New scientific information on use of cannabidiol (CBD) in cats and dogs has been published by the BSAVA.

The “Use of cannabidiol (CBD) in dogs and cats” document outlines the legal position about CBD oil use in the UK, and pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of CBD in humans and dogs.

It has been written by members of the BSAVA’s scientific committee together with specialists in internal medicine and neurology, and includes an overview of current scientific research.

Key points of the document include:

  • There are no cannabidiol (CBD) products with UK veterinary marketing authorisation and so under the provisions of the cascade, a legally obtained human product could be prescribed.
  • The use of CBD products would be considered ‘treatment’ of an animal (under the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966), and therefore, cannabidiol must be prescribed by a veterinary surgeon before being administered by an owner as a treatment. It is considered a complementary medicine and should not be used instead of medications or treatment with proven efficacy.
  • The amount of CBD in non-licenced preparations is variable and may not contain the concentration of CBD described on the label and in addition may contain unlabelled components.
  • There are limited clinical studies on the beneficial effects of CBD in dogs. Studies involve small groups of dogs and results need to be interpreted with caution. Reported side effects of CBD in dogs include ataxia, increases in ALP and development of soft stools and vomiting.
  • No clinical studies in cats have been reported (as of June 2020). Side effects in cats include increases in ALT, excessive licking, head shaking, pacing, chewing, gagging, vomiting, hypersalivation, jumping and grimacing.