As things stand in the UK cannabidiol (CBD) should only be administered to pets as a medicine under the supervision of a registered Vet.
However, many thousands of pet owners swear by its benefits to their charges for pain relief and anxiety – especially on Bonfire Night for dogs – and on-line platforms are awash with advice and pet-targeted CBD products.
Sian Phillips, Managing Director of the Cannabis Trades Association, recently lobbied the UK Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) for changes to its rules.
Human CBD Products Being Used On Pets
“So many people are using ‘human’ CBD diluted, to support their pets, and whilst recognising the VMD’s stance on CBD for Pets, we believe there is a reasonable case to be made for the restrictions to be eased.
“Unfortunately, whilst acknowledging our position the VMD has refused to shift its stance and as things stand we recommend our members stay clear of this growing sector – which is a disappointment to many,” she said.
With leading UK companies frozen out of the domestic pet CBD market that does not prevent them operating in overseas markets.
UK firm Always Pure Organics says it sells into a few EU countries and Japan, while fellow UK CBD firm CiiTECH is currently targeting its developing pet range at the South African market.
Dog CBD Trial Mooted
Its CEO Clifton Flack said it is interested in talking to veterinary partners in relation to a possible trial on dogs to help develop an evidence base.
This is one of the issues highlighted by Steve Oilver of The Canna Consultants. He said: “The VMD are quite clear; until there are extensive clinical trails on animals – which I can’t imagine many will be that keen on – their position will not change.
“It’s not that the regulators are wholeheartedly against this, it is more of a case of being difficult to get any feedback from your subjects.
“The products aimed at humans come with a recommended dose of 1mg per 1kg of body weight, which is alright if you have big dog such as a Rottweiler weighing around 50kgs, but for the smaller dogs it may be equivalent to giving them 400mg.
“For the pet market there will have to be specific products across the many different species, but in the meantime there has been very little enforcement to date.”
‘Bureaucrats Love A Ban’
Many people swear by the positive effect of CBD on their charges including Peter Reynolds of trade group CannaPro. However, as far as pet products are concerned CannaPro certified business are not allowed to sell them with two outliers having their certifications withdrawn.
He told BusinessCann: “Exactly as with the FSA on CBD and the professional medical bodies on medicinal cannabis, there is no significant evidence of any harm to any animal anywhere and a great deal of evidence of benefit.
“Nevertheless, the bureaucrats’ instinct and inevitable decision is to introduce a ban. In my view, in these circumstances, this more to do with maintaining their power base rather than concern for animal welfare.”
Those businesses selling CBD for pets are at risk of a number of sanctions from the VMD including the destruction of their goods and criminal prosecution.
A spokesperson for the VMD provided BusinessCann with the following statement: “Veterinary products containing CBD are regulated veterinary medicines and require a marketing authorisation before they can be sold or supplied in the UK.
“There are currently no CBD products authorised in the UK for veterinary use, however, a veterinary surgeon may prescribe a legally obtained human CBD product under the provisions of the prescribing cascade.
“Administration of an unauthorised product containing CBD without a veterinary prescription is an offence under the Veterinary Medicines Regulations.”
Enforcement for VMD is the role of Trading Standards departments of the the Local authority. The Trading Standards Institute it has not responded to questions from BusinessCann on the level of the enforcement
VMD has a range of enforcement tools to secure compliance, including; advisory and warning letters, improvement and seizure notices, destruction of products, and ultimately prosecution. Enforcement action may be taken against a business or an individual.
The global CBD Pet market which was valued at almost $30m in 2019, and set to rise to almost $400m over the next few years.
The European Commission and European Food Safety Authority both state that products containing CBD and targeted at animals require market authorisation.