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The pets who are barking mad for CBD

Pet owners are increasingly keen to give their companions CBD – often on a vets recommendation.

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Consumers spent $426 million on pet CBD products in 2020

The demand for CBD products for our pets is on the rise with owners looking for solutions to ease pain and quell separation anxiety – often on their vets recommendation.

Covid-19 and its subsequent lockdowns has led to a boom in sales of pandemic puppies.

Pet prices are at their highest ever, with more time spent at home leaving many of us realising we had a four-legged shaped whole in our lives. 

It makes sense then, that the number of people turning to CBD for their pets would also be on the up.

According to cannabis market research company, the Brightfield Group, consumers spent $426 million on pet CBD products in 2020.

The firm expects this figure to reach $629 million in sales by the end of 2021. 

In the US, where its latest CBD Pupdate was published, the number of people discussing CBD brands with their veterinarian more than doubled from 2020 to 2021. 

Among all CBD consumers, 28 percent of those who have pets report administering CBD to them. 

dogs CBD

CBD products are most often bought for dogs.

More than half of pet CBD buyers were millennials and the majority of these were dog owners, although the number of cats using CBD rose from last year.

While these figures focus on the behaviour of pet parents across the pond, dog owners in the UK and elsewhere in the world, also report that their pooches are benefiting from the cannabinoid.

It is most commonly used to relieve pain and improve stiffness and mobility in older dogs, with a new study  underway in the US to examine how it could improve quality of life for dogs with osteoarthritis.

Australian medical cannabis company, AusCann has also reported promising results in a pilot study of a cannabinoid-based veterinary medicine for pain and inflammation in dogs. 

Findings showed positive indicators of the product improving pain, lameness and mood, based on clinical and biochemical results.

Ginny Smith of Southend, says she was recommended the CBD paste from UK marketplace Handpicked CBD for her 13-year-old Shih Tzu, Gizmo who struggles with arthritis.

“He can barely walk at times, it’s that bad, the poor thing,” she told Cannabis Health.

“We’ve been using the CBD paste for a few months now and he’s 100 percent more active and seems a lot happier – he can even jump up on the sofa again now.”

But many also believe that CBD can ease animals’ anxiety, keeping them calm in the face of fireworks, for instance or helping with separation anxiety as employees gradually return to the office leaving them home alone for the first time. 

Vicki Hatton, from South London gives her poodle, Bubla, CBD soft chews before she leaves the house.  

“He gets severe separation anxiety every time I leave the house and won’t stop crying and barking, even if there’s someone else in the house looking after him,” she said.

“Now I give him a couple of these chews before I go out and it has definitely helped to calm him down, he’s able to just relax a bit now.”

Leigh Gatt’s dog Bonnie suffers from separation anxiety

In the UK, there are currently no CBD products authorised for veterinary use. According to the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), however, a vet may prescribe a legally obtained human CBD product “under the provisions of the prescribing cascade”.

Until September 2018, CBD shops in the UK were able to supply pet owners with products for their animals. But the VMD then announced its firm stance that products containing CBD are veterinary medicines and should be regulated as such.

In the US, it is illegal to sell CBD products – to humans or animals – according to FDA regulations. 

The Brightfield report highlights that vets risk defying the FDA and their State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners if they discuss possible benefits of CBD with pet owners. 

Despite this, it found that 70 percent of pet CBD buyers still discussed pet CBD with their veterinarian in 2021, and 85 percent received an “enthusiastic response”.

George Vincent, director of UK-based Handpicked CBD said customers in the UK were also being recommended CBD by their vet.

He commented: “We’re definitely seeing an increase in people asking us for products suitable for their pets, often having been referred to CBD by their vet. Interestingly the CBD pastes sell very well amongst pet owners, I’m told it’s down to ease of application, by rubbing into their gums.”

Leigh Gatt is in Australia, where CBD has only been legal over the counter since February 2021.

He says he has been importing it from the US for two years after studying online with the Cannabis Training University based in America.

He started giving two drops of CBD oil to his Beagle German Shepherd cross, Bonnie, on her breakfast three months ago for her separation anxiety.

“We’ve had her for about six months now, after getting her as a rescue pet and we noticed a lot of anxiety issues with her. 

“She’d go nuts when I’d leave for work, my girlfriend would inform me of her behaviour when I got home – constantly whining, looking out the window waiting for me to come home from work, continuously looking for me around the house. 

“After starting her on the oil, the separation anxiety has definitely eased up.”

A report by the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) published in January, warned that while there are limited clinical studies on the beneficial effects of CBD in dogs and none in cats, results should be interpreted “with caution”.

Pet owners should also be aware that many CBD products do not “fully disclose their contents or provide a full spectrum analysis”, according to the UK Home Office.

A recent report from industry watchdog Leafreport found that more than half (56 percent) of CBD pet products in the US were incorrectly labelled.

Dogs also have a different distribution of CB1 receptors in the central nervous system compared with humans and may be more susceptible to toxic effects than humans. 

Green Box CBD recommends talking to your vet before giving your dog or cat CBD, and then opting for a high quality, pharmaceutical grade CBD oil, which is unflavoured and high strength – so you only need a couple of drops on their food.

As always with CBD, it’s advised that you ‘start low and go slow’ to find what works best for your pet.

Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister title and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email sarah@prohibitionpartners.com / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag

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