CBD for Pets Is Widely Sold yet Unapproved by FDA

The FDA is working to evaluate the safety of CBD for pets and humans alike.
The FDA is working to evaluate the safety of CBD for pets and humans alike. Photo by R+R Medicinals / Unsplash
Fort Lauderdale-based Veritas Farms last month announced the launch of a line of CBD products for pets, sold only through the company's online store. Veritas plans to eventually offer its products in retail stores, cashing in on an industry estimated to reach $563 million in sales by the end of the year.

Like CBD and hemp products for humans, pet products are being sold to treat everything from anxiety to itchy skin and can make similarly outlandish claims.

Derek Thomas, vice president of business development at Veritas Farms, says he wanted to make the company's line of products as aboveboard as possible given the current Wild West landscape of the industry. The company sought approval from the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC), an Arizona-based nonprofit that has been evaluating the makers of animal supplements since 2001.

"Rather than rushing to put up the first product possible, we really wanted to take the time and attention to build this line," Thomas says.

The new product line for pets includes a CBD oil for hot spots, a salve for paws, tuna- and bacon-flavored tinctures, and an ear-cleaning system. Chews will be added to the line down the road.

"We know scientifically that all mammals have endocannabinoid systems and respond pharmacologically to cannabinoids, so it was really a natural progression of the line," Thomas says. "People love their pets, and they want their pets to have the same access to the quality ingredients humans have."

The NASC has been overseeing cannabis products for pets for the past four years. "It's our most rapidly growing segment," the council's president, Bill Bookout, says.

Though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has declared CBD an unapproved ingredient for use by humans and animals, the NASC is working to provide some regulations for pet supplements in terms of the claims their sellers make.

"CBD is not an approved ingredient for use in animal food or any other animal product in the opinion of the FDA," Bookout says. "That's consistent with the human side also. Of the 15 warning letters issued [by the FDA] at the end of November last year, 13 of those involved companies that also had animal products."

To join the NASC, companies must qualify for membership, a process that can take 90 to 120 days. Bookout says Veritas Farms became a member in late July last year. Members can't use the council's seal on their products until they complete an onsite audit, which is typically good for two years.

Veritas Farms is still working to obtain a seal on its products, but Thomas hopes to have it soon.

"We did work with [the NASC] in developing this line to make sure we were well within the bounds of what are acceptable operating standards," Thomas says.

Bookout interviews each prospective member company, which must then agree to abide by the council's guidelines, remain within the parameters of the FDA's allowances for animal products containing CBD and cannabis, and agree to the council's testing policies and methods for reporting adverse effects, among other requirements.

Products that obtain NASC seals have not necessarily been ruled safe or effective, Bookout says, but they've passed testing for THC levels, heavy metals, and pesticides.

The FDA is working to evaluate the safety of CBD for pets and humans alike. In the meantime, the agency suggests pet owners consult their veterinarians before using CBD products on their animals.

Bookout's advice for anyone shopping for CBD or any other pet supplement: Most claims that seem too good to be true likely are, and products are generally cheap for a reason.
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