cbd pets veterinarian health

Help May Be on the Horizon for CBD and Pets

The 2020 elections not only brought the U.S. a new president, but the electorate in four states also approved recreational marijuana.

Two more okayed medical marijuana, bringing the number of jurisdictions with those programs to 34. 

While CBD is legal on the federal level, states can legislate it themselves.

With cannabis illegal under federal law, and various states implementing their own guidelines about it, rules regarding CBD are murky.

Considerations complicating CBD’s legality are its intended use and source, as well as whether it should be used recreationally or medically.

The current landscape is fuzzy when it comes to CBD for pets.

According to Dr. Jeff Werber, a California veterinarian and Chief Veterinary Officer for Airvet, a virtual and phone-in veterinary service, “There is nowhere to find any information.”

Although an advocate for CBD for pets in the right circumstances, Werber and other vets in his state must adhere to California law when it comes to discussing CBD for pets. 

“I can’t tell my patients how much (CBD) is too low, its efficacy, what might be too much, which could lead to toxicity, or even overdose and death,” he said.

California vets may not prescribe or even recommend CBD products for pets although they are permitted to explain they have heard of successful uses. 

California’s law is “complete insanity,” said Werber, noting guidelines for veterinarians discussing CBD for animals are stricter in his state than for other medical specialties.

Still, says Werber, there are six ailments “where we know CBD helps. We just don’t know how much.”

They include combating seizures, reducing inflammation, pain, stress and anxiety, nausea, and fighting cancer.

However, help may be on the horizon. 

According to Jim Penrod, executive director of the American Association of Veterinary State Boards Regulatory Task Force, “A guidance document on CBD use in veterinary medicine” is in the works.

It is not complete, but plans called for it to be sent to members of the group the week of Nov. 16, 2020.

They will discuss and tweak the proposal before sending it the group’s Board of Governors for a vote, he said.

For example, one consideration is that discussions about the use of CBD for pet care only occur during a vet-client (patient) relationship.

Those discussions become part of the pet’s medical records, and should include other potential treatment options besides CBD.

The organization also advocates if a vet recommends CBD for a pet, the product came from an established outlet that provides for third-party testing. 

“You don’t know what’s really in that bottle, especially when you buy online. It may even have THC in it, which would be harmful to a pet,” says Penrod.

Werber agrees.

Until there are more rules and studies to determine how CBD impacts pets, the overall long- and short-term impacts on them can’t be known, he says.  ϖ

Tami Kamin Meyer is an Ohio attorney and freelance writer. She is a Member of the Columbus Bar Association Board of Editors and Marketing Chair of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. She tweets as @girlwithapen.


  • Tami Kamin Meyer is an Ohio attorney and freelance writer. Her byline has appeared in Forbes, MarketWatch, Next Avenue, and Your Teen. She is the Social Media Chair of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and tweets as @girlwithapen.

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