Pet Owners Turn To Medical Marijuana To Treat Their Pets

Lori Ennis
by Lori Ennis
More American states are legalizing medicinal marijuana, and more pet owners are now treating their pets with cannabis-based medicines as a source of relief from symptoms.

Medical marijuana is legal in 28 states, though still illegal under United States federal law. As more humans turn to marijuana based treatments for their own conditions, some are finding that their pets are also experiencing relief when treated as well. Pet owners are using cannabis-based extracts, ointments and treats for issues that range from anxiety and arthritis to cancer.

Related: The National Canine Cancer Foundation: Dedicated To Finding A Cure

Because it the use of cannabis based products is illegal under federal law, there has been little research done with regard to its potential for help in humans or animals. Because of this veterinarians say there isn’t enough science to prove that cannabis is safe, or even effective in the treatment of animals, and they cannot recommend, nor prescribe it as a treatment.

Ken Pawlowski is the president of the California Veterinary Medical Association and says that vets hands are tied when it comes to the questions and requests they get from clients asking about it for their pets. They just don’t have the answers for them. Even veterinarians in California, like Dr. Karl Jandrey, who also teaches at the University of California, says that he advises clients who insist on using cannabis-treatments to do so knowing there is risk and possible expense involved. Though marijuana is legal for both medical and recreational use in California, veterinarians are legally restricted from prescribing or even recommending cannabis, and could lose their licenses if they did.

Yet, even with little science backing the efficacy of cannabis treatments in pets, many owners are still using them on their own, and thankful for the options. Most of the products they use, though not regulated, have cannabidiol, or CBD, which is found in cannabis but doesn’t get pets or humans ‘high.’ Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the compound in cannabis that is known for its psychoactive effects, and there is little to none in these products.

Related: Canine Cannabis: Medical Marijuana for Dogs

There’s been such ‘success’ among pet owners in the usage that now companies are producing and marketing cannabis products specifically for pets, even though the actual legality of the products is questionable. One such company is TreatWell Health, which is based out of San Francisco. TreatWell sells cannabis tinctures that can be added to a pet’s food or put directly in his mouth. Alison Ettel is the co-founder of TreatWell and she says that a lot of clients are coming to her when there are no other options, particularly when prescribed medications simply don’t work.

Ettel says that TreatWell tinctures can help treat things like anxiety, pain, seizures, kidney and liver problems and even cancer and glaucoma. They are also part of end-of-life care routines to make the pets comfortable.

What clients say is that the treatments bring their pet’s back to their old selves. TreatWell client Barbara Stein said that when no traditional medicines worked for her aging cats, the cannabis did.

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

More by Lori Ennis