Just like with humans, the advertising to use CBD oil for pets is everywhere. But how do you know how much to give, or if it even works?
Respected pet brands have been doing a lot of studies and research to see what the safe dosing levels should be and whether it actually works.
Dr. Stacy Mozisek of Firehouse Animal Health Center has been recommending CBD treats and oils for dogs and cats with mobility issues or anxiety.
For her, CBD products have been more effective for dogs with arthritis than the traditional joint supplements that have glucosamine as a beginning treatment before using a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug or a prescription medication. Omega fatty acids also can be a good first step.
She likes to get bloodwork done on a dog or cat before starting a CBD product to get a baseline, then test again a month or two later to make sure nothing has changed. A vet also will make sure your animal doesn’t have any condition or take any other medication that would make CBD not the right choice. Certain breeds, like toy breeds or breeds that have smushy faces like pugs, also are more sensitive to CBD products.
You should not use CBD oil products that are meant for humans on your pets. Those can have ingredients that are safe for humans but are toxic for pets, like the xylitol in chewing gum.
Mozisek says you want to use only pet-approved CBD products because they have dosing information based on the pet’s weight, which is very important. A pet cannot tell you how it makes them feel, such as whether it makes them feel too loopy or nauseated, or how much is too much.
Look for veterinary CBD products that have had third-party clinical trials.
The product Mozisek uses most is from ElleVet, which has had many clinical trials for mobility issues in dogs. It has not had as many trials for treating behavior such as anxiety. Those trials were put on pause because of COVID-19.
Mozisek still recommends trying a CBD product before going to something like a Prozac for dogs who are anxious about going to the groomer or in storms.
She is especially excited about CBD products for cats because cats don’t tolerate nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and there aren’t a lot of other medicines for cats with arthritis.
Instead of the CBD treats that work great for dogs, she uses an oil for cats that can go onto their food or directly into their mouth, if the cat will allow it.
Mozisek says a lot of arthritis in cats gets missed because we don’t walk them, but if you notice your cat isn’t jumping around as much that might be a sign he or she is hurting.
Still, CBD treats or oil might not be the solution a pet needs, which is why it’s important to see a vet before giving these products to pets. Sometimes doing things like helping the animal lose weight can help with arthritis better than the treats or oil would. Proper training for the pet (and the human) also could improve behavior more effectively than CBD or medication.
If you decide that CBD is the right choice, know that these products are not cheap. It’s about $100 a month for the dog treats and about $100 for the oil for cats, which will last one to two months.
CBD is "not a miracle drug," Mozisek says. You shouldn’t expect that all their anxiety will go away or the arthritis will be fixed, but she has had clients who have stopped their dog’s other arthritis treatments after using CBD treats.
You won’t know if it will work on your pet until you field test it, she says.