunctive Therapy for Pets: Gaps in Our Knowledge. Taylor & Francis, … Continue reading

Further, the legality of hemp-derived CBD is a tricky issue, since each state regards it differently.  Every state has its own state law regarding legalities of CBD and several are not supportive of its use. Add to this confusion, there are no FDA-approved CBD products for pets, even though these are widely available. Therefore, while it is considered federally legal for people in all states, it remains illegal according to state law. As a result, few states have issued guidelines for CBD pet products.

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is cbd legal for pets represented by dog looking curious next to cbd bottle in field

CBD Law Changes State By State

That’s why it’s important for consumers to know the laws regarding CBD in their own state. Even though it may be possible to purchase CBD online where its not available in stores, knowing the legality of a substance before purchasing it can help consumers avoid any potential pitfalls.

And according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it is illegal to include CBD as an active ingredient in any human or pet food. That means the sale of pet food including hemp or CBD as an ingredient is technically unlawful. However, it seems the FDA is only enforcing this technicality by issuing warnings to food manufacturers who make health claims about their products.

Due to this legal conundrum, it may be easier to find CBD oil for pets, rather than CBD treats. However, pet owners should make sure they are purchasing pet-safe CBD oil for their dog or cat. Human CBD oil can contain substances that are toxic for pets, like xylitol and grape seed oil.

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Although CBD products can be found for purchase in all states, there are grey areas are considered to be illegal: Ohio (unless purchased as an approved medical products), North Carolina (except for seizures in humans), Texas (may only purchase CBD products made from industrial hemp). These are just a few of the examples, so it’s best to check with your own state laws as this is one area that is rapidly evolving. Typically, state CBD regulations are a reflection of source and intended use.

Is it Legal for Veterinarians to Prescribe CBD?

Right now, veterinarians in the United States cannot legally prescribe CBD, or even recommend it to pet owners. But that doesn’t mean pet owners can’t receive guidance from a veterinarian — they just have to be proactive in broaching the subject themselves. According to recent reporting from the Washington Post, veterinarians can only talk about CBD if pet owners bring up the topic first.

And due to the lack of research regarding the safety of CBD, talking with a veterinarian before starting treatment for a beloved pet is highly recommended.

A study published in Animals (2019), did some research into CBD dosing for dogs to discover more about its safety profile. Eight Beagle dogs were given two milligrams per kilogram of CBD/CBDa for for eighty-four days. Few adverse effects were observed, with “loose stool” being the only minor side effect, and that being uncommon. The dogs’ serum biochemistry values remained normal.[2]Deabold, Kelly A, et al. Single-Dose Pharmacokinetics and Preliminary Safety Assessment with Use of CBD-Rich Hemp Nutraceutical in Healthy Dogs and Cats. Animals : an Open Access Journal from MDPI, … Continue reading

Ultimately, the researchers noted that further study is necessary. This should particularly cover pets with underlying medical issues. Veterinarians are also unsure how CBD might interact with other medications.

is cbd legal for pets represented bycat sniffing cannabis leaf

What About CBD For Cats?

When it comes to cats and CBD, there is even fewer studies available for information. Right now, there are no direct studies on how CBD affects cats specifically. We do know that cats can suffer from cannabis intoxication just like dogs can, if given THC. But how CBD interacts with a cat’s physiology is still unknown to science. Again, it’s wise for pet owners to consult a veterinarian before starting CBD treatment, which is just as true for cats as it is dogs.

Conclusions on CBD for Pets

Finally, the research on dogs and CBD has been positive. A study in Frontiers in Veterinary Science (2018) concluded that CBD oil could help bring relief to dogs with osteoarthritis.[3]Gamble, Lauri-Jo, et al. Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs. Frontiers, Frontiers, 2 July 2018, … Continue reading And another study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association found that CBD could be a potential treatment for dogs with epilepsy.[4]McGrath, Stephanie, et al. Randomized Blinded Controlled Clinical Trial to Assess the Effect of Oral Cannabidiol Administration in Addition to Conventional Antiepileptic Treatment on Seizure … Continue reading

So, when deciding to give your pet CBD, talk with a veterinarian first, and don’t be shy about bringing up the subject. Find out if there might be any potential issues related to the dog or cat’s health or other medications. Watch for side effects, like vomiting or diarrhea. Consult a veterinarian if any changes occur. If unsure about the CBD legality in a certain state, check the current bylaws.