pets cgc
Chad and Tanya with their dog

Vets, Pets, and Cannabis Meds

There are at least 130,000 medical cannabis patients in Canada that have benefited from the healing nature of cannabis– but what about pets?

Some pet owners have turned to cannabis to treat many of the same issues it has helped humans with such as cancer, seizures, arthritis, anxiety, and chronic pain.

It is worth noting that almost all animals have an endocannabinoid system, including mammals, birds, fish and reptiles, although in invertebrates (such as insects) it has not been conclusively proven and remains controversial. Although keep in mind that while animals have an endocannabinoid system, they can and will react to cannabis differently than humans. Sometimes it can even be toxic.

According to the College of Veterinarians of Ontario…

On May 25th, 2017, the College of Veterinarians of Ontario (CVO) issued an update that the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) do not apply to animals.

This means it’s currently illegal for veterinarians to prescribe CBD oils for your pet because there is no ‘legal pathway’ to do so since Health Canada has not approved any CBD products for animals. Of course, this lack of a ‘legal pathway’ may only be temporary if manufacturers of CBD oils for animals are able to obtain the necessary approval from Health Canada.

What are some pet owners doing about it?

But this lack of official approval hasn’t stopped some pet owners, and there are already companies offering tinctures and cannabinoid-infused goodies for your furry friends- and they’ve been seeing some amazing things.

We were able to speak to a few of these companies and ask them their thoughts on cannabinoids and canines.

Cheri, from Euphoria Potions and Edibles, makes dog biscuits called Bella’s Bones, saying “ I developed these treats to help my friend’s dog that lives with epilepsy, and now her seizures are shorter in duration and she seems to have a smile on her face and pep in her step”.

She also said that “other owners commented that their dogs slept more soundly and could settle down during a long car ride”.

On potential side effects, Cheri said “they are minimal as long as the pet is not given too much for their size. Like with humans, using the “Start Low and Go Slow” rule is the best to build up tolerance in your pet”.  

Tania Jackett, from Liberty Farms, makes dog biscuits called “Love Buds CBD Treats”,  and she said “CBD (which is not psychoactive) can be very beneficial for pets with anxiety, arthritis, cancer, digestive issues, seizures, inflammation, pain, and even motion sickness” although she warns “if you give your pet too much CBD they could get a bit of diarrhea so do keep it to a minimum”.

Tania also talks about how CBD treatment “can improve pets’ lives tremendously” saying that “we hear many great testimonials from pet owners about how well their dogs are doing now- mainly for older dogs with pain and inflammation issues”.

Tania said “the reason I started making dog treats was for our Akita, Kaslo. He had exocrine pancreatic insufficiency which means his pancreas didn’t digest his food. A dog that is supposed to be 120 pounds was shrinking away, and he had to take digestive enzymes with every meal- but he was allergic to those enzymes! So we had to figure something else out. We gave him 2 pork pancreas with each meal to digest his food and he got back to his normal weight, but we noticed he was always in pain. So we started working with CBD, and the sigh of relief when he had his first CBD Treat was incredible”.

“A Lack of Research”

Veterinarians do not recommend using CBD oil to treat your pets, citing a lack of research and risk of overdose, warning of increasing cannabis poisoning cases in pets as cannabis is legalized- and owners need to make sure to keep their edibles out of the reach of their pets as some pets have even died after accidentally ingesting their owner’s edibles, but it’s unknown whether the deaths were due to the cannabis itself or other ingredients in the edible, which was intended for human consumption only. As you may know, there are many things humans can eat that are dangerous for dogs, such as chocolate, avocado, and even onions!

But why is there such a lack of research?

There’s certainly no shortage of animal testing in the medical literature. Humans have done animal testing since the ancient Greeks all the way up to today, and we don’t bat an eye when it comes to testing experimental, potentially dangerous new drugs on animals first. So why, when it comes to a medicinal plant humans have been using for millennia, is there such a lack of research on cannabis and how it can help our canine friends?

Going forward

“A lack of research” should be a familiar refrain for anyone with a stake or interest in medicinal cannabis, and although significant progress has been made in this case for humans, for our pets, there’s still a long way to go.

Although much of the evidence is anecdotal, there are growing numbers of pet owners with their own personal stories of how cannabis has helped improve their pet’s lives.

Will there ever come a point when the money and time gets invested to find out why? It may feel weird calling for animal testing giving the knee-jerk reaction the phrase often elicits, but this time, it’s for their benefit.

Aren’t our pets worth it?