As the CBD industry continues to grow, we're seeing an increasing interest in cannabidiol for our furry (or feathered!) friends. CBD oil for pets is becoming a popular online search term and topic of conversation for those looking to provide their pets with the potential benefits of CBD.
You’ve probably heard all about – or experienced for yourself - the benefits of CBD already, but some early studies indicate that dogs, cats and even horses could benefit from taking the popular cannabis derivative.
However, legislation surrounding CBD in the UK is vague for many. We know that CBD is legal for human consumption, but is it legal for pets? At the time of writing, CBD products for pets remain illegal in the UK and no CBD pet products are currently authorised for sale. With more lenient legislation already in place in Ireland and the US, could this be set to change?
We dig a little deeper into CBD oil for pets, the circumstances under which UK pet owners can legally use it, current UK legislation and its potential to evolve.
What is CBD Oil?
CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is a hemp-derived compound. It is extracted from the hemp plant (which is part of the cannabis plant family), pressed into oil and infused into a variety of products that are popular with people seeking the wellbeing benefits offered by CBD.
CBD influences the mammalian endocannabinoid system (ECS); a complex system responsible for homeostasis (keeping the body balanced and healthy). Studies have shown that by having a positive impact on the ECS, CBD can influence mood, sleep, stress levels, energy and pain.
Is CBD for Pets Legal in the UK?
Although scientists believe that CBD may have therapeutic benefits for animals, CBD for pets is very strictly regulated in the UK, in the same manner as veterinary medicines. This means that CBD products for pets have to be authorised by the UK Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) before they can be supplied or sold. To date, no CBD-infused products have been authorised, therefore if you find CBD products being marketed towards animal use specifically, the product is illegal.
This may seem strict when compared with other countries such as Ireland and the U.S. which permit CBD oil products for pets to be sold and supplied. However, the UK VMD has our pets’ best interests at heart and the intention is to ensure that only safe and legitimate CBD is available for use. As further research into CBD’s effects on animals emerges, CBD oils for pets may be granted authorisation in the future in the UK.
Can I Give My Pet CBD?
At the time of writing, it is a criminal offence to use a CBD product on your pet without a valid veterinary prescription in the United Kingdom. There are currently no CBD products given authorisation by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate.
You can legally give your pet CBD in the UK if a vet has provided a prescription. Due to a lack of authorised CBD products for pets, the prescription will be a human CBD oil with specific instructions that must be strictly adhered to for your pet’s health and safety.
Why Do Pet Owners Give CBD to their Animals?
Just as many people turn to CBD for several personal ailments, pet owners in some countries turn to CBD to treat their pets’ health conditions. One of the most common reasons for CBD use in pets is the treatment of stress and anxiety, thanks to the cannabis compound's calming effects. Additionally, it is believed that CBD may help seizures, inflammation, muscle pain and certain skin disorders. CBD may be used occasionally during a stressful situation such as a house move or during a firework display, or long-term for chronic issues such as pain.
Is CBD Oil Safe for Pets?
According to initial research, CBD oil for pets has a good safety margin. However, there is not enough research on the use of CBD and pets to firmly conclude that CBD oil is completely safe for animal consumption. What we do know is that cannabis-based products that contain high levels of THC (the cannabinoid that gets humans high) can be very harmful to animals and full cannabis products should never be given to pets under any circumstances.
While CBD does not appear to cause intoxicating effects, some animals may be sensitive to its influence on the body. Furthermore, CBD may interact with any medication the animal is on. Early research is not extensive enough to arrive at a firm conclusion, however, anecdotal reports from pet owners who have used CBD are largely promising. Remember, it is an offence to use CBD on your pet at present in the UK, without a vet prescription.
CBD for Pets Side Effects
If your pet has been prescribed CBD, some minor side effects may be experienced (although these seem to be rare). Always follow the dosing instructions provided by the vet to minimise side effects. Some of the most frequently reported side effects are drowsiness, lower blood pressure and dry mouth.
What’s Next for CBD in the Pet Industry?
Currently, CBD products for pets are not authorised for sale in the UK. While some other countries seem further progressed with CBD legislation for pets, the UK VMD appears to be waiting for further research developments to ensure safety for our beloved furry friends. Until UK law changes, you can only give your pet CBD oil if prescribed by a vet. With regards to off-the-shelf CBD products for pets, we will have to wait and see as UK legislation evolves.