Cannabinoids, also referred to as CBDs, have been popping up almost everywhere.  The companies make claims that seem miraculous, so why aren’t veterinarians handing them out like treats?  Well for starters, it’s still considered illegal to market food products with CBDs in them. Veterinarians also aren’t swayed by marketing tactics, they look for cold, hard facts and there are very few available right now.  Testimonials and marketing jargon can exaggerate or mislead their audience who may be looking for any ray of hope to help their ailing pet. Veterinarians look to research, particularly peer-reviewed research before they start hailing new products as miraculous. The FDA has even recently expressed growing concerns over the safety and quality of these products.  So let’s break down the facts about CBDs and your pet.

All in a name – 

Cannabis sativa is a plant that contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive drug that causes the high associated with marijuana.  There are other cannabinoids within the plant that are believed to bind to the same receptors within the brain but without the same potency.  The levels of each of these chemicals will vary depending on the portion of the plant you look at. For instance, the flowering portion of the plant contains high levels of THC while the leafy portion contains very little.  Companies that produce CBD products use plants that grow quickly but with minimal flowering, decreasing the presence of THC. What is important to keep in mind, is that these products can still contain THC and that is toxic to our pets.

Beyond the Positives – 

It is also important to keep in mind that every drug you give to your pet can have side effects and CBDs are no exception.  Reported side effects so far include lethargy, urinary incontinence, vomiting, hypersensitivity, and muscle weakness. Research in humans has also brought up concerns about liver damage from CBDs.  If these products contain any trace of THC the side effects can be more severe and can lead to much more severe side effects such as vocalizing, agitation, trouble breathing, seizures and even death.  So while few testimonials mention side effects, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t any.  

Check the Purity 

Because these products risk having THC in them you would think that these products are tightly scrutinized but, they are not.  In fact, research into the products qualitative analysis has shown that over 96% of these products do not contain the amount of CBDs that they claim.  And if they are misleading the purity of their CBD products how can you feel confident that there are no traces of THC, pesticides or herbicides? Worse yet, these plants are believed to be very efficient at removing heavy metals from the soil (and into the plant).  These products are not currently monitored by the FDA, one of the strong reasons that your veterinarians remain leary of supporting these products. So how do you weed out the unreliable products from the trustworthy options? First, look for companies that can give you a certificate of analysis to prove that their product has been tested to confirm it’s contents.  Second, don’t go for the cheap stuff. While we don’t recommend you spend your entire paycheck on high quality CBD oil for your dogs it is also not an area where you want to go cheap because of the high risk for low quality or tainted product. Third, look for liquid tinctures so you can control the amount of chemicals you are giving more precisely.

Dig Past the Surface

As mentioned earlier, there is little research behind these products which is why veterinarians are waiting for the results first.  Currently there is research into CBDs use in epileptic dogs. So far the early indications are that dogs given a specific dose of CBDs and their anti-seizure medication have lower seizures breaks then dogs on a placebo and their anti-seizure medication.  Another research study has begun looking at their effects in helping treat arthritic dogs but it is still in its initial stage.

It’s also important to remember that there is no guideline for how to dose your pet.  Which makes it hard for you or your veterinarian to come to a conclusive starting point to medicate your pet.  And with their promise to ‘do no harm,’ your veterinarian does not want to risk your pet’s longtime health to a drug that also has no studies looking at their long-term side effects. 

Examine the Fine Print 

Finding reputable information on CBDs and where to find them requires some research.  And while we do not have any suggestions for you as to what brands to look for we can help you start your research.  Below are the websites we used with more information on CBDs and your pet. No matter whether you decide to take the risk or not, always make sure you look for well rounded information, look for the good and the bad people have to say on the products.

And if your pet ever ingests any marijuana laced products always keep the Pet Poison Helpline number close at hand: 800-213-6680.

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