Top things you need to know about CBD oil for cats and dogs

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As it becomes easier for Canadians to test the benefits of cannabis-related products such as increasingly popular CBD oil, it’s little wonder that some pet owners are looking to give their furry loved ones the same treatment.

But hold on, doggone it.

Health Canada has yet to approve any CBD oils for pets, leaving owners a bit in the dark about what they can or can’t, should or shouldn’t do when it comes to CBD and their cats, dogs and even horses.Experts, however, offer some clarity.

Why would pet-owners want to use CBD oil?

Despite not being legal in Canada, there are plenty of CBD oil products available on the black market. Dr. Katherine Kramer, a veterinarian with the Vancouver Animal Wellness Hospital and director of the Canadian Association of Veterinary Cannabinoid Medicine, points out that many dog and cat owners are already using these products. In fact, there are several conditions where CBD “may potentially be helpful,” Dr. Kramer suggests.

“The patients I see that are benefiting from cannabis products are any chronic pain/inflammatory condition such as arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, epilepsy, anxiety and cognitive dysfunction, allergic skin disease, cancer and palliative care,” she says. “There are studies to indicate that it may also be helpful with heart and kidney disease, asthma, fractures and hypertension,” she adds.

Dr. Ian Sandler, who sits on the National Issues Committee of the Canadian Veterinarian Medical Association and is founder and CEO of Greywolf Animal Health, explains that there are a growing number of studies supporting the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis use in pets. The World Health Organization has called CBD safe for use for people, based on studies dating as far back as the 1970s that were initially based on animal models.

Is CBD oil safe for rover and kitty?

While studies show CBD oil was useful in treating canines with conditions such as osteoarthritis and epilepsy, the Canadian market remains unregulated.

“I would be very uncomfortable recommending anyone illegal product,” Dr. Sandler says. Elaborating that CBD itself may be okay in theory, he notes the bigger questions are about the products on the black market. The studies are there, but without product coming from licensed producers and without oversight, the information on a label isn’t necessarily accurate. “What is the product? Is it safe? What does it say on the label and what actually is the content of THC?” Dr. Sandler asks.

Before considering giving pets CBD oil, make sure to speak with a veterinarian. “Please, please, please do not take advice from your local dispensary,” Dr. Kramer emphasizes. “There are no legal products for pets in Canada and no quality control over these products. Many of my patients have experienced THC intoxication or no response at all due to mislabelled products,” she reports.

Dr. Sandler points out that current legislation treats cannabis similar to alcohol and tobacco, despite its medical applications. As such, pet parents should keep in mind that even if CBD oil is eventually legalized for pets, they should speak to their veterinarians before initiating any sort of treatment. Dr. Kramer adds that a veterinarian would further help the pet owner determine whether or not the pet needs the product and, if yes, can inform the owner how best to use the product effectively.

“Factors to be considered are the condition or disease to be treated, the medications and supplements the pet may already be taking, how to evaluate, locate and use a quality-controlled, safe product, and what effects to expect,” Dr. Kramer advises.

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