This is a question that I get asked frequently. Unfortunately, the answer is not always easy.
First, let’s define what CBD oil is.
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is essentially a concentrated solvent extract made from cannabis flowers or leaves that is dissolved in an edible oil such as sunflower, hemp, or olive oil. (1- Hazekamp A: The Trouble with CBD Oil. Med Cannabis Cannabinoids 2018;1:65-72. doi: 10.1159/000489287)
Sounds straight forward right? But, did you know that CBD is poorly regulated and lacks information regarding its effectiveness? The article referenced above did a study on 46 varieties of CBD oil and found that as many as 57% had a THC content above 1%. This means the psychotropic component of CBD oil, which is supposed to be eliminated, was not. In fact, up to 18 of 46 of the samples had so much THC that the total CBD oil was actually less than 1%! The article went on to say that 7 of 46 samples had a deficiency in processing that rendered the oil ineffective. Articles have also documented high amounts of contaminants in CBD oils which can be harmful if ingested repeatedly.
Though this was a study for people, the results can obviously be applied to our pets, since most of the CBD oil purchased for human use is marketed for pets as well. The risk of pets ingesting THC is huge. Both cats and dogs are highly sensitive to THC and exposure can have toxic side effects up to and including death.
As of January 2018, there have been no published studies that have examined the effects of CBD oil in veterinary patients. Honestly, even the studies in humans are lacking.
We want to assume that CBD products labeled for pets contain appropriate ingredients and are safe to use. It has been implied that CBD might benefit conditions such as epilepsy, arthritis, and nausea. However, the fact remains that CBD oil is poorly regulated, making finding a reliable product a struggle and we lack information regarding effectiveness.
It cannot be stated enough that lack of research, regulation, and consistency in product ingredients could post a risk of contamination of THC or other inactive substances and that any use of CBD oil should be done with caution.
In conclusion, at this point we really don’t know much about CBD oil, it’s potential benefits and risks. If you are interested in exploring this option for your pet we recommend discussing it with your veterinarian first.