How To Introduce CBD To Your Pet: Exclusive Interview With Scott Mazza, COO Of Vitality CBD

Did you know that one in five dogs have canine arthritis?

While this disease commonly affects older dogs and larger breeds like German shepherds, Labs, Golden retrievers and mixtures thereof, it could occur at any age and with smaller breeds as well. Risk factors include obesity, repetitive stress from activities, injuries, prior diagnosis of hip or elbow dysplasia, infections that affect the joints and more.

How to recognize your dog might have arthritis.

Some of the signs to look for are lethargy, reluctance to exercise, lameness or stiffness (especially after long periods of rest), worsening signs when cold or damp, weight gain, licking their joints, irritability and changes in behavior.

So, what can you do to help your best friend? What are some natural treatments that can help alleviate severe pain and discomfort?

One of them is CBD (cannabidiol).

Benzinga wanted to learn more, so we reached out to Scott Mazza, co-founder and COO of Vitality CBD, a Buffalo startup that provides certified organic, lab-tested and high-quality CBD products to humans and animals.

Mazza entered the CBD industry because he was inspired by holistic treatments that offer natural alternatives to pharmaceuticals.

“I’m keenly aware that it’s not only humans that can benefit from CBD,” Mazza told Benzinga. “Pets too suffer from uncomfortable ailments. Knowing the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD, I wanted to offer something that could bring relief to our four-legged friends.”

Cannabis & Canine Arthritis 

Slowly but steadily, science is starting to confirm the anecdotal benefits of CBD for animals. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in collaboration with Medterra CBD conducted a study to examine its potential for treating arthritic pain in dogs. The research published in the journal Pain, initially revealed both in lab tests and mouse models that CBD considerably lowers the production of inflammatory molecules and immune cells associated with arthritis. Then, the study showed CBD treatment notably improves the quality of life in dogs with arthritis, as documented by both owner and veterinarian assessments.

"We found encouraging results," said corresponding author Dr. Matthew Halpert, on the research faculty at Baylor's Department of Pathology and Immunology. "Nine of the 10 dogs on CBD showed benefits, which remained for two weeks after the treatment stopped. We did not detect alterations in the blood markers we measured, suggesting that, under the conditions of our study, the treatment seems to be safe."

Mazza pointed out that arthritis in dogs closely mimics the characteristics of arthritis in people, which means that effective treatment for animals could point to an important breakthrough for humans as well. 

Can CBD help pets deal with other conditions?

Mazza confirmed that CBD helps pets in several ways. In addition to reducing joint pain and inflammation, anecdotally pet owners also report seeing anxiety relief, mobility improvement and less frequent seizures. 

“I’m very excited that science is validating these insights,” Mazza said, highlighting another study from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine that revealed 83% of dogs had decreased stress or anxiety-related behaviors when given a CBD supplement.

“Keep in mind that CBD and cannabis research more generally remains limited due to legality and taboo. But, with positive findings and changing public opinion, I’m optimistic that more studies with good news are on the way,” Mazza said.

Shifting Attitudes

Despite scarce scientific research, pet owners are increasingly willing to try CBD once they experience benefits for themselves, Mazza said. According to the 2020 Pet Industry Green Paper by Nielsen NLSN and Headset, hemp-based CBD pet products will represent 3-5% of all hemp CBD sales within the U.S. by 2025. The same paper noted that in 2020, 24% of pet owners were using hemp-CBD either for themselves, their pets, or both and that as many as 74% of CBD buyers have pets.

“The pet owners we serve find CBD a useful treatment for things like anxiety, sleep disorders, and epilepsy. Also, rising incidences of anxiety disorders in pets, especially dogs, are propelling the market even further forward,” Mazza said.

He further predicted that CBD for pets will go mainstream in the next few years, with social attitudes changing quickly. The global CBD pet market size was estimated at $195.98 million in 2022 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 31.8% from 2023 to 2030. This just confirms that ”pet owners are seeing the benefits first-hand and embracing these products.”

Is CBD a good choice only for dogs and cats, or also for other pets?

“There’s likely broad application across animals,” Mazza explained. “But, since cats and dogs are some of the most domesticated and beloved animals in the kingdom, owners are more willing to tend closely to their wellness needs. With time and funding, I’d like to see what benefits these products can deliver to other animals too.”

How Should One Introduce CBD To Their Pet?

“The best advice is to start slow and stay attentive,” Mazza explained. “Use weight as a guide and closely watch your animal’s reaction. The basic dosing rule for cats and dogs is 1 to 5 milligrams of CBD for every 10 pounds of body weight. Dose once or twice a day as needed.”

It is also important to choose the products carefully. As usual, quality doesn’t come cheap. More affordable oils tend to use harsh chemical solvents to isolate the compound and in the process strip away many of the plant’s beneficial cannabinoids.

“Worse still, these products are more likely to contain pesticides and higher levels of THC that can be harmful to animals,” Mazza said. 

One of the biggest problems in this industry is misleading labels. Several studies found wide evidence of mislabeling for these types of products for humans. Another study from October showed that heavy contaminants are commonly present in CBD products. A study from 2020 that examined 29 CBD products for dogs discovered that only 10 of them fell within 10% of the total cannabinoid concentrations claimed on their label and four of the products contained heavy metals.

“My advice is to buy the best for your best friend,” Mazza said. “Select organic products tested for potency and purity. Likewise, stick with formulations specially made for animals. These recipes are less likely to contain artificial ingredients, sweeteners, and preservatives. This way, your pet can absorb all of the benefits of the hemp plant without the harmful additives.”

What About Veterinarians?

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, “under current federal and state law, veterinarians may not administer, dispense, prescribe or recommend cannabis or its products for animals,” but are they open to recommend these products off the record?

“While this edict puts veterinarians in a tough spot, it’s important to consider where they stand on the matter,” Mazza explained and then referred to a study that questioned around 2130 veterinarians if they support medical uses of hemp and CBD products for dogs. It turned out that most participants agreed that both marijuana and CBD products offer benefits for humans and expressed support for use of CBD products for animals. The anonymous, online survey also revealed that most veterinarians (61.5%) felt comfortable discussing the use of CBD among their colleagues, but only 45.5% felt comfortable discussing this topic with clients.

“My message to owners is that hemp is federally legal and you should not be discouraged from consulting on this issue,” Mazza said. “I understand that the vast majority of veterinarians will speak off the record on this topic – after all, they also want what’s best for your pet. Additionally, keeping your veterinarian in the loop also helps them advise about any potential reactions to medications your pet may be taking.”

Photo: Benzinga edit with sources from Kindel Media and Brett Jordan on Pexels



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