More and More People Are Treating Sick Pets With Medical Marijuana

The non-intoxicating cannabis compound CBD may be the hottest trend in wellness products right now, and it's not just being gobbled up by people. An increasing number of pet owners have turned to CBD to help their four-legged friends deal with pain and anxiety.

The market for CBD-infused pet products has seen massive growth in the past few years, and that's concerning for researchers who think there aren't enough studies to support giving the cannabis compound to pets.  

"There's a lot of anecdotal stories about it, but no science," Dr. Stephanie McGrath - who is studying CBD's effects on dogs with epilepsy at Colorado State University - told CNBC.

But the lack of hard science hasn't stopped pet owners from embracing CBD. Between 2017 and 2018, sales of pet products containing CBD grew from $8 million to $32 million in America. That market could pass the $1 billion mark by 2022, according to estimates from the Brightfield Group.

The growth of the market seems largely driven by people looking for alternatives to traditional (but dangerous) opioid-based medications for their animals. For example, Joanne Schaus turned to CBD to treat her dog's storm anxiety after running through most other conventional treatments.

"He just didn’t even notice the storm," after she gave her dog Skid CBD, said Schaus.

However, the FDA is discouraging people from giving CBD to their pets. Meanwhile, the American Veterinary Medical Association hasn't released an official position on the cannabis compound. But that hasn't stopped from the veterinary community from recommending CBD to patients. Vets like Dr. Francisco DiPolo of Worth Street Veterinary Center in New York City say CBD is a good treatment for some pets, but not all.

"I don't think people should think of this as a panacea and start giving CBD to their pets for every ailment," said DiPolo. "I think it's powerful and we need to learn more about it."

DiPolo encourages pet owners to discuss CBD with their vets before giving it to their pets. Since CBD products for pets have minimal regulation right now, he thinks it's best to ask a vet to help you find a medication that will work for your furry friend.

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