2001-Sat Jan 21 06:14:30 MST 2017
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
Editor’s note: Dr. Narda Robinson is the country’s leading
authority on scientific integrative medicine (SIM). Dr. Robinson is a scholar,
researcher and widely read author on evidence-based approaches to SIM.
Both the promises and perils of medical marijuana (MMJ) point to the need for science-based education, regulation and research. Many of us living in Colorado, one of the first states to legalize the sale of marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes, find ourselves touched deeply on a daily basis by stories that both uplift as well as cause grave concern for
our veterinary patients.
On the up side, marijuana appears to afford a “lifesaving” alternative for a daunting gamut of difficult-to-treat disorders, including
intractable epilepsy (seizure disorders that drugs cannot control). For companion animals, even the
American Veterinary Medical Association website carries testimonials favoring veterinary cannabis, in which caregivers attest to significant benefits in their animals, who were
unresponsive or intolerant of mainstream pharmaceuticals.
Now that marijuana is becoming legal to buy for humans in a growing number of states, many are trying it on animals. But should you be administering it to your pet? Should your veterinarian?
Because of the higher toxicity of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in
compared to humans, many cannabis products sold for dogs list cannabidiol (CBD) instead of THC as the main active ingredient. (THC is the substance in cannabis that typically makes human users high.) Websites selling CBD-predominant substances for
claim that their products are “completely safe” but lack reliable research to back those claims. There are, in fact, many potentially helpful chemicals in the cannabis plant, but THC and CBD usually outnumber the rest, although amounts are dependent on the strain of plant. What that means is that the ratio of cannabinoids (i.e., chemicals in the cannabis plant) differs among plants based on their genetics. While the CBD in cannabis does not make someone “high” in the usual sense, it may benefit human patients with various medical problems, including Crohn’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and multiple sclerosis. CBD reduces pain, inflammation and anxiety as well as seizure activity. Research suggests that CBD has lower toxicity and higher tolerability than THC in both humans and non-humans. However, research has not yet established safe dosing guidelines for either population, partly because of highly restrictive federal laws that prohibit scientists from thoroughly
investigating its effects.
Lacking rigorous scientific evidence, veterinarians cannot determine safe dosages and THC/CBD ratios of medical marijuana for dogs,
cats and other animals. Veterinarians and owners are left relying on anecdotal reports, trial and error and companies’ claims. If the tolerable and safe dose, whatever that might be, is exceeded, an animal
may land in the local veterinary emergency clinic, and there are no antidotes for THC poisoning. While many insist that marijuana overdoses cannot kill, the consequences of cannabis
can indeed turn deadly in dogs as the result of
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
Want to choose the best food for your
pet? Here's why you shouldn't fear
preservatives or fall for marketing…
Electronic cigarettes may be growing in
popularity, but their higher concentrations
of nicotine can poison cats and…
Are you handling your pet the right way?
Our vet shares five things your pup wishes
you knew about picking him up.
We combed through 505,270 kitten
names to determine the hottest male
and female monikers of the year.
We scoured our database of 1.1 million
dogs to find out which male and female
monikers reigned supreme this past…
The laid-back American Wirehair’s crimped, coarse coat requires almost no brushing or combing.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.