Cannabis and Your Pets

Cannabis is becoming a widely utilized method for treating pain, inflammation, anxiety, cancer, seizures and other ailments, in humans. As with the human body, all mammals possess an endocannabinoid system.

When cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, are taken into the body they act on receptors in the endocannabinoid system. Mammal’s bodies naturally produce cannabinoids, but in many disease processes, cannabinoid levels may become unbalanced.

Many (mammal) pet owners are now turning to CBD infused products to help their furry friends. Here’s everything pet parents should know about treating their animal.

What is CBD Oil?

CBD Oil is liquid derived from the cannabis plant. Dr. Tim Shu, founder and CEO of a pet cannabis company in California stated, “the cannabis flower contains trichomes, which are glands that have essential oils. Once the glands are separated from the plant, they can be formulated to find the ideal ratio of cannabinoids.”

Cannabis plants contain 80 different cannabinoids, including THC, the psychoactive component, and CBD, the medical component. When you use cannabinoids together, it’s more effective than when used separately. Hemp products on their own contain less than .3% THC.

If dosed properly, CBD Oil will not have a psychoactive effect on animals.

What are the Benefits of Cannabis Oil for Pets?

CBD and cannabis oils can be used to treat a number of health-related issues in mammals. It has shown to be effective against nausea, stress, anxiety, arthritis, symptoms of cancer, seizures, and gastrointestinal issues.

Unlike some traditional medicines given to animals, such as NSAIDs for Arthritis, CBD infused products will not damage the kidney, liver or gastro intestinal tract. The animals will not be sedated, and many owners often see an improvement in the animal’s energy levels.

To administer CBD products, most owners will give the medication orally, whether it be directly given or hidden in food. Once absorbed, the CBD acts on endocannabinoid receptors, and the effects are fairly immediate.

It is extremely important to properly dose your animal’s medication. Consult with a Veterinarian or other licensed pet professional to determine the correct dosage information.

What are the Potential Risks?

As with any medication, overdosing can lead to potential risks for pets. The most significant risk is THC toxicity, meaning, the animal gets “high”. The effects of THC toxicity can last for days, or even weeks. If experiencing THC toxicity animals may not be able to stand or eat. If you suspect that your pet has been overdosed consult a Veterinarian immediately.

Most pet owners are choosing, instead, to treat their pets with CBD as opposed to THC. Because CBD is non-psychoactive, the risk of overdosing an animal decreases.

One of the biggest problems faced when treating pets with cannabinoids is that there is a lack of research as to the proper dosing of animals. Cannabis has reportedly killed numerous dogs when dosing was not correct. Therefore, great care should be taken when medicating a pet.

There is currently one study being conducted by Dr. Huntingford, in Essex, which is looking at the effects of CBD oil in dogs. The trial is researching the effects of CBD oil on dogs with diagnosed arthritis in one limb. It is a double-blind trial, with half of the participants being administered CBD oil, while the other half are administered a placebo. The study has demonstrated significantly positive outcomes with CBD treatment, although the research is still 64 more trials away from the treatment being approved for use by Health Canada. Should the product finish its trials and be approved, it will be available for Veterinarians to prescribe to their patients.

Case Examples

Australian holistic veterinarian Dr. Edward Bassingthwaighte says he’s been amazed at the success he’s had treating some dogs with cannabis. The following are two cases he has been directly involved in.

One case is a senior Stafford Terrier who had a fast-growing tumor about 6 cm in diameter in her mammary gland. Chest x-rays showed there might be metastasis. Dr. Bassingthwaighte treated her with CBD oil and some other herbal medicines. The tumor shrank away to nothing over three months and she’s still going strong six months later, with no recurrence. She’d had multiple tumors surgically removed over the years, but it was the CBD Oil that really helped her.

The other case is a little old Jack Russell with a severe heart murmur and painful arthritis. He received a whole plant extract containing CBD and, in this case, also some THC, diluted in 10 ml of cold pressed hemp seed oil. After a month of this medicine he was much happier and more active, wanting to go for long walks, and his heart murmur was much less severe. Dr. Bassingthwaighte says “I simply can’t explain the improved heart murmur. They normally don’t get better.”

Dr. Bassingthwaighte suggests working with your holistic vet if you think cannabis would help your dog – it’s powerful medicine so at least let your vet know what you’re doing.

The Right Medicine for Pets

Due to increased risk of THC toxicity in pets, they should be given a hemp-based CBD infused product, as the hemp plant contains less than .3% THC. Cannabis based CBD products may contain up to 10% THC and should be used with caution. Animals have an increased sensitivity to THC compared to humans.

There are many CBD clinics popping up all over Canada. These clinics sell hemp-based CBD oils, and many offer a specific line of products designed for animals. Typical dosage for animals is 70-100mg hemp-based CBD, 5-15 drops per day. The CBD oil can be put into a pet’s water supply, mixed in with food, or given directly. Before administering any cannabinoid product, it is wise to check with a Veterinarian.