Products containing cannabidiol (CBD) are exploding in popularity among humans and their pets. A 2021 survey of 1,448 dog and cat owners shows that 50% of pet owners give CBD products to their pets. But some pet owners and veterinarians alike remain skeptical about the safety and efficacy of CBD for pets. A lack of regulatory standards and long-term research coupled with a legal gray area often leads to confusion and doubt about CBD products. In fact, the reason you are reading this article is likely because you are wondering, “Is CBD oil safe for cats?”
While we need more research on CBD oil for cats, there is some promising research that suggests it is generally safe for pets to consume. Let’s dive into the research and common concerns about CBD for pets.
Why Is CBD Oil Getting Popular?
CBD pet products are in a niche corner in the wider cannabis market that is quickly growing. So what are the motivations behind pet owners giving CBD to their cats and dogs? First, it’s important to recognize that attitudes about cannabis are changing significantly across the United States. A Pew Research survey finds that 91% of U.S. adults believe that cannabis should be legal for recreational and medical use. As American citizens are becoming more accepting of cannabis as a medicine, it makes sense why they are becoming more open to using it for their pets. Not to mention that cannabis has been used as a medicine for at least the past 5,000 years.
Why Do Pet Parents Give CBD To Their Pets?
The survey of 1,448 pet owners mentioned above sheds more insight into this trend. Here are the results from the respondents:
● 44% give CBD to their pets to relieve anxiety or stress, while 21% do so for pain and another 15% do it for general health.
● 38% use CBD for pets because of a veterinarian recommendation.
● 53% favor CBD treats, or edibles, over other consumption methods.
● 67% say that they see moderate to great improvements after giving CBD to their pets.
● 74% say they are likely to recommend other pet owners to use CBD.
● 77% have a dog, while 22% have a cat. 1% have another type of undisclosed pet.
● 34% administer CBD to their pets on a weekly basis; 30% on a daily basis; 28% on a health-needs basis; and 7% on a monthly basis.
● Low doses are more common, with 44% reporting giving 0-5 milligrams per dose.
● 41% report they check third-party tests of pet CBD products; 33% said they never check lab results; 26% are not aware of the existence of lab tests.
This information shows that pet owners are feeling increasingly confident and comfortable in using CBD oil for pets, despite limitations in research.
What Does Science Say About the Safety and Effectiveness of CBD Oil?
Recent studies in humans indicate that CBD can be beneficial for treating epilepsy, seizures, anxiety, and insomnia. In fact, the FDA recently approved a CBD medication to treat severe and rare forms of epilepsy in children. But what about cats and dogs? While giving CBD to pets is a relatively new phenomenon, the preliminary research is promising for pet owners.
What a 2021 Study Says: Is CBD Oil Safe For Cats?
In March 2021, Canopy Growth released the results of a study that looked at the toxicity and lifespan impacts of CBD in cats. The goal of this study was to look at whether CBD is safe for cats and to track the side effects of increasing doses. In this randomized and blind study with placebo control groups, cats were given 11 increasing doses. The results show that cats tolerate CBD well, with only mild reactions with escalating doses. Mild reactions include stomach upset and lethargy, which can be resolved without medical intervention.
Dogs, Osteoarthritis, and Epilepsy
Early research also suggests that CBD is safe for dogs and effective in treating certain conditions. A 2018 study shows promising results in using CBD to treat dogs with osteoarthritis. Additionally, a 2019 study shows that CBD is effective in treating dogs with epileptic seizures.
Understanding CBD Oil vs. Hemp Seed Oil
Due to the fact that these products are fairly new, there can be confusion about the differences between CBD oil and hemp seed oil. Many people use the terms “CBD oil” and “hemp oil” interchangeably. However, it is important to realize that CBD oils and hemp seed oils are significantly different.
Here are the two main differences:
- CBD oil derives from the leaves, flowers, and stalks of the hemp plant, which results in a high concentration of the cannabinoid.
- Hemp seed oil comes from hemp plant seeds. It contains fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins, but little-to-no CBD.
You can find hemp seed oil in nutritional supplements and cooking recipes.
Does CBD Oil for Cats Contain THC?
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants. There are some CBD oils on the market that also contain THC. If the CBD oil comes from the hemp plant, there is likely zero or minimal trace amounts of THC. However, it’s worth noting that some of
the CBD products used in the 2021 feline study also included THC, and those products were generally deemed safe.
Is CBD Oil Legal?
Hemp-derived CBD oil that contains 0.3% or less THC is legal in all 50 states and many countries around the world. However, regulations and rules differ across states. Additionally, products that contain higher amounts of THC will not be legal in every state. Depending on where you live, you may have difficulty getting a veterinarian recommendation for CBD pet products.
Is It Safe To Give CBD Oil to Your Cats?
According to the early research and anecdotal reports from pet parents, CBD appears to be safe for cats. On the surface, there are no clear risks of major adverse effects when given in mild or moderate doses. This should give you peace of mind if you are already administering CBD to your cat or considering it.
Common Concerns About CBD Oil for Pets
The main cause of uncertainty comes from the lack of oversight for CBD products. Despite the fact that hemp CBD is legal in all 50 states, there is no standardized method of manufacturing, testing, or dosing. This means there is no agency ensuring that growers, manufacturers, or retailers are adhering to specific quality control processes. The third-party labs that analyze CBD oil are essentially following their own rules. This means there can be discrepancies in purity, potency, and accuracy.
Because of the lack of regulation, the composition of CBD oil may vary widely from brand to brand and product to product. Some products may contain little to no CBD despite their label claims. Certain products may also contain harmful contaminants. However, there are some esteemed third-party certifiers, such as the National Animal Supplements Council or Certified Seal of the U.S. Hemp Authority. Looking for a seal from these certifications can guide you to buying safe and reliable CBD oil for cats.
Before you give CBD treats to your cat, you should consult your veterinarian for guidance. You should also look for a brand that follows strict quality control standards. None of this information is intended to be medical advice and is for informational purposes only. For more information on CBD, check out more posts on our blog!