While the legal climate around cannabis is still quite diverse nationally, the industry continues to get more creative on applications for cannabis, including for your pets. Based on an interview with veterinarians in both Colorado and California, we’ve gained some important information regarding cannabis and your furry friend.
Can a veterinarian prescribe cannabis for my pet?
Legally, veterinarians are not allowed to prescribe cannabis as a medical treatment for your pet. However, there is a fine line between medical advice and educational information that must be honored in order for a vet to stay within the parameters of their practice. Since cannabis is not nationally recognized, it is not part of the training process for veterinarians, it is outside of their “scope of work”. They may offer educational materials or resources for inquisitive pet owners to do their own research, but may not legally be able to offer the plant as a medical solution.
How do you know if your pet needs cannabis?
National animal and cannabis studies have been limited, and the most informative studies are from pet owners’ perspectives. There are several ways that THC & CBD can positively benefit your animal. Much like in humans, positive interactions have been seen in dogs with anxiety, lack of appetite, tumor growth, arthritis, seizures, and more. Pet owners who have administered cannabis have reported less manic behaviors like excessive chewing, barking, or tearing things up due to separation anxiety. With older pets, many have noted that it can also help with improving loss of appetite.
How do you dose your pet?
This is a loaded question (especially since you can’t technically ask your vet). There are a few things to understand about pets (dogs in particular) and the cannabis plant. Unlike humans, pets seem to experience the psychological effects of the plant through ingestion of raw plant material like buds and leaves. *An important thing to note for home grower pet parents! Pets can also get high from secondhand smoke. Typically, they are given some type of ingestible, like infused coconut oil or an oil-based tincture. This option makes it simple to administer and monitor dosage. You can add it straight to their food, or place it directly into their mouth. Please note what foods to avoid feeding your pet. As far as amount to offer, start low as every dog will have different needs, usually correlating to weight and age. If you worry about your pet being high, CBD is a great non-psychoactive alternative to THC. Hemp products will still offer cannabinoids without getting them high.
Where do I start?
Tinctures or oils are a great place to start because you can put it straight into the pet food. If you don’t have a picky eater, they should happily eat it all. As far as dosage, start small with 5mg or less and monitor the effects it has on your pet. Much like humans, the effects will gradually increase over the first 1-2hrs and you wouldn’t want to get your pet uncomfortably high… we’ve all been there and it’s not fun. Start small and give ample time for effects to set in. If you notice no difference, offer a few more milligrams (don’t add more than 5mg at a time).
If you notice your dog is leaning or unable to balance, panting heavily or super slowly, lethargic, has loss of urinary control, or other concerning side effects, you may have given your pet too much. You can call your vet to ask for advise, but just like us, often there is little that can be done except wait it out.
You can also call the Pet Poison Hotline. Again, do not get your pet too high, as this is meant to be medical relief and not torture.
Hopefully, this gives you a bit more insight on cannabis for your pet, and whether or not you might want to consider including the plant in their health regimen. We look forward to new studies and findings around how this plant can support us and our favorite fur children as we age into life. If you’re looking to further your research, start with a few of these studies and then ask your vet their “personal opinion” on the matter. Personal opinion is not medical advice, and while everyone is different, we are seeing a large expansion in cannabis-friendly thought patterns in our veterinarian friends.