What you need to know about giving CBD to your pets

If you're a pet owner thinking about giving your animal CBD products, the veterinarians we talked with said at this point there isn't enough research to know whether it's safe or not.

"The biggest risk we have with CBD in pets is that we really don't know what we don't know," said Natalie Young, a veterinary pharmacist who deals exclusively with prescriptions for pets.

CBD is popular for people as an alternative health trend to relieve pain, calm down and sometimes fight seizures. It is legal to sell in North Carolina but right now not regulated by the FDA.

The general dosing recommendations for pets are largely unknown. Young says the majority of the research done on CBD is in mice and rats, with a few studies done on dogs, but those studies include recommendations for giving pets CBD only under very specific circumstances.

"It's very difficult to dose your pet and knowing exactly what you are giving your pet," said Brenda Stevens, the president of the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association.

"When they've done some random testing on CBD products they've found a wide variation of how much active ingredient is in there. So you may think giving a quarter of a teaspoon could be appropriate and that could be 10 times the dose," Stevens said.

RELATED: FDA issues warning over recall for dog food

Stevens and Young said it's illegal for a veterinarian to prescribe CBD or initiate the conversation about it during an appointment. But Young said if you are thinking of giving your pet CBD products, it's important to ask your veterinarian about it. They can't recommend it, but they know your pet's medical history. Young says in some cases CBD could minimize the effectiveness of other drugs your pets may be on.

Azure Rudd gives two of her three dogs CBD oil regularly because she says she wanted to help curb the dogs' anxiety. She said she first heard about it through a local dog food store, and she's seen a noticeable difference in her dogs.

"Emma has calmed down a little bit; the oil took the edge off for her," Azure said.

Her other dog, Walter, is a puppy who Azure said has always had anxiety around girls.

"After he started taking CBD oil we have noticed that he isn't constantly chewing on bones or tearing up toys like before. He is still high energy but he is calmer and more manageable now," Azure said.

We were able to find a variety of CBD products for pets at Forever Hemp on Fayetteville Road in Raleigh.

If do you choose to give your animal a CBD product, Stevens said to watch out for dilated pupils, tremors, stumbling around, and loss of bladder control-all signs that a pet could be experiencing toxic effects.

She said she's never personally seen issues with pets experiencing negative effects of CBD, but she's heard about it from fellow veterinarians and the Pet Poison Hotline.

Young said it's important to remember that the products aren't regulated by the FDA, even though they're easily accessible.

"Pet owners are going to these retail spaces and picking up products, well-meaning, wanting to do the best for their animal, and not realizing that some of those products contain ingredients that could be harmful to your pet," Young said.

Stevens said she understands that people want to do anything they can to help their pets, but she wouldn't feel comfortable prescribing a CBD supplement.

"I think there's a big wave for natural or holistic medications, which I think are perfectly fine but the main thing with that is to make sure that there is evidence behind those natural supplements so we know exactly what that will do when we give it to our pets," Stevens said. "And the evidence is lacking right now."
Copyright © 2020 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.