Prioritize quality when considering equine CBD supplements

CBD supplements are a worthwhile treatment option for many horses. Just be sure to do your research and invest in the right products!

Cannabidiol (CBD) is the hottest topic in animal health today. Many horse caretakers who have used CBD themselves are now choosing it for their equine companions in the hopes of helping them feel better. CBD’s potential benefits are exciting, but the huge selection of products and claims can be overwhelming, particularly when you see CBD supplements for sale virtually everywhere: grocery stores, coffee shops, gas stations and even video stores!

If you think CBD supplements may benefit your horse, begin by talking to your veterinarian, particularly if your horse takes any prescription medications. He or she can advise you on potential interactions and side effects and may have additional information to share. But don’t expect your vet to rattle off a list of studies supporting CBD use in horses; research is limited and most of what is currently known is anecdotal. Depending on where you live in the US, or if you’re in Canada, laws may even prohibit your vet from recommending or prescribing CBD, although he or she should still feel comfortable discussing it with you.

It is ultimately your responsibility to research the equine CBD supplements you’re considering. Product labels only tell part of the story. Scrutinize the supplier’s marketing materials, including their company website, to fully understand who is behind the company and how products are advertised. If a company is making direct or implied claims in any of their materials — including product names — that their products will treat, prevent, mitigate or cure any disease, they are breaking the law and misleading consumers. There are far too many opportunistic companies in the CBD space that have a “gold rush” mentality and will say anything to make a sale.

Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call the companies you’re considering. It is in your horse’s best interest to get answers to these important questions:

  • Does the supplier have a solid track record of producing equine supplements?
  • Does a veterinarian oversee product formulation, or does the company have a qualified animal care professional available to answer questions?
  • Can they provide lab test results that prove the product’s THC content is less than 0.3% as mandated by federal law, the CBD content meets label claims, and the products have been tested for microbial contaminants, heavy metals and pesticides?

The NASC Quality Seal is an excellent way to identify a product that comes from a responsible supplier. To earn permission to display this seal on their products, a supplier must pass a comprehensive facility audit every two years, maintain ongoing compliance with rigorous NASC quality requirements, and pass random independent product testing to ensure products meet label claim.

Finally — and very importantly — if you are an active competitor, it is important to note that CBD is not currently permitted under USEF rules. A positive test for CBD will result in a GR4 violation. The FEI also includes CBD in its list of prohibited substances. You are encouraged to carefully review the rules pertaining to CBD on the USEF and FEI websites.