CBD stands for cannabidiol. It’s the part of the cannabis plant from which we also get marijuana and has significant therapeutic properties.
Queen Bella, a 12-year-old Chihuahua, and Princess Jazmyn, an 11-year-old Pekingese, will always hold a special place in Wendy Ware’s heart.
“They were my first two rescues and (are) my oldest dogs,” said Ware, a 42-year-old Port St. Lucie massage therapist who has three more rescue dogs now. “They’re my daughters. That’s why it was so upsetting to see them in pain.”
Queen Bella started losing her vision in March, growing more anxious and less playful as her condition worsened, Ware said.
Wendy Ware, comforts her 12-year-old dog Queen Bella, after giving her a dose of CBD oil on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019, to help with anxiety, as Princess Leia (left) walks by, at her home in Port St. Lucie. “I gave it to her for anxiety,” Ware said. “Her tail’s not tucked under, she walks around, she’s playful, she’s back to her old self versus her 12-year-old self. She doesn’t get nervous, It helps so much with her.” (Photo: ERIC HASERT/TCPALM)
“She kept rubbing her eyes a lot and wouldn’t bring me toys anymore,” Ware said. “I realized she was so scared. I’d walk into the kitchen and there she was, tail between her legs. She had to follow me everywhere because I was the only thing that was familiar.”
Then, Princess Jazmyn started isolating herself from Ware and her canine sisters, including Sayde, Tessa and Princess Leia. Because she was receiving less attention, she felt “extremely sad,” sulking in her bedroom and refusing to leave, Ware said.
“If she needed to eat, I had to bring her food and help her eat. If she needed to relieve herself, I’d literally need to pick her up. She wasn’t physically hurt. She just felt left out.”
Today, both dogs are “themselves again,” since Ware’s been giving them CBD oil twice a day for about six months.
“Queen Bella is chirpy again, running around and grabbing toys and barking. Princess Jazmyn is back to doing crazy eights and playing with everyone,” Ware said. “The treatment gave me my daughters back.”
Does CBD work?
Testimonials such as Ware’s are why more people are giving their pets CBD, a natural alternative to common medications. CBD, an abbreviation for “cannabidiol,” typically comes from hemp plants, so it’s not narcotic and doesn’t cause the sensation of being high like marijuana.
But science, government regulation and some state laws haven’t caught up to the CBD craze, so it’s unknown whether it is effective or even safe for pets.
“Pet owners really need to be careful,” said Dr. Jerry Klein, the American Kennel Club’s chief veterinary officer. “There is not a lot of research out there at the moment.”
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The few studies there are show little conclusive evidence that CBD is an effective treatment for its most common uses in pets: cancer, anxiety, nausea, inflammation and cardiac issues, Klein said.
Two studies from Colorado State University and Cornell University show reduced seizures in dogs with epilepsy and decreased pain for dogs with osteoarthritis, but the 16-dog sample size in each study is too small to be definitive, Klein said.
“Pet owners are responding to the growth and marketing from the cannabis industry while the federal government or scientific community hasn’t settled on regulations or research,” Klein said. “Let me be clear: It’s an alternative worth exploring because there are positive stories and companies that truthfully market their products.
“There is just a lot of gray area,” he said. “There are more questions than answers.”
Is CBD safe?
The Food and Drug Administration has not approved any CBD products for pets and cautions against them.
“The lack of regulation could be potentially lethal for pets,” Klein said, adding that potential side effects in people are drowsiness, dry mouth and lowered blood pressure.
Over-the-counter products do not undergo the same quality control measures as other medications, so they could contain different amounts of CBD than advertised — and even harmful chemical compounds such as pesticides, said Paul Armentano, deputy executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
“There are no rules with regard to best practices, specific to the extraction process. There are no rules governing the products or the source materials. There is no independent testing of potency,” he said. “Essentially, buyer beware of market.”
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Since 2015, the FDA has sent 23 companies over 45 warning letters for selling products that did “not contain the levels of CBD they claimed to contain” or were not FDA-approved for the “diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of any disease.”
Epidiolex is the only CBD product the FDA has approved — only for humans and with a prescription — to treat seizures associated with two forms of epilepsy.
“CBD companies could be misinforming buyers. If consumers don’t know the dosage or compounds they are giving their pets, they could be compromising their pets’ health,” Armentano said. “The FDA is a little behind at the moment.”
So are Florida’s marijuana laws, which prohibit medical practitioners, including veterinarians, from possessing, prescribing or researching marijuana or marijuana-based products, including CBD. So vets have little knowledge about correct dosages based on an animal’s size, physical factors and previous health history, Klein said.
Pet owners should be cautious, investigate the product, find breed-specific research and consult with online resources such as veterinarycannabis.org. People also should talk with their veterinarian, even if they have limited information, Klein said.
“At the moment,” he said, “we can’t give a whole lot of advice besides: Consult the right people and research what you can.”
Is CBD legal?
CBD products extracted from hemp are legal if they’re produced by a licensed grower under the regulations of the Farm Bill and state and federal laws. Some states still consider CBD products illegal, however.
CBD became legal in Florida July 1, a week after the Legislature removed hemp from the state’s list of controlled substances. That was six months after Congress approved theAgricultural Improvement Act, which removed restrictions on hemp products that contain less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol.
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To learn more about hemp products, the FDA held a public hearing in May, then accepted public comments until July 16, receiving over 3,000 of them.
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Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumers Services has had three public workshops on the state hemp program it’s creating to monitor the cultivation, manufacture and sale of hemp and hemp-infused products.
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The agency is “ahead of schedule,” with regulations expected to be finalized and adopted in early October, spokesman Franco Ripple told TCPalm. Then the U.S. Department of Agriculture has 60 days to review and approve the program.
“With the state hemp program in place,” Ripple said, “people will be able to purchase these products for themselves and their pets with the consumer safety standards they expect.”
Nestle and Martha Stewart
U.S. sales of CBD pet products quadrupled to $32 million last year from $8 million in 2017, according to the Brightfield Group, a cannabis market research firm.
At that rate, sales will hit $1.73 billion by 2023, Brightfield estimates.
“It’s a fast-growing industry because of the lack of regulation by federal agencies, the legalization of marijuana, and the willingness of pet owners to buy premium products,” said Jamie Schau, a CBD research manager at Brightfield.
Nestlé, one of the largest pet-care companies in the U.S., started selling its own line of CBD pet products in April, under its Garden of Life brand. Even Martha Stewart is launching a product line, having partnered earlier this year with Canopy Growth Corp., one of the world’s largest marijuana companies.
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Some companies, especially ones with household names, are banking on more than just their share of the $33 billion Americans spent on pet food and treats last year.
Introducing people to CBD for their pets could convince them to take CBD themselves.
“Companies are being very strategic,” Schau said. “Selling pet treats and products is a foot in the door.”
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CBD of Stuart store manager Jill Glaysher said she’s just glad it works on pets, like her own 9-year-old golden retriever.
Tazer had seizures once or twice a month for nearly five years, but hasn’t had one in eight months, since Glaysher started giving him CBD oil every morning.
“It’s been wonderful,” she said. “He’s been happier and healthier. He’s himself.”
Treasure Coast CBD stores
You cannot buy CBD without a prescription from medical marijuana dispensaries such as Curaleaf and Trulieve, but you can buy unregulated over-the-counter CBD from many vaping, supplement, health-food and smoke shops, including:
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