Cannabis has emerged as a versatile plant with many potential medicinal and recreational benefits for humans. Medicinal cannabis has been recommended to patients for everything from PTSD to glaucoma. So, it’s no surprise that many people have started to wonder: What can cannabis do for my pets?
When it comes to the plant’s effects on humans, there have been several studies conducted indicating its relative safety and potential benefits. However, up until recent years research has been severely restricted by cannabis’s federal status as a Schedule I drug, leaving a lot of unanswered questions about the plant.
For animals, there is even less information on how the plant’s chemical compounds would affect them. Whatever information is out there on cannabis and pets seems to be mixed – some pet owners report instances of their dog or cat accidentally consuming edibles and becoming lethargic, eventually requiring veterinary care. Others swear by the CBD treats they’ve purchased for their pet, testifying their dog or cat has become more relaxed and active.
So what’s the truth? Let’s get into it.
Is cannabis toxic to pets?
It depends. Cannabis contains compounds called cannabinoids, which are one of the more well-known chemical components with potential benefits. There are hundreds of them, but the most famous one is THC.
Delta-9-THC is the cannabinoid responsible for the plant’s psychoactive effects. It is also the primary toxic compound for dogs and cats alike. This is the compound that will cause symptoms like vomiting, lethargy, and hypersalivation. In rare cases, it can cause seizures and even death. It’s important to keep any cannabis products containing THC away from pets.
Delta-9-THC is far from the only cannabinoid with potential benefits found in cannabis, though. CBD has emerged as an effective alternative medicine for humans treating conditions like anxiety and chronic pain. CBD is not toxic to dogs or cats, which has led to a lot of speculation about what benefits the cannabinoid could provide our pets.
What can CBD do for pets?
First of all, it’s important to understand how cannabinoids like CBD interact with not only our bodies, but animal bodies as well. Like humans, cats and dogs both have cannabinoid receptors located throughout their body which interact with the cannabinoids produced by cannabis.
Dogs are actually known to have a higher number of cannabinoid receptors in their brains compared to humans, which might explain why THC so adversely affects them. That also means dogs will need less CBD than humans in order to feel its effects, which is important to keep in mind.
So what are the benefits? In a recent study, many owners who used CBD for their dogs reported a reduction in pain, inflammation, and anxiety. The most notable side effect reported by owners was lethargy, which only occurred in less than 5 percent of pets studied.
Studies have also shown CBD could be an effective treatment for epilepsy in dogs. One such study found dogs who had been treated with the cannabinoid had a significant reduction in seizure frequency compared to the placebo group.
There is significantly less data on CBD and cats. There are some studies that show CBD is at the very least safe to consume for cats, however dogs are able to better absorb the cannabinoid.
From personal experience, I can tell you that my cat Wednesday is overall a much happier cat after she ingests CBD oil. I have observed a noticeable difference in her mood, especially when it came to aggression and nervousness.
Ultimately, it is best to proceed with caution when experimenting with CBD for your pets. There are a variety of different treats and oils being marketed to pet owners. Make sure to look for products that have been tested by accredited laboratories, and keep an eye out for any additives.