Medical Cannabis for Pets
Posted on March 4th 2019
Why I Should Have Given Medical Cannabis to my Dog
In the last years of her life, my dog Jelly had a bad case of arthritis.
She couldn’t run like she used to. Getting up and down the stairs was difficult.
It’s hard seeing your pet in pain. It’s even harder when you feel as if there’s nothing you can do to help them.
Back then, medical cannabis for pets wasn’t an option. The whole idea was totally unheard of.
But if I’d had legal access to it, I would have gotten her some.
Why Would You Give Cannabis to Your Pet?
It sounds nuts. Like one of those things you’d read on a fringe, alternative health site that also claims that you can cure fish allergies by snorting sea salt up your nose three times a week.
But this is different.
A lot of people are using cannabis to treat their pets. There’s a whole market within the cannabis industry that deals specifically with pet products, and it’s getting media attention.
But is there a basis for this?
Consider this: medical cannabis has been legalized for human use. And cats and dogs suffer from some of the same types of illnesses that humans do such as:
- Skin disorders
- Chronic pain
Now...human and animals don’t have the same types of bodies, so it doesn’t follow that if humans can benefit from medical cannabis, so can animals.
But humans and dogs are similar enough that they can both take certain brand name drugs. For example, our veterinarian told us to give my dog 500 mg of Tylenol after a really bad arthritis flare up.
So Why Not Just Give Your Pet Standard Prescription Drugs?
In many of the anecdotal accounts I’ve come across, pet owners turned to cannabis after they’ve tried prescription medications.
It’s not that the prescription meds didn’t work. It’s that the side effects were so powerful that they were ruining the quality of the pet’s life.
With pain medication, for example, a typical side effect is sedation. Pet owners reported that their pets lost their energy, and in some cases, even their appetite.
Desperation has forced people to turn to medical cannabis. Especially in the cases of terminally ill pets, where the owners figure they have nothing to lose.
Can You Give Regular, “Human-Made” Cannabis to Your Pet?
As fun as you might think it would be to hot-box your cat, THC is highly toxic to animals. Dogs have ended up in the hospital after getting into their owners’ edible stash.
Cannabis pet products rely exclusively on the cannabinoid CBD, which is non-psychoactive. It has many of the same benefits as THC (pain relief, anti-inflammation), only it doesn’t make your pets high.
Will Your Vet Prescribe Cannabis?
The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) released a statement advising people against treating their pets with CBD, citing lack of research. They also say that vets aren’t actually allowed to prescribe CBD products.
Some vets agree with the CVMA assessment and will refuse to prescribe CBD to your pet.
But there are 'outlier' vets who are bucking the system and telling people about the benefits of CBD.
Ultimately, you have to decide what’s best for your pet.
The CVMA is totally justified in its wariness of CBD. But the anecdotal evidence is pretty compelling.