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Information for Veterinary Professionals

As a licensed member, you will find helpful information in this section to assist you with making changes to your licence and managing the accreditation of a veterinary facility. You will also find information concerning professional conduct and quality practice. 

Cannabis and CBD Oil for Animals

The College receives questions about veterinarians prescribing cannabis, specifically CBD (cannabidiol) oil, for animals. Health Canada oversees the federal legislation related to cannabis which outlines the legal framework for the production and sale of cannabis products. Currently, there are no approved cannabis or CBD prescription products for animals, which is the safest pathway for veterinarians to prescribe cannabis to animals. The legal pathway for access to veterinary products under the new Cannabis Act is approved veterinary drugs with cannabis and veterinary health products. .

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are a few of the questions and answers that the College frequently receives about cannabis and CBD Oil through its Practice Advisory Service.

Before advising on the use of a legal recreational cannabis product, what does a veterinarian need to know?

It is important that veterinarians recognize that these products are not indicated for animal use; they are not classified as drugs and do not make health claims. The scientific evidence to support the use of cannabis in animals, including safety and efficacy, is growing but remains limited. THC in cannabis has known toxic effects in pets and symptoms of toxicity can be severe. Veterinarians are accountable for any professional advice they provide to a client about their pet.

How can a veterinarian determine if a cannabis product is legal or not?

There are many cannabis products available that are not legal that clients may be accessing for human or animal use.

Veterinarians should not advise on the use of any illegal substance, including cannabis sold on the black market or unapproved cannabinoid products.

The only approved cannabis products for animals available in Canada at this time are veterinary health products made from hemp. These products:

  • Are exempt from the Cannabis Act as they contain < 10 ppm THC;
  • Are regulated by the Industrial Hemp Regulations (IHR);
  • Have no concentrated cannabinoids, including CBD;
  • Do not make health claims;
  • Are sold at retail; and
  • Are distinguished from unapproved cannabis products labelled for animal use by a Notification Number assigned by Health Canada3.

Legally purchased recreational cannabis from authorized provincial retail sales outlets can be distinguished from black market cannabis by its packaging. Legal products:

  • Are not sold as drugs and as such must not be accompanied with human or veterinary health claims;
  • Are packaged and labelled according to strict rules set by Health Canada 1;
  • Have packaging with a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) excise stamp 2; and

Undergo quality control testing to ensure, among other things, that concentrations of CBD and THC that are indicated on the label are accurate, and that the products are free of specified contaminants (e.g. certain pesticides).

References:

1. Cannabis product package and label mock-up: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/publications/drugs-health-products/summary-comments-public-consultation-regulation-cannabis.html#b1.6

2. Cannabis Excise Stamp (CRA): https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/news/cra-multimedia-library/businesses-video-gallery/cannabis-consumers.html
https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/forms-publications/publications/edn54/general-overview-cannabis-excise-stamps.html#_Toc512931348

3. Veterinary Health Product sample label: https://www.lrvhp.ca/public/documents/view/exampleLabel

If a veterinarian chooses to advise on the use of recreational cannabis that their client has obtained legally through the provincial sales outlets, what are their obligations?

If a veterinarian chooses to advise on a legal recreational cannabis product for their client’s pet, they:

  • Must practice within the scope of their clinical competency;
  • Must weigh the evidence on cannabis against other available treatment options;
  • Must consider the known or suspected risks associated with its use in animals;
  • Must obtain informed client consent;
  • Must monitor patients and be available in the event of an adverse reaction or failure of treatment; and
  • Must be aware of the potential for abuse, diversion and misuse of cannabis.

What cannabis products can a veterinarian legally advise on?

Under the Cannabis Act, veterinarians are permitted to prescribe and dispense Health Canada approved drugs with cannabinoids, whether human or veterinary label; however, there are currently no veterinary drugs available on the market. Current human prescription products containing cannabinoids (e.g. Sativex) are often not appropriate for veterinary use. Veterinarians may recommend and sell veterinary health products with hemp that are approved through Health Canada’s Notification Program. Veterinarians may advise clients on the use of legally available recreational cannabis for their pets based on sound professional judgment.

​References

Other Related Resources

2020 Annual Report

The College's 2020 Annual Report presents an overview of the College's work throughout the past year.