Understanding Medicinal Cannabis for Pets

In the past year or two, there has been an influx of hemp and illegal CBD products available for Australian pets. This has left many pet owners and even vets wondering about the safety profile of these products, where they can access CBD for animals through legal channels, and how hemp or CBD oil might have a therapeutic application for their beloved pets and patients.

Much of the information on pets and cannabis-derived products like hemp and CBD is scattered around the internet and can be difficult to interpret. CBD Vets Australia is Australia’s first company to legally prescribe medicinal cannabis under the careful observation of an Australian registered vet practitioner. They aim to help sift through the vast information – and misinformation – to provide both education and research on this topic.

Firstly – what is the difference between hemp seed and CBD oil?

Hemp seed oil and CBD oil are both derived from cannabis plants. Hemp seed oil or hemp oil is extracted from the seeds of cannabis plants that contain less than 0.0075% CBD and 0.005% of the intoxicating THC and can therefore be classed as a food source that may contribute towards general well-being as a supplement (for a healthy coat, for example), but is not considered to possess therapeutic value.

Hemp seed oil is extracted much like any other cold-pressed cooking oil eg. coconut or olive oil. CBD oil differs in that it is extracted from the flowers and stalks of the hemp, as well as other cannabis varieties, and is widely researched for its potential therapeutic properties.

Human vs pet medicinal cannabis

In Australia, CBD oil in low-doses for humans has recently been legalised by the Australian government to be available over the counter in Australian pharmacies, with products likely becoming available either late this year or next. Neither this nor prescription medicinal cannabis for humans should be given to pets without a veterinary prescription as it’s essential that animals receive the most appropriate dose and formulation for their size, weight and condition, in order to have peace of mind that it’s safe.

Excipients and additives used in human products can also cause vomiting and diarrhea in animals as their stomach treats certain ingredients differently. Pets (particularly dogs) have an increased sensitivity to the cannabinoid THC which can be found sometimes in human medicinal cannabis formulations, and are at a risk of adverse effects.

CBD for pets – better safe than sorry

You may also have seen CBD oil products circulating the market online at the moment, yet unless it is prescribed through a legal veterinary channel from a legitimate and trusted pharmaceutical product supplier, none can guarantee what they say on the label is accurate and may contain substances (such as pesticides and heavy metals), contaminants or additives that could be poisonous to your pet.

Using CBD oil for pets

Cannabidiol or CBD is a cannabinoid that has been extensively researched in humans, now research into CBD and medical cannabis for our furry friends is also kicking up a notch.

The symptoms or conditions where CBD may be prescribed if deemed appropriate in the veterinary setting include:

  • Pain
  • Epilepsy
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Anxiety

CBD oil isn’t right for every medical condition or every animal and just like any other medicine may have side effects. The CBD Vets Australia team can help ascertain which conditions may be suitable.

Medicinal cannabis is an exciting new area in veterinary treatment for the health management and well-being of our pets and warrants further exploration via clinical research and trials.

If you are interested in prescribing CBD to your pet or are a vet with patients who may benefit, contact CBD Vets Australia on

or +61 2 8294 9303