Canines, Cats, and Cannabidiol (CBD oil) – Medical Marijuana for Pets?
If your furry friend has been suffering from a disease or illness for months or even years, you're likely willing to try anything to help your dog get better. One novel treatment approach you may have heard of is medical marijuana.
Naturally, if you’ve heard of people giving cannabis to their pets you may be wondering if cannabis is actually a safe, viable option for your pet.
Given the fact that a myriad of serious illnesses are now being attributed to Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CECD) – a condition that is treatable with cannabidiol (CBD) – logic dictates that endocannabinoid deficiency may also play a significant role in various pet-related diseases and disorders.
So… Does My Dog Have to Smoke Weed?
When people think of medical cannabis for pets, they may have the comical image of giving a dog or cat a ‘joint’ to smoke. In the same vein, some of you may know someone that has blown a cloud of marijuana smoke into their dog’s face and laughed about the dog being ‘stoned’ (or you may be guilty of this yourself). Not only is this behavior immature, marijuana is toxic to dogs and other animals. [S]
That’s because recreational cannabis contains THC, the compound responsible for the ‘high’ and mind-altering effects users feel from smoking marijuana. Contrary to popular belief (and fear), CBD is not capable of giving your pet a ‘high.’
It’s important to find CBD that originates in agricultural or medicinal hemp – unique cannabis plants cultivated for their rich content of CBD and other cannabinoids, with very little to no THC. Hemp CBD oil is non-psychotropic, and to be legal it must contain less than 0.3% THC (which is far, far below the amount needed to induce mind-altering effects).
CBD for pets usually comes in the form of yummy, edible treats in flavors that appeal to animals (but may also simply be in tincture form). Treatibles is our most popular supplier of pet-formulated CBD products, but there are quite a few vendors offering premium quality CBD for pets these days.
Benefits of CBD for Pets
As of this writing, the American Veterinary Medical Association hasn't taken an official stance on medical marijuana for pets. However, there have been many successful cases of the use of medical cannabis to help pets with diseases or illnesses.
One interesting study proves the importance of cannabinoids in animals by showing that male European starlings with higher expressions of CB1 receptors sang more to females, and exhibited higher dominance in nesting sites.
In addition, the ailments experienced by aging humans and animals can be quite similar. Some of the human maladies for which CBD’s use has solid scientific research backing include:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Parasitic Infections
- Bacterial Infections
- Skin Problems
Considering the similarity of endocannabinoid receptors in humans and animals, it makes sense that CBD could treat these conditions as effectively in dogs, cats, and other furry or feathery friends.
And there is no shortage of anecdotal reports from pet owners the world over:
“…a senior Staffordshire Terrier had a 6cm mammary tumor and metastasis that disappeared in three months and didn’t come back.”
“…a Jack Russell terrier had a severe heart murmur and painful arthritis and, after a month, he wanted to go for long walks and his murmur was much improved.”
“That night, she gave Tinkerbell a dose of CBD oil before bed and the next morning she was walking, using the bathroom on her own again, and had no seizures! She marvels, ‘we are still not sure how it all works, but CBD has kept our little girl alive for a year-plus longer than we expected!’”
“…the bloating went down. She had more energy. After three weeks, she was down to her normal body size, and by week four she was running around the house and you’d never know she was on death’s door.”
“I use it on my feral foster, whom I couldn't even touch because of her anxiety. She's been on it for six months, and I can touch her, put a leash on and off her, and she will come when I call her!”
“I've seen definite improvement and no one acts ‘drugged’ or listless. It's very gentle, unlike synthetic pharmaceuticals and all the dogs who have had bloodwork recently are doing well… their numbers look better than they ever have.”
“…the next day, we had HUGE thunderstorms. Worse than I could remember. I was afraid to try the CBD oil, so I used his melatonin treats. They didn't seem to work. He was so upset and terrified, I decided to try the oil. Within about 10-15 minutes, Cubbie was laying by our feet on the couch as we watched TV and listened to the thunder roll. It was amazing. I have not used it since as we have no had any more big storms, but I have it ready to go and would recommend it to anyone!”
How Much CBD Should You Give to a Dog?
When it comes to dosing CBD in humans, the situation is complicated (see our page on dosing for more on that) for a variety of reasons. Primarily, CBD is what is known as a biphasic compound – meaning that is has drastically different effects at low doses versus at high doses.
The bottom line is that more CBD is not always better. In the case of severe issues like seizures, higher doses appear to be most effective. However, with something like anxiety, a low-to-medium dose will likely serve your pet much more effectively.
Here are some general guidelines for giving your pet CBD oil:
First, consult with your veterinarian to ensure that CBD won’t interfere with your pet’s current medications or health conditions.
If all is good, start with 1mg of CBD per every 10 lbs. of an animal’s body weight, once or twice a day.
Generally, it’s good to start small, and gradually increase the amount of CBD every week until you see your desired benefits.
Stay with your pet for several hours after giving them CBD to ensure they are okay.
CBD is itself non-toxic, and so the most important thing to keep in mind is that “overdosing” on CBD will not result in fatalities. The most commonly reported side-effects for CBD in animals are sedation and over-active appetites.
Where issues usually arise is in contaminated products – that is, products that have high levels of contaminants like heavy metals, residual solvents, and other byproducts of cheap and hasty CBD extraction. The FDA has warned that pet owners should be cautious when it comes to purchasing and using medical cannabis. So don’t be afraid to request current third-party lab test results from CBD pet product vendors! Reputable companies will happily provide them. (Or, of course, you can always refer to CBD Oil Review for up-to-date reviews and research!)
Fun fact: In the future, veterinarian-assisted CBD administration methods such as intravenous (IV) injection of water-soluble CBD may be favored, as the bioavailability of oral CBD in dogs is quite low. [S]
Limitations of Medical Marijuana for Pets
As you may already know, medical marijuana is now legal in a majority of states in America; in fact, there are a growing number of states where “adult use” marijuana is also legal. Despite the growing acceptance of cannabis as medicine, it is currently illegal in most states and is definitely available for a veterinarian to prescribe to his or her patients.
An important note: in some places where medical marijuana is legal, it is unlawful to administer to pets. To counter this several bills in state legislatures aim to make it legal for pet owners to provide this medicine to their sick animals, but not all states have progressive view on cannabis for pets.
To complicate matters, in states where medical marijuana is legal there has been a substantial increase in the number of pets going to the emergency room due to the toxic effects of THC. In most cases, these emergency room visits happen due to either to negligence (for example, a dog gets into a bag of edibles) or to pet owners’ general ignorance about THC’s effects on pets.
Due to the lack of information available on medical cannabis, it is rather easy for a pet owner to overdose their pets. While medical marijuana has been shown to be beneficial in VERY small amounts, the use of medical marijuana that’s high in THC can be toxic or even deadly for most pets. Fortunately, overdose is generally not a concern when using CBD products – especially hemp CBD products that are specifically manufactured to have little-to-no THC at all.
Should You Try CBD for Your Pet?
As you can see, medical marijuana and hemp CBD are simply two of many treatments that you may want to consider for your pet, whether they’re experiencing symptoms like separation anxiety or even more serious conditions for which nothing else has worked.
While you shouldn't ever expect cannabis to be a panacea, CBD may be able to put your pet on the road to recovery for some illnesses or maladies.
At the very least, CBD may help relieve some of your pet's symptoms and make life easier for you and your pet overall. Most likely, hemp CBD can help your pet live a far more fulfilling and healthier life than he or she otherwise might experience.
So if you’re interested in trying CBD for your dog, cat, or even your horse, remember these three rules:
- Talk to your vet first. CBD can affect the metabolism of many important medications (for pets and for humans), so it’s crucial to have a chat with your vet to make sure your pet isn’t in harm’s way.
- Once you get the green light, start slow. There are many tasty CBD pet products that allow you to dose small – 1 mg of CBD per 10 lbs of body weight is the gold standard.
- Stay with your pet for 2-3 hours after giving them CBD. While CBD is incredibly non-toxic, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your pet after introducing something new to their diet.