Companies have launched hundreds of CBD pet health products, accompanied by rave customer stories claiming that the cannabis derivative produces calmer, calmer, and more pain-free dogs and cats.
But some of these products are all bark and not a bite.
“You will be amazed by the analysis we’ve seen of products on the shelf that contain virtually no CBD,” said Joseph Wakshlag, Cornell University veterinary researcher who studies the compound’s therapeutic uses. “Or products with 2 milligrams per milliliter, if an effective concentration would be between 25 and 75 milligrams per milliliter. There are a lot of people trying to make a dollar instead of making something that is really useful. “
Such products can make it onto shelves because the federal government hasn’t yet set standards for CBD that will help people know if it will work for their pets and how much to give.
Still, there are plenty of individual success stories that are helping fuel a $ 400 million market that has grown more than ten-fold since last year and is expected to hit $ 1.7 billion by 2023, according to cannabis research firm Brightfield Group will.
Going against her veterinarian’s advice, Amy Carter, of St. Francis, Wisconsin, tried CBD oil recommended by a friend to treat Bentley, her epileptic Yorkshire Terrier-Chihuahua mix. The little dog’s cluster seizures had become more frequent and frightening despite expensive medication.
“It’s amazing,” said Carter. “Bentley had several seizures a week. To have only six in the last seven months is absolutely incredible. “
But some pet owners have found that CBD doesn’t work.
Dawn Thiele, an accountant in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, said she bought a $ 53 bottle of CBD oil from a local store in hopes of calming her 2-year-old Yorkshire terrier during long car trips.
“I saw no change in his behavior,” said Thiele, who is still a believer.
“The product is good, it just didn’t work on my dog,” she said.
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a non-intoxicating molecule found in hemp and marijuana. Both are cannabis plants, but only marijuana has enough of the compound THC to get users high. The vast majority of CBD products are made from hemp, which contains less than 0.3 percent THC.
CBD has gained a loyal following among people who swear by it on everything from stress relief to better sleep. The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which relaxed federal legal restrictions on hemp cultivation and transportation, sparked a rush of companies to push products to market as there were no regulations ensuring safety, quality, and effectiveness.
Products for humans were quickly followed by CBD cheese, oils, and sprays for pets.
“It’s growing faster than I’ve seen any product in this business in 20 years,” said Bill Bookout, president of the National Animal Supplement Council, an industry group whose member companies agree to the testing and data collection requirements. “Now a gold rush is underway. Probably 95 percent of the industry participants are responsible, but the night hunter who wants to earn money is dangerous. “
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is developing regulations for marketing CBD products for pets or humans. This year, it has sent out warning letters to 22 companies highlighting violations, such as claims about therapeutic uses and the treatment of diseases in humans or animals, or the marketing of CBD as a dietary supplement or food ingredient.
“It really is the Wild West out there,” said S. David Moche, founder of Applied Basic Science, a company founded to support Colorado State University’s CBD veterinary research that is now selling CBD online. He advises consumers to get a certificate of analysis from an outside testing laboratory to make sure they get what they pay for.
“Testing and labeling will be a critical part of the future of this industry,” said Moche.
According to Wakshlag, in addition to testing the products for CBD levels, they also need to be tested to make sure they are free of toxic contaminants like heavy metals and pesticides, and contain only traces of THC, which is toxic to dogs in higher concentrations.
Bookout said his organization had very few health incidents with CBD and no deaths.
Still, there is almost no scientific documentation of the safety and effectiveness of CBD.
However, that is beginning to change. A small clinical study at Colorado State University published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association in June found that CBD oil reduced seizure frequency in 89 percent of the epileptic dogs that received it.
A clinical study led by Wakshlag at Cornell, published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science in July 2018, found that CBD oil helped increase comfort and activity in dogs with osteoarthritis.
Stephanie McGrath, a researcher from Colorado State University, is currently conducting a larger clinical study funded by the American Kennel Club’s Canine Health Foundation.
“The results of our first epilepsy study were promising, but there was certainly not enough data to say that CBD is the new miracle cure for canine seizures,” said McGrath.
Seizures are a natural focus of research on veterinary CBD products, as Epidiolex, the only FDA-cleared drug containing cannabidiol, was approved last year for the treatment of two severe forms of epilepsy in children. Veterinarians are allowed to prescribe Epidiolex for pets, but it’s prohibitively expensive – more than $ 30,000 a year for an average-sized dog, McGrath said.
Kennel Club’s chief veterinary officer Jerry Klein said CBD was “overrated” but showed promise for treatments like pain relief. He hopes the growing market will lead to more money being invested in research to prove its use.
Meanwhile, the American Veterinary Medical Association is telling veterinarians that they can share their knowledge of CBD with their customers, but shouldn’t prescribe or recommend it until the FDA has given their blessings.
“There is no doubt that there is veterinary interest in these products as therapies, but we really want the manufacturers to show that they are effective, safe and get FDA approval so that we can have confidence in the products “Said Gail Golab, chief veterinary officer for the association.
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