Anywhere you look nowadays, you’re bound to spot something about marijuana and its components CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). With medical marijuana now legal in over half the states, and an increasing number of states legalizing recreational marijuana, there’s been a rise in CBD products (like oils and treats) in mainstream shops and retail chains. And recently, the trend has carried over to our four-legged-friends.
This is leading pet owners to ask: If marijuana or CBD is helpful for some people, can it help my pet? The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) weighs in on this trending topic.
A Little Background
One of the first things to understand is a breakdown of the properties associated with marijuana and CBD. Marijuana, also known as Cannabis Sativa, is a plant. In the cannabis plant, both THC and CBD can be found to varying degrees. The plant contains many compounds, but the one it is most recognized for is THC. THC is considered a psychoactive substance, which means that it is a chemical that changes how the brain functions, and thus can cause alterations in perception, mood, consciousness or behavior. Lately, however, CBD has been getting more and more attention for its potential therapeutic and pain management effects.
What We Know
Unfortunately, there are many unanswered questions about the effects of marijuana and CBD in pets. But research into these effects is underway. Studies are slowly being done to look at the potential benefits of CBD for controlling pain from conditions such as osteoarthritis, calming anxious pets and if it may help with treating epilepsy in dogs.
Like with any product, you should consult with your veterinarian to determine if CBD products are right for your pet, and what the proper dosage should be. There’s a lot of information online that can be misleading, and consulting with a professional should always be your first step. That’s especially important if your pet is on other medications. Mixing medications and substances can affect animals’ livers. Just like with any medication or pet product, you want to be careful of overdosing your pet and be sure to keep any CBD products safely up and out of paws’ reach.
The laws around use of cannabis in people and pets have been slow in keeping up with public opinion. The DEA still considers marijuana a Schedule I drug, meaning it is not considered to have any medical use.
Even in states where medical marijuana is legal for people, it is not legal for pets. CBD is regulated by the FDA and currently there are no FDA approved CBD products for pets. In 2018, hemp, a cannabis plant that naturally has less than 0.3% THC, was taken off the federal controlled substances list.
Many companies are marketing products to pets as hemp-based products to skirt the current legal status of marijuana and CBD for pets. However, since these products are not FDA approved, they do not undergo the same quality control measures as medications do, which could potentially prove to be problematic.
With public opinion largely being positive for marijuana and CBD, states are starting to look more closely at the laws and starting to reconsider them. Furthermore, with the added attention, more studies are looking at the potential effects and benefits CBD and marijuana may hold for pets. Many veterinarians are recommending CBD oils and treats for animals with certain conditions, and the popularity of this growing trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.