Over the last few years, cannabis has taken center stage in the medical field.
Long ago regarded as illegal, the plant has recently produced some amazing results when it comes to managing pain, seizures, spasms, arthritis, anxiety or even certain tumors.
Although further research is still being conducted to fully support the plant’s medicinal benefits to humans, the use of cannabis has now traversed and is being used by many to cure and manage certain illnesses suffered by pets.
Up to this point, cannabis was just something that could be prescribed to humans. Federal laws in the United States still do not allow veterinarians to discuss, much more, prescribe cannabis for pets. To go against this may result in the vet’s professional license being revoked.
As such, vets have apprehensions as to its prescription. Pet owners, on the other hand, have taken matters into their own hands on giving pets cannabis products for their illnesses.
While some pets may experience little to no effects at all, a huge percentage of those who had their pets try the plant have gone through major positive changes. Even BBC, on its December 2017 article, has written about dog owners who reported to have benefited from the plant that many refer to as the “wonder drug”.
And so if recently giving your pet medical cannabis has crossed your mind, here are a few important things you need to know first.
Marijuana and Hemp: What’s the Difference?
First and foremost, let’s get to know the difference between marijuana and hemp.
Both plants actually come from Cannabis Sativa — although it should be mentioned that the marijuana plant is sometimes also considered to belong to another cannabis family called: Cannabis Indica.
In total, the cannabis plant is composed of more than 50 chemicals known as cannabinoids: namely Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The cannabinoid most associated with medicinal powers is CBD while THC is best known for producing the psychoactive effects of marijuana (though THC has many medical benefits as well).
So the difference between the two plants is in the cannabinoid content. While marijuana has higher THC content which is about 10% to 15% or even more, hemp has more CBD content.
This makes hemp a better alternative when treating dogs and cats than marijuana. Besides, marijuana still has to obtain legal status in some states – a feat hemp has already achieved.
Either way, both plants have CBD.
At the end of the day, it is the CBD that we are all rooting for. It comes in many forms like tinctures, an ointment or even an edible and so no matter where the CBD is from, as long as it comes with very little or no THC content, you’re out of trouble.
As always, we recommend checking with your veterinarian and letting them know you are interested in using CBD or any other new product for your pet. While your vet may not be able to prescribe cannabis or CBD products for your pet, it will still be good for them to be aware of your planned usage.
Vets and Limitations
For decades, cannabis has been an illegal, schedule I drug. It was only in recent years that it was credited for its medicinal powers in humans.
Because of such benefits, more than half of the states in the US resorted to its legalization as an alternative medicine to treat and/or manage certain illnesses. Also, some states are already pushing for legislation that would allow the recreational use of the plant.
In the UK, cannabis oil is legal as long as its THC content is not more than 0.2%. Because of its legal status, it can be purchased anywhere in the country.
While humans have long enjoyed the benefits of medical cannabis, it has always been a different story for animals and pets.
As mentioned earlier, federal laws still draw a line to limit the prescription of medical cannabis to pets. It is thus important that veterinarians have a deep understanding of the legislation involving medical cannabis and its boundaries. Veterinarians should remember that violations could mean revocation of their professional licenses.
This is because while cannabis is known to be able to treat and manage illnesses in humans, biological differences may not give your pets the same results.
Further studies are still being done to provide results that could fully support the plant’s benefits for pets.
Human Dosage vs Pet Dosage
Because of biological differences, dosages which can be tolerated by humans may be harmful to pets.
Aside from other dangers you may be putting your pet into, there is also the risk of overconsumption of THC.
If you can remember what was discussed earlier, THC is the compound that causes the usual “high” experienced by humans who smoke weed. Overconsumption of such a compound may be dangerous or even fatal to your pet.
Of course, the CBD compound that is found in hemp and marijuana plants have exceptional benefits. It is only when there is more THC content than necessary that this becomes dangerous to pets.
Anyway, you may be wondering. How do you determine the right amount to give your pets?
Experts suggest that medicine should be ingested slowly. Start with a small amount of CBD. If there are no side effects, gradually increase the dosage of your daily CBD. But should there be adverse effects, stop giving your pet CBD right away and get your furry friend to the nearest vet.
And if you are one to quantify and measure everything that you give your pets or if you are someone who just wants to make sure the right amount is given, know that your pet’s weight is important to know when considering the amount of CBD you give. A 25 lb dog, for example, should receive more CBD drops than a 15 lb dog.
And for your convenience, there are calculators available online that would help you determine the right amount of CBD to give your pets.
Marijuana – Still a Drug
There’s a reason why we all have medicine cabinets. And there’s a reason why it’s always placed up and out of children’s reach.
This very same reason is also why we need to be careful with our marijuana stash, especially if we have kids or pets at home.
Remember that while marijuana has presented multiple awesome benefits to humans (and even to pets as most pet owners claim), marijuana is still one of the poisonous plants for pets and could potentially result in intoxication or overdose if not used right.
Leaving your marijuana stash just lying around is one of the most common causes of accidental consumption of the plant by pets. This could lead to your pet being high. In worst cases, your pets may even get intoxicated. This could sometimes be fatal. As pet owners, be careful about where you keep your stash.
Another way when a pet would be able to ingest marijuana in excess is through second-hand weed smoke or when it consumes food that contains marijuana leaves. This brings to mind edibles which are pastries and other tasty food items that actually contain marijuana.
As for the pets inhaling second-hand weed smoke, we will discuss more of that in a bit.
Weed… the Safer Way
As previously mentioned, there are biological differences between humans and animals. This is why CBD dosage to pets should be different from that of what is ingested by humans. This is also the reason why some methods applied by humans in getting the compound may not be applicable when giving it to pets.
One example is smoking weed. Animals have very sensitive lungs and so smoking weed in the presence of a pet, especially in a closed room, can be dangerous or even fatal. One thing to remember is that when smoking weed, make sure to do it away from pets.
If you are planning to give your pets CBD but don’t know how, here are three common ways:
CBD Topicals are ointments, lotions or even balms that can be externally applied to pets. This is good for pets with allergies and skin inflammations. The advantage of CBD topicals is that they are absorbed directly by the skin and do not go to the bloodstream.
Large amounts of the topicals may be applied to affected areas without cause for worry.
CBD Tinctures come in bottles and droppers. The dropper would make it easier for you to give the compound to your pet. Remember the calculator earlier? That works well with this method because you can easily calculate the number of drops that should be given to your pets depending on its weight.
CBD Edibles come in many forms, shapes, and flavors that would make it a treat for your pets to have one. Pets may think that this is just food, not knowing that the “treat” actually contains CBD.
Medical cannabis, however unconventional, is very promising.
It has received praises from medical professionals and the public alike for its benefits in treating and/or managing certain diseases in humans and pets.
As emphasized earlier, pets have different tolerance levels when it comes to chemicals ingested by their bodies as compared to their human counterparts. But it should also be highlighted that this is where the differences end. When it comes to diseases and illnesses, pets are often more the same than different to humans.
Pets also suffer from seizures, spasms, stress, anxiety, arthritis, and even cancer. And just like how human bodies react to CBD, most pet owners have also claimed that their furry friends responded positively well to cannabis products.
As such, it would be safe to conclude that whatever works for man as of this time may possibly work for pets as well, but with a different dose. And with the growing popularity of medical cannabis, this opens up a lot of potential in the field of veterinary care in the future.
Giving your pets cannabis products is a decision that you need to carefully think about.
While there are numerous claims of pet owners and of how their pets got better by ingesting CBD, you need to do a little bit more in terms of research before deciding.
Is this something that you need? What would be the manner by which you would like to give cannabis to your pet? Are there other alternatives?
Aside from these considerations, you must also remember that cannabis products are not 100% accepted by the world today. The medical field is just about to open its arms to this drug but some parts of the world are still taking baby steps in terms of getting rid of their hesitations and apprehensions.
Before deciding on medical cannabis, consider your current location. Is it even legal to use medical cannabis in the state or city where you’re currently living?
Because as much as you want the best for your pet, there is still one consideration you have to put into the forefront and that is your safety.
At the end of the day, you also have to make sure that you will not be getting into trouble with the cannabis products before giving it to your furry pal.
The information in this article is not medical advice. Please make sure to check with your veterinarian before you decide to use any CBD or cannabis products for your pets.
If you still have questions or are confused about anything, please leave a comment in the section below. We will do our best to help you out 🙂