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CBD Dog Food: The Future of CBD?

Veterinarians.org Team

By

Medically reviewed by

Ivana Crnec, DVM

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Are CBD Products Legal for Dogs?

Are-CBD-Products-Legal-for-Dogs

No, CBD pet products are not legal because the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve the use of CBD in dogs and cats. The FDA recognizes the cannabis plant as neither medication nor a dietary supplement. 

However, the good news is that cannabis plant extracts made for pets are generally safe. They are natural and work by interacting with the endocannabinoid system. Also, the potential benefits of CBD outweigh the mild side effects. Another good thing is that pet CBD cannot make your dog high. The newsletter from the Kirkwood Animal Hospital says “properly manufactured CBD dog treats will contain 0.0% THC”.

Considering the contrasting statements, the general rule of thumb would be to talk with the vet before starting your dog on a CBD product. While veterinarians cannot prescribe CBD, they can discuss the topic and give you helpful advice on top picks, dosage, and precautions. 

Is CBD in Pet Food Legal?

No, according to the FDA, pet foods and pet treats featuring CBD are illegal. However, not all CBD pet products are illegal. Namely, certain CBD topicals are not under FDA control and therefore considered legal for interstate commerce. 

The reason CBD pet food is illegal is that all food ingredients must be generally recognized as safe (GRAS) or subject to an officially approved food additive petition. The cannabis plant does not fit these criteria, and foods featuring CBD classify as adulterated and therefore illegal.  

Regulations in the CBD Pet Industry

At the moment, the CBD pet industry is a poorly regulated business. Many CBD brands use false claims when marketing their products, saying they can treat and cure health conditions or keep your pets in optimal shape by preventing diseases. To avoid such false advertising and inflict more serious regulations, to date, the FDA has sent several warning letters to CBD companies. However, the legal aspect of the CBD pet industry and its regulations are heavily tangled. 

Who Regulates the CBD Pet Industry?

The pet CBD industry needs to be regulated by the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) and the Association of American Feed Control Officers (AAFCO). As non-profit organizations, they work transparently with their members. The US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and CBD companies to ensure certain levels of self-regulation and use of good manufacturing practices.  

Is CBD for Dogs Regulated?

No, CBD for dogs is not regulated. Even in states where medical marijuana for humans is legal and regulated, the use of pet CBD products is not. In fact, CBD is often labeled as the “pet food industry of the Wild West.”  

CBD companies often link the term CBD with popular drug claims (such as cure, treat, mitigate, prevent) and disease states (like chronic pain, cancer, anxiety) marketing CBD products as efficient in pain management, inflammation relief, etc. The use of such statements is illegal as CBD dog products are not FDA approved for the treatment, prevention, and management of health conditions in dogs and cats.  

And, it is not just the marketing and labeling that lacks regulations. Manufacturing is a shady area as well. A 2019 study, “Cannabinoid, Terpene, and Heavy Metal Analysis of 29 OTC Commercial Veterinary Hemp Supplements” by the Cornell University for Veterinary Medicine, tested 29 CBD hemp oil products and established that most of them do not contain as much CBD as stated on the label. It also found heavy metal like lead contamination in some of the CBD pet products. 

Is there a Dog Food with CBD?

Is-there-a-Dog-Food-with-CBD

No, at the moment, there is no dog food with included CBD. In fact, the emergence of CBD-infused pet food is not on the horizon just yet. While the use of CBD and the popularity of pet CBD treats are constantly on the rise, based on official statements, dog owners have to wait for CBD-infused foods. 

As the number of studies and scientific data showing CBD’s benefits grows, more and more veterinarians are proponents of CBD use. What is more, anecdotal evidence from pet owners also supports the statement that CBD is linked with many health benefits. On the other hand, the United States FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does not approve the cannabis plant and its active ingredients as drugs or dietary supplements. 

Consequently, the lack of FDA approval eliminates the possibility of incorporating CBD into food for animals. According to the FDA, any CBD-infused pet foods would be considered adulterated products. Sealing CBD foods and feeds are labeled illegal in interstate commerce. To make things even more complicated, the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) states that hemp plant compounds are not considered to be pet food ingredients and, therefore, cannot be controlled by animal food officials.

Another issue with CBD foods is the manufacturing itself. Preserving the active ingredients within the CBD during pet food processing is hard and probably beyond current technology capacities. Heat deactivates the cannabinoids rendering them useless. 

Can I Put CBD in My Dogs Food?

Yes, you can put CBD oil in your dog’s regular food. Dog CBD oils can be mixed with all types of dog food, including dry kibble, canned meal, homemade dishes, and even dog treats. The goal of mixing CBD oil with pet food is to mask the scent and bitter aftertaste of cannabinoids. 

Namely, in its natural state, CBD has a pungent smell and taste. Unlike people, dogs are not very picky regarding their eating habits. However, cannabidiol is often too much. For that purpose, most CBD companies add natural and dog-friendly flavors (bacon, peanut butter, chicken, popcorn) to their CBD products. 

However, regardless of the flavoring, some dogs may still feel the CBD’s natural scent and taste. In such cases, the best way of implementing CBD oil is by mixing it with pet foods and making sure the dog eats the entire amount of CBD. 

CBD Additives for Dog Food

So, just because CBD-infused foods are not available does not mean you cannot use a good alternative add it to your dog’s diet. Below is a short review of the different CBD options:

  • CBD oil. Full-spectrum CBD oil can be squirted directly into the dog’s mouth, mixed with food, or put on a porous dog treat. CBD oils are practical and quick-acting. 
  • CBD dog treats. The best CBD dog treats come in different forms like soft chews, crunchy bites and in various dog-friendly flavors for easy use. More than 60% of pet owners prefer CBD treats over oils. 
  •  Homemade CBD treats. You can prepare CBD treats using high-quality CBD oil and dog-friendly ingredients. However, heat may deactivate some of the cannabinoids, and dosage calculations are tricky. 
  • CBD peanut butter. This is another commercially available CBD alternative. Dogs love the peanut butter taste and texture, thus making the perfect cover for sneaking CBD. 
Best Seller
Honest Paws Calm Peanut Butter Jar
10/10Our Score
  • Contains organic full-spectrum hemp with naturally occurring CBD.
  • Help improve your dog’s behavior and support healthy brain function.
  • It provides protein and healthy fat to a dog's food intake.
Best Seller
Honest Paws Well CBD Oil for Dogs
10/10Our Score
  • Support sensitive skin & seasonal allergies
  • Boost immune system & cognitive function
  • Enhance bone & joint health
  • Promote relaxation & combat stress

If you are a pet parent and looking for a CBD option for your canine, you need to research. It is a good idea to look into different brands and products before visiting an online store or pet store. Below are some things you need to consider to find the ideal line of CBD for your dog: 

  • Type of extract. Always choose full-spectrum hemp oil over broad-spectrum and isolates. The full-spectrum CBD contains different cannabinoids and additional health-boosting compounds. 
  • Cannabinoid profile. Pet CBD products must be made from hemp and not marijuana. This is because marijuana contains a cannabinoid named THC, which is toxic to dogs. 
  •  Reputable CBD brand. A reliable CBD company will have positive reviews from pet owners, available Certificate of Analysis, and buyer-friendly policies like free-shipping, discounts, money-back guarantee, customer service, etc. 

Is CBD Dog Food the Future of CBD?

Is CBD Dog Food the Future of CBD

Yes, CBD dog food can become the future of the pet CBD industry. However, things are very unsure at the moment. On one side, we have the stances of the state agencies like FDA and AAFCO, which are very clear about the lack of control and potential irregularities with CBD pet food manufacturing. 

On the other side, there is the increasing use of CBD and CBD companies investing in different methods of manufacturing processes. For example, in March 2017, Naturally Splendid Enterprises funded a study to show that its novel encapsulation method protects the natural ingredients of hemp oil (essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals) over the production course.