CBD pet supplements -- know the law and prioritize quality

Before recommending CBD pet supplements to your clients, take the time to learn the laws and determine which suppliers you can trust.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is the hottest topic in pet health, and many animal parents are eager to understand its potential to help their dogs and cats. Chances are, you’re asked about CBD at least a few times a month – and this is good, because you want your clients asking you for information rather than consulting “Dr. Google”. But be sure to consider your risk for exposure when recommending or prescribing animal health supplements containing CBD.

If you are a veterinarian who views CBD as a beneficial option for animals, you should feel comfortable talking with your clients about it. Just ensure you know your state’s laws around whether this must be a discussion only, or whether you can recommend and dispense CBD products. Federally, CBD derived from hemp with less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was declassified as a Schedule I controlled substance under the 2018 Farm Bill. Unfortunately, many state laws vary, as do the positions of the AVMA and state veterinary medical boards. Congress has publicly stated it encourages enforcement discretion for CBD animal products pending definitive guidance from FDA and its Center for Veterinary Medicine.

Even if you practice in a state that allows veterinarians to recommend CBD, have a protocol in place for documenting that you’ve discussed and/or dispensed a CBD product. Good record-keeping is essential and informed consent should also be documented.

When considering CBD products to recommend, remember that product labels only tell part of the story. Scrutinize company marketing materials, including their websites. If they are making direct or implied claims suggesting the product will treat, prevent, mitigate or cure any disease in any of their materials, including product names, they are breaking the law and misleading consumers.

Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call the company to request studies that back up their product claims, and lab test results that confirm the product’s THC content is less than 0.3%. Also ask for proof that the CBD content meets label claims, and that the products are tested for microbial contaminants, heavy metals and pesticides.

The NASC Quality Seal is an excellent way to identify a product from a responsible supplier. To earn permission to display the Quality Seal on their products, a supplier must pass a comprehensive facility audit every two years, maintain ongoing compliance with rigorous NASC quality requirements, and pass random independent product testing to ensure products meet label claim.

For more information

The FDA held a public hearing in May 2019 and opened a public docket (FDA-2019-N-1482) to obtain scientific data and information about the safety, manufacturing, product quality, marketing, labeling and sale of products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds. Below are links to testimony and information from the hearing:


Bill Bookout is president and founder of the National Animal Supplement Council. He has more than 30 years’ experience in the animal health industry and holds a bachelor’s degree in physical sciences from the University of Wyoming, and a master’s degree from the Pepperdine University Presidents and Key Executives MBA program.