There’s no question that cannabidiol, CBD, a non-psychoactive chemical produced by the cannabis plant, has shown an ability to help alleviate health issues — everything from inflammation, anxiety, skin conditions, arthritis and joint pain.
So, how about its effect on animals?
Itay Ben-Mordechai, head of innovation at Weedley, a leader in the development and distribution of cannabidiol-based natural products (CBD) for pets, and his Tel Aviv-based team are gambling on a big “yes.”
“We’ve seen how well animals respond to CBD oil drops and treats,” Ben-Mordechai told NoCamels.com, noting that so far only research subjects and investors have tried Weedley’s CBD-infused transdermal creams and oils.
“We saw how well a horse reacted to CBD oil drops. The horse had been taking steroids for over two years to treat a nervous skin condition and after two weeks of using our product, not only did the skin condition improve but the horse was taken off steroids.”
Ben-Mordechai and the Weedley team know that scientifically-backed research and development is crucial to win over the pet care market.
“Our goal is to do research and develop CBD products for animals at the highest level to truly better their quality of life,” Ben-Mordechai told NoCamels.
The horse’s reaction to the CBD-infused oil prompted the Tel Aviv group to launch a research study. Ben-Mordechai says their study is set to begin soon with an unnamed institution, and will be the first in the world to evaluate the pharmacokinetics of CBD on horses.
It comes in the wake of a study published last year by Cornell University, which assessed the pharmacokinetics, safety, and clinical efficacy of CBD in osteoarthritic dogs, and showed that administration of 2 mg/kg of CBD oil twice daily can safely decrease pain and increase activity in OA-afflicted canines.
In late May, Weedley — owned by Gour Medical, a French veterinary healthcare company — together with PetPace, makers of a smart health-monitoring collar for pets, announced the launch of a separate clinical study to assess the efficacy of CBD in the treatment of osteoarthritis-associated pain in dogs.
“This study is one of many in Weedley’s pipeline, following the company’s core belief that high-quality clinical studies such as this are essential to the advancement of knowledge of the involvement of the endocannabinoid system in animal diseases and the use of CBD oil in their management,” Dr. Erez Hanael, Weedley’s Chief Veterinarian, said in a press statement.
“Obviously, a dog cannot smoke a joint but I can give an animal a CBD-infused biscuit to help with pain,” Ben-Mordechai said.
“What we’re doing is the opposite of what’s happening in the pharma field. We’re not using animals to find medications for human purpose; we’re creating products for pets specifically.”
The CBD-for-pets global market is one of the cannabis arena’s hottest sub-sectors. CBD pet products could reach $1.16 billion in the US by 2022, according to cannabis-focused research firm Brightfield Group.
In Canada, a group of veterinarians lobbied MPs in Ottawa in May to authorize the use of medical cannabis for animals.
The vets brought five dogs to Parliament Hill to draw attention to what they see as glaring omissions in the legalized regimes for medical and recreational marijuana.
While Canadians are now allowed to smoke cannabis, ironically, the law still does not allow veterinarians to prescribe pot for pets, even though preliminary research suggests it could be beneficial in treating pain, seizures, anxiety and other disorders.
The Canadian government has said it is not a priority at the moment, but it will likely be re-considered when the Cannabis Act is reviewed in three years.
In Israel, CBD-infused treatments are not just for pampered pooches. Even dogs in shelters are candidates for anti-anxiety treatment with CBD.
According to an early July report on the Maariv news site, dogs in shelters in southern Israeli communities are in need of R&R in the wake of repeated sirens and rocket attacks from Gaza.
“Examinations conducted by veterinarians from the Israel Medical Cannabis Association show that over 50 percent of dogs have anxiety symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting, [and] pressing against walls,” reads the Hebrew media report.
This understanding has now led a group of veterinarians in the south of Israel, who collaborate with the Israeli Association of Cannabis Medicine, to turn to the Ministry of Health for special permission to provide medical marijuana to dogs suffering from anxiety.
“We have a number of scientific research studies in the pipeline and we’re now looking to raise funds,” says Ben-Mordechai. “Our advantage in the CBD-for-pets arena is this country’s knowledge in cannabis research. There are hundreds of pet products claiming to have CBD but 80 percent of them barely have any. We’re going to have research-backed products and that is important to us.”