Veterinarians Say Yes To Some Cannabis Products for Pets

Sarah Hayes May 25, 2019 2 comments

Cannabis products for pets are everywhere, and now they are getting official endorsement from vets.

Cannabis products for pets are a somewhat touchy subject. Many people have strong feelings about animals and these views extend to advocating for the best possible care for pets. Now it’s seeming like that may include cannabis treatments.

The same strong feelings can have other pet owners resistant to products on the market that they believe might be harmful for their pets. While these may have been legitimate concerns in the past, advances in isolating cannabinoids have opened new doors for pet CBD products.

And the Canadian Veterinarians’ Lobby has certainly spoken up. But recently, their opinion took a turn. On 15 May, they brought five dogs to Parliament Hill in order to draw attention to cannabis prescriptions for pets. The dogs included Max Pugsley, a rescue pug with separation anxiety so bad he’s on a Prozac prescription. It’s dogs like Max that advocates want to help with legal changes that would open doors for veterinary cannabinoid treatments.

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Via Kitchener Today; Max Pugsley is a rescue with severe separation anxiety.

What is the Current Situation on CBD Products for Pets in Canada?

Canada legalized cannabis for adult consumption last year, but animals still can’t benefit from the new laws. Because the wording of the current regulatory system doesn’t specifically include pets, vets can’t write them cannabis prescriptions.

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In fact, under the current laws, vets are even restricted from giving advice to pet parents on the best cannabis products for pets or correct dosages. As a result, pet owners are taking matters into their own hands. This can be dangerous, as some pet owners are using black market products or products intended for humans at the incorrect dose for their pet.  Cannabis dosages for dogs and cats are tiny compared to human doses, and not yet very well understood. In addition, taking too much THC can be toxic to animals.

Toxicity affects each animal differently based on factors like age, size, and health. So, it’s impossible to name a safe dose of THC. However, the lethal dose of THC for animals is very high; so Fido is unlikely to consume enough cannabis to be fatal.

Symptoms of cannabis toxicity in pets are sedation, difficulty walking, vomiting, dazed behavior, or agitation. If you think your pet may be suffering from THC toxicity, you need to contact your vet immediately. With proper supportive care, most pets completely recover.

Despite the dangers of THC toxicity for dogs and cats, legal cannabis products don’t warn consumers of this. Warning labels on cannabis products are only about children. This is another thing the veterinarian’s lobby wants to change. With legal cannabis on the rise, public awareness on the issue could help prevent many pet overdose visits to local vets.

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How Cannabis Products for Pets Can Help

Caution may be required when it comes to THC, but the same is not at all true of other cannabinoids, including CBD.

Up until now, the legal state of cannabis has blocked any large-scale veterinary studies into cannabinoid treatments for pets. However, preliminary research shows that CBD can be useful for a variety of pet ailments like allergies, anxiety, arthritis, glaucoma, seizures, and more. CBD treatments have been shown to be especially helpful to cats, who are more sensitive to common veterinary pain meds than dogs.

These promising results are all the more reason to legally open the door for research into CBD products for pets. An open legal system is the best way to ensure we find the most effective treatments for our fuzzy companions.

Restrictions on CBD Products for Pets Due to Oversight

Officials have told the Canadian Association of Veterinary Cannabinoid Medicine (CAVCM) that the omission of cats and dogs in cannabis legislation was likely due to an oversight. Representatives promise that the issue could be addressed at the legislation’s 3-year review.

However, for advocates of cannabis products for pets, this solution isn’t soon enough. Dr. Sarah Silcox, president of the CAVCM, explained, “For our patients, they age much faster than we do and this really isn’t an issue that can wait for a three-year review.”

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Silcox also went on to discuss the double-standard of the current laws. She said, “Veterinarians are able to prescribe almost any other drug, including things like fentanyl and other opioids and … prescription drugs that contain cannabis derivatives and yet we’re not able to authorize the use of cannabis itself.”

Advocates are hoping to add vets to the list of authorized medical practitioners when laws are reviewed to add oils and edibles next year.

Cannabis Treatments for Pets Still a “Spotty Tail”

Because cannabis treatments are a relatively new field, and there’s a lingering taboo.  THC for pets still needs more research, as overdoses for pets can be very unpleasant. However, CBD treatments look very promising. Legal freedom for vets to research CBD treatments is vital to building conclusive results on how CBD affects our pets. If advocates in Canada get their way to see research and treatments permitted next year, it could pave the way for veterinary cannabinoid research around the world.

Author avatar

Sarah Hayes

Sarah is an American expat living in Spain with her husband and little doggie. She comes from a performing arts and teaching background with a degree from the University of London. For the past 3 years Sarah has worked in and written about the legal cannabis industry both in Spain and the US. She cares about sharing her passion for cannabis, yoga, healthy lifestyles, counterculture and travel trough writing and social media.

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  1. Patrizia Teodosio

    I use CBD myself and I find very difficult not to fall for a fake product, therefore how can I trust a product for animals?
    What are the specifics people should be looking for?

    • Jennifer Grant

      I think it’s always best to talk to the vet about which products they recommend. And research a brand before you buy. Do they have good reviews? Are there any complaints? For pets, you want to look for a CBD isolate so there is zero THC. Buying products make from hemp seed oil will not have enough CBD to have any affect.