WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - CBD use has become increasingly popular among dog owners as a holistic method of treating a variety of health issues, but North Carolina veterinarians warn about quality control.
“It is illegal for veterinarians to prescribe CBD, and I think that’s where that comes from because it’s a very murky area when we’re dealing with federal law and we’re dealing with state law.," said Dr. Brenda Stevens, president of the NC Veterinary Medical Association. “According to the federal law, they consider CBD a drug and part of its scheduling. We are not allowed to prescribe it.”
The North Carolina Farm Act of 2018 allowed farmers to grow industrial hemp. According to Stevens, CBD by definition should come from the hemp plant, which does not produce THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana.
“Marijuana can produce CBD; marijuana can produce THC,” Stevens said. "Hemp should only produce CBD at very low levels.”
Few studies have been conducted on the effects of CBD in dogs but some results have shown positive effects.
However, Stevens said the studies are not enough to be used as widespread evidence.
“The biggest things that have me concerned with CBD is the quality control," she said. "CBD, the oil needs to be extracted from the hemp plant, and it’s an arduous process from the plant. Many times this CBD is being imported, and the quality control is really lacking with CBD. The FDA did some spot checks and found what is on the label is not necessarily in the bottle so what’s in the bottle can be less than what you think you’re giving, or it can be 100 times more of what you’re giving or it could be contaminated with some THC. It could be contaminated with heavy metals, pesticides, and that sort of thing.”
For pet owners like Chris Loiacono, CBD oil has made a difference in her dog Nina’s quality of life.
Nina, who turned 12 years old on March 8, was diagnosed with vestibular disease, a sudden, non-progressive disturbance of balance.
“We went to the vet and that was the diagnosis but she had been on CBD oil for seizures," Loiacono said. "Well, they weren’t seizures. They were episodes from this VD they call it.”
Loiacono is a nurse, and says she thought the episode was a seizure. Saying she was willing to “do anything” to make sure Nina was OK, Loiacono gave the dog CBD oil in paste form about a year ago and said it transformed the animal’s condition.
“I ordered the CBD oil and she’s like a puppy again,” Loiacono said. "She has no head tilt. She has no episodes of vertigo. ... She was wobbly, falling over (and now) none. She runs like a puppy, and I’ll continue giving her the CBD because I want her with me as long as she can be with me.”
Loiacono says she did research online and through Facebook groups to make sure she was giving Nina a high quality product. Getting information from people who have given their pets CBD was key, she said.
Stevens said CBD may end up being the next best thing but vets still need to do more research before they can make that determination. Stevens also said it is illegal to put CBD oil into dog treats or any type of animal feed.
“I really feel for clients and pet owners out there because we know that they’re trying to do the right thing," Stevens said. “There is simply not enough research out there to comfortably know how to use this medication, and the second thing is, until the quality control is shored up, I would be very cautious because again, you don’t know what you’re giving. You think you might be giving a certain dosage and you may not be giving that at all."
She also warned pet owners to be cautious using CBD oil with cats since they have different metabolisms.