As CBD surges in popularity across Michigan and the U.S., companies are marketing products not only to humans — but their four-legged companions as well.
Sales of CBD pet products are skyrocketing in the U.S., from $8 million in 2017 to $32 million in 2018, according to the Brightfield Group. The firm estimates the CBD pet market could reach $1.16 billion in the U.S. by 2022.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a hemp-derived extract that can be added to oils and lotions and is used as a natural remedy for anxiety, insomnia, depression and pain. It’s legal in the U.S. as a result of the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized hemp — but there have been no regulations or standards issued for the product.
That’s not to say CBD doesn’t have medical benefits: last year the FDA approved the first CBD pharmaceutical product to treat severe forms of epilepsy.
“The availability in the market has somewhat gone further than the research has gone — mainly because research was prohibited for so many years,” said Dr. Jeffery Powers, who runs the Jordan Valley Animal Clinic in East Jordan.
Powers is the vice chairman of the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents and Chairman of the Clinical Practitioners Advisory Committee and is chairman of the AVMA Working Group on Cannabis.
“It is important to check the quality of the supplement production from the company if a pet owner or vet is choosing a supplement,” Powers said.
There are no organized testing protocols that CBD products undergo. Some companies put their products through rigorous testing, and some do not, Powers said.
Read on to hear Powers’ thoughts from an interview with MLive on the use of CBD to treat pets.
Q: Can my vet prescribe CBD for my pet?
A: Though laws in Michigan have allowed for medicinal marijuana since 2008, and hemp and recreational marijuana were legalized in 2018, Powers said veterinarians were excluded.
“Legally in the state of Michigan there has been no definitive law passed that allows vets to discuss or recommend treatment of a pet with marijuana products,” Powers said.
That’s not to say there’s no benefit to CBD, Powers said.
“I’ve seen so many cases where it’s beneficial,” Powers said. “It’s imperative for vets to understand the basics regarding some of these products to help their clients understand whether these are helpful for pets.”
Q: How can CBD help dogs?
Powers said CBD products are used to help dogs with arthritis, seizures and anxiety. There’s also research underway on the effects on allergic skin diseases and gastrointestinal issues.
Studies have shown CBD-rich hemp oils dosed twice daily were helpful in reducing pain and increasing well being in dogs that had arthritis, Powers said.
Hemp oils contain no THC — or tetrahydrocannabinol. It’s the active chemical that gives marijuana its psychoactive high. Dogs have negative reactions after ingesting THC — which is why Powers said it’s important to research the CBD product you’re using to dose your dog. The hemp plant from which CBD is derived can sometimes contain THC in low amounts.
Q: What are signs your dog ingested THC?
A: Excessive drooling, abnormal gate, leaking urine, and usually a slow heart rate.
“THC can easily cause side effects in dogs,” Powers said, explaining dogs have more receptors in their brains than humans. “It is important to know exactly what you’re giving.”
Q: What’s the benefit of a natural remedy versus a pharmaceutical product for a dog?
A: “Sometimes some pets may or not tolerate non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs,” Powers said. “Sometimes they can cause upset stomachs, and it (CBD) may be an alternative in those cases.”
Q: What’s the risk of using CBD to treat a dog?
“CBD is actually quite safe,” Powers said. ” It can interact with certain other medications — especially some anti-seizure meds. It is important to discuss that with your vet if you’re giving it to your pet.”
Some of Powers’ clients have noted their dogs experience depression or diarrhea from consuming CBD oil.
Q: What about cats?
A: Cats can be treated with CBD, Powers said. But as they metabolize CBD faster, they may need more doses during the day than dogs.
Limited research has been done on the effects of CBD in other mammal species — though the potential is there, Powers said.
“Every mammalian species has an endocannabinoid system — there are potential benefits from treating just about any species,” Powers said.