How cannabidiol is changing the pet treat industry

dvm360dvm360 December 2019
Volume 50
Issue 12

Cannabidiol has recently crossed over to the pet market, and revenue is expected to grow to $6.7 billion by the end of the year. Are you watching this, veterinarians?



From grain-free to organic, pet treat ingredients continually evolve to meet the growing demands of pet owners. This is a trend veterinarians need to follow to stay in touch with clients, even if only to answer the occasional question.

“Pet treats have come a long way in the past 20 years," says David Sprinkle, research director for market research firm Packaged Facts, in a recent issue of the trade journal Pet Food Processing. Pet store aisles now mirror snack aisles at supermarkets, with many products positioned as being ‘better for your pet.' “Limited-ingredient products, grain-free options and superfood ingredients are all in high demand, with innovative new product entries hitting the market on a regular basis,” he says.

The increased desire by pet owners to feed their pets “natural” and nutrient-dense treats might explain why the U.S. pet treat market is expected to grow to $6.7 billion in revenue by the end of 2019, a 3.1% increase from 2018, according to Packaged Facts.

One driver of this pet treat growth is, of course, cannabidiol (CBD). Many pet owners are embracing the idea of using CBD to help improve their pet's overall health and treat a variety of health conditions such as anxiety, digestive issues, chronic pain, mobility issues, inflammation or skin irritation.

Based on a 2019 survey, Packaged Facts reported that 39% of dog owners and 34% of cat owners like the idea of CBD for pets, 29% of both dog and cat owners are interested in purchasing CBD pet supplements, and 11% of dog owners and 8% of cat owners have already given CBD or hemp treats to their pets.

“CBD supplements are in high demand in human markets, credited with treating conditions ranging from anxiety to asthma. The use of CBD has crossed over into the pet market, with usage spiking after the passage of the most recent Farm Bill in December 2018, which took a significant step towards separating hemp and hemp-derived CBD from marijuana-based products,” Sprinkle told Pet Food Processing.

Although the FDA has approved one cannabis-derived and three cannabis-related drugs for use in humans (with a prescription), it has not approved hemp-derived substances for use in animals. Currently, no CBD products can be  marketed legally for animal consumption. As a result, animal and pet food companies interested in using hemp or CBD in their products have been advised to proceed with caution.

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