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The use of cannabidiol (CBD) in animals

spotlight topic:

The use of cannabidiol (CBD) in animals

‘In the Spotlight’ features bring together collections of published papers on topics of interest and importance to the veterinary professions.

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Published 21 April 2023 | Updated 16 May 2023

There have been many claims regarding potential medicinal uses for cannabis and its derivatives. However, any potential medicinal use has been complicated by the legal status of cannabis and cannabis derived products and confusion over the status of the wide range of consumer products containing cannabidiol (CBD).

While the regulatory frameworks differ between countries, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate in the UK put out a clear statement in 2018, stating that CBD products for use in animals require a marketing authorisation before they can be sold or supplied in the UK, and that companies supplying CBD products for human use in line with the requirements of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency must not indicate or recommend their products for use on animals.

The recent licensing of Epidyolex (cannabidiol) for human medicinal use, has increased the interest in potential uses of cannabidiol in the veterinary field and the possibility that a veterinary surgeon may prescribe a legally obtained human CBD product under the provisions of the prescribing cascade.

The purpose of this Spotlight feature is to bring together information to help veterinary surgeons understand the regulatory framework around medicinal and consumer cannabidiol based products and highlight some of the relevant published literature.

As with other Spotlight features papers are chosen for relevance and accessibility, with the full text of articles either being available through the RCVS Knowledge Library or from other publications to which a significant number of veterinary professionals are likely to have access to, for example through the membership of the BVA or BVNA. However, due to the paucity of clinical research in this field we have also included articles which provide an understanding of the possible mechanisms of action and pharmacokinetics of cannabidiol based products in veterinary species.


  1. Legislative framework
    • Medicinal products
    • Consumer products
  2. Use of Cannabidiol (CBD) in veterinary medicine
    • Statements from veterinary organisations
  3. Cannabinoid receptors and pharmacokinetics
    • Pharmacokinetics in dogs and cats
    • Pharmacokinetics in horses
    • Pharmacokinetics in farm animals
  4. Safety and toxicity
    • Dogs and cats
    • Horses
    • Exotics
  5. Potential clinical uses of cannabinoids
    • Pain management and osteoarthritis
    • Epilepsy and seizures
    • Behaviour / stress
    • Inflammation / atopy


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