Would You Give Your Dog Medicinal Cannabis?

Giving your dog medical cannabis

Image Credit: Lui Peng on Unsplash

Canada has recently legalized medical and recreational cannabis. A few states (29) have also legalized cannabis (mainly for medical purposes only). This is due to the potential therapeutics the cannabis plant may offer for treating a wide range of medical conditions, physical and mental. Since it may benefit us humans, pet owners, and even veterinarians are looking into treating pets such as dogs, cats, and horses with medical cannabis and CBD oil (cannabidiol). However, access to medical cannabis for our furry friends is a lot more complicated. This is because medical cannabis laws are so far, only for humans and do not apply to pets. Veterinarians also don’t have a license for prescribing cannabis to their patients and recommending them to patients could end up causing a lot of trouble.

The Science Behind Cannabis and Cannabidiol

Researchers have discovered from various studies that cats, dogs, and horses have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) just like we do. Which could mean that cannabis and CBD oil could have benefits on your dogs’ health if cannabis works in conjunction with it. Similarly, we share many common traits with dogs, including illnesses such as; seizures disorders, anxiety, arthritis and more. Just like we do.

There is a lot of anecdotal data on cannabis and CBD for dogs. While there is anecdotal data, and no in-depth studies, pet owners have already begun treating their dogs’ medical conditions with cannabis or to make them feel more comfortable. CBD’s and cannabinoids (the name given to molecules found in the cannabis and hemp plants) have a strong affinity for the brain and nervous tissue. They rapidly cross the blood-brain barrier. Doctor Rob Silver, a veterinarian for over 30 years in Colorado stated;

Many applications that regards anxiety is one there’s evidence and it can be helpful with certain kinds of epilepsy although it may not work as a standalone to treat epilepsy.

There are plenty of YouTube videos of pet owners documenting themselves giving medical cannabis and CBD oil to their pets along with many veterinarians talking about the uses, benefits, side effects and whether CBD oil works for dogs.

Things to Consider Before Giving Your Dog CBD

Avoid using high levels of THC – Hemp is from the cannabis family, yet it is very different to the cannabis plant. Hemp has very low levels of THC (the psychoactive-compound) and has very high levels of CBD. CBD has more medical applications than THC does and studies have shown that dogs are extremely sensitivity towards THC. So finding products based around low levels of THC and high levels of CBD is recommended and going the hemp route rather than the cannabis route is a safer option. Look for products that only have traces of THC, or even better, products with “no detectable” THC.

Know the side effects and warning signs – While CBD has undergone pre-clinical and clinical trials in humans, there hasn’t been the same amount of research on CBD for dogs. With that being said, knowing the side effects of CBD could help you identify any problems your dog is having. People have reported side effects of CBD such as;

  • Low Blood Pressure
  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Tremors

Do your research – When it comes to methods of consuming and dosages for your dog, make sure that you do your research. This also applies when purchasing CBD oil products. Remember that cheap isn’t always a good thing and it’s easy to fall for unsubstantiated claims and marketing hypes. In fact, cheap products are generally a sign of a cheap and quick way of extracting CBD from the cannabis plant as it involves using butane and hexane (solvents) which leave a toxic residue. This is why it’s important to look into FDA approved CBD, or look at the reviews of CBD products. While looking at the positive reviews, do take note of the negative, they might be helpful. After looking at the product, do a little background check on the company, see what they are all about. Are they professional? Have they veterinarian, doctor, scientific staff?

It is vital to consider the pros and cons of CBD before giving it to your pet. However, the dosage of CBD and other medicines that we consume would be totally different for a dog. As well as this, there isn’t a lot of research completed with humans, let alone dogs. Therefore, veterinarians cannot prescribe cannabis related items to your dog. The only evidence that we have to know if CBD works on dogs is in behavioral changes; a stoppage to whimpering or stops panicking when left alone.

Document the process – So, you’ve started to use CBD on your dog. Here’s where you should start keeping a journal, making notes on the dosing, methods and your dog’s behavior. This will help you to determine whether it’s got a positive effect on your dog or not. Maybe even ask people who know your dog, or don’t see them often enough to evaluate whether they have noticed a positive or negative difference.

How to Give CBD to Your Dog

CBD-infused dog treat – There is a wide variety of CBD infused dog treats available and it’s advised to give your dogs low amounts, to begin with. This will help test how your dog deals with it. CBD dog treats are one of the most common ways for your dog to consume CBD, but make sure that you do your research on the product.

Tinctures – Most CBD products come in tincture forms and it is one of the most common ways for humans to ingest it. Dogs could also take it in tincture form, but some training will have to be done initially. Make sure that when you have training your dog to take CBD in tincture form, that you reward them with their favorite treat afterward! If they are stubborn, and it’s turning out to be more effort than you thought, try adding the recommended dose of the tincture form directly into their food bowl, mixing it with their favorite food.

CBD capsules – You could also give your pet CBD oil or capsules either by hand or added to their dog food if they are picky eaters. Again, it is recommended to start with low doses until you get a sense of how your dog is reacting to it. Dogs aren’t crazy about capsules, and it might not be the best form, but if nothing else is working, this is an option.

Giving CBD to your dog could be beneficial if done correctly and safely. Since a dog cannot tell us of their pain, we want to help in whatever ways we deem fit. Each human can react to medicine differently and the same goes for our canine companions. Since there is not yet enough research done on this topic, we would advise that if you are considering giving your dog any CBD products, to please consider discussing this with a veterinarian.

Please remember that we are talking about CBD, not medical cannabis. The THC component can be toxic to dogs at high levels, and since we do not know the correct dosage to give to animals, make sure you purchase items not containing this. This means that your dog will not experience any negative intoxication or feelings of paranoia.

Niamh Tumilty
Niamh Tumilty
Niamh Tumilty is a writer and multimedia producer for cannabisMD where she is constantly evaluating the continued growth of CBD and its presence in the news. Her research and writing on cannabis and CBD can be found at niamhtumilty.com.

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