Do you need a prescription for cbd oil for pets

How to Talk to Your Veterinarian About CBD Oil for Dogs

Questions about CBD oil for dogs? You may not get answers from your veterinarian.

Unfortunately, conversations about veterinary CBD oil are restricted by law, which poses problems for dog owners.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabis compound used to treat certain medical conditions in people. Increasingly, dog owners are interested in incorporating CBD oil into their dogs’ healthcare plans. With so many CBD products to choose from, it’s important that you know how to talk to your veterinarian with questions and concerns.

We talked to AKC Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Jerry Klein to learn how dog owners can navigate CBD oil discussions with their veterinarians to get the information they need to make the best decision for their dogs.

Talking to Your Veterinarian About CBD Oil

The AKC Canine Health Foundation is currently funding a study on the effects of CBD on dogs with epilepsy. As a veterinarian, how do you respond to dog owners who bring up CBD oil in your office?

Dr. Klein: This is an intriguing topic. There has been a lot of talk about the use of CBD products to help with various health conditions for people, and naturally, this talk has extended to the use of CBD oil for dogs. There have only been a few studies published on CBD for animals, which limits true scientific data. Most of the available information is anecdotal. Studies on CBD oil for dogs, like the one being funded by AKC Canine Health Foundation, will hopefully provide the scientific data that’s needed to gain legal approval. These studies will also help determine appropriate medical use and dosage, which isn’t currently available.

Can veterinarians legally recommend CBD oil to their clients? How can interested dog owners get accurate information?

Dr. Klein: According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, “under current federal and state law, veterinarians may not administer, dispense, prescribe or recommend cannabis or its products for animals.” Laws are changing rapidly, so this may change in some areas of the country. Your veterinarian is likely able to provide recommendations for other products or medications to treat your pet’s problem.

Dog owners looking for more information on CBD oil should do extensive research. Be sure that your information comes from multiple, reputable sources. Look to publications that are peer-reviewed.

Are there risks to CBD that dog owners should ask their veterinarians about?

Dr. Klein: Absolutely. Currently, most of what veterinarians know about CBD oil and dogs is anecdotal, and there is limited scientific evidence about the effects of its use. That said, anytime you give your pet something new, there is always the potential for side effects.

Some of the reported risks of CBD oil include:

  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Increased sedation
  • Reduced saliva production
  • Decreased liver enzyme activities used to metabolize prescription drugs

Always check with your veterinarian before you start your dog on a new supplement, especially if your pet is already on prescription medications.

How would you recommend pet owners bring up CBD oil to their veterinarian?

Dr. Klein: Ideally, clients should be comfortable talking about any topic with their veterinarians. The law may limit how veterinarians can discuss CBD oil with their clients, but clients should always feel comfortable bringing it up.

Changes Ahead for CBD?

Legislation changes all the time. If you want to explore using CBD oil for your dog, let your veterinarian know. Veterinarians have access to the most up-to-date information about products like CBD oil. Keeping your veterinarian in the loop about your decision to use CBD oil for your dog will also help them advise you about any potential contraindications with medications your pet may be taking.

Does CBD Work for Dogs?

Topper, a 7-year-old Ibizan Hound, could hardly walk after being diagnosed with severe arthritic changes due to Valley fever. “The pain became so debilitating he had to be carried outside to eat, drink, or use the bathroom,” recalls owner Christy Moore. “He was on pain medication but it wasn’t working. A friend recommended pet CBD. Within three days he could walk on all four legs and I was crying tears of joy. It was the miracle we needed.”

Lady Amelthia, a Greyhound, was so petrified of thunderstorms she would destroy a crate to escape. “Holding her only made her claw to get away. A ThunderShirt reduced her from 100 to 90 on the anxiety scale,” recalls owner Jenn Boswell, director of the Alabama Greyhound Adoption Center. “Veterinary-prescribed trazodone took it down to a 50. Tried three drops of CBD oil and it went down to a 5.”

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Success stories abound of dogs overcoming anxiety, slowing seizures, and even beating cancer due to cannabidiol (CBD), one of more than 100 cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. But how can one substance help so many unrelated problems? Or can it?

Cannabinoids are substances including CBD and THC that mimic the endocannabinoid chemicals naturally produced in all vertebrates. Receptors for endocannabinoids are found throughout the body. The body’s endocannabinoids act as master regulators that signal other systems when to speed up or slow down, working to stabilize the body and return it to homeostasis. Cannabinoids from the cannabis plant affect these same receptors, each in slightly different ways. For example, THC causes a high, while CBD does not.

Is It Harmful?

Unlike THC, which can cause toxicity and even death in dogs when given at prescribed human dosages, the worst CBD has been documented to do is cause diarrhea and changes in some liver enzyme values after several weeks. The main concern with CBD is that it inhibits a chemical in the body called cytochrome P450 that is responsible for metabolizing most drugs. If a drug’s efficacy depends on its metabolized product, CBD could render it less effective. If a drug’s safety depends on it being cleared from the body within a certain time frame, CBD could cause it to build up to toxic levels. Never give your dog CBD without your veterinarian’s knowledge if your dog is taking other drugs.

Does It Work?

Research with dogs is still scarce, but there’s a huge body of research (about 23,000 published papers!) looking at CBD’s effect on laboratory animals and humans, with encouraging results for pain, especially arthritic pain, itchiness, anxiety, and cancer, all of which have at least one canine study as well. The results in dogs? It depends.

Arthritis: Several studies have looked at CBD’s effectiveness against arthritic pain, all with positive results. A Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine study found dogs given CBD at a rate of 4.4 mg per pound twice daily for a month showed significant improvement in pain relief and quality of life. Lead investigator Joe Wakshlag, DVM, Ph.D., DACVN, said that some dogs were initially so decrepit that their owners considered euthanasia, but that after just days on CBD they were trotting around and even climbing stairs. A Baylor University study found similar improvement, adding that CBD worked better when delivered in a liposomal formulation.

Itchiness: Two recent double-blind, placebo-controlled dog studies report CBD significantly reduces itchiness. An Australian study conducted by the company CannPal found their CBD product reduced itchiness, inflammation, and skin lesions by 51 percent after eight weeks of treatment. An American study conducted by the company ElleVet found their product, which combines CBD with another cannabinoid, CBDA, significantly reduced owners’ reports of itchiness.

Cancer: Cannabinoids are reported to induce cancer-cell death and prevent metastasis. In a Cornell University study of CBD, dogs, and cancer, researchers found CBD along with a standard chemotherapy drug reduced cancer-cell proliferation in vitro more than the chemotherapy drug alone. Anecdotal reports from veterinarians have claimed CBD shrunk cancer cells or put dogs into remission.

Behavior: Anxiety, and especially noise reactivity, is a major reason dog owners seek help using CBD. But despite anecdotal reports of its effectiveness, no controlled study so far has shown it to be particularly effective. A study from the University of Western Australia may show promise for aggressive behavior. Shelter dogs with aggressive tendencies exhibited less aggression toward humans when tested after 15 days of CBD administration. In a study from the University of Kentucky, physiological measurements of anxiety in response to noise were not significantly different for CBD versus placebo, and were worse compared to trazodone (a drug commonly prescribed for anxiety). Note, however, that in this study the CBD was administered four to six hours before testing, which may have been too long a waiting period.

Seizures: Lots of anecdotal reports hail CBD’s success combatting seizures in dogs, but the single controlled study delivered moderate results. In this Colorado State University study, dogs given CBD for 12 weeks had 33 percent fewer seizures than those given a placebo, but it didn’t work for every dog. These researchers are now working on a larger trial using higher CBD doses. Note that THC has been reported to cause seizures, so it should never be included in any CBD product for seizure control. In addition, CBD’s effect on cytochrome P450 could interfere with prescribed anti-seizure drugs, so never use it without your veterinarian’s consent.

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Other: There’s also evidence from laboratory animals that CBD is effective in promoting bone healing, fighting infection, treating inflammatory bowel disease, slowing degenerative myelopathy, quelling nausea, and relieving pain, but these have yet to be specifically examined in dogs.

How to Choose CBD For Dogs?

With hundreds of CBD products on the market, and little regulation of them, it’s not easy to know which is best. Look for a product with the National Animal Supplement Counsel (NASC) Seal of Quality Assurance, and one that has a third-party certificate of analysis that includes potency, lists all ingredients, and discloses the possible presence of heavy metals, mycotoxins, or pesticides. Avoid edible products formulated for human consumption, which often contain ingredients such as xylitol that are toxic to pets.

Choose broad-spectrum products, which include other cannabinoids and substances known as terpenes that are also in the cannabis plant. CBD seems to work best when it’s in conjunction with these rather than isolated. But avoid full-spectrum products that include THC.

Aim for about 0.1 to 0.2 mg per kilogram of your dog’s weight, given twice daily by mouth. Work up gradually, but beware that more is not always better with CBD, as sometimes the response is biphasic, meaning that it doesn’t work if you give too little or too much.

Is It Legal?

Many veterinarians are reluctant to suggest CBD, whether because they believe CBD is not yet sufficiently proven helpful or because they fear professional or legal repercussions. CBD products are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for dogs, but neither are common supplements such as glucosamine or fish oil; nor the majority of human-approved prescription drugs routinely prescribed in veterinary practice.

While it is legal to sell hemp-derived products containing less than 0.3 percent THC, until recently the American Veterinary Medical Association did not approve of veterinarians suggesting any cannabis products, including CBD, for patients. Even now, the law is unclear enough that many veterinarians fear repercussions if something went wrong due to their suggestion of CBD.

While some veterinarians are hesitant to suggest CBD, almost all are eager to discuss it once you bring it up. Of course, some veterinarians are more versed in its pros and cons than others. The main concern is its possible interaction with prescribed drugs.

Overall, the evidence is compelling that CBD can help at least some conditions. The endocannabinoid system is the largest system in the body, and the least explored. Every year brings new discoveries—and new claims. It’s the beginning of a brave new world of health, but as with any new path, expect some wrong turns, dead ends, and false hopes. CBD is not a miracle drug, but it may be the miracle your dog needs.

This article originally appeared in the award-winning AKC Family Dog magazine. Subscribe today!

Do You Need a Prescription from Your Vet to Give Your Dog CBD?

Despite the fact that you should be able to ask your veterinarian about anything regarding your pet’s health and receive a useful response, legally, what your vet can discuss with you may be restricted by law.

The American Kennel Club quotes the an Veterinary Medical Association as stating the following:

“Under current federal and state law, veterinarians may not administer, dispense, prescribe or recommend cannabis or its products for animals.”

Technically, this does not prevent your vet from simply talking about CBD with you. But it does mean that they are prevented from recommending it in any fashion.

It should be noted that some of the states are trying to make changes to their own laws regarding this issue.

How seriously do veterinarians take this rule? That depends on the vet. Some veterinarians may shy away from any discussion about CBD whatsoever, while others may be more willing to cross—or at least smudge—the line with this law.

You can probably figure out based on your vet’s personality and politics whether discussing CBD at your appointment will be of value to you or not.

Why Don’t You Need a CBD Oil Prescription?

I have already mentioned that you do not need a prescription to purchase CBD oil for your dog. But why is this the case?

The reason is that CBD oil is classified as an herbal supplement, not a prescription medication.

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Keep in mind that this would not be the case if you are purchasing a product which contained a significant amount of THC. This would qualify it as a medical marijuana product rather than simply a CBD oil product.

When shopping for CBD for your pet, however, you are avoiding products which contain significant amounts of THC to begin with. This is necessary for the safety of your dog.

Big or small, that’s your dog who loves and trusts you. How safe do you want them to be?

Two Very Good Reasons to Talk About CBD Oil With Your Vet

Even though you do not need your veterinarian to give you a prescription for CBD oil, there are two reasons that you should strongly consider talking to your vet about your plans.

Remember, even though your veterinarian may not be able to recommend CBD to you (depending on your state), he or she can still listen.

The first reason is that it is important for your veterinarian to know all of the medications and supplements you are giving your dog.

Otherwise, your vet cannot take steps to help you avoid negative interactions.

Although CBD is safe for the majority of dogs, there are some pets that should avoid taking it.

The American Kennel Club for example says that one of the possible risks of CBD for dogs is, “Decreased liver enzyme activities used to metabolize prescription drugs.”

If your dog has a healthy liver and/or isn’t taking any prescription drugs which are likely to lose effectiveness because of CBD oil, this isn’t an issue.

But some dogs with certain liver conditions or medication needs may need to avoid CBD oil.

If you let your veterinarian know that you are or will be giving your dog CBD, he or she can let you know if any of these red flag concerns exist.

The second reason to think about bringing up CBD with your vet is insurance.

Most pet owners do not have health insurance for their dogs, but if you do, you should check your policy.

Some policies actually provide coverage for CBD products. You might be able to purchase your CBD at a discount if you get a recommendation from your vet.

Depending on the specific state laws where you live, you may or may not be able to get this recommendation.

But if you can obtain it, it can save you money on your CBD expenses for your pet.

At the time of this writing, it is unlikely that you will be able to get such a recommendation, even if you live in a state like California which has legalized medical marijuana.

The Veterinary Medical Board explains, “There is nothing in California law that would allow a veterinarian to prescribe, recommend, or approve marijuana for treating animals. Veterinarians are in violation of California law if they are incorporating cannabis into their practices.”

So why do I bring it up? Because laws are changing rapidly with regards to cannabis, marijuana and CBD. This is especially true at the state level.

So there is always a chance that the laws were you live could soon loosen up with regards to CBD and veterinary practices.

If that happens, your vet may be able to write you that recommendation your insurance is requesting.

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Conclusion: You Do Not Need a Vet Prescription for CBD for Dogs, But Talking to Your Vet Is Wise

To sum up what we have learned, you do not need a veterinary prescription to purchase and administer CBD for your dog. Indeed, chances are good that your veterinarian cannot currently recommend CBD to you at all.

But it is still wise to make sure that your vet is fully aware of how you plan to treat your dog. That way, your vet has a chance to warn you of any potentially adverse interactions.

If your vet currently or in the future is able to legally write you a recommendation for CBD, this may lead to cost breaks through your pet insurance.

Hopefully, most of your questions regarding CBD and veterinarians have now been answered. Your vet should be able to answer the rest.

Since your vet cannot recommend specific CBD products to you, we suggest taking a look at our product reviews to discover high-quality, trusted CBD supplements for your dog.