Medical Marijuana and Your Dog


This post was provided to Pet Guardian Angels of America by Noah Rue



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Which Form of Medical Cannabis is Best for Your Dog

In recent years, CBD oil has become somewhat of a cure-all for humans, with CBD shops popping up across the country at a rapid pace. Proponents of the treatment claim that it helps with insomnia, epilepsy, anxiety, and a variety of other symptoms. Interestingly, the reported healing effects of CBD, alongside medical marijuana, may also provide similar benefits to our four-legged friends.

Legally speaking, however, the topic of medical marijuana is a bit dicey within the veterinary realm because cannabis remains illegal at the federal level. Thus, the majority of those veterinarians who choose to discuss the plant with their patients put their professional licenses at risk. California-based vets are the sole exception: As of January 1, 2020, the California Veterinary Medical Board (VMB) declared that while “a veterinarian is prohibited from prescribing a Schedule 1 drug,” they cannot be disciplined solely for discussing cannabis with their patients.

Even in the states that have legalized the medical and recreational use of marijuana, it is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug. If you decide that medical marijuana is the best choice for your dog, it’s your responsibility to ensure proper dosage. Depending on your dog’s size, needs, and the condition you’re looking to treat, the proper dosage may vary considerably. Keep in mind that you should avoid THC in favor of CBD when treating your canine companion.

Understanding CBD Versus THC

The marijuana plant contains around 113 cannabinoids, the most well known of which are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is responsible for the “high” a marijuana user feels, and it’s the only known plant cannabinoid that produces intoxicating effects on its own. CBD differs from THC in that it isn’t psychoactive.

CBD also has a bit in common with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) commonly used for pain relief and inflammation reduction. It has been called the “therapeutic cannabinoid,” and a CBD drug has finally earned full FDA approval, at least for the treatment of epilepsy and seizures – and in humans, even synthetic CBD has been shown to help with seizures. The first prescription drug derived from cannabinoids is called Epidiolex, and it is available in a liquid solution, much like a CBD oil tincture.

Generally speaking, you would administer medical marijuana to your dog in a similar, liquid form by adding drops of CBD oil into your dog’s food or directly on his or her tongue. Even synthetic CBD may be enough to help your dog’s ailments, and by taking this route, you may be able to sidestep the legal difficulties that surround CBD.

Treating Your Dog’s Chronic Pain

In every form, research on the efficacy of CBD to treat conditions including anxiety and chronic pain continues. It’s important to note that chronic pain isn’t the exclusive domain of humans – your canine companion is prone to arthritis during the aging process as well. According to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS), about 25% of dogs will develop osteoarthritis at some point in their lifetimes.

Osteoarthritis is the most common arthritis among dogs, and the condition can be painful. When dogs are in pain, they sometimes lash out and may exhibit behavioral changes like aggression. Medical marijuana may provide two-fold relief in this case, as some human patients report reduced stress levels in addition to pain relief.

When canine anxiety is concerned, however, more research is needed. In a 2001 clinical trial, researchers determined that a combination of “clomipramine, alprazolam, and behavior modification” helped reduce anxiety in dogs with storm phobia. Alprazolam is also known as Xanax, and it is much more potent than non-psychoactive CBD. Thus, pet medical experts have questioned whether CBD is strong enough to counteract canine anxiety.

Considering Medical History and Insurance

You have the ultimate say in whether or not you believe that medical marijuana is a viable option for your dog. Prior to beginning any herbal or holistic treatment, it’s always best to consult your veterinarian first. As long as your veterinarian is comfortable talking about CBD, he or she can help you calculate the proper dosage based on your dog’s size and condition.

Your vet may also take your dog’s medical history into account. If any pre-existing liver or stomach problems exist, and you’re using CBD oil to treat your pet’s arthritis, you may want to forego oral elixirs in favor of topical creams.

Finally, there are also costs to consider. Even if you have dog insurance to cover routine visits as well as illnesses and accidents, CBD medication costs are entirely up to you. Your vet can’t actually prescribe CBD oil, so you’ll have to pay completely out of pocket for any product you intend to give your dog. You may ultimately decide that the extra cost is worth it in order to give your four-legged friends some symptom relief.

Final Thoughts

CBD may not be the miracle “cure-all” it’s widely touted to be, but it does indeed show promise in the realm of pain relief, and perhaps your dog can benefit from it as well. If you’re ready to test out the waters of medical marijuana for your dog, make sure to do your research to ensure the appropriate dosage.

Noah Yarnol Rue is always looking where his next trip will take him . When he’s not traveling the world, he’s writing articles on the new things he learns. Noah also enjoys a good meme from time to time. You can find Noah on LinkedIn.