Should CBD be allowed for pets?

The use of CBD oil to combat ails or anxiety is growing in popularity – not just for humans, but also for their pets. The FDA has its reservations, leaving many wondering whether use on domestic animals should be allowed.

Rise of the Issue

With an increasing number of US states allowing marihuana for medical and/or recreational use, there has also been an uptick in the use of CBD oil. All fifty states and the District of Columbia now allow the use of CBD oil for some form of use, leaving many pet owners across the country wondering whether what works for them, also works for their furry friends. Although CBD has not yet been FDA approved for pets, California just passed a law explicitly allowing veterinarians to discuss and even recommend the use of CBD with pet owners.

The issue has both sides debating whether the drug is effective and safe enough to use for pets when not much research has been done to be certain that there will be no important yet unforeseeable side effects that could harm pets in the long term.

Issue Timeline


Marihuana Tax Act Became Law

The legislation regulated the importation, cultivation, possession and distribution of marihuana at the federal level.


Congress Passes Controlled Substances Act

After the Supreme Court overrules the Marihuana Tax Act a year earlier, congress classifies cannabis as a Schedule I drug – meaning it has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use – making it illegal to use for any purpose.


Oregon Decriminalizes Cannabis

Oregon is the first state to end criminal penalties for smoking cannabis.


California Legalizes Cannabis for Medical Use

The Golden State was the first to legalize medical cannabis, but by 2021, 35 more states and the District of Columbia had followed suit.


President Trump Signs 2018 Farm Bill

The bill included the descheduling of certain cannabis products – including CBD oil – with less than 0.3 percent THC.


California Allows Veterinarians to Recommend CBD

A new law explicitly allows vets to discuss using CBD to help treat pets’ ails.

Micro Issues



Although one side points out that initial clinical research into CBD for pets has yielded promising results, the other side argues the research is neither extensive nor long term enough to draw sufficient conclusions.


FDA Approval

While opponents worry that the Food and Drug Administration has not specifically authorized use of CBD for pets, supporters point out that other commonly used supplements are not explicitly FDA approved for pets either.



Supporters say that claims by pet owners of perceived positive results is a good reason to authorize CBD for domestic animals, yet opponents indicate that the “caregiver placebo effect” could lead pet owners to misinterpret the signs.

Pro Arguments


Initial clinical research into CBD in pets have had positive results.

Although experts acknowledge studies into this area are preliminary, the first results show benefits for the treated pets.


The majority of veterinarians think CBD is helpful to pets.

A survey amongst vets found that 79 percent with experience using CBD products on pets said it was somewhat or very helpful for chronic pain.


Pet owners report positive results when treating their pets with CBD.

The majority of pet owners who have tried CBD on their pets report moderate to great improvement (67 percent) and almost two thirds are likely or even very likely to encourage others to do the same, according to one survey.


There appear to be limited side effects of CBD products.

Initial clinical research as well as experiences from veterinarians and pet owners alike report very little side effects – lack of energy and diarrhea being the most common.


It is not uncommon for pet owners to give their pets products that have not been specifically approved for them by the FDA.

Other common supplements – such as glucosamine or fish oil – and the majority of human approved prescription drugs routinely prescribed by veterinarians have not been specifically approved for animals.

Con Arguments


CBD can be harmful if used in combination with other (prescription) drugs.

CBD can render certain other drugs less effective or cause drugs to build up to toxic levels.


It could encourage pet owners to postpone professional veterinary care.

Pet owners could choose to only give their pets CBD to relieve certain symptoms they have noticed, while professional veterinary care might be necessary to combat visible and invisible ails.


There is insufficient scientific evidence that CBD works for domestic animals.

Although initial clinical research has yielded positive results, it is still too limited to be conclusive and has not been around long enough to know what the long term effects will be.


CBD has not been approved for animals by the Food and Drug Administration.

The consumer watchdog has warned that the lack of research means there is a risk of negative effects on pets.


Pet owners could misinterpret their animal’s response to CBD.

A phenomenon known as “caregiver placebo effect” could lead the pet’s owners to read into possible improvements that either are not there or cannot be attributed to CBD.