CBD for Pets

Pet wellness now includes CBD, but is it legal?

Pet wellness is right up there with human wellness and it’s another area where CBD is making an appearance. We’ll admit that we were intrigued when we heard about brands who had created CBD oil products specifically for pets but when we go back to the science, it’s not so surprising.

As we learn more about CBD and its benefits for humans, it’s inevitable that our attention has turned to how it could potentially help animals too..

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is present in both humans and animals and works in the same way which is why pets such as cats and dogs can fall victim to the same physical and emotional illnesses as we do. All mammals, including our pets, naturally produce endocannabinoids internally that stimulate the system.

It can also be activated externally by plant-derived cannabinoids such as CBD which works to support the endocannabinoid system and promotes pets’ cardiovascular function. Other ways it can benefit our pets are:

  • supports healthy joints
  • encourages neurological health and emotional behaviour
  • helps to maintain stamina
  • promotes healthy skin and coat

Whilst researching this story we came across a few articles in The Metro and The Evening Standard about UK pet owners using CBD oil to treat their cat or dog and a report in the Washington Post in 2019 suggested that US pet owners were doing the same.

However, whilst there is a lot of anecdotal evidence from pet owners to suggest that CBD has helped a range of conditions there is as yet, there is very little research to back this up.

Pet wellness
As with humans, CBD works with the internal CB1 and CB2 receptors in animals

Is it safe

According to advice around CBD on the Blue Cross website which relates to CBD use for dogs, it states that whilst there is no evidence that CBD is toxic to dogs, there is a lack of knowledge as to the correct dosage and how CBD can interact with other medications.

It does reference the fact that some studies have shown that CBD may help dogs with arthritis, as they seem to show increased activity and less pain after taking it.

With regards to epilepsy in dogs it states that it has been found that CBD has no effect and that to date, there are no studies on CBD’s use and effect on cats.

However, over in America, Dr Jerry Klein, Chief Veterinary Officer at the American Kennel Club says “The interest in CBD for medical usage in animals has risen exponentially as owners seek alternative modes of treatment which challenge the traditional”.

The lack of research is something that the American Kennel Club’s Canine Health Foundation is seeking to change with its $2 million study into Cannabidiol (CBD) to treat drug-resistant epilepsy in dogs.

The rules on CBD use for pets in the UK

The situation may change in the future but today, you can’t just walk into your local pet food store to pick up some CBD oil for your pet as there are some very strict rules and regulations around its use in the UK.

In September 2018, The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) stated ‘veterinary products containing Cannabidiol are veterinary medicines’ and as such should be regulated. What this means is that any CBD products created for animals need to have a marketing authorisation before they can be sold or supplied in the UK.

At the time of writing, no CBD-based products have been granted a UK veterinary marketing authorization. Under this ruling, one Tyneside manufacturer has already been served notice to remove the ‘CBD for pets’ products on their website and no doubt there will be more receiving similar notices in the future.

However, although no CBD pet products are currently authorised for use in the UK, the VMD’s rules do state that a vet ‘can prescribe a legally obtained human CBD product’ but that ‘administration of an unauthorised product containing CBD without a veterinary prescription is an offence under Regulation 8 of the VMR’.

It goes on to state that ‘companies supplying CBD products for human use in line with the requirements of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency must not indicate or recommend their products for use on animals’.

Pet Wellness

You may wonder why vets can prescribe CBD for humans for pets but the CBD manufacturers can’t say their products can be used on pets.

Our guess is that because all CBD products are not created with the same rigour, the VMR and individual vets want the opportunity to approve products that only contain ingredients that are safe for animals especially if they’re being ingested. This way, owners will be prevented from unwittingly giving their pets a product that could cause harm.

As we know, the adoption of CBD is moving at breakneck speed and as with most things that start across the pond, it can only be a matter of time before the first brand is approved by the VMR to launch a range of CBD oil products for pets here in the UK. Until then, to protect your pets, we advise you to follow the VMD’s rules.

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