As medical marijuana continues to gain legitimacy, cannabis patients are turning to medical marijuana for their pets and seeing similar results.
Just as cannabis has been a veritable panacea in humans, its benefits for pets, though less documented, is also becoming clear. Pet owners have begun experimenting – and seeing success – with cannabis for their pets.
What Animals Can Use CBD?
Wondering if your pet can benefit from CBD? Chances are they can!
Early studies reveal that most vertebrates appear to have an endocannabinoid system, including all mammals, leading some researchers to believe it was developed by a common ancestor early in evolution. In fact, many studies done on cannabinoids are animal models, with the experimentation often done on mice and rats, which have an endocannabinoid system like humans.
Because of the similarities between the endocannabinoid systems of humans and animals, chances are your furry (or not so furry) friend could find benefit from cannabinoids like CBD. Consumers are already giving animals like dogs, cats, horses, and more CBD oil products.
Animals Have an Endocannabinoid System? What Does It Do?
Cannabis’s therapeutic benefits come from the plant’s ability to interact with the body’s naturally occurring regulatory processes, managed by the endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system is responsible for maintaining balance within the body, including regulating the body’s immune response, communication between cells, and appetite, sleep, metabolism, and mood. Cannabinoids, like CBD and THC, interact with endocannabinoid receptors in the body, affecting the body’s functions. It is through this regulation of the body’s functions that the endocannabinoid system maintains homeostasis and allows the body to work at its peak.
Differences Between People and Pets Using CBD
One of the fears associated with medical marijuana for pets is the possible toxicity of THC in small animals and the worry that it is unethical or abusive to expose your animal to marijuana’s psychoactive properties. Some pet owners navigate around this issue by using non-psychoactive CBD hemp oil, which is naturally low in THC, in their products.
Pet owners add CBD to their pet’s meals as a daily supplement for chronic ailments or to promote general well-being. Pet owners may also find that vitamins and minerals present in CBD hemp oil match the requirements of their pets, including vitamins A, B12, C, and E, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium.
Because of the small size of most pets, users will use significantly smaller serving sizes of CBD oil, adjusting by weight. It is a good rule to start off low and slowly increase serving sizes week after week until desired effects are seen. For acute occasions, owners report using larger single servings.
Is CBD Legal for Pets?
Many companies have come out with cannabinoid infused medical cannabis products directed at pets, selling them in medical marijuana dispensaries alongside products intended for humans.
However, state medical marijuana laws don’t apply to animals. Veterinarians are not authorized to recommend cannabis for pets, and the FDA does not approve cannabis based products for pets, going so far as to send warning letters to companies for marketing the health benefits of these products for specific conditions.
A lawmaker in Nevada proposed a bill in 2015 that would allow pet owners in the state to legally give cannabis products to their pets with a veterinarian’s approval. However, that bill died in the legislature when it failed to get a hearing.
When sourced from hemp instead of marijuana, however, CBD is federally legal for use as a commercial product, making it a viable legal source of cannabinoids for pets.
What Do Vets Say?
Veterinarians are split on whether cannabis should be used to treat pets, much as doctors are divided with the use of cannabis in humans. While some warn of the dangers of cannabis for pets, others have embraced the possibilities CBD may hold.
Dr. Kramer, a vet in California who surveyed pet owners who have used CBD in pets, reports that cannabis is already being used by owners for a range of reasons similar to those for which humans use CBD.
As normalization of the use of cannabis continues and regulations restricting marijuana research in this country are eased, it is likely that the clinical studies needed to scientifically prove the safety and efficacy of cannabis in humans and pets will finally be approved.
To learn more about medical marijuana, cannabinoids, and their benefits, visit our Cannabis 101 page.