Health Canada Gives Green Light for Cannabis-Infused Pet Food

Just as cannabis can have a positive effect on anxiety for humans, the same could be true for pets.

Yesterday, Health Canada approved clinical trials of the effectiveness of cannabidiol as a treatment for anxiety in animals. Cannabidiol, often abbreviated as CBD, is derived from cannabis and is increasingly used in medical applications. It is one of 113 different chemical compounds found in marijuana and shares the same molecular make-up as  tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), though with significantly reduced psychoactive effects. Still, it produces the same dry mouth, low blood pressure, light headedness, and drowsiness associated with weed.

Canopy Animal Health, Canada’s largest cannabis company, was given the green light for the trials. It is the first time a company has received federal approval for testing the effects of CBD in pet food.

“There has been very little (research) done with CBD or other phytocannabinoids in pets up until now,” said Dana M. Vaughn, executive vice-president and chief scientific officer for Canopy Animal Health, in an email interview with the Toronto Star. The hope is to demonstrate how CBD affects different animal species and sizes. The expectation is that the company’s CBD-enriched oil, when ingested by animals through food, can alleviate anxiety.

While research around CBD has been limited to date, loosening regulations in Canada have allowed scientists to take a closer look at the potential health benefits of the compound. Until recently, it was very difficult to obtain cannabis for research purposes. This could only be done by being granted a “Section 56” exemption, which also restricts lab access to Schedule 1 drugs like cocaine and heroin.

Human products containing CBD range from candy to shampoo to cocktails and can be accessed with relative ease despite legal unclarity.