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How to Give Your Cat or Dog CBD Pet Treats

Wouldn’t it be great if you could train your pup to chill out? Or attempt the fool’s errand and command your cat to calm down? Or, on the flipside, do you have an older pet who finds it hard to curl up to cuddle on the couch because of arthritis or other pains?

Many pet parents, inspired by others’ positive results, want to try CBD pet treats to help manage their pets’ medical conditions, including those that afflict humans. From relieving chronic pain, arthritis and seizures to treating anxiety, specific CBD pet formulations can help alleviate symptoms, treat health problems and contribute to their overall wellness.

But how do you know if this natural, holistic treatment will work for your animal? And how do you give a pet CBD?

Talk to Your Vet About CBD Pet Treats

Dr. Gary Pusillo, a board-certified animal scientist, veterinary nutritionist and formulator of HEMPVET soft chews and oils, wants pet parents to find reliable sources of information and check with their veterinarian first. He stresses that it’s important to ask specific questions about their own pet’s health and medical history, rather than rely on others’ anecdotes or experiences.

“The dilemma is they [pet parents] read about something and find that it works,” he said. “And they hope that it will work that way for their own pets, without looking at the entire animal.”

This means it’s important to recognize that your pet is an individual, and not all animals respond to CBD in the same way.

Unless you live in California, your veterinarian can’t be the one to bring up CBD first. But be sure and ask, because the vet can answer any questions you have to reduce any potential risks or concerns about your pet.

“Some vets won’t talk about it, but you need to ask,” Pusillo said. “And you need to make your own decisions based on the law.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved cannabis products for pets, and also advises pet parents to consult a veterinarian for appropriate treatment options. Be sure and check local and state laws for CBD products before buying and giving your pet treatment.

Since CBD pet treats are fairly new, your vet may not know much about it yet. In this case, you can check out veterinarycannabis.org for help. The strictly product-neutral company offers educational resources and consultations to pet parents and veterinarians to provide guidance about CBD products, dosing and potential interactions.

Do Your Research on How CBD Works

More research is needed to answer how the CBD works for pets. To date, there are a few small studies at Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital that have shown the effectiveness of CBD when used in conjunction with traditional medical treatment. One clinical trial, published in the June 2019 Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, found that CBD helped reduce the number of seizures in dogs with epilepsy. Early results from another study to assess CBD treatment for dogs with osteoarthritis are encouraging.

Dr. Jeffrey Powers, a veterinarian based in northern Michigan, said he offers his clients guidance about CBD pet therapies when they ask and when the research is available. While he can’t prescribe the medication, he does know the products are helpful.

“I had somebody in two days ago whose dog was having seizures six months ago. At that time I did a general exam, routine blood work and found no obvious problems and offered conventional therapy,” he said. “I did give them other options to consider.”

His client reported their dog hasn’t had a seizure since he started taking CBD. And not only are there other pets in his practice taking CBD for osteoarthritis and anxiety issues, he gives his own three dogs with CBD oil and treats too.

“I have other patients who have osteo [osteroarthritis] and anxiety issues and these dogs, especially geriatric dogs, don’t tolerate typical therapies. This works for them.”

Determine Your Pet’s Preferences

CBD and hemp-based products for pets come in four forms: soft chew treats, oral drops or oils, capsules and topical creams.

Soft-chew CBD pet treats have the consistency of treats your pets already know and love, while others don’t mind the capsule form when it’s wrapped in their favorite after-dinner treat. Some pets prefer a quick dose of oil on their tongues and others like it mixed in (or disguised by) their food. Only you know your pet, so you know their preferences and tolerance for a new addition to their diet.

Read CBD Oil Labels

There are many manufacturers and types of CBD treats and CBD oils, so it’s important to read the label and know exactly what you’re giving your fur baby. Make certain that there is no fake sugar additives such as xylitol which is toxic to animals. Also, make certain that none of the ingredients will interact with the current medications that your pet is taking.

Bill Bookout, the president and a founding member of the National Animal Supplement Council, recommends pet parents follow these three steps to help make an informed decision about CBD products on the market:

  1. Don’t believe everything listed on the website. Instead, call the company and ask questions, including if there is a vet on staff, if there are clinical trials and testing results, ingredient sourcing and if the company has been audited by NASC.
  2. Be wary of any disease-specific claims the product makes, because it is against FDA rules. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  3. Understand that quality costs more. There are many products available, but those with the NASC seal means that the group audited a CBD company for adherence to recognized standards.

How to Give Your Pet CBD

The label also reveals exactly what you need to know about dosing. For example, HEMPVET products are certified by the NASC and list specific dose recommendations for both dogs and cats on the package, including:

  • Hemp-based soft chews: One 2g chew per 20 lbs. of body weight.
  • Hemp-based oil: 1/2 dropper per 25 lbs. or as directed by a veterinarian during or after the pet has eaten.
  • High-potency soft chews: One 3g chew per 11- or 12-hour time frame depending on your pet’s size.

Following the instructions is the best bet for your pet. Fortunately, in nearly 54 administrations of over 270 hemp or hemp derivative products to companion animals, there have been only 10 adverse events and none of them have been serious, according to a December 2019 release from the NASC.

“For every action there is a reaction and what you need to do is listen closely to a company that is following the guidelines,” Pusillo said about starting pets on a course of CBD treatment. “I always advise people to go low and go slow.”

Meg Moore is an award-winning writer and editor who made the leap from covering music and fashion to creating content for brands. She has a wide range of professional experience, including a summer as a bail bondsman, and was a cat mom for 21 years to her beloved Fox, who died in 2017. She keeps his memory alive with scores of photos at her home and New Orleans-inspired second lines.

Many pet parents want to try CBD pet treats to help manage their pets’ medical conditions. But how do you know if it will work? And how do you give a pet CBD?