Using cannabis to treat your pet: An up-and-coming segment of the market

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved cannabis for use in animals

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Using cannabis to treat your pet: An up-and-coming segment of the market

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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Having a pet is one of life’s greatest pleasures. A furry companion can enhance your mood and enrich your life in more ways than one. However, when your furry friend becomes sick, an expensive trip to the vet’s is usually the outcome.

Enter cannabis for pets. This natural green plant contains an abundance of CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). If made legal for pets, it could be a safer and cost-effective alternative to traditional pet medicines.

Understanding CBD for pets

Non-psychoactive CBD is a highly therapeutic cannabinoid favored by doctors and healthcare professionals for its ability to relieve anxiety, chronic pain and treat a broad spectrum of medical illnesses and ailments, including cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease.

CBD for pets is an up-and-coming niche that is attracting the attention of investors and pet owners alike. In fact, cannabis dispensaries spread across Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon saw CBD pet product sales climb 19 percent between the first half of 2018 and the second half. This is according to the vice president of operations for BDS Analytics, Greg Schoenfeld.

Based on a statement published on the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website, CBD is a cannabinoid that possesses therapeutic promise for treating patients who suffer from pain and epilepsy. On the other hand, veterinary professionals are concerned that more adequate research is necessary before vets can prescribe CBD for pets.

Pet owners cautioned by the FDA about using cannabis to treat their furry companions

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved cannabis for use in animals and the organization “cautions pet-owners against using such products.” On the other hand, one U.S. state is taking strides towards making medical cannabis available for pets: Massachusetts.

An advisory has been prepared by the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association to inform vets of the legal status regarding speaking about cannabis with clients. While it is legal to discuss the potential of using CBD for pets, the association suggests that vets remain cautious when recommending CBD products because the amount of existing research on the plant’s therapeutic potential is limited.

“It’s a Wild West,” said the association’s executive director, Susan Curtis. “There’s not a lot of science behind it. That’s what we’re up against right now,” she states, adding that, “we’re going to see things change very quickly” as a direct effect of the 2018 Farm Bill being enacted.

Animals have an endocannabinoid system just like their owners

With an array of cannabis pet products permeating the pot market, such as edibles, oils, capsules, and lotions, it’s not surprising that this niche is blowing wide open.

Although more research is needed, some studies have shown the benefits of CBD for pets, with a 2018 study published by Cornell University demonstrating potential for using CBD oil to treat dogs with osteoarthritis.

Then again, it is important to note that cannabis may potentially pose a risk to animals. Even the smallest amount of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) can be toxic to a dog since dogs have more cannabinoid receptors inside their endocannabinoid system than humans do. The system is what interacts with the cannabinoids to produce biological effects.

It is advisable to consult with a licensed veterinarian before treating your pet with medical cannabis.