Is Marijuana Good For Your Dog?

Lindsey ZimmermanDog Health, Senior Dogs

There has been much controversy over the last couple of years regarding the legalization of marijuana for both recreational and medicinal purposes. It’s hard to keep track of the numbers – currently 8 states have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes (California, Colorado, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Vermont, and Washington) and 29 states for medicinal purposes.

There has been much discussion about medicinal marijuana and its uses in curbing anxiety, treating epilepsy, cancer and more illnesses and symptoms. However, it is important to note the difference between marijuana and cannabis versus hemp.

Like many other products, although marijuana was originally consumed by humans, it quickly spread to the pet industry. The sale of pet-related hemp products has skyrocketed, particularly for senior dogs.

This begs the question: are dogs going to pot?

The Difference Between Human Marijuana and Pet Formulated CBD

For many years, hemp was illegal across the United States because it was lumped in with all forms of cannabis. Where recreational marijuana is legal, you can find all forms of cannabis, even on grocery store shelves. It comes in all formats – seeds, powders, oils, etc.

Know there is a big difference between the herb cannabis versus marijuana.

Both hemp and cannabis come from the plant Cannabis sativa. The cannabis plant contains more than 80 chemicals called cannabinoids. The two main types of cannabinoids are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Products containing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, have a psychoactive component that creates the “high” many people talk about. Veterinary products generally do not contain THC but are compromised of the pain-relieving substance cannabidiol, or CBD.

Marijuana has a THC content of 10 – 15%, while hemp has a THC content of 0.3% or less. The hemp that has therapeutic effects on dogs contains CBD. Therefore, hemp should not get your dog high.

The Facts

  • According to the ASPCA’s animal poison directory, marijuana — the Cannabis Sativa L.plant — is toxic to dogs, cats and horses.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved marijuana or CBD for use in animals.
  • It is illegal for vets to prescribe cannabis to pets in all 50 states because of federal and state laws. There is a thin line between educating pet owners about cannabis versus prescribing a Schedule 1 drug.
  • There has been no long-term research to determine the effects of either hemp or marijuana on dogs.
  • Hemp products are available legally in all 50 states.

However, many veterinarians such as Dr. Greg Richter, a veterinarian in California, and Dr. Rob Silver, a holistic vet and pet herbalist in Colorado, have diligently been trying to educate pet owners and legislators on the benefits of treating pets with cannabis (not just CBD). Silver has even published a book, Medical Marijuana & Your Pet: The Definitive Guide, which draws on his research and experience to help people determine whether cannabinoid treatment is right for their animal.

The Benefits of CBD and Dogs
A few studies have shown that CBD can relieve ailments in dogs caused by:

  • Anxiety and Stress
  • Arthritis
  • Back pain
  • Cancer
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Lack of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Seizures

What are the risks? Dosage is key. As with any medication, pet parents should consult their veterinarian first before treating their dog with cannabis oil. While there has been no veterinary-backed research to determine the exact dosage for CBD oil in dogs, online companies like Canna Companion have tested dosages and recommend specific doses for dogs based on size. You can also find CBD oil at your local, independently owned pet store, along with recommended doses.

How should it be administered? For some ailments like arthritis, oil is administered topically. The most common method is through a tincture or oil sold in a small bottle that comes with a dropper and is recommended for use by the drop or milliliter and spread on a dog’s tongue.

Proceed with Caution
At Help ‘Em Up™, we are not here to give medical advice – we leave that in the capable hands of veterinarians. Out best suggestion is to do your homework and proceed very slowly when thinking about CBD oil. And marijuana itself? We’ll cover that in the next blog.