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While many pet owners have discovered and used CBD products formulated for pets both at retail stores and online, they’ve typically done so on their own — without advice from their veterinarians. That’s because in many states, veterinarians have not been allowed to prescribe, administer, or even discuss cannabidiol with pet owners. And in states where there are no guidelines, vets are squeamish about discussing CBD lest they be reported to, and disciplined, by their state veterinary boards.

But the tide is changing. Veterinarians in California and Michigan can openly discuss CBD medications with pet owners, and as of October 1 a new law in Nevada permits veterinarians to administer products containing hemp or CBD with not more than 0.3% THC. The legislation is Assembly Bill 101, and it was passed unanimously in the legislature before being signed into law by Governor Sisolak.

There’s a push for other states to follow this trend, and for state veterinary societies to educate their members on medicinal users of cannabis. According to the not-for-profit Veterinary Cannabis Society, 68 percent of vets will not advise patients on cannabis due to their perceived lack of knowledge. While 96 percent of vets have been asked about cannabis by pet owners, only 45.5% would feel comfortable discussing it with them.

Though much of the evidence is anecdotal, the American Veterinary Medical Association is a proponent of cannabis products shown to be legal, safe, and effective for treating medical conditions in animals. Most pet owners who choose to give CBD products to their furry companions cite benefits including pain relief, treating seizures, reducing anxiety in stressful situations, aiding digestive issues, and providing an anti-inflammatory effect.

However, dosing is especially critical in animals, as dogs and cats are particularly sensitive to THC, even with the low 0.3% product threshold. Too much THC can not only cause a psychoactive experience, but it can also lead to future health problems. This is why animals should never be given human CBD products, yet on the federal level the FDA has not approved cannabis for any use in any animal. So it’s no surprise that veterinarians across all states are pushing their respective governing bodies for the issuance of formal cannabis safety standards for animal medications.

With the social isolation brought on by the pandemic, there has been a groundswell of Americans adopting pets for home companionship. Giving veterinarians the green light to talk to pet owners about cannabis is a critical need, as the alternatives leave much to be desired for assuring Max’s or Princess’s well-being.