Cannabis refers to the plant Cannabis sativa, which originated in Central Asia, and has been used medicinally for more than 5,000 years. There are thousands of varieties of the cannabis plant, which differ in their compounds. The proportion of compounds in the cannabis plant determines its pharmacological properties.

CBD, Cannabidiol, was first identified in 1940 and appears in insignificant concentrations in the hemp plant. CBD is not considered intoxicating and it may have potentially favorable effects on anxiety, inflammation and epilepsy. At this time, under federal law, there are no uses of CBD for animals. Nevertheless, research is being conducted on the safety and efficacy of CBD in companion animals, mainly dogs. A study was performed at Colorado State University in 2018 to assess the safety and pharmacokinetics of CBD. The CBD infused oil provided the most favorable profile. Overall, orally consumed CBD was well tolerated. A 2018 study at Cornell University demonstrated beneficial effects of CBD on pain and activity associated with osteoarthritis in dogs. The dogs were perceived to be more comfortable and active with no side effects reported by owners.

Should a client initiate a conversation about CBD with their veterinarian, there are certain key points that need to be understood. The FDA has not approved CBD for use in pets or animal feed. The regulatory landscape for CBD is evolving. Up-to-date information on the regulation of CBD in the United States is made available by the FDA. Veterinarians also recommend that you contact your local veterinary board to understand your state’s cannabis regulations.


Dr. Karsten Fostvedt is a veterinarian at St. Francis Pet Clinic in Ketchum.

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