Canine Cannabis: Medical Marijuana for Dogs

Kate Barrington
by Kate Barrington
The popularity of using medical marijuana is crossing over into the world of pets. Treats and supplements have proven to be a life saver for many dogs – here’s how it works.

New laws have recently legalized the sale and use of medical marijuana in certain states (and in Canada, the province of Ontario will be legalizing it in 2017), but people have been using cannabis for years. Medical marijuana is an effective treatment for a variety of conditions including glaucoma, loss of appetite, nausea, and pain. It has also been used as a means of alleviating the side effects of cancer treatments. In recent years, however, pet owners have begun to wonder about the benefits of cannabis for their canine companions.

What is Canine Cannabis?

More commonly known as marijuana, this drug comes from the Cannabis sativa plant. This plant has been used for medical purposes for thousands of years and the active ingredient is a type of biological compound called cannabinoids. These compounds have been shown to provide a number of benefits including appetite stimulation, pain relief, reduced inflammation, relief from nausea, and even mood-boosting effects. The main compound responsible for these effects is called cannabidiol, or CBD, a non-psychoactive compound which does not produce a high but does offer certain benefits.

Related: Medicinal Marijuana May Soon Be Available For Pets In Nevada

Success Stories for Canine Cannabis

Many pet owners with aging and ailing pets have turned to medical marijuana. One example is Miles, a 12 year-old black Labrador Retriever mix who had developed a number of health problems in his old age. Miles’ veterinarian diagnosed him with a splenic tumor and estimated that he had about two months to live. The vet gave Miles’ owner, Denise, a prescription for Tramadol to help with the pain but the medication knocked the dog out completely.

Denise didn’t want to see Miles spend the last few months of his life asleep or in pain so she followed the advice of a friend who suggested a glycerin tincture of marijuana. This kind of tincture is frequently sold in licensed medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the Los Angeles area, so it was easy for Denise to come by. Within 60 minutes of the first treatment, Miles perked up and he showed an interest in food. Over the next few weeks, Miles began to display a number of his old qualities, becoming more active and energetic than he had been in months. Denise had her old friend back and medical marijuana was the treatment that made it possible.

Related: Hemp is Hip at Global Pet Expo 2016

Canine Cannabis Treats for Dogs

There are a number of different ways that medical marijuana can be administered but the options are a little bit more limited for dogs than they are for humans. One of the newest methods is dog treats laced with cannabidiol (CBD). These treats are made with the powerful, non-psychoactive compound that makes cannabis such an effective treatment for appetite and pain issues (with plants that contain little thc). They do not get the dog high, they simply provide relief from symptoms that enables the dog to resume normal activity. Many pet parents find that after administering the treats their dog shows a significant change almost immediately.

Unfortunately, these canine cannabis treats are not available to everyone and the USDA is cracking down on those who produce and sell them, citing that they are an “unapproved new animal drug [that] violates the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act”. Even in the states where medical marijuana has been legalized, veterinarians are not permitted to prescribe cannabis as a treatment for pets. The FDA suggests that the crackdown is related to the fact that there is insufficient research regarding the use of cannabis for pets, but many who have used the treatments for their own pets decry such a statement.

Though canine cannabis is not currently available to all those who might benefit from it, there is hope that one day it will be. With time and research the FDA may eventually approve the use of CBD as a medical treatment for dogs and it may become available in the mainstream.

Kate Barrington
Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.

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