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What You Need to Know About Veterinarians and CBD for Pets

What You Need to Know About Veterinarians and CBD for Pets

Your veterinarian is your one-stop shop for all things pet-related, and that’s the way it should be. Veterinarians have years of training and experience around animal health, and furthermore, your pet’s individual doctor will know that animal’s medical history and specific needs better than anyone else. You want to consult your veterinarian about any lifestyle change for your pet – so why is it so hard to talk to them about CBD for pets? 

Veterinarians and CBD for pets is a complicated subject. Like any medical professional, your pet’s veterinarian is limited by some rules and regulations about what they can and cannot do or say – regardless of their personal feelings. The complicated regulatory world around CBD for pets can make it difficult to get the answers you want from your veterinarian about this wellness resource. If you’re trying to get a better understanding of how CBD can support your animal, and your veterinarian seems reluctant or unable to discuss it with you, here’s what you need to know. 

Why Your Veterinarian Might Not Want to Discuss CBD for Pets

Veterinarians are limited in the ways they can discuss CBD for pets. This is because:


  • The 2018 Farm Bill didn’t specifically address veterinarians and their patients
  • State-specific regulations vary
  • Clinical research about CBD for pets is ongoing
  • The ramifications for discussing CBD for pets can be serious


The 2018 Farm Bill Doesn’t Mention Veterinarians and Pet CBD 

The 2018 Farm Bill was revolutionary for the hemp-derived CBD industry because it removed hemp from the list of Controlled Substances. This allowed for more freedom in the production of hemp-derived CBD products, but the legislation provided no guidance about such products in a medical scenario, much less any mention of veterinarians and CBD for pets. This legal and regulatory vagueness is part of the reason veterinarians may be reluctant to discuss CBD for pets with you.

There Are Some State-Specific Regulations About What Veterinarians Can Say

As with so many vague federal regulations, the states have taken matters into their own hands. Depending on where you live, there may or may not be distinct rules about how much your veterinarian can discuss CBD for pets with you. These rules range from highly restrictive – any veterinarian who even discusses CBD can be penalized for doing so – to more relaxed. 

A bill in California, for example, carefully outlines the legality of how veterinarians can talk to cat and dog owners about CBD. Specifically, the bill allows veterinarians to talk about cannabis for medicinal use, but not to recommend or prescribe such cannabis-derived wellness resources. Even though they are not the same, the bill does not differentiate between marijuana and hemp – it groups all products into the category of cannabis. 

Veterinary boards in some states have weighed in on the subject. The Oregon Veterinary Medical Examining Board allows that “veterinarians can discuss the use of cannabis with clients,” and the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association says that it “recognizes … the potential benefits of marijuana therapies for a variety of animal medical conditions.” As you can see from this language, the issue of discussing CBD for pets with pet owners remains vague and somewhat risky for many veterinarians, even in states with more specific guidelines.

Some Veterinarians Are Waiting for More Clinical Studies to Be Released

While there is an abundance of anecdotal evidence about how pet CBD oil can benefit dogs and cats, there are few completed scientific studies about these benefits. Clinical research takes time, and some veterinarians might be reluctant to discuss CBD simply because they are waiting for more concrete research to be completed. Several studies are ongoing – including one at Colorado State University about the impact of cannabidiol on dogs with epilepsy.

Veterinarians Can Suffer Serious Consequences If They Break the Rules

Veterinarians are licensed in each state by a medical board. They are required to hold up various standards to maintain their license and stay in practice. If they choose to discuss CBD with a patient – or, moreover, recommend CBD as a wellness resource for an animal – they could suffer disciplinary action and may even have their license suspended or revoked. Veterinarians have to take their responsibilities seriously in order to stay in business and maintain high-quality care for their animal patients. 


A veterinarian holding a dogs head in her hands with the dogs owner next to them


Why It’s Still Important to Discuss CBD with Your Veterinarian

Even though there are many limitations around what your veterinarian can say to you about CBD for pets, it’s still crucial to initiate that conversation with your dog or cat’s doctor. Here’s why:


  • Veterinarians have important medical knowledge about your pet
  • Veterinarians know how CBD can interact with other drugs or medications
  • Veterinarians can help you find alternative resources if needed


Your Veterinarian Knows the Most About Your Pet’s Medical History

While you may know all the details about your pet’s quirks and personality, your veterinarian has all the details about their medical history. Plus, they have the education and experience to know the significance of that medical history and how it impacts your pet. Because our pets can’t talk to us, we have to rely on the physical and behavioral signals they provide to tell us about their health – and no one is better than veterinarians at interpreting those signals. 

Veterinarians Have Invaluable Knowledge About Drug Interactions

CBD can be a beneficial wellness resource to support many pets in maintaining their best health, but it can also interact with some medications that your dog or cat might be taking which can cause various side effects. When it comes to drug interactions, a pet owner should never rely on their own research to make a decision. Veterinarians are intimately familiar with how various drugs, medications, and substances interact within your pet’s body, so their input on introducing something new will always be important and insightful. 

Your Pet’s Doctor Can Discuss Other Potential Wellness Support Tools

If, in fact, CBD for pets isn’t a great resource for your pet, your veterinarian can offer other ways to support your dog or cat’s health and wellness. Veterinarians are an encyclopedia of tools and techniques for how to keep your dog or cat happy and healthy for years to come. Don’t hesitate to utilize their knowledge.

How to Talk to Your Veterinarian About CBD for Pets

The rules and regulations around what exactly your veterinarian can say should not make you hesitate to start a conversation with them about CBD for pets. If you want to learn about this wellness resource or begin using it with your pet, it’s important to include your veterinarian in that decision-making process. Here are some tips for bringing up this topic and navigating the discussion:


  • Do some research on CBD for pets before talking to your veterinarian
  • Open the conversation with a general question
  • Avoid naming specific brands or types of CBD
  • Bring a notebook and take notes
  • Consider a second opinion


Do Some Research Before the Conversation

Because of the limitations on what your veterinarian can say to you about CBD for pets, it will be helpful if you already have a little background knowledge to go on. Your individual research, while not a substitute for your veterinarian’s vital input, will be a powerful foundation in your effort to support your dog’s wellness. Your veterinarian will also appreciate that you have tried to better understand the substance you’re asking about. You might start by Googling some of your general questions about CBD for pets and getting an idea of what it is and how it works in your pet’s body. 

Start with General Questions

Even if you come in with a lot of background information about CBD for pets, it’s best to open the conversation with a general question to gauge your veterinarian’s comfort with the topic. This allows your veterinarian to set boundaries if they need to and it also gives you an idea of your veterinarian’s knowledge and position on the topic of CBD for pets. One easy way to initiate this conversation is by simply asking, “What can you tell me about CBD for pets?” 

Avoid Using Brand Names for Specific CBD Products

This is really dicey territory for your veterinarian. They aren’t allowed to recommend or advise on specific products, so keep the conversation as general as you can. Once you start using brand names or talking about specific items or strengths, you’re straying into subject matter that could risk your veterinarian’s license. Note: If the product you are considering using has anything in it besides CBD, be sure to share that information with your veterinarian, as they can speak to those additional ingredients.


A dog laying on the ground with its paw and head over a stethoscope


Don’t Be Afraid to Take Notes

It can be difficult to hold all the information about your pet’s health and wellness in your head, so don’t be afraid to take notes. If you need more time to write something down, ask for it. You are paying for care for your pet, and your veterinarian’s time and attention is part of that healthcare. Taking notes, asking questions, and utilizing this time effectively is part of how you provide love and care to your pet.

Consider a Second Opinion

If you still have questions that you feel weren’t addressed after discussing CBD with your veterinarian, consider contacting another clinic or veterinarian’s office to see if you can get a more thorough answer. You are entitled to information about this wellness resource and it’s okay to look around. Some veterinarians might be more willing to discuss the topic than others. It might also be worth calling clinics outside of your state and seeing if you can get a veterinarian to talk to you about CBD for pets on the phone. 

CBD for Pets Should Be Ongoing Conversation with Your Veterinarian

Because the landscape is changing so rapidly, you shouldn’t hesitate to bring up CBD at a later date with your veterinarian after your initial conversation. Even if your pet’s doctor is reluctant to discuss this wellness resource, make it clear when you plan to give it to your pet and provide them with details about your pet’s CBD routine once you’ve established it. 

Even if your veterinarian doesn’t feel comfortable talking about CBD for pets right now, they might change their mind in the near future. New clinical research is coming forth constantly, which then transforms the rules around what veterinarians are allowed to say and what they feel comfortable discussing with you. Continue talking to your veterinarian about CBD for pets to be sure you’re updated on the most recent information and empowered to provide the best care for your animal.


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