“You’d be astounded by the analysis we’ve seen of products on the shelf with virtually no CBD in them,” Cornell University veterinary researcher Joseph Wakshlag, who studies therapeutic uses for the compound, told the Associated Press. “Or products with 2 milligrams per milliliter, when an effective concentration would be between 25 and 75 milligrams per milliliter. There are plenty of folks looking to make a dollar rather than produce anything that’s really beneficial.”
As noted by the AP, CBD pet products can make it to the shelves because the federal government has yet to establish standards for CBD that will help people know whether it works for their pets and how much to give. Still, “there’s lots of individual success stories that help fuel a $400 million market that grew more than tenfold since last year and is expected to reach $1.7 billion by 2023, according to the cannabis research firm Brightfield Group.”
Amy Carter of St. Francis, Wisconsin, decided to go against her veterinarian’s advice and try CBD oil recommended by a friend to treat Bentley, her epileptic Yorkshire terrier-Chihuahua mix. The little dog’s cluster seizures had become more frequent and frightening despite expensive medications.
“It’s amazing” Carter said. “Bentley was having multiple seizures a week. To have only six in the past seven months is absolutely incredible.”
But for some, the products don’t seem to work.
Dawn Thiele, an accountant in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, said she bought a $53 bottle of CBD oil from a local shop in hopes of calming her 2-year-old Yorkshire terrier during long car trips.
“I didn’t see a change in his behavior,” said Thiele, who nonetheless remains a believer.
“The product is good, it just didn’t work for my dog,” she said.
CBD has garnered a devoted following among people who swear by it for everything from stress reduction to better sleep, and passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which eased federal legal restrictions on hemp cultivation and transport, unleashed a stampede of companies rushing products to the market in an absence of regulations ensuring safety, quality and effectiveness, states the AP. Products for people were swiftly followed by CBD chewies, oils and sprays for pets.
“The growth is more rapid than I’ve seen for any product in 20 years in this business,” said Bill Bookout, president of the National Animal Supplement Council, an industry group whose member companies agree to testing and data-gathering requirements. “There’s a gold rush going on now. Probably 95 percent of the industry participants are responsible, but what’s dangerous is the fly-by-night operative that wants to cash in.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is developing regulations for marketing CBD products, for pets or people. “This year, it has sent warning letters to 22 companies citing violations such as making claims about therapeutic uses and treatment of disease in humans or animals or marketing CBD as a dietary supplement or food ingredient”, notes the AP.
“It’s really the Wild West out there,” said S. David Moche, founder of Applied Basic Science, a company formed to support Colorado State University’s veterinary CBD research and now selling CBD online. He advises consumers to look for a certificate of analysis from a third-party testing laboratory to ensure they’re getting what they pay for.
“Testing and labeling is going to be a critical part of the future of this industry,” Moche said.
Wakshlag said products must be tested not only for CBD level, but also to ensure they’re free of toxic contaminants such as heavy metals and pesticides and have only trace amounts of THC, which in higher levels is toxic to dogs.
Bookout said his organization has recorded very few health incidents involving CBD and no deaths.