Medical marijuana has benefits for a variety of different medical conditions. Residents in some states can receive a medical marijuana recommendation for anything from HIV/AIDS and epilepsy, to cancer and glaucoma, or any other condition that your doctor diagnoses as debilitating.
While it’s a useful tool for human health, new research is beginning to emerge that suggests the use of low-THC cannabis can be effective in relieving pain in our pets as well. Can medical marijuana actually be beneficial for your pets?
Medicine Spans Species
Medicine originally created for humans often finds use in veterinary medicine as well. For instance, we’ve seen painkillers like Tramadol and antihistamines like Benadryl used to help our pets feel better.
Unfortunately, many of these medications can come with negative side effects that aren’t limited to human beings. While Tramadol can reduce pain, it also tends to make you feel sluggish and lethargic. Tramadol, when given to a dog, induces the same lethargic state, leaving once-lively animals languishing in their beds.
The medication is not FDA approved for use in animals, yet it is one of the more commonly prescribed pain medications for pets.
Hemp vs. Marijuana
First and foremost, a disclaimer: This is not an open license to smoke a joint and blow the smoke in your dog’s face. Second hand smoke is bad for everyone, no matter how many feet you have.
What pet owners are using for their pets isn’t the THC-heavy cannabis that many use in their joints and edibles. Instead, hemp and hemp-related products are providing the therapeutic benefits of cannabidoil (CBD), the active ingredient in marijuana that has medical benefits.
Hemp has little to no THC content — by law it has to have a THC content of 0.3% or less, where marijuana and related products have a THC content of 10-15%. It is higher in CBD than most strains of marijuana, though.
Cannabis for Dogs and Cats
Pet owners in states that have legalized medical marijuana have started looking into the benefits of hemp for their pets. Currently, no states have any laws on the books concerning the use of medical marijuana for pets, though Nevada did try to pass a law. It, however, never made it out of the legislature.
The FDA also has not looked into medical marijuana for animals, but that hasn’t stopped many pet owners from looking into acquiring hemp supplements for their pets.
One company, Canna Companion, markets hemp supplements for pets. The company claims that the supplements help with many ailments in both humans and animals, such as arthritis, glaucoma, cancer treatments, and many others.
As with many medical marijuana products, much of the information currently available is anecdotal — firsthand accounts of pet owners who have utilized these products and have seen improvement in their pets. One study completed in 2016 determined that 64% of pet owners found that cannabis or hemp products helped their pets dramatically.
Like many forms of medical cannabis for humans, hemp products for dogs aren’t designed to get your pets high. It’s not catnip, after all.
Instead, the high concentration of CBD acts as a pain reliever and anti-inflammatory, helping to improve quality of life. If used properly, it can be a great tool.
Just don’t feed your pets your high-THC edibles. Some studies completed in the 1970s found that dogs have the highest number of THC receptors in their brain of any studied mammal — even more than human beings. It wouldn’t take much to get your dog high, and that could be both confusing and very dangerous for them.
If you believe your pet would benefit from the use of medical marijuana and you have access to it, make sure to discuss it with a licensed veterinarian, and that you acquire a hemp supplement or other similar low-THC product. It’s also important to closely monitor your pets for signs of adverse reactions, just like you would with any other new medication. If they start to behave strangely or out of character, discontinue the treatment.
Our pets are a part of our family, and just as we would do with our human family members, we want to do anything in our power to make sure that they are safe, happy, and healthy.
Medical marijuana or hemp supplements could be a great way to ensure that our dogs and cats can live happier, more comfortable, and potentially longer lives when they’re dealing with major health problems. Just make sure you are carefully checking the products that you are giving to your pets to make sure that the THC levels are as low as possible.
And once more, because it bears repeating — your dog does not need your secondhand pot smoke. Don’t blow smoke into your pet’s face, no matter what you’re smoking. It’s not good for them, and it just makes you look like a jerk.