There’s a popular medicinal herb you can give your pet these days … and it’s called cannabis.
Pet owners are using it to help their pets with a wide range of ailments – from anxiety to seizures to arthritis to cancer.
Are pets going on pot?
NO. The cannabis pets are taking is hemp, not marijuana.
For a long time, hemp was illegal in Canada, the US and other countries because it got lumped in with other forms of cannabis. Today, you can buy hempseed products in your local grocery store – not just soaps and lotions, but hempseed protein powders and drinks like hempseed milk.
But the hemp that has therapeutic benefits for your pet isn’t the kind lining the supermarket shelves.
We’re talking about whole herb cannabis.
So what’s the difference between hemp and marijuana?
Marijuana and hemp both come from the plant Cannabis Sativa (though marijuana also comes from another member of the Cannabis family, Cannabis Indica).
The cannabis plant has over 60 chemicals called cannabinoids. The two main types of cannabinoids are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBDs are therapeutic cannabinoids, while THC is the phychoactive cannabinoid that makes you high.
Marijuana’s THC content is usually between 10 and 15 percent; but hemp must have a THC content of 0.3 percent or less. At this level, cannabis has no intoxicating effect, for people or pets.
Hemp is higher in CBD, the substance that provides the therapeutic effects.
How CBD Works
The cannabis plant contains a number of different chemicals, including CBD, phytocannabinoids, terpenoids and flavonoids. Humans and other mammals have specific cannabinoid receptor sites. These sites are primarily in the brain and central nervous system, and in peripheral organs, especially immune cells. They make up what’s called the endocannabinoid system. Studies show that many cannabinoids have anti-inflammatory effects, and can help with pain, tumors, seizures, muscle spasms, skin conditions, appetite stimulation, aggression, anxiety and neurological disorders
How CBD Hemp Can Help Your Pet?
CBD hemp can help with both chronic and acute disease.
Among chronic conditions, it can help with arthritis, compromised immune systems, stress responses, aggression and digestive issues. There are also studies under way into CBD’s effects on Type 1 diabetes, organ diseases and cancer.
Veterinarians are also finding CBD hemp can be useful in treating acute ailments like sprains and strains, torn ligaments, bone breaks and even during post-operative care to reduce swelling, pain and stiffness.
If your pet’s taking conventional drugs for any of these conditions, we NEVER suggest taking your pet off their medications unless you have your veterinarian’s approval. CBD hemp oil may make it possible to use lower doses of the drugs to achieve therapeutic effects, but we do not recommend self-diagnosing. Your veterinarian should always be consulted prior to changing your pet’s current medications. Since conventional medicines do have side effects, this is a useful benefit of CBD.
Does It Work Fast?
As with any herbal medicine, for most ailments you may not see an immediate effect. You’ll need to be patient.
Your pet may feel some pain relief in a few hours but other symptoms like inflammation may take a few days to show improvement.
Safety & Side Effects
First of all, because of the low THC, CBD hemp won’t make your pet high.
The most common side effect of CBD is that your pet may get a little drowsy – about the same as if you gave him a Benadryl.
On rare occasions, side effects have included excessive itchiness or mild vomiting, but these sensitivities are few and far between. If your pet reacts with these symptoms, you should stop giving them the oil.
Dosing CBD oils:
Every dog is different. We recommends starting with a low dose and working up to the recommended level so that your pet gets the right dose for their individual needs.
Caution: The dosing advice below is for this commercially produced CBD oil for pets, not for homemade tinctures.
We recommend starting with 0.01ml of CBD oil per 1 lb of your pet’s body weight per day. Give this dose for about a week, then move up to 0.01ml per 1 lb of body weight twice per day.
As long as there are no side effects, you can increase the dose every 4 to 5 days until you see the therapeutic benefits. Side effects may include disorientation, hyperactivity, vomiting or excessive sedation. If you note any of these effects, stop treatment and wait for them to go away, then restart at a lower dose.
Be sure to observe your pet’s response. The key is to find a dose where you don’t see side effects but you do see results. With continued use, you may need to increase the dose a little over time to achieve the therapeutic results.
If Your pet Gets Into Marijuana…
This article’s not about marijuana, but this is important information. With the legalization of marijuana in many places, poison control centers are hearing more and more about pets getting into their owners’ marijuana stash.
It may be hard to tell if your dog has the munchies (isn’t it a permanent condition in dogs?), but other side effects from marijuana can be quite severe, including lethargy, dilated pupils, drooling, being off balance, muscle twitching, vomiting, involuntary urination and even unconsciousness.
If this happens to your dog, take him to the vet immediately. He’ll need palliative support until the effects wear off.
Caution: make sure you store the oil where your pets or children can’t get into it.
Australian holistic veterinarian Dr Edward Bassingthwaighte says he’s been amazed at the success he’s had treating some dogs with cannabis. Here are a couple of cases he wrote about.
One is a senior Staffy who had a fast-growing tumor about 6 cm in diameter in her mammary gland. Chest x-rays showed there might be mestatasis. Dr Bassingthwaighte treated her with CBD oil and some other herbal medicines. The tumor shrank away to nothing over three months and she’s still going strong six months later, with no recurrence. She’d had multiple tumors surgically removed over the years, but it was the CBD oil that really helped her.
The other case is a little old Jack Russell with a severe heart murmur and painful arthritis. He received a whole plant extract containing CBD and in this case also some THC, diluted in 10 ml of cold pressed hemp seed oil. After a month of this medicine he was much happier and more active, wanting to go for long walks, and his heart murmur was much less severe. Dr Bassingthwaighte says “I simply can’t explain the improved heart murmur. They normally don’t get better.”
Dr Bassingthwaighte suggests working with your holistic vet if you think cannabis would help your dog – it’s powerful medicine so at least let your vet know what you’re doing