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Can Medical Marijuana Help Your Pet?

October 26, 2016

Can Medical Marijuana Help Your Pet?

For many, medical marijuana is an effective way of alleviating pain associated with a number of ailments: chronic pain, arthritis, epilepsy, glaucoma, nausea related to chemotherapy, loss of appetite from HIV/AIDS. For this reason, U.S. state governments have been legalizing its use. Right now, medical marijuana is legal in 25 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

The recreational use of marijuana is also being decriminalized by state governments. Today pot is legal in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, D.C., and more states are expected to approve recreational use of the drug over the coming years.

The sweeping legalization of medical cannabis (or marijuana) for human ailments has left many pet owners asking: Can the drug be used to alleviate the pain of my sick dog or cat?

Although veterinarians are not legally allowed to prescribe medical marijuana for ill pets, even in states where medical marijuana is legal, a small community of pet owners already use cannabis for their pets.

Lisa Mastramico, who was featured in a New York Times publication, explains how cannabis helped her cat Valentina, who was suffering from arthritis, regain affection and energy: “[Valentina] comes out and socializes, wants to be in your lap, wants to be petted. It’s a very noticeable difference.”
Before you give your pet some of your cannabis stash, know that certain types of cannabis can seriously harm or even kill your pet.

The marijuana plant contains many chemical compounds known as cannabinoids. The most recognized cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC, the compound that gives people a high or buzz, is extremely toxic to pets. Indeed, many pet owners have rushed their dog or cat to a vet after the animal found their human’s pot stash..

CBD is the main compound used in medical marijuana for both humans and pets. It provides relief without the buzz. Companies including Canna-Pet, Treatibles, and VETCBD have all developed CBD-based medicines for pets and offer their products for sale online and in certain wholesale locations.

When will vets be in a position to offer medical cannabis to patients? Not for a while, probably. Last year a law in Nevada that would allow vets to prescribe medical cannabis was rejected. And as of today, the American Veterinary Medical Association has still not published an official stance on pet cannabis.

The problem lies within testing. Animal testing is seen as vicious and inhumane by animal activists across the country. In order to see widespread allowance of pet cannabis, however, more studies must be done to analyze the short- and long-term effects of cannabis on our four-legged friends. Until research can be done supporting the overwhelming benefits of pet cannabis, expect your vet to only offer advice - and not prescriptions.

Bottom line: As with any medication, please consult your veterinarian before deciding if medical cannabis is right for your pet.



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