Pet owners embracing CBD, cannabis remedies to treat their ailing animals

The most recent additions to pet medicine cabinets are coming courtesy of the cannabis sativa plant.

Following faithfully in the footsteps of their aging owners, who are increasingly embracing medical marijuana as well as over-the-counter CBD remedies, dogs and cats are being treated for many of the same ailments (e.g., pain, inflammation, seizures) afflicting their humans.

“It seems like everyone in the world has jumped on the CBD bandwagon,” said Leslie Riddle, a former Radio City Music Hall Rockette whose Yorkipoo Puccini has benefited from its use. “Every dog event I attend has CBD gifts in the goody bags. I know a few women that give their dogs CBD for anxiety, arthritis or traveling.”

And that means big business for the humans making the stuff.

The demand for pet products containing CBD (cannabidiol, a component of both the hemp and marijuana varieties of cannabis) has skyrocketed following the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill in December 2018, which expanded legal hemp cultivation and research. According to the Brightfield Group, the US pet CBD market grew to over 10 times its 2018 size in 2019 and is expected to reach $563 million by the end of this year.

Most of this pot is going to the dogs, but there have been an increasing number of products developed for the broader pet kingdom, such as cats, birds, and horses. There are a wide array of CBD products to choose from, including tinctures, treats, capsules, topicals, mixing powders, and shampoos, with prices ranging from about $20 for treat packets to $200 for high-dosage or high-volume tinctures, according to Brightfield.

Dr. Zac Pilossoph, a veterinarian who serves as the chief medical officer for Cansultants, cautions that there has been a relative lack of research into veterinary cannabis, in large part because of the legal restrictions against the plant.

He added, however, that the clinical research that has been done, along with “subjective feedback primarily from pet owners,” holds promise for pain relief from osteoarthritis and inflammation and seizure control.

On the flip side, at least for veterinarians, are American Veterinary Medical Association 2019 guidelines that caution doggie and cat doctors that they face legal risks if they “prescribe or recommend ‘hemp’ or other cannabis-derived products that are not approved [by the FDA] for use in animals,” at least until the regulators sort things out.

In the meantime, vets are increasingly following the lead of dog and cat “parents” and embracing the medical applications of cannabis.

“The vets that are a little more old school in thought may be a bit more reluctant to talk about this,” said Dr. Zay Satchu, who co-founded Bond Vet, a practice with offices on the Upper East Side and Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. “But I am incredibly enthusiastic about what the world looks like.”

Among the products pets can get in her offices is ElleVet, a preparation made by a Portland, Me., company and recently cited as effective for pain relief by a Cornell University study.

“CBD is extremely popular,” says Dr Stephanie Liff, who helps animals at Pure Paws of Hell’s Kitchen. At the same time she cautions that given the confusion of the regulatory environment, “people are just picking up just anything at a pharmacy, bodega or smoke shop.”

Many of these over-the-counter products are suspected to have little or no CBD in them, and “therefore are almost always safe, but often ineffective.”

For his part, Dr. Tim Shu, a veterinarian who runs Vet CBD, a Los Angeles-based company producing medical cannabis products for the pet set, is bullish. “A month in this industry is like two to three years in other industries,” he says.

Laura Kent

Laura has always been a team player who keeps the entire team of Feed Voice together. She is a crucial contributor for this news platform who covers everything that one needs to know about the Cannabis industry.
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