Cannabinoids and Pets: Promise or Problem? – Nutritional Outlook

Hemp-derived cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) are rapidly making their way into the pet health space, capitalizing not only on the popularity of the cannabinoids themselves but also the ongoing trend of supplement companies more broadly creating products for companion animals.

“We’ve seen a rise in supplements in pets in general as people continue to treat their pets as members of their family. This humanization—we’re seeing that in pet food and treats as well,” explains Scott Dicker, senior market insights analyst at SPINS (Chicago). “And also, the addition of other functional ingredients that have specific health focuses that are traditionally found in human supplements is making its way over to pets. CBD is certainly one of those.”

According to 2020 data from brand strategy firm Finn Cady, one in four dog owners and one in four cat owners report having fed their pets hemp-derived CBD products.1 Two inthree dog owners and three in four cat owners report that they would do so again. SPINS data states that 68% of dollar growth in CBD in the companion-animal market is coming from the subcategory of treats, and 32% of dollar growth is in vitamins and supplements. Also big: 60% of dollar growth in the pet supplement category can be attributed to CBD.

For manufacturers of hemp-derived cannabinoids, the pet health space is a category in which CBD and other cannabinoids are seeing consistent sales growth—unlike in the human space, where cannabinoid product sales have been slowing down since 2020. “I think it’s worth noting as you see a big decline in human CBD sales—and that’s for a variety of reasons—we do continue to see [CBD] as a bright spot in the pet channel,” says Dicker.

That is not to say that everyone should jump on the pet health CBD bandwagon. There’s a lot you need to understand about the pet space first.


Hemp-derived CBD and other cannabinoids have many potential benefits that compel consumers to buy and use these products. For one, the endocannabinoid system is believed to be physiologically involved in the regulation of many bodily functions, including appetite, pain, mood, memory, inflammation, insulin sensitivity, as well as fat and energy metabolism.2 Therefore, cannabinoids such as CBD, through activation of CB1 and CB2 receptors, may exert benefits in these areas.

For example, preclinical research in mice found that CBD may have anxiolytic effects as well as immune-modulating and anti-inflammatory properties. A recent large-scale, blinded, randomized clinical trial found that supplementation with …….


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