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CBD oil for your pet?

More and more frequently, our veterinarians at Wascana Animal Hospital are being asked about the option of using CBD oil in pets.  CBD oil has not only been a popular discussion topic in human medicine lately, but also its potentially beneficial effects for veterinary patients are being touted all over the internet and social media.  One only has to begin typing “pet CBD oil” into Google and several anecdotal testimonials from people already giving it to their pets with positive results can be found. CBD oil has become available at many pet stores and through online shops especially as the legalization of marijuana in Canada looms closer.  
So what exactly is CBD oil?
CBD is an abbreviation for Cannabidiol, one of many cannabinoids extracted from the Cannabis plant.  It lacks the psychotropic effects of THC but potentially contains useful medicinal properties, making it a popular choice for therapeutic use.  
Marijuana can be divided into three classes:
1. Recreational – this is when the plant leaves and/or flowers are smoked, used in baking or other oral formulations by people.  This class of marijuana has the highest risk for pet toxicity as it contains high levels of THC.
2. Medical – these products contain moderate to high levels of CBD and minimal to moderate THC.  This class is used in people for anti-nausea, pain relief, cancer, epilepsy, inflammatory conditions only to name a few.  While there are many types of cannabinoids, CBD is the main one used for most medical marijuana products.   Some of these products still contain enough THC to produce toxicity in pets. 
3. Hemp – industrial hemp has been traditionally been used for its fibre in textiles and paper.  Hemp is typically used for pet cannabis products most of which are oils, tinctures or powders. Most of these products contain zero to only trace amounts (generally <0.3%) of THC and minor to moderate levels of CBD.  
So why has my veterinarian not recommended it for my pet yet?
Presently, Cannabis and its derivative products (including CBD) are prohibited under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.  There are currently not any cannabis-based medicines approved by Health Canada for use in animals, hence a veterinarian cannot legally recommend or prescribe one.  Doing so, would be a violation of the law and potentially places that veterinarian at risk of legal repercussion and losing their license to practice.  That said, it may not be long until there are approved CBD products for use in animals and so in the near future this option may become available for our patients.  
What do the veterinarians at Wascana Animal Hospital think about CBD pet products?
Being one of few practices in Regina, SK offering Integrative veterinary medical therapies (we offer traditional Chinese veterinary medical exams, acupuncture and soon veterinary herbal therapies as well), our veterinarians are open to considering using CBD products in our patients in the future and feel such products could have merit.  CBD can potentially be used for painful conditions such as chronic osteoarthritis, for neurological conditions such as drug-resistant epileptics, as well as potentially reducing nausea and stimulating appetite in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy.  
However, besides the need to have approved CBD products that will allow us to prescribe them legally, there are still additional road blocks that need to be overcome. One of the biggest concerns is the lack of research and clinical trials for CBD products to determine appropriate formulations for different species of animals (oils, capsules, tinctures, transdermals), the pharmacokinetics and recommended dosages/frequency of dosing, as well as safety and efficacy trials.   We are happy to report that there has been one study performed so far on dogs looking at the safety and pharmacological aspects of CBD.  Also there are two clinical trials currently underway at Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine where a veterinary neurologist is testing the effects of CBD for epileptic dogs, as well as at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine where they are looking at its use for treating osteoarthritis. We look forward to seeing the results of these trials in the near future.
In the meantime, our veterinarians wish to caution pet owners who are thinking of giving CBD oil to their pets, independent of veterinary recommendation, about potential pitfalls.  Although a number of companies are marketing Cannabis-based products for pets, these products have not been approved by Health Canada.  As such, these products are unregulated (meaning there is no mandatory inspection of the product or its production) and therefore may vary widely in quality, concentration of the product (there many not actually be any CBD in the oil at all despite what the label says), safety and efficacy.   As always, if you have any additional questions our veterinarians are available for further consultation.

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