Starting the conversation on CBD for pets
Cannabidiol or CBD, is a distinct branch of the cannabis family in that it contains no psychoactive properties.
At the end of 2018 U.S. lawmakers passed the Agricultural Improvement Act - more commonly referred to as the Farm Bill. One of the bill's provisions stipulated the nationwide legalization of hemp farming and cultivation. Hemp is legally defined as having a chemical make up of less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. It has a multitude of industrial uses from clothing to plastics, and one of the compounds that can be derived from it is CBD.
CBD is poised to become a popular product in the cannabis industry. It can be found in Oregon dispensaries in a variety of forms - balms, oils, edibles, and flower. Three years into the statewide legalization of cannabis, dispensaries are rolling out CBD product lines entirely for pets. News 10 takes a closer look.
Q & A with Veterinarians
CBD: Safe and Beneficial or a Waste of Money?
CBD is gaining popularity now that prohibition on hemp has been lifted. This has led many pet owners to flock to the Internet and their local dispensaries to buy it in oil or treat form for their anxious or arthritic pets.
But is CBD safe for your pets?
Dr. Jeffery Judkins at the Animalkind Holistic Vet Clinic in Jacksonville says CBD is “100% non-toxic. You can’t overdose on CBD. It might make pets sleepy, but there’s no toxicity.”
“It has many clinical benefits for my animal patients,” Judkins says. The hemp oil “has been most useful for older patients that are in long-term pain or are overly anxious.” Judkins explains that, in terms of dosage, “a few drops is all you need.”
However, Dr. Glen Winters at Phoenix Animal Hospital says that CBD “doesn’t seem to hurt anything,” but there’s a lack of studies on the effectiveness CBD has on pets. He explains that animals “metabolize oils and product differently [than humans], so we don’t know if a given dose is accurate.”
Does CBD actually work?
Winters says CBD oils are “anecdotally said to help, but we don’t know for sure.”
“I’ve found in my work that anything that is claimed to fix everything usually fixes nothing,” says Winters. “People are also spending money on something that might not be doing anything.”
"[CBD] might be the modern-day snake oil, and it might be the modern-day cure for a lot of things," says Winters. "But we don’t know.”
“Most conventional vets are hesitant to recommend it due to the current confusing legalities of it,” Judkins says of prescribing the medicinal compound.
While a license to practice medicine is issued by state, Dr. Winters says they have to “take a federal licensing to become a veterinarian."
“It’s professionally not legal for us to prescribe for pets,” Winters says.
Ashland residents Lauren Kristensen and Michael Swinehart give CBD treats to their dog, Connie, to help with her anxiety around strangers.
Kristensen and Swinehart have given Connie CBD biscuits once a day for over 6 months, and say she has seen a difference in Connie’s behavior. While Connie has “always been friendly and playful with dogs,” Kristensen says her 3-year-old dog is nervous around people.
“She was more skittish than she is now and she ran away every time she heard an unfamiliar noise,” says Kristensen.
"It makes sense; she was a stray," Swinehart says. "But she's a lot better now."
He acknowledges that it can be tough to determine if the CBD is working for your pet. “It’s kind of hard to gauge with a dog because you can’t ask them,” says Swinehart. “But anything that helps her, we’ve really been trying to do because we don’t like to see her have anxiety.”
Chewy & Ginger
“CBD is definitely becoming more mainstream” says Stacy Page, owner of Market St. Wellness in Medford. He and his wife, Meredith, began selling CBD products specifically for pets when they opened the store last September.
He says they have customers who go to the shop just to pick up CBD products for pets. “It’s really great for a pet who has separation anxiety. It calms them down a lot,” Stacy says. He adds that CBD is also good for older dogs with arthritis. "It helps them to get up and go outside on their own or go up the stairs again.”
The product is oil based, and applied with a dropper onto the dog's food. Stacy says that “for more finicky dogs, there’s a bacon flavor.”
The Pages give their own tincture product to both of their dogs, Chewy and Ginger.
For Chewy, the CBD oil helps calm his separation anxiety. Ginger, on the other hand, was diagnosed with cancer about 6 months ago. She underwent an operation to remove the tumor, but now the lymphoma is back. Stacy and Meredith decided not to subject Ginger to the chemotherapy and radiation after having a previous dog that had gone through the treatment process.
“The dogs don’t know what’s going on [with chemo] and they feel miserable,” Stacy says. Instead, they decided to give Ginger CBD oil, as well as RSO, or Rick Simpson Oil. RSO is a cannabis oil product that contains higher levels of THC, but won’t get the user “stoned.” Stacy says that the CBD oil helps Ginger “without the trauma of treatments.”
They have been giving Ginger the cannabis oils since June of last year. "It definitely gives her a better quality of life," he says. "She’s happy and comfortable.”