An educational webinar for veterinarians about CBD products and use of cannabidiol (CBD) products for pets with various medical conditions was presented by Dr. Zac Pilossoph, chief medical officer for Cansultants, Inc.
Sponsored by the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) on its YouTube channel, Dr. Pilossoph also discussed the status of medical cannabis recommendations for veterinarians in the U.S. The presentation was titled, “The Cannabis Pet Industry: What’s to Know and What’s for Show.”
The presentation started off with a primer on the endocannabinoid system, which Pilossoph said, should be thought of as a “homeostatic regulator system” found in humans and “chordates,” or animals with a spine—including animals such as horses, birds, and reptiles that often are overlooked when CBD treatment for pets is considered.
Dr. Pilossoph commented that one of the reasons he took up education around cannabis-based medicines and their use in veterinary treatment was because he felt frustration from not having learned about the endocannabinoid system earlier, and the lack of instruction available to medical students and doctors.
“I felt frustrated, how I’d never learned this in school,” he explained.
Going on to cite published studies about the effects of CBD (and cannabis-based medicines), Pilossoph said there have been several studies, going back to the 1980s, that show cannabis had beneficial effects for several conditions including glaucoma, inflammation, and nausea, as well as having proven anti-bacterial properties.
In veterinary medicine, studies of cannabis- or hemp-based treatments are hard to find, but a wealth of anecdotal evidence has presented, as pet owners attest to the results they have seen when self-treating pets with CBD.
Pilossoph noted that such a trend among pet owners, by itself, should encourage more clinical studies to be conducted to identify the beneficial components in CBD (and other plant compounds). He added that a there have been studies conducted on dogs that indicated CBD could provide anti-inflammatory benefits for osteoarthritis and seizures.
Other plant compounds that work in synergy with cannabinoids create the “entourage effect,” Pilossoph said further. Terpenes and flavonoids, he said, seem to enhance the effects of cannabinoids in cannabis- and hemp-based medications.
“The entourage effect exists,” he said, which would suggest that “full-spectrum” formulations might provide greater therapeutic benefits.
Pilossoph hoped that product manufacturers would “harness the power of raw hemp,” as a resource for full spectrum CBD extract that would also contain only trace amounts of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound in cannabis. Hemp contains less than 0.3 percent levels of THC.
He made the point that while products might vary between human and veterinary, the endocannabinoid system functions similarly for all species. Products labeled “pet CBD,” he explained, contained the same CBD extract as what is used in human products. Variations in formulations, he said, typically had more to do with ingredients added to make treats and tinctures palatable to animals.
He specifically mentioned veterinary CBD tincture VetCBD as the only formulation that he knew of that had been developed by a veterinarian, Dr. Tim Shu. Dr. Shu, who is no longer actively practicing, is the founder and chief executive officer at VetCBD.
However, Pilossoph stressed that he could not recommend specific products and that his information should be considered strictly educational.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has issued a three-page statement outlining its position on veterinarians’ recommendations for CBD use with pets. Pilossoph summed it up by saying that the association suggested avoiding making recommendations for CBD use until the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) establishes product quality control regulations.
Pilossoph offered a basic, “stepwise” outline to help chose CBD products for pets:
- Determine the percentage level of CBD in any product by viewing tested lab results.
- Check what other ingredients have been added to the product, and if are they safe for animals.
- Consider how the product is applied—if a topical, will it be safe if your dog licks it off?
- How often you need to give a dose to your pet. High caloric products can have an adverse affect on pets, if they are required to have several doses a day.
- Consider the pet’s overall condition, any allergies, as well as any cross-reaction with other medications.
- Make sure that test results available for the product are from a lab that is ISO 17025:2017-compliant.
Dr. Pilossoph also warned pet owners to avoid giving pets edible treats (with or without CBD) produced for humans mostly due to ingredients in human products that might be harmful for animals, like chocolate or artificial sweetener Xylitol. He singled out Xylitol as being potentially fatal for pets.