More and more people are giving their pets CBD and seeing amazing results. Catering to the needs of pet parents everywhere, the pet CBD market is young but growing quickly, with a plethora of tasty treats and tinctures to try. Innovative startups like Diamond CBD’s Medipets brand are dominating the new market, leapfrogging over giant pet brands which are slower to embrace change.

Bloomberg reports that the pet CBD market is exploding. Currently valued at about $400 million, the rapidly growing market will reach $781 million in 2020, and be valued at over $1 billion in 2021. Additionally, the pet market could also account for 7% of global CBD sales within four years.

Many pet parents have had excellent results with CBD. As a recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek reports, “Nadia Knight, a health-care worker from Portland, Oregon, says vets in her area refused to talk about CBD, so she consulted ‘Dr. Google’ before beginning to give her poodle mix CBD oil twice a day earlier this year. The dog’s near-daily vomiting episodes have all but stopped. Akanah Fallanassi, an animal caretaker in Germany, gives both his Goffin’s cockatoos CBD to ease the anxiety that would normally have them chewing their feathers. For Karen Hayton of Vancouver, the hemp extract is a better alternative for her Havapoo than sedatives to calm the stress of going to the groomer. ‘It seems to relax him without making him spaced-out,’ she says.”

Many pet parents also give their dogs CBD to prepare for Fourth of July fireworks and during thunderstorms, saving Fido from anxiety and fear.

The veterinary and scientific world is beginning to take a look at the benefits of CBD for our furry friends too. Just in the last few years, a number of studies have been conducted on dogs, and more are underway.

Dr. Stephanie McGrath, a neurologist and assistant professor at Colorado State University's College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, is studying the effects of CBD on dogs with epilepsy. In 2016 McGrath completed two clinical studies on the effects of cannabidiol in dogs with osteoarthritis or epilepsy. In 2018, Dr. McGrath was awarded a $350,000 grant from the American Kennel Club to continue her research with a three-year crossover study of CBD for epilepsy in dogs.

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Talk to Your Vet

First of all, if you have any questions or concerns, consult your veterinarian before giving your pet CBD. Remember, the safety of your cat, dog, parakeet, gerbil, snake, or another furry friend comes first.

Don’t expect your vet to bring it up. Remember the vet may not be allowed to recommend CBD without being asked first. The only state which specifically allows vets to recommend CBD to their patients is California.

If your vet isn’t familiar with CBD, however, they probably will be soon. According to Consumer Reports, a survey conducted in early 2019 by the Veterinary Information Network, an online community of veterinarians, found that almost two-thirds of respondents reported patients had asked them about cannabis at least once a month.

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Dose Carefully

Make sure you start with a very low dose and progress slowly from there. You don’t know how your pet will react, and it’s better to give your pet too little than too much.

According to Forbes, Dr. Cornelia Wagner, an experienced vet exploring the use of CBD with pets who runs the Hawthorn Veterinary Clinic in Portland, Oregon, says “The upper dose limit for CBD products recommended is around 1 mg/kg/day orally, but one should start with a much smaller fraction of this dose such as 0.05 mg/kg/day.”

Dr. Wagner says the dosage can gradually be increased every five days or so if your pet doesn’t exhibit any negative side effects such as excessive sedation, disorientation, excitement, or vomiting. These increases should be no more than .05ml/mg a week.

Most importantly, “start low and go slow,”  Casara Andre, D.V.M., founder of Veterinary Cannabis Education & Consulting, recommended to Consumer Reports. “Numbers are really useful, but cannabis is a very individualized medicine.”

Avoid THC

Be incredibly careful with products that also contain THC. It may not affect your pet the same way it affects you, and “experts don't recommend pet parents experiment with THC on their own,” says Consumer Reports. Remember that dogs are much more sensitive to THC than humans because of their increased number of cannabinoid receptors.

Avoid Interactions With Other Medications

Remember, CBD can interact with other medications. Consult your veterinarian about any interactions the CBD may have with other medications your pet is taking. Cannabinoids are processed through the liver, so combining medication with CBD may enhance the effects of the medication in an unwanted way.

“We do see the strength of pharmaceuticals increase when dogs are taking CBD, so we can often taper down some of those pharmaceuticals,” recommends Andre. “For example, CBD often potentiates the effects of antiseizure medications, which is why a lot of times when we combine those with cannabis, we get better control.”

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Use High-Quality Products

Look for high-quality products made with safe ingredients in a clean environment, like Diamond CBD’s Medipets line. It’s best to use products from a company that has its products independently tested by a third party, ensuring they don’t have any unknown contaminants.

Sometimes giving your pet a CBD product meant for humans is alright, but they may contain other ingredients that could be toxic to your pet. “Some human products have other things in them, such as xylitol or grapeseed oil, that could be toxic to the animals,” Stephen Cital, a veterinary technician and co-founder of the Veterinary Cannabis Academy told Consumer Reports. That’s why a line specifically formulated for animals, such as Medipets, is ideal.

Store Your CBD Properly

Finally, store your pet’s CBD properly. “Cannabinoids are susceptible to degradation. Oils and treats should be kept at room temperature away from bright lights or sunlight,” Cital says. “Heating and extreme cold can dramatically change chemical composition.”