MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — A health trend growing in popularity for people is now gaining more attention for pets.
Some people say they now swear by the benefits of CBD products from hemp for a variety of health or behavioral issues for their dogs.
But, veterinarians urge caution in using the products.
Dr. Annette Sysel is a veterinarian at Martin Downs Animal Hospital.
“I probably have clients asking me about CBD on a weekly basis,” Dr. Sysel said. “I think there are a lot of applications on the human side and for that reason, a lot of people are interested in it for their pets as well.”
Dr. Sysel said there has been little research on the effects of CBD on dogs, and specifically how it could be used to treat specific ailments. She says there is no literature on the use of CBD in other pets like cats or horses.
“So at this time, there’s really not enough there to say is the product safe,” Dr. Sysel said.
She says there is still a lot of research that needs to be done on how CBD interacts with other medications.
She also says there is risk when an owner does not know exactly what is in the product.
She explained the Farm Bill of 2018 removed hemp from the list of schedule I controlled substances, and made it an agricultural commodity.
However the FDA still considers CBD derived from hemp to be a drug.
Dr. Sysel said licensing bodies agreed that the states are allowed to make the rules on the sale and distribution of CBD on a state by state basis.
In the state of Florida, veterinarians cannot discuss or recommend CBD to clients, Dr. Sysel said.
There are also concerns about unregulated manufacturing of the CBD products.
“According to the Farm Act, hemp has to be manufactured by licensed distributors which are predominantly located in Colorado, Kentucky and Oregon. However, a lot of people are making CBD products on their own, and it’s a largely unregulated marketplace at this time.”
“They call it right now the Wild West. CBD from Hemp products can be pretty much made by anyone,” Dr. Sysel warned. “It can be very dangerous for owners to be giving CBD from uncertain sources when they’re not even sure exactly what is in the product,” she explained.
“So it is important to talk to veterinarians about other safe known options that are available at this time.”
Dog owner Brett Johnson says he has seen success using CBD products on his two Border Collies.
“They have an internal condition that is yeast infection and it’s causing them to itch...The CBD oil is helping a lot,” Johnson said. “I highly recommend it."
Dog owner Stacey Allen swears by the benefits she has seen from CBD products in her two French Bulldogs.
One experiences major anxiety during thunderstorms, she said.
“So we started experimenting with CBD treats to see if it helped. We definitely noticed a difference.”
Allen said she also did her research.
“Made sure the traceability and the compliance was there… Just knowing our source and having a good company that we know their standards,” Allen said.
She uses products from Ceed 2 med, a Delray Beach-based company that grows and sells its own CBD products in Oregon.
“I’ve always been pro alternative medicines and botanical medicines,” said co-founder Emiliano Aloi.
Despite the lack of research on the impacts for animals, Aloi said his customers have seen benefits.
“People come to us telling us 'I gave your drops to my dogs and his anxiety seems less',” Aloi said. Stories like those are leading to growing demand. “It’s impossible for us to keep up.”
But, he also acknowledges there is no research specific to how much of a dose should be given for any specific ailment. “We do not make claims, health claims on it because proper clinical trials to say what kind of dose and what ingredient treats what kind of condition haven't been performed yet.”
Aloi says his company does aim to be transparent about their manufacturing process and the source of their products.
“Every single one of our products from the bottle, you can scan the product and it will take you to the strain of flower to the plot that it came from.”
Dr. Sysel still urges dog owners to be patient and wait for more research.
“We’re not there yet, there’s still a lot of work we need to do.”
Dr. Sysel also said there have been studies showing CBD products mislabeled on store shelves.
At the very least, she says you should check that the CBD products were manufactured under good practices, that they are supported by the national animal supplement council. You can also check for a certificate of analysis to tell you exactly what is in the product.