Can the same cannabinoids that have been linked to a myriad of health benefits in humans do the same for dogs, cats, and other animals?
The cannabis industry is experiencing a surge in demand from an increasing number of people who are looking for an alternative to traditional pharmaceuticals. But it's not just for themselves; pet owners can also use cannabis products for their pets to help alleviate a variety of ailments they may be suffering from.
Where did the idea of using cannabinoids for animals come from?
One particular medical professional who has made it his mission to help animals benefit from the therapeutic effects of cannabis is Dr. Tim Shu, founder and CEO of VETCBD. Through his experience and vast knowledge of veterinary medicine combined with his expertise in medical cannabis, Dr. Shu was able to develop CBD products dedicated specifically to animals.
His work involving cannabis and pets has been given global attention as he continues to develop and market VETCBD's products.
Why Do People Use CBD and THC For Pets?
Pet owners administer THC and CBD to their pets for many of the same reasons that they may use these cannabinoids for themselves. THC and CBD products may be able to help pets deal with:
Like in humans, the cannabinoids in cannabis interact with the endocannabinoid system in animals. Cannabinoids like CBD or THC interact with receptors to treat various ailments. When these cannabinoids interact with these receptors, they can influence things such as pain, anxiety, and other elements mentioned above.
According to Dr. Shu, medical CBD does not have any serious side effects when dosed properly. For instance, CBD is not known to cause any damage to the liver, kidneys, or gastrointestinal tract, nor are animals sedated when using pet products of the like.
Administering the correct dose is crucial for owners to provide the desired effects without intoxicating the pet or increasing the risk of any side effects of taking too much CBD or THC. Just like with any other supplement or medication, accurate dosing is imperative. If dosed properly, pets may be able to experience a positive effect without any dangerous side effects.
That's why it's important to obtain high-quality products for pets and ensure accurate dosage to achieve the desired effects while minimizing the risks of toxicity.
The side effects of cannabis have more to do with THC toxicity than anything else. Overdosing on THC can cause potentially severe risks for animals. As one would imagine, THC can cause psychoactive effects in animals, essentially getting them high. Owners would do well to use the correct dosage and assure their pets are reaping the benefits of CBD and THC without any negative side effects that could come from cannabis plant derivatives.
Unfortunately, there's not enough research on the effects of cannabis in animals compared to the amount of research done on cannabinoids and humans. More specifically, any research that has been done on cannabis and animals tends to focus more on its potential toxic effects. Dogs, in particular, are believed to have more cannabinoid receptors in the brain compared to humans, so it's suggested that they may be more vulnerable to the toxic effects of THC than humans are.
It's the THC, in particular, that can be an issue. While CBD may be able to have positive effects on animals, high levels of THC should not be consumed by animals. While there have been some studies showing a positive relationship between CBD consumption and certain disorders in animals, you should tread carefully with giving THC to pets — many stick to using only CBD for pets to avoid any potential risk.
The effects of too much THC can last for days, depending on the level and concentration of THC consumed. During this time, the animal may have trouble standing, eating, or doing much of anything at all. Any time an animal is suspected to have consumed THC, the advice of a veterinarian should be sought.
The situation can be even worse if the THC consumed was in the form of an edible that has been mixed with other ingredients that are toxic to dogs. For example, chocolate, raisins, or coffee that are part of the ingredients list of the THC-laden edible can exacerbate symptoms and make the situation even worse. Owners should make sure products with toxic ingredients are secured and out of reach of cats and dogs.
As mentioned, proper dosage is crucial when administering medical cannabis to pets. It is always recommended to start with the smallest doses first to see if any negative reactions occur. Doses can then be increased in small increments until the desired effect is achieved with minimal risk to the animal.
Of course, it's important to do your homework before choosing a particular CBD product, especially those that have low levels of THC. Pet owners should speak with their vets in-depth about administering cannabis products to their pets — including dosage. While many vets might be hesitant to recommend cannabis as a mode of treatment, a discussion with a professional in the world of animal health and wellness should be had.
Further talks can be held with experts in the field of medical marijuana, particularly those who have experience with dosing animals. Pet owners who already have a medical marijuana card may want to visit a trustworthy and licensed dispensary and only purchase cannabis products that are best suited for their pet's needs as recommended by the experts behind the counter.
For those who do not reside in states where marijuana is legal, they may consider looking into hemp-based products that have no THC.
Like for humans, medical cannabis products for animals also come in various formats. That said, certain methods of administration may be easier than others. Here are the more common ways to give your pet medical cannabis:
Tinctures straight into the mouth - Using a dropper or syringe, you can administer CBD oil directly into your pet's mouth to be consumed orally. Pointing the syringe towards the back/side of the mouth will ensure that the cannabis oil is consumed without it being spit out.
Through pet treats - Cats and dogs love treats, and perhaps one of the easiest medical cannabis administration in pets is to provide your furry friend with a treat infused with CBD. They won't know the difference and will be happy to eat the CBD-treat they've been given. Many CBD edibles come in flavors that pets love, including liver and peanut butter. There are a variety of treats available for dogs and cats that have the correct dosage and are easily consumed.
It's one thing to read about cannabis medicine for pets and how it may or may not work for them. But it's quite another to hear first-hand testimonies from real-life people who have given CBD:THC tinctures to their pets and have had great experiences with them.
Take Foli Brand Ambassador Emily Plizak, for example. Her beloved cat suffers from seasonal and skin allergies, as well as asthma. Like humans, cats, like Emily's, sometimes require treatment to alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms that come with ailments such as these.
At first, Emily was hesitant to give her cat cannabis. She tried other treatments before turning to cannabis, including steroids and other pharmaceutical topicals. But she wasn't fond of the potential side effects of steroids, which can include dry mouth, nausea, diarrhea, and even weight gain. And since Molly was already a little overweight, Emily was worried that the steroid treatment would make things worse, especially since added body weight can exacerbate Molly's asthma.
Emily eventually got over her fears and decided to give cannabis a try, starting at very small doses to minimize any potential side effects. Using Emily’s experience as a testament to cannabis for pets, it seems to work well. And providing pets with the right dosage is extremely important in this situation, much like it would be with traditional medication.
For Molly, a cannabis product containing a 20:1 ratio of CBD:THC (250mg of CBD and 12mg THC in the whole bottle) seems to be working really well with no side effects.
Emily administers 1 mL of the tincture to Molly every day, and has been doing so for a couple of months with great success. Molly’s skin is far less irritated and dried out than it was before beginning the cannabis treatment. Emily also finds that the tincture has calmed her cat down and has even made her a sweeter, more content cat.
Many pet owners are nervous about giving their beloved pets cannabis to treat their ailments because they don’t know how it will affect their furry family members. It's always important to do your due diligence when it comes to giving pets medication, and when it comes to cannabis, the research just isn't sufficient enough to convince pet owners that cannabis is a safe and effective supplement to give their pets.
Cannabis has long shown promise as a health and wellness product for humans, and only recently has it been experimented with to help treat animals. While there are medications available to treat several ailments that pets may suffer from, there are also natural alternatives that may be experimented with great success, and cannabis may be one of them. As long as sound judgment is made and plenty of homework is done, pet owners may confidently administer cannabis to their furry friend to help keep them comfortable.