If you’ve ever been stonewalled when trying to discuss CBD with your pet’s veterinarian, it may have been out of their sense of professional self-preservation, rather than any actual antipathy to the substance. That’s because, even though CBD is a federally legal substance, vets that recommend and administer CBD products can be sanctioned by most state licensing boards.
But in Nevada, that’s about to change. Starting on October 1, the state will be the first in the nation to explicitly allow vets to bring CBD into the veterinary office – without fear of reprisals.
In an interview with the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA), bill sponsor Steve Yeager says that ambiguity in the law meant that many veterinarians avoided discussing CBD with pet owners to avoid being disciplined.
“This left pet owners in a tough spot because CBD products are generally unregulated, and it would be difficult for a pet owner to know exactly what to purchase or administer without the professional advice of a veterinarian,” said Yeager.
For veterinarians, the importance of the new bill is that it clarifies what they can say and do with CBD in a consultation. When the new legislation goes into effect, they’ll not only be able to talk about CBD with pet owners, they’ll be able to go into specifics about which products might be best, give dosing recommendations, and even administer the products to pets themselves.
“They can do all that without having to worry about being disciplined by their board, which was really the main concern behind the bill,” Yeager said.
There are two other states, California and Michigan, that allow veterinarians to discuss cannabis use with clients – but they aren’t allowed to administer hemp or cannabis products to clients’ pets.
Vets often avoid discussions of CBD for pets for fear of professional repercussions, but Nevada's law will allow vets to openly discuss and even administer CBD.
However, just because Nevada has taken the lead in creating safe spaces for veterinarians to discuss CBD products with clients, that doesn’t mean that all veterinarians are necessarily on board. And even those who have experience working with CBD and pets have concerns about the Pet CBD market as it exists.
The American Veterinary Medical Association recently delved into some of the issues that vets commonly run into with pets and CBD. Dr. Trina Hazzah is a veterinary oncologist working in Los Angeles whose area of interest is complementary and alternative medicine. She, understandably, is often asked about the benefits of CBD for pets.
Apart from the obvious conversations about possible drug interactions and whether a pet has a cannabis-responsive condition, she encourages vets to speak specifically with pet-owners about the prevalence of sub-par CBD products on the market:
“It’s really, really important that clients do their due diligence and ask for a certificate of analysis,” said Dr. Hazzah, “You (veterinarians) want to walk them through finding companies that are transparent, that have good customer service, that have up-to-date COA—a certificate of analysis—confirming that the product is free of contaminants and that is very specific on what is in the product,” she said.
Dr. Dharati Szymanski, an assistant director in the AVMA Division of Animal and Public Health doubles down on this point:
“When the marketplace has outpaced the evaluation of products, veterinarians need to understand the potential benefits as well as risks surrounding these products for their patients and the liability risks for themselves. There has been much progress in bridging these gaps, but we need more work in areas of research, quality control, and FDA evaluation for veterinarians to have general confidence in available products.”
The Pet CBD market has showed no signs of slowing – and the FDA is at a standstill when it comes to regulation – but there are companies that are taking it on themselves to set a high bar of accountability. The most trustworthy CBD companies are pro-active in publishing third party lab reports on their website and even funding research into CBD for specific pet conditions.
While many of those studies are bringing back promising results, Dr. Hazzah emphasizes that this doesn’t guarantee CBD will work miracles for every pet. “Veterinarians need to set really clear expectations with a client, making sure that they know that cannabis is not necessarily a wonder drug.”