With medical marijuana laws now in effect in 33 states and Washington, D.C., and in 11 states for recreational use, using marijuana both recreationally, medicinally and for your dogs has lost some of its stigma. For the states with legalization for recreational use buying marijuana has become as common as going to the grocery store. In turn, the cannabis-fueled pet market has skyrocketed, and as a responsible pet owner you should know both the pros and cons of marijuana use.
With this trend, there has been a rise in cannabis-infused dog names like Reefer, Mary Jane, Blaze, Ganja, Stoney, Roach and more. Many pet owners are safely using veterinary grade marijuana to treat a variety of dog symptoms and illnesses. There is a big difference between your dog ingesting human marijuana products versus oils or tinctures that are lower in concentration and do not create some of the side effects or products with certain ingredients.
Can Marijuana Be Harmful to Your Pet?
First, let’s look at some facts.
- According to the ASPCA’s animal poison directory, marijuana — the Cannabis Sativa L.plant — is toxic to dogs, cats and horses.
- Trupanion, one of the largest pet insurers, paid over $78,000 in suspected marijuana claims in 2018, with marijuana toxicity being the biggest culprit.
- Trupanion has treated marijuana ingestion for dogs of all shapes and sizes. The average marijuana toxicity claim costs about $525 on average to treat.
- Many dogs have developed toxicity not only from eating the marijuana, but from other ingredients (such as chocolate) in marijuana laced brownies, gummi bears, etc.
- In certain states, many pet owners are afraid to tell their veterinarians that their pets have eaten marijuana, so many cases go untreated or are mis-reported.
- Veterinarians have reported dogs being treated not only from ingesting marijuana but the second-hand smoke. Symptoms include impaired coordination, excessive urination and even loss of control of urination (incontinence), drooling, vomiting, lethargy, depression, dilated pupils, and light and sound sensitivity and in severe cases, seizures and coma.
If you know that your dog has ingested some marijuana, take him to the vet immediately for observation to be on the safe side.
Can Marijuana Help Your Pet?
Some pet owners and veterinarians are giving their dogs marijuana to successfully treat illnesses and symptoms such as cancer, seizures, back pain, nausea, arthritis, and anxiety with great results.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved cannabis for any use in animals.
- There is a major difference between veterinary and human marijuana products, and even a large difference amongst the various human products. Products containing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, have a psychoactive component that creates the “high” many people talk about. Veterinary products generally do not contain THC but are comprised of the pain-relieving substance cannabidiol, or CBD.
- Some pet owners report that CBD is more effective in reducing pain without the side effects of traditional pain medications. It has been known to reduce inflammation in dogs who have stiffness and arthritis.
- Some preliminary studies have shown that CBD helps to fight cancer.
- CBD has been shown to help dogs with anxiety. Many dogs are anxious about loud noises, stress, separation anxiety, etc.
- One of the biggest uses for CBD is to help reduce and completely stop seizures in both adults and children that suffer from epilepsy. It is reported that up to 5% of dogs suffer from epilepsy. Pet owners report that traditional epilepsy medications can damage a dog’s liver and other organs over time.
- If your dog suffers from gastrointestinal issues, CBD has been known to help with gut motility.
Err on the Side of Caution
Talk to your veterinarian before using any marijuana laced products for your pet. It’s important to choose products derived from hemp and not cannabis. Keep doing your research as more pet-friendly products and more research becomes available because no current long-term studies exist.
Jeri Wagner is a canine behavioral therapist and master trainer. Jeri uses a natural training system leveraging the same communication methods – body language and voice control – that dogs follow as part of their instinctive pack mentality. Training takes place in the home where the problems generally occur. Jeri trains in western Montgomery County, northern Chester County and eastern Berks County. For more information, call 1-877-500 BARK (2275) or visit www.barkbusters.com.
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