Britain’s pet owners are using more and more cannabis to treat their companion animal’s ailments including for arthritis and anxiety. This is cannabidiol (CBD). We are not talking about pets puffing on spliffs! You might be as surprised as I am at the number of companion animals being treated with CBD. People who use CBD themselves for medical reasons are seven times more likely to treat their pets with the product. And cat and dog owners who have smoked cannabis joints are three times more likely to treat their animals with CBD.
It is normally consumed through oil drops or in food or drink. It is legal and it is non-psychotropic. It is an extract of the cannabis plant.
Advocates of CBD say that it can do wondrous things such as relieve noise reactivity, itchiness, joint pain and anxiety. All of this is taking place in Britain today against the advice of the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, the government body which regulates animal medicines. They don’t approve of CBD products for animals.
The directorate states that businesses supplying CBD products for humans cannot recommend or indicate that their products can be used on animals. They also state that veterinarians can use a legally obtained CBD product. That seems to be conflicting advice. And despite the advice many suppliers are ignoring it because you can buy bottles of hemp oil drops on the market for dogs or cats which can be purchased online. Prices range from £9.50 to £35. And you can buy tubs of hemp-infused doggy biscuits at £35.
There is a website online currently marketing CBD dog biscuits which states: “Help your dog live a calm relaxed and peaceful life in 30 days with our natural calming treats. Our vet-approved treats are scientifically formulated to help your dog become more relaxed and calmer, reducing their hyperactivity, barking, anxiety and fear.”
A survey discovered the high use of CBD for treating pets. It was conducted by Stack, a data company. They asked 1500 people if they had given CBD products to their pet and 6% said that they had, which is the equivalent of 3.24 million of the 54 million adult people in the UK.
It is believed that there are about 34 million domestic animals in the UK including 13 million dogs and 11 million cats.
There are concerns about this form of treatment and some people believe that pets are being put at risk. Both dogs and cats are very sensitive to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is the psychotropic component in cannabis. Pets can suffer from marijuana poisoning. Although most CBD products do not contain even trace amounts of THC, lab tests have shown that some of these products do contain some THC and more that it suggested on the label.
The advice from the British Veterinary Association is to first check with your veterinarian if you are thinking about giving your cat or dog cannabidiol designed to be used on people. The president of the BVA, Justine Shotton said: “While research is ongoing to look into the efficacy and risks of CBD, there is currently a lack of sufficient robust evidence to demonstrate its health benefits and safety in pets”.
The American Kennel Club take a different stance and say that there is “compelling” evidence that cannabidiol can help some conditions in companion animals.
They refer to a Cornell University study which discovered that small doses of cannabidiol given twice daily to arthritic dogs significantly improves the condition in providing relief for pain and improving their quality of life.
The UK based supplier, Naturecan, sells CBD products for companion animals in 45 countries. A spokesperson for the company, Lisa Hilton, said: “Our key focus is always pet safety first and we prioritise ensuring products are 100% THC-free and pure CBD”.
There are calls by the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry for the Veterinary Medicines Directorate to change their attitude towards cannabidiol treatment for pets. A spokesperson for the trade group, Dr. Parveen Bhatarah, said: “A committee needs to be established to review the approach of the directorate to explore options for a more proportionate approach to CBD use by veterinarians. A rethink would reflect how pet owners and farmers are already using CBD unofficially, and would bring consistency with the pragmatic approach of the Food Standards Agency.”
Below are some more articles on dog health.