Within the last few years, cannabidiol (CBD) sales have skyrocketed. In 2014 alone, total US CBD sales were $108 million. In 2021, sales increased to $4 billion, a 37-fold increase.  The pet market has been no exception to this growth, with $5.6 million in 2018 sales to $125 million in 2020.  Much of this growth has been due to the potential benefits of CBD on both physical and mental health issues for pets.
CBD is derived from Hemp, a version of cannabis containing less than 0.3% of the psychotropic tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD has unique, non-intoxicating effects and is not addictive. CBD was first discovered in 1940 and tested on animals in the 1960s. However, starting in 1970, decades of federal regulations against cannabis products halted research. In 2018 Federal law removed hemp and hemp extracts (including CBD) from the Controlled Substances Act. This law erased most restrictions on CBD and allowed scientists to conduct better research on its use.
CBD clinical studies in pets
Two high-quality clinical trials have been conducted so far on the effects of hemp-derived CBD on animals. The first study  explored the use of CBD oil on dogs with osteoarthritis (OA): this illness can cause pain and joint inflammation and it is a relatively common condition in elderly dogs. In this scientific study, high dose CBD (50mg) was found to significantly improve quality of life in dogs with OA, as rated by owners and veterinarians. The study also showed some decreases in inflammation as shown in a common blood test. The same results were not found with lower doses of CBD (20 mg).
In a second study  researchers looked to see if CBD could help with pet seizures. In this trial, dogs received CBD oil at a dosage of 2.5 mg/kg, twice daily for 12 weeks. The results of this trial were promising, showing about a 33% decrease in seizures. However, several dogs in the control group also showed decreased seizures. So, a larger study (currently underway) would be helpful to know better how CBD oil helps.
In both of the above mentioned studies, none of the pets who received CBD oil had negative side effects.
There is a lot of good research and anecdotal evidence that CBD may also work to decrease pet anxiety. Many pet owners rely on CBD oil to help their pets during stressful experiences, including storms, vet procedures and so on. Even though the research on CBD for pet anxiety is not strong yet, the very low likelihood of side effects means that pet owners can try CBD with little risk to their pets.
Altogether, if you’re considering trying CBD with your pet, keep these guidelines in mind:
- High-dose CBD has strong evidence of helping with pain. Dosing should vary by weight, so ask your vet about what dose is best.
- CBD might help with seizures and with anxiety, especially if paired with other treatments. Risk of side effects is low and unlikely to harm your pet.
- Talk to your vet with any questions you may have. Many vets actually recommend CBD, but will tell you if for some reason your pet shouldn’t take it.
 McGrath S. et al. Randomized blinded controlled clinical trial to assess the effect of oral cannabidiol administration in addition to conventional antiepileptic treatment on seizure frequency in dogs with intractable idiopathic epilepsy. J Am Vet Med Assoc. (2019) ;254(11):1301-1308. doi: 10.2460/javma.254.11.1301. PMID: 31067185. [Journal impact factor = 0.6 ] [Times cited = 91] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7584779/
 Verrico CD. et al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of daily cannabidiol for the treatment of canine osteoarthritis pain. Pain. (2020) ;161(9):2191-2202. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001896. [Journal impact factor = 5.82 ] [Times cited = 51]