Trends show a growing level of interest in alternative medicine for pets, with many animal owners eschewing chemical mixtures in favor of more natural remedies and treatments.
One of the most promising alternative treatments is cannabis, which has become much more accessible for human use in recent years and shows promising signs for use in animals too.
This article explores the emerging trend of cannabis use for pets, highlighting its potential benefits, legal landscape, and considerations for pet owners and veterinarians.
Exploring the Benefits of Cannabis for Pets
Many people are now familiar with the many benefits that cannabis can provide for humans, such as the ability to ease feelings of pain and nausea, as well as stimulating appetite or easing feelings of stress.
Well, many of those very same benefits have also been identified in animals after consuming cannabis. Here are some of the main potential advantages associated with marijuana use in pets:
- Pain Management - Cannabis has the ability to ease or suppress feelings of pain. This could be highly beneficial for pets that are struggling with chronic pain.
- Appetite - Like people, pets can also exhibit an increase in appetite, which could be useful in those that are struggling to eat or are underweight.
- Anxiety - Cannabis could be helpful for dogs or cats that experience anxiety due to loud noises or other factors.
- Seizures - Studies have shown that cannabis may be of use in terms of reducing the frequency and severity of these seizures.
- Inflammation - Cannabis may be used to soothe inflammation and promote faster natural healing, which could be useful in pets with health problems like arthritis or dysplasia.
Legal Landscape and Regulatory Considerations
It's clear that cannabis could offer a myriad of medicinal benefits for dogs, cats, and other animals. For now, the biggest barrier to overcome before we can witness those benefits on a widespread level is a legal one.
The FDA has not yet approved any cannabis products for use in animals, except CBD oils and pet treats with minimal THC levels. In addition, veterinarians across the US are generally prohibited from prescribing, administering, or even recommending cannabis to their patients.
There are some exceptions to this. For example, California marijuana laws allow veterinarians to at least discuss cannabis and CBD products for pet usage. But, in general, both vets and pet owners are faced with real challenges in relation to obtaining and providing cannabis to animals.
Can You Get CBD Oil for Pets?
It is possible to buy CBD oil (with less than 0.3% THC content) in several states from a medical marijuana dispensary. However, specific laws regarding the usage of this oil can vary from state to state, so it’s vital to check on the local regulations in your area beforehand.
Which Cannabis Product Is Best for Pets?
Many experts feel that CBD oil with low THC is the best cannabis product to use for pets, as it’s really easy to control the dosage, with the aid of the built-in dropper. Plus, you can conveniently mix the oil in with your pet’s food.
CBD vs THC for Pets: What Is the Difference
The biggest difference between CBD and THC is that THC can get people and animals high, while CBD doesn’t have the same intoxicating effects. In addition, there’s a legal difference, as THC is completely prohibited for use in pets, while CBD is allowed in some areas.
Safety Considerations and Potential Risks
As with any other alternative medicine, there are always potential risks to take into account. Individual dogs and other animals may react in unexpected ways after being given CBD oil or other cannabis-derived products, and you may notice side effects like lethargy, unusual behavior, and increased appetite.
The Role of Veterinarians and Recommendations
Veterinary associations like the American Veterinary Medical Foundation have expressed interest but also caution regarding the use of cannabis in pets. Many veterinarians understand that cannabis could be useful to treat certain conditions or ease symptoms, but also know that there is currently a lack of evidence in this particular field.
Many veterinarians also feel constricted by the current legal framework around cannabis use in pets, and various bodies have called for additional research into the effects of cannabis and improved regulations on the subject, with some arguing that safe forms of cannabis, like low-THC CBD oil, should be more accessible to all pet owners and easier to prescribe.
Before visiting a Los Angeles Cannabis dispensary to buy any CBD oil or other products for pets, pet owners are always recommended to consult with their local veterinarian on the matter. They may be able to provide guidance and recommendations to help you give your pet the best care.
Recent Developments and Proposed Legislation
Cannabis laws are subject to regular evaluation and evolution, and one of the biggest recent changes once again came from California, where Assembly Bill 1885 was signed into law in September of 2022, paving the way for cannabis products to be given to pets in 2025.
Elsewhere around the US, lawmakers are observing events in California and other states, while paying attention to the latest studies on cannabis use in animals in order to draw up potential legislation that could make CBD products easier to obtain for pet owners.
Considerations for Pet Owners
Pet owners have a big responsibility to look after their animals as well as they can, which may include the use of alternative medicines. However, it's also vital for owners to know the potential risks involved, as well as be aware of all laws and legal situations in their state.
In addition, in such an unregulated market, with so many “CBD pet treats” and other products available online, pet owners have to read labels and verify the quality and efficacy of the products they share with their pets, as well as speak with vets to minimize the risks of any adverse reactions.
Evidence suggests that cannabis could very well become a very useful tool in the veterinary arsenal for soothing various symptoms and treating a range of conditions. But more research on the matter is clearly needed, along with greater clarity in terms of laws and regulations. Until that time, animal owners must continue to exercise caution when considering cannabis for their pets.