Speaking CBD along with your veterinary clients-dvm360

When pet owners ask, give them answers. And don’t worry – it’s okay to talk to your customers about cannabidiol in pets.

The United States seems to be increasingly comfortable with recreational cannabis use, as evidenced by the fact that 4 more states legalized its use during the November election, bringing the total to 15, plus the District of Columbia. With this acceptance, there has been increased interest in the medicinal uses of cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychotropic compound found in hemp that is widely used to treat problems such as pain, anxiety, and insomnia.

What your customers want

Interest in CBD is also growing among pet owners. Stephen Cital, RVT, RLAT, SRA, VCCS, CVPP, VTS-LAM, Laboratory Director in the Department of Neurobiology at Stanford University, co-founder of the Veterinary Cannabinoid Academy Facebook group and member of the dvm360® Editorial Advisory Board, citing results from a recent one Survey in which almost 70% of veterinary customers raised the issue of CBD use during consultations with their veterinarian

A variety of factors seem to be driving customer interest, including the fact that cannabis has become more mainstream, says Stephanie McGrath, DVM, PhD, assistant professor of neurology at Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “I also think pet owners and families are using it more for their own illnesses, so it becomes more tempting to try it on their dogs,” she adds. “Finally, I think the fact that there is some research now has helped veterinarians and pet owners become a little more comfortable with the application.”

What the data shows

Studies in the US and overseas have looked at the use of CBD to treat a variety of conditions in animals, including seizures in dogs with persistent idiopathic epilepsy, osteoarthritis (OA) pain in dogs, noise-induced anxiety in dogs, and more Many studies have found that CBD is effective with minimal to no side effects.

For example, one study of OA pain in dogs concluded that CBD “exerts robust and quantifiable anti-inflammatory properties in experimental systems” that were transferable in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in a spontaneous canine model of OA.2 Another study on OA pain in dogs, published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science, reported a similar reduction in symptoms.3 Efficacy was also shown in a study of using CBD in conjunction with conventional anti-epileptic treatment to reduce the frequency of seizures in dogs . 4th

Such results are encouraging, but Cital points out that there are some important nuances in CBD research that need to be considered. “CBD comes from a plant that contains more than 500 compounds,” he explains. “All of them focus on CBD and THC [tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychotropic compound found in marijuana]but there are hundreds of different things in these products. For example, a variety of factors can change the cannabinoid or terpene profile so that each product is really different. If a particular product succeeds or fails in a study, that data is really specific to that particular product, so we cannot easily extrapolate that another product will work the same way. “

McGrath confirms, “We are just beginning to find out about this drug. We had to start with the foundation – the pharmacology and safety studies. We’re just getting started with some small clinical trials. And while some of the studies are encouraging, we still have a long way to go. “

What to talk about

While customers are increasingly turning to CBD for themselves and their pets, the legality of CBD can be confusing to members of the veterinary team, many of whom avoid talking to customers about CBD for fear. But there is good news: in 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture made hemp – which contains less than 0.3% of THC by dry weight – legal. “The federal government decriminalized hemp and legalized the CBD molecule as long as it came from a specific plant, but it also gave states the power to regulate it at their discretion,” reports Cital. “To the best of my knowledge, there are only a handful of states that don’t allow the use of CBD, even if it’s made from legal hemp.”

Cital says veterinary team members shouldn’t be nervous about discussing CBD with interested customers, even in states where CBD is illegal, as such conversations fall under harm reduction. “People keep saying that I can’t even use the word CBD in my clinic, which is wrong,” he says. “I would actually say [not discussing CBD] contradicts the oath you took as veterinarians or technicians not to cause harm because you did not inform the customer about safety and effectiveness. It’s about education. “

However, Cital encourages practices to avoid words like prescribing or dispensing. “These are specific words for FDA-approved drugs or devices and many state pharmacy laws,” he explains. “Since hemp is in a strange gray area as an animal food supplement, it doesn’t need FDA approval, just like you don’t need FDA approval for glucosamine / chondroitin. As long as these products do not contain any medical information on their packaging or in their advertising, they are considered animal supplements and are legal. “

When it comes to customer education, McGrath suggests focusing on the potential side effects and drug interactions. “CBD is likely not safe for every animal at every dose,” she says. “We are still learning a lot about this drug, but we know there are some precautions that should be taken. And pet owners should know to the best of their ability what product they are buying. There are many questionable products online and on store shelves whose claims may not be justified. It is therefore essential to research a company and its products. “

CBD is available in a variety of forms, with liquid being the most common, says Cital. CBD-infused dog chews are also popular. Like McGrath, Cital encourages veterinarians and customers to make sure they are using a quality product. “I don’t support companies that refuse to offer a certificate of analysis,” he says. “We tested nearly 30 veterinary products and found some with no CBD. Others also had high levels of lead and arsenic. ”6

With thousands of members, the Veterinary Cannabinoid Academy is a great resource for information on veterinary uses of CBD and other cannabis compounds, and has a wide variety of resources for office educators. In addition, Springer Nature is in the process of creating a textbook that will summarize current studies on CBD along with further information. It will be available both as an e-book and in print.

Don Vaughan is a freelance writer based in Raleigh, North Carolina.


1. Wuest P. Survey: Are you asked about CBD products in your practice? Today’s vet. Retrieved December 15, 2020. https://todaysveterinarynurse.com/articles/poll-are-you-being-asked-about-cbd–products-in-your-practice/

2. C. Verrico, S. Wesson, V. Konduri et al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of daily cannabidiol for the treatment of osteoarthritis pain in dogs. Pains. 2020; 161 (9): 2191-2202. doi: 10.1097 / j.pain.0000000000001896

3. Gamble LJ, Boesch JM, Frye CW et al. Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs. Front Veterinarian Sci. 2018; 5: 165. doi: 10.3389 / fvets.2018.00165

4. McGrath S., Bartner LR, Rao S., Packer RA, Gustafson DL. Randomized, blinded, controlled clinical study evaluating the effect of oral cannabidiol in addition to conventional anti-epileptic treatment on seizure frequency in dogs with intractable idiopathic epilepsy. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2019; 254 (11): 1301-1308. doi: 10.2460 / javma.254.11.1301

5. Morris EM, Kitts-Morgan SE, Spangler DM, McLeod KR, Costa JHC, Harmon DL. The effects of feeding cannabidiol (CBD) -containing treats on the dog’s response to a noise-induced anxiety response test. Front Veterinarian Sci. 2020; 7: 569565. doi: 10.3389 / fvets.2020.569565

6. Wakshlag JJ, Cital S, Eaton SJ, Prussin R, Hudalla C. Cannabinoid, terpene and heavy metal analysis of 29 over-the-counter commercial veterinary hemp supplements. Veterinarian Med (Auckl). 2020; 11: 45-55. doi: 10.2147 / VMRR.S248712