Now that both cannabis is fully legal and medical benefits and drawbacks are being studied and recognized, many Canadians are wondering if it’s also effective as a medicine or wellness aid for pets, and if indeed they can and should be giving it to their beloved furry family members.
While its true that we share an endocannabinoïde system with all vertebrates on the planet – and as it turns out, 60% of invertebrates – there appear to be some very important differences in how the endocannabinoïde system functions in humans vs. other mammals. As the plant was prohibited until only a few days ago, very little research has been done on how cannabis affects our four-legged friends.
While humans have to consume a fair amount of THC to experience toxicity, for dogs in particular, this is not the case. Dogs have about ten times the CB1 receptors in the brain than most other animals, meaning that dogs experience much more of a psychoactive effect from THC rendering them much more susceptible to THC overdose. If you’re a cat lover, you should know that cats are very sensitive to terpenes and that cannabis may affect cats differently than dogs.
While it’s doubtful your animal will get a contact high just from being in the same room, be careful when smoking around your pet, and most importantly, store your cannabis and edibles in a secure place, safe from both children and animals. With today’s fantastic selection of places to stash your marijuana, there’s no excuse to put it away under lock and key. Or fridge if an edible.
If your stash has suddenly disappeared and you’re seeing odd behaviour from your animal, it might be time for a visit to the vet. Here are the signs to watch for:
The other side of cannabis is the side that helps. We know that cannabis can be very helpful for a wide variety of ailments and conditions for humans, and the same can be said for animals. Cannabidiol (CBD) can provide relief for all mammals so think of asking your vet about CBD if your pet suffers from any of the following:
While CBD is now legal to buy in Canada for humans, it is not yet for pets. In fact, vets are currently not allowed to recommend or prescribe any cannabis products to their patients. Indeed, many vets are not aware of the endocannabinoïde system yet much less CBD, and are often unaware of other drugs will interact with cannabis as there is little to no research to provide them with knowledge.
The veterinarian community is, however, working with Health Canada to get cannabis products licensed for animal consumption, and potentially even prescribed by vets. Until then, it is highly recommended that you talk with your vet prior to administering any CBD products. If you do decide to give your animal CBD, please be sure that the product you buy is pure, with no harmful substances. In the United States, 70% of CBD products marketed towards animals had nowhere near where the amount of CBD claimed on the label. Buyer beware.
Your vet can help ensure that a holistic approach is taken towards your pet’s health and that the best choices are made for your beloved furry friend.