America’s Pet Owners Seek Cannabis for Their Pets
- Pet owners claim cannabis-based extracts, ointments and edibles lead to drastic improvements in pets once debilitated by arthritis, seizures, anxiety and other ailments
- Federal and state laws can make it difficult for veterinarians to access cannabis products for pets, and many are reluctant to discuss it with their clients
- One study found that 2 mg/kg of cannabidiol (CBD) twice daily can help increase comfort and activity in dogs with osteoarthritis
- Researchers are also looking into the efficacy of CBD for the treatment of epilepsy in dogs
- If you can’t find cannabis products, or are unable to legally obtain them, hemp-based products, which are high in CBD, may be a viable alternative
Research on cannabis for pets is sparse at best, but it’s an area with growing interest. Veterinarians interested in recommending cannabis (and pet owners interested in trying it) will be pleased to know that research by Cornell University supports the use of CBD oil in dogs with osteoarthritis.
In fact, the study found that 2 mg/kg of CBD twice daily can help increase comfort and activity in dogs with the condition. Dogs with osteoarthritis given CBD oil showed a significant decrease in pain and increase in activity, and no side effects were reported by owners. The researchers are now looking at the usefulness of CBD oil in cats, and additional studies are planned to uncover whether CBD oil is effective in pain management, behavior management, for feline pain and for cancer patients.
At the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, meanwhile, researchers are looking into the efficacy of CBD for the treatment of epilepsy in dogs. Each dog in the study will receive either CBD oil or a placebo for 12 weeks, then switch to the opposite treatment for another 12 weeks.
This study is still accepting participants; in order to qualify dogs must be diagnosed with epilepsy, have at least two seizures per month and be treated with conventional anticonvulsants.
If you cannot find cannabis products, or are unable to legally obtain them, an alternative that’s available across the US is hemp-based products. Although they contain no THC, hemp products are high in CBD, giving them therapeutic potential.
In Y 2014, the Agricultural Act of 2014 (the Farm Bill) was signed into law.
This bill allowed for the study and cultivation of industrial hemp on a limited basis. The following year, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015 was passed, which allowed US farmers to grow and cultivate industrial hemp more widely, and also removed it from the controlled substances list as long as it contains no more than 0.3% THC.
If you will be using hemp or cannabis, be sure to start slowly with a low dose, only increasing it gradually while observing for side effects and efficacy.
Side effects such as vomiting or diarrhea, or problems with equilibrium, may indicate you need to reduce the dosage or stop treatment. Generally speaking, though, cannabis products may be useful for treating many of the same conditions in pets that they’re used for in people, including cancer, anxiety, arthritis, seizures and stress.
If you’re considering using a cannabis product in your pet, try to get a “Certificate of Analysis” which should show you how much THC it contains (it should never be over 0.3%), how it’s made and whether it’s organic and free of pesticides and other chemicals. As for how to administer the products, CBD is best absorbed via your pet’s oral mucus membrane, which is why using a liquid tincture that’s dropped on your pet’s tongue may be preferable.
For more information, Dr. Silver’s book (“Medical Marijuana & Your Pet: The Definitive Guide”) is an excellent resource. In the video above, you can also learn more about using hemp-based CBD oil specifically for cats in my interview with Dr. Celeste Yarnall.
By Dr. Karen S. Becker
Paul Ebeling, Editor