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Ask a Vet: CBD For Pets

Our culture is obsessed with comparison. Coke vs. Pepsi. DC vs. Marvel. N*SYNC vs. Backstreet Boys. No matter if we're talking food, boy bands, or something in between, each side is fiercely supported by its loyal followers.

The same can be said for holistic wellness and pharmaceuticals. People are often lumped into categories. You're either a green juice drinking yogi whose idea of pain management is a cup of turmeric tea or a pill popper who would rather mitigate the symptoms instead of solve the problem.

The truth is, it is completely fine to play for both teams. In fact, we would encourage it, especially when talking about health. 

That's why we asked 4 different veterinarians about their thoughts and experiences with CBD. If you've ever wanted to ask a vet about CBD, this is your chance!

Read below...

How did you learn about cannabidiol (CBD)? Have you performed topic-related research?

Dr. Rory Lubold, DVM

CBD products have generated considerable interest over the past few years for their purported health benefits. The information available about these products and their benefits is easily accessible to the public and clients have been asking about them for a few years.

There is a lot of excellent research happening with CBD products. It’s important to look at scientific research when evaluating claims of treatments and efficacy, not just anecdotal stories from people who have tried it. Over the next couple of years, we will see a lot of new research in this area.

Dr. Gary Richter, a Veterinary Health Expert with

My education about CBD and medical cannabis, in general, comes from personal research and speaking with experts in the field.

I have performed a great deal of topic-related research. There is an entire chapter in my book - The Ultimate Pet Health Guide - on cannabis and I have written multiple continuing education courses for veterinarians on the topic.

Bruce Silverman, Village West Veterinary

I honestly can't recall when I first learned about CBD, but it's been on our radar in the veterinary world for many years.

More recently, intense discussion of CBD use has been showing up everywhere, from mainstream medical journals, to message boards, and daily in conferencing with clients about their pets.

Have you used CBD as a treatment for animals? If so, what ailments responded to treatment?

Dr. Rory Lubold, DVM

I have only just started using CBD products with patients. There have been considerable legislative hurdles to overcome before we could recommend these products, and the new Farm Bill is the first step in allowing us to make appropriate recommendations.

Dr. Gary Richter, a Veterinary Health Expert with

While I cannot personally prescribe it, I have seen CBD and other forms of cannabis be a very effective alternative treatment option.  

It can help with everything from pain and soreness to stress and anxiety, upset stomach, cancer, and seizures.

Bruce Silverman, Village West Veterinary

I've generally recommended CBD for pain management. Most of my clients have used it similarly.

Pain management can include anything from superficial skin infection to bone fractures to cancer, amputation, glaucoma, pancreatitis, or abdominal surgery.

Other conditions where CBD has been tried include seizures, diabetes, IBD, and I'm sure other pathologies I'm forgetting. I've had the most positive feedback for pain management applications. 

How do you prescribe CBD? Do you recommend it in conjunction with traditional medicine? Or in place of it altogether?

Dr. Rory Lubold, DVM

I have limited experience with prescribing pharmaceutical-grade CBD products. It would make sense initially to make recommendations using both CBD products and traditional Western medicine products until we can confirm efficacy, reliability, and consistency of CBD products.

Dr. Gary Richter, a Veterinary Health Expert with

I cannot actually prescribe or recommend CBD for patients.  That said, it can absolutely be used in conjunction with traditional medicine or, in some circumstances, it can replace the need for Western medications.

Jennifer Walker Diaz

It depends on the clients. Some clients only want only alternative medicine which in that case I only give CBD in conjunction with laser therapy and rehabilitation.

When the patient does not respond to this type of approach then I add western medicine, such as opioids or anti-inflammatories.

What is your point of view on using CBD as a treatment in place of traditional medicine? Is there a difference in results? Do you see a difference in side effects between these treatments?

Dr. Gary Richter, a Veterinary Health Expert with

CBD from hemp is considered to be very, very safe. As long as the product is of high quality, the worst side effect is likely to be a little drowsiness if the dosing is too high.


Jennifer Walker Diaz

I like to use CBD instead of traditional medicine, but sometimes it depends on the patient. Side effects are usually stronger with traditional medicine than CBD.

I have opioids that cause profound sedation in the patients, no matter the dose. The only downside to CBD and the reason why I start patients in traditional medicine is that it requires a loading time to reach therapeutic levels.

Do you see an economic benefit for pet owners who use CBD?

Dr. Rory Lubold, DVM

There are potential economic benefits for owners using CBD products as they may reduce the frequency and severity of signs that lead to veterinary visits, pet self-injury, and anxiety-induced disorders.

There may also be benefits in the reduction in traditional medications, which can be costly as well.

Bruce Silverman, Village West Veterinary

If a pet owner can replace a pharmaceutical - especially a controlled drug - with CBD for adequately addressing their pet’s health issue, then, by all means, this is a win-win situation. 

The costs will likely be lower, and there may be a reduction or elimination in possible side effects - assuming the presence of side effects with any given western medication.

Jennifer Walker Diaz

Depending on the traditional medication, I usually see that CBD cost more as an initial investment. But in the long run, traditional medications would cost more if given for long term.

Are there any preferable ways to administer CBD oil?

Dr. Gary Richter, a Veterinary Health Expert with

The most effective way to administer cannabis to pets is orally, either with an oil or given as a treat.

CBD is not particularly well absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract so ideally, an oil is best as some of it will be absorbed transmucosally (through the tissues in the mouth).

Bruce Silverman, Village West Veterinary

With pets, any time we can deliver medication in food, without changing the palatability, then all the better.

If we can enhance the palatability, then we're REALLY coming out ahead.

Jennifer Walker Diaz

I really like the joint support soft chews that include Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Boswellia, and CBD.

Those are my favorite because they include multiple supplements that help with joint support and is convenient for clients.

What is the most common misconception you see regarding CBD for pets?

Dr. Rory Lubold, DVM

There seems to be a widely held belief that CBD products are a cure-all for all ailments, from chronic pain to anxiety, seizures, and many other conditions.

While there may be significant benefits in multiple areas, no single drug can cure or treat all conditions and so caution should be exercised with the broad claims.

Dr. Gary Richter, a Veterinary Health Expert with

People don't understand the difference between CBD and medical cannabis.  

CBD is a single component found within cannabis. They also don't understand the difference between hemp and cannabis.

Jennifer Walker Diaz

Owners usually think they have the same side effects that we see in humans. Others are concerned that it’s illegal.

Do you have any final thoughts on the subject that you would like to share?

Dr. Rory Lubold, DVM

I am excited to see where new products take us over the next few years. There is a lot of work to be done in proving efficacy, identifying dosing, and determining side effects.

This also creates an enormous opportunity for providing better pet care, which should be a goal for all veterinarians, pet parents, and product manufacturers.

Dr. Gary Richter, a Veterinary Health Expert with

Ask for a certificate of analysis to show the product contains what it claims on the label. Check the certificate of analysis to confirm there are no pesticides, fungicides, fungal toxins, etc.

Also, whenever possible, consult with a veterinary professional before starting CBD. Understand the difference between a hemp-based product and a medical cannabis product.

Bruce Silverman, Village West Veterinary

I would love to see clarification for medical practitioners regarding our ability to more actively integrate CBD into our treatment regimen.

As well, more stringent guidelines for producers regarding product purity is always welcome. Unfortunately, this has plagued the supplement market for years, requiring the buyer to beware.

Perhaps when major pharmaceutical companies step into the marketplace, there will be a drive that pushes the better producers to the front of the pack.


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