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Medical Marijuana May Have Long-Term Advantages For Pets

Cannabis could transform veterinary medicine.

Adam Drury

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Medical Marijuana May Have Long-Term Advantages For Pets

Very little is known about the use, role or potential for cannabis in pets. There are hardly any veterinary researchers who have investigated the subject; schools of veterinary medicine have produced no significant research on it. But the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine hopes to change all of that. To do so, the school is conducting an anonymous survey of pet owners to find out if, how and why they’re giving medical cannabis to their pets. Researchers with the school say data from the survey suggest medical marijuana may have long-term advantages for pets.

UC Davis School Of Veterinary Medicine Gathering Data On Cannabis And Pets

There are just four states in the U.S. that have yet to pass a law legalizing some form of medical marijuana. Everywhere else, medical cannabis is available or will be soon—though some places still prohibit THC and/or only provide extremely limited access.

Research into the medical benefits of cannabis for humans continues in the face of federal prohibition. In short, interest in medical marijuana is overwhelming.

But even though much of the research into the medical applications of cannabis has involved studies conducted on animals, almost nothing is known about the use of cannabis in veterinary medicine. But researchers at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine are aiming to address this gap.

The goals of their survey of pet owners is to identify what types of pets are receiving medical marijuana. They also want to find out what kinds of products are being used, gather information about owner-perceived benefits and determine the side-effects for different animals.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of research on the doses that are appropriate in animals,” Jamie Petyon of UC Davis told a local CBS affiliate.

So far, participants in the survey have told researchers that their pets benefit from non-psychoactive CBD oil. Pet owners tell researchers they use medical cannabis to reduce their pets’ anxiety, pain and to control seizure disorders.

These reports and others suggest that medical marijuana may have long-term advantages for pets, from therapeutic benefits to mood and behavior control. Furthermore, reports from pet owners resonated with anecdotal evidence from people who medicate with CBD.

But even though some pet owners report positive results, others have noticed serious side-effects.

For some pets, there can be lethal doses of THC—something humans don’t have to worry about—which is why the dose and type of medical marijuana you give your pet is very important.

Medical Marijuana May Have Long-Term Advantages For Pets, But There Could Be Serious Risks

Pet owners interested in experimenting with medical cannabis treatments should keep a few things in mind.

First, THC is toxic to animals, meaning it gets them high. But pets, like dogs and cats, have a much harder time metabolizing THC than their human owners. As a result, the drug stays in their systems much longer than it does ours.

In other words, if your pet consumes a serious dose of THC, they could be high for up to a day or longer. For smaller animals, the effects of marijuana intoxication can be lethal.

Unfortunately, cannabis intoxication is on the rise in pets, especially as edibles become a more popular method of administering medical marijuana. Chocolate is already dangerous for pets; doubly so when it’s infused with weed. So if you expect your pet has overdosed on marijuana, go to the vet immediately.

Instead of products with THC, you want to give your pet small doses of CBD. Typically, this means giving cannabis oil to your dog orally.

Dr. Gary Richter, who owns and directs the Montclair Veterinary Hospital in Oakland, California, assures pet-owners that CBD oil has no psychoactive effect. He also says that combining CBD oil and traditional medication can create a compound benefit.

Then again, without sufficient research, we don’t know whether any significant drug interactions could occur.

However, low doses of well-manufactured CBD oil could provide a range of long-term benefits for pets, from seizure and pain relief to easing GI distress, treating joint-related issues and even addressing mood problems like stress, anxiety, and aggression.

As with any care plan, do your research first. Consult experts like your vet and other pet-owners to find out more about how medical marijuana may have long-term advantages for pets.

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