Your doggo isn’t just a pet, they’re part of the family, and you’d do just about anything to maintain their health and give them the best chance of reaching the ripe old age of 374 (if my dog year calculations are correct, maths wasn’t my strongest subject.)
You’ve likely heard of the fantastic health benefits that CBD oil can offer humans, often praised for treating a range of conditions from anxiety to chronic pain. And now there are a growing number of studies and anecdotal evidence suggesting the benefits of CBD oil for pets.
What do you need to know before imbibing your pet with cannabis? This article will discuss the legalities of obtaining pet CBD oil in Australia, accessibility, safety, what conditions it can be used for, and the difference between CBD and hemp seed oil.
CBD oil for dogs: is it legal in Australia?
Yes! Medicinal cannabis is legal for use in both humans and pets, but you do need a prescription.
As of September 2020, the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) has made an interim decision to down schedule CBD from Schedule 4 (prescription only) to Schedule 3 (available over the counter), the TGA will reach a final decision by the end of November with changes implemented as of 1 February 2021.
Next year is looking better already!
CAN VETS PRESCRIBE CBD OIL IN AUSTRALIA?
Currently, vets can prescribe CBD oil at their discretion. While it may not be a standard prescription to hand out, there are a growing number of veterinarians taking a more holistic approach and advocating for the use of pet CBD oil products.
You can find a list of cannabis-friendly vets who are currently prescribing CBD oil from a reputable Australian brand here.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF IMPORTING PET CBD OIL?
There are many sites selling CBD oil for pets, and while it might be tempting to jump online and place an order, it doesn’t come without risk.
Apart from the fact it’s still illegal, and you could potentially face criminal charges, you also risk losing the product and your money if customs seize the item. Yet, most importantly, you may end up purchasing a poor-quality product that is not suitable for your dog and can’t be used.
SAFETY OF CBD OIL FOR DOGS
Anecdotal evidence and the small number of animal studies available suggest that a high-quality, medicinal strength CBD oil, at the correct dosage, is safe and can offer substantial therapeutic benefits.
While scientists continue to study the positive effects of CBD on dogs, we do know that THC (tetrahydrocannabinol; the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis) can be moderate to severely toxic for dogs if ingested, and severely impacts their neurological system. 
“Studies performed on dogs in the 1970s demonstrated that they [dogs] have more THC receptor brains than humans and any other animal studied, making them extremely sensitive to cannabis products containing THC.,” writes vet, Dr Teagan Lever. 
It’s recommended that CBD products contain no more than 0.3g of THC for dogs to consume safely. 
SAFETY OF HEMP OIL FOR DOGS
Hemp seed oil is a little different. It’s derived from the seeds of the cannabis plant and is legal to purchase in Australia. Hemp seed oil products contain such a small concentration of THC that it would be impossible for your dog to overdose.
Hemp oil is safe for canine consumption. It’s a great source of plant-based omega fatty acids that support skin and coat health, joint function and cardiovascular health. However, it doesn’t have a high enough concentration of CBD to see any real therapeutic benefit.
What canine conditions can CBD oil treat?
Dogs have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) much the same as humans. The ECS is a complex network of receptors, enzymes and neurotransmitters spread throughout the body and is responsible for keeping a state of homeostasis.
The ECS has two receptors: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are located predominantly in the brain and central nervous system, whereas CB2 receptors are widely spread throughout a dog’s body and have been found in the immune system, muscles, brain, lungs and other peripheral organs. 
Scientists have conducted a small number of studies that have shown promising results for treating conditions such as:
In one study from Colorado State University scientists determined that 89 per cent of dogs who received CBD in the clinical trial had a reduction in the frequency of seizures. 
There are also promising results from a study conducted at Baylor College of Medicine which demonstrated that dogs diagnosed with arthritis and treated with CBD saw a significantly improved quality of life, as documented by both owner and veterinarian assessments.” 
ARE PEOPLE SUCCESSFULLY TREATING THEIR DOGS WITH CBD?
While more scientific research needs to be conducted to understand the full therapeutic benefits of CBD oil in dogs, there are plenty of anecdotal success stories.
There are hundreds if not thousands of positive reviews of hemp oil dog treats and CBD oil products online, demonstrating the fantastic success pet-owners are having when utilising these products. The wide range of conditions that have reportedly been helped by the use of the mighty cannabis plant include:
- Anxiety and mood
- Skin problems
- Coat health
- Joint related issues
- Improving the quality of life of pets diagnosed with cancer
Where should I get it from, and how much does it cost?
The only legal way to obtain a high-quality, 3rd party tested, medicinal strength CBD product is through a vet.
As the medicinal benefits and use of cannabis become more widely understood and accepted, now is the perfect time to open up the conversation with your vet. Education and awareness are the first steps to normalising the use of this miraculous plant for your furry friend.
With that being said, if you are educated on the correct dosage and type of product required for your dog’s condition, it certainly is possible to access black market CBD oil.
A FEW THINGS TO CONSIDER IF PURCHASING WITHOUT A PRESCRIPTION:
- CBD oil should always have a certificate of analysis; this is the safest way to determine the strength of a cannabis plant product and whether it contains any detectable THC.
- Ensure that the product is 100% natural and organic and is free of any nasty fillers or chemicals that may have adverse effects on your pet’s health.
- Cannabis affects dogs differently from humans; start small and go slow to gauge how your dog handles the product.
Two Australian companies that are championing CBD supplementation and hemp seed oil for pets are HempPet.
HempPet sells a range of hemp seed oil products that are high in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. They also manufacture a CBD product called Hemp Drops for Dogs 1000mg which retails for $119 and is available through a vet prescription. HempPet utilises premium Australian grown cannabis and contains 100% natural ingredients.
The Cannabis Co. source all of their cannabis from farms in Tasmania and Victoria and are currently working towards organic certification.
They sell a 100% Raw Hemp Seed Oil product for pets costing $32.95.
While this oil contains a high concentration of omega fatty acids, does it also contain CBD and THC? Yes, but only within the legally allowed limit, which makes this an excellent nutritional supplement. It also contains many other lesser-known cannabinoids which are providing outstanding results and a noticeable difference for pets as described in the many 5-star testimonials on their website.
CBD oil prices vary online anywhere from $20 up to $699 and are dependent on size and strength, among other factors. However, it’s important to remember that price often isn’t a reliable indicator of quality. For the time being your best option is to go through the legal channels to obtain a product that you can be sure is safe and effective.