The history of cannabidiol (CBD) is long and diverse. The versatile cannabis plant has served as both food and textile; however, its medicinal properties are storied and thread throughout history. Today’s consumers are looking to those health benefits not only for themselves but also for their pets.
“Cannabis can be traced back at least 12,000 years, but has been stigmatized as an illicit substance,” said Denise Strong, co-owner of Pawz On Main in Cottonwood, Ariz. “It’s about time that CBD has become available for consumer use.”
As more pet owners utilize CBD products for their pets and witness the impact, word-of-mouth referrals have contributed to substantial market growth, said Steve Smith, president and co-founder of Pet Releaf in Littleton, Colo.
“The increase in the number of medical marijuana states has resulted in more coverage and greater awareness as to the medicinal benefits cannabis offers, without the side effects carried by most traditional pharmaceuticals,” Smith said.
Heidi Hill, founder of Holistic Hound in Berkeley, Calif., has also noticed how word-of-mouth is impacting the category.
“We believe pet people have a greater propensity and desire to share information amongst themselves than many other segments of the population, and so word has been spreading rapidly, and organically, about the efficacy of these products,” Hill said. Quality CBD products from reputable companies are relieving inflammation and pain from arthritis and other joint issues, boosting the immune system overall, helping to fight cancer, and improving skin, coat and allergy issues, gastrointestinal tract issues, chronic pain, epilepsy and more, according to Strong.
Brad Solomon, partner at Prana Pets in Delray Beach, Fla., noted that CBD is most often requested for pets experiencing seizures, followed by joint issues in older dogs.
“We hear about people who are carrying their dog up the stairs or lifting them onto the couch, and they purchase CBD to improve the quality of life for their elderly dogs,” Solomon said. “It is also being purchased for cats and other pets.”
In addition to these qualities, phytocannabinoids are recognized in helping pets with general and separation anxiety, and for end-of-life comfort, said Julianna Carella, CEO and founder of Treatibles in Oakland, Calif.
“Phytocannabinoids are very effective in bringing calm and balance to pets suffering from myriad conditions,” Carella said. “As pet parents search for a natural approach to the health and wellness of their pets, cannabidiol has become a very attractive remedy.”
Because all animals have an endocannabinoid system that assists in maintaining the physiological, neurological and immunological systems of the body, phytocannabinoids, which occur naturally in the cannabis plant, have many applications, according to Carella.
Dogs are especially responsive to phytocannabinoids as they have the highest concentration of cannabinoid receptors in their brains and bodies compared to other animals, including humans, she added.
“If there is a deficiency of endocannabinoid production, the system’s multiple receptors will utilize the addition of phytocannabinoids to help create balance and provide support for relaxing, repairing or restoring,” Carella said.
“CBD, when produced correctly and in full-spectrum [nonisolate] form, is one of the most beneficial natural compounds on earth,” Smith said. “By activating the endocannabinoid system, or ECS, in the body of a dog or cat, a full-spectrum CBD oil is an extremely potent anti-inflammatory, and turbo-boost to the immune system.”
Retailers that have added CBD to their product mix reported seeing strong sales.
“CBD hemp oils, along with CBD edible treats, make up 25 percent of the monthly sales at Pawz On Main,” Strong said. “Dog food is right behind the hemp sales.”
At Pacific Pets in Hillsboro, Ore., co-manager Ben Schmid said that after several months of offering CBD products, increased consumer awareness has led to proliferating sales.
“It’s definitely at the top every month,” Schmid said. “The greatest thing about CBD is that it’s naturally occurring in our bodies already, so there are no side effects and you won’t see an overdose as long as there’s no THC.”Having recently added CBD oil and treats to the product mix, Julie Paez, co-owner of The Big Bad Woof in Washington, D.C., reported strong consumer interest and consistent sales.
“I reorder product every week,” Paez said. “The liquid is expensive, so it’s not a fast-moving item, but it’s steady, and we are also shipping it all over the place.”