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Can Pets Benefit from Cannabis?

Many pet owners are beginning to question if their companions may profit from cannabis. It's a subject that is gaining popularity in the pet world, with uses ranging from relieving pain and anxiety to enhancing appetite and general well-being.

But are all forms of the plant safe for your pets? Keep reading to learn more about cannabis use for your companions.

Can Pets Benefit From Cannabis?

Yes, pets may benefit from cannabis. 

The plant includes cannabinoids with therapeutic effects that may aid pets with various health concerns. This safe form of cannabis extract is CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid which means it doesn't provide the same "high" as THC. 

Many believe that THC is effectively toxic to pets. But, when used correctly, THC may help treat specific conditions like pain, anxiety and loss of appetite, according to a recent paper in Today's Veterinary Practice Journal. However, too much THC can lead to serious side effects that may require medical attention — hence the "toxic" misconception.  

It's essential to speak with a veterinarian knowledgeable about cannabis before giving it to your pet. But, generally, using products with low THC content and appropriate dosing helps prevent toxicity. 

Although, for pet owners who wish to provide their pets with the medicinal advantages of cannabis without the euphoric and adverse effects, CBD is a desirable alternative.

Understanding Cannabinoids: What Is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant that has become increasingly popular in recent years. It aids in treating medical conditions and diseases.  

CBD is available in various forms and produced and sold by many generating more than 4 billion in sales revenue in 2022. However, uncertainty remains around CBD's legality, quality, and safety. As a result, it is still under review by organizations and agencies such as the FDA.  

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently does not allow CBD in foods, beverages, or dietary supplements besides Epidiolex — an FDA-approved drug available to veterinarians under the Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act (AMCDUCA).  

This lack of clear direction from the FDA regarding products containing hemp-derived CBD causes reluctance in many business leaders to develop and manufacture CBD-related products. 

It has dampened industry demand for harvested hemp. However, hemp group members are optimistic going forward. They encourage legislation to incorporate language in the 2023 farm bill that would regulate CBD and other non-intoxicating hemp derivatives as dietary supplements, such as: 

  • CBC
  • CBG
  • CBN 

The policies surrounding CBD-infused food vary by state and region in the United States. Some states and localities have determined their policies, while others have chosen to align with the FDA's position.

Forms of Cannabis for Pets

Just like humans, our companions have the same options regarding cannabis products:

  • CBD Oil, which is ingestible or administered topically. 
  • There are also snacks and pills with CBD infused. 

The absorption of CBD varies depending on how it gets administered to dogs and cats. But, it's shown that giving CBD in an oil base is the most effective way to absorb it and that giving it in a soft chew treat is less effective. 

Not all CBD products are made equal, so it's crucial to do brand research and buy from trustworthy businesses that go through third-party testing and have good social standing. It guarantees the quality and purity of goods purchased.

CBD Effects on Pets:

A study aimed to determine the safety and effectiveness of CBD oil in dogs with osteoarthritis (OA). Overall, it suggests that CBD may be a safe and effective option for treating pain and increasing activity in dogs with OA. 

Another small study led by Dr. Stephanie McGrath, a neurologist at Colorado State University, found that CBD reduced the frequency of seizures in dogs by 89 percent. The findings suggest that CBD may be a promising alternative to existing anticonvulsive drugs for dogs with epilepsy.

How Cannabinoids Can Help With Various Pet Health Issues

Studies in dogs have explored and shown positive therapeutic effects in:

What Kinds of Pets Can Benefit From CBD?

CBD may have advantages for many animals since they also have an endocannabinoid system (ECS), including dogs, cats, horses, and birds. The ECS controls critical biological processes like feeding, pain, anxiety, inflammation, and immune function, and CBD binds to its receptors. 

Animals of all ages, from dog puppies and kittens to senior pets, may benefit from the plant's therapeutic benefits.

But it's crucial to remember that just as with us, all animals may react differently to dosages. Moreover, the concern increases since, technically, CBD still may contain trace amounts of THC in poor-quality brands.

Most believe that since we have a similar ECS to our companions, they may benefit from cannabis the same. However, there is limited research on the effects of CBD on pets, especially cats and other companions — most research focuses on dogs. 

Conditions of Cannabis on Pets: What To Expect

Although animal studies are limited, many — including veterinarian experts — conclude CBD helps pets with similar benefits to humans, such as: 

  • Feeling less anxiety and discomfort.
  • Having better appetites and sleep.
  • Having a better quality of life. 

The full benefits of cannabis may not manifest immediately, so it's crucial to be patient and keep an eye on your pet's development without exceeding recommended dosages. 

Topicals To Watch Out For: What To Avoid When Using Cannabis for Pets

Topicals are risky because pets may lick them off, leading to them ingesting something meant for external use. And it's vital to steer clear of topicals that include poisonous substances to animals, such as essential oils or those made for humans. 

Always seek items made especially for animals — ideally your companion's type — that contain components recognized as safe for animal use.

Interaction With Medications: How Cannabis Can Affect Pet Medications

Cannabis may interfere with other medications that pets take. For example, a study found that when administering a treatment of CBD in combination with trazodone, CBD appeared to weaken the anxiety-reducing effects of the drug.  

The study also found that CBD had other effects on heart rate and behavior, but it's unclear if these are relevant to the drug interaction or other factors.

Dos and Don'ts: Dosage and Safety Considerations for Cannabis and Pets

Remember a few things when including your pet in your medication sessions.

Do:

  • Always start with a low dose and increase it as needed. It's shown that effective dosages may range from 12.5 mg for every 5 pounds, but most will recommend scaling up or down from half mg for every five pounds. 
  • Consult a veterinarian. They can advise on any potential interactions and adjust the dosage of any medications if necessary.

Don't:

  • THC is hazardous to animals at high dosages; therefore, it's vital to limit giving your pet cannabis products that contain THC.
  • Additionally, it would be best if you refrained from providing your pet topicals that include essential oils or other substances that are hazardous to animals.

Brief Summary: Using Cannabis for Pets

Many pet owners are increasingly becoming interested in using cannabis to help with their pets' health concerns, such as pain, anxiety, and loss of appetite. CBD is a non-psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant that has become popular in recent years. It is considered safe for pets and is used to treat medical conditions and diseases. 

It is essential to speak with a veterinarian who is knowledgeable about cannabis before giving it to your pet and also ensure to purchase from trustworthy businesses that go through third-party testing and have good social standing.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, cannabis may be a practical therapeutic choice for animals dealing with various medical conditions. However, as with any therapy, it's crucial to keep an eye on your pet's development and change the dosage as necessary. But it is generally safe and effective for our animal companions when administered with the proper care and direction. 

Contact us or visit our news site for more educational and exciting blogs on cannabis. 

FAQ: Common Questions and Concerns About Using Cannabis for Pets

Can pets overdose on cannabis?

Given the extraordinarily high amount required to create an overdose with CBD, it is exceedingly unlikely that a pet would consume too much for an overdose. 

But it's crucial always to start low and gradually raise as necessary.

Will cannabis make my pet "high"?

CBC, CBD, CBG, and CBN are non-psychoactive, which means they don't provide the same "high" as THC. 

THC is toxic to pets at high doses but may have therapeutic effects, including pain relief when administered at safe, low dosages.

Is it safe to give my pet cannabis-infused treats?

Generally yes. However, it's crucial to buy cannabis-infused sweets from reliable businesses that verify the quality and purity of their goods via independent testing.

Can cannabis help with cancer-related symptoms in pets?

Based on current research, cannabis may potentially treat cancer-related symptoms in pets. Cannabinoids, such as CBD, have been shown to have antitumor activity in multiple canine cancer cell cultures in laboratory studies.  

However, it is essential to note that these studies were conducted in vitro (in a laboratory setting). Therefore, more research is needed to determine the translatability of these findings in vivo (in a living organism).