Dog owners whose pets are coping with aches, pains, and terminal illnesses are increasingly turning to a drug many humans have found to be effective against those very same ailments—cannabis. Some report that their suffering canine companions revert to their happy, active selves after ingesting some form of cannabis.
There’s no reason, theoretically, why this should be a problem. But then, unlike humans, pets can’t give their consent to this form of treatment. Not to mention a few, less altruistic pet owners could be getting their pets stoned more for entertainment value than for any medicinal benefit.
Do vets recommend pot for pets?
Vets are wary of marijuana as an effective animal treatment due to the lack of scientific data on the matter. Veterinarians in California, for instance, are legally prevented from prescribing cannabis. Failure to observe this regulation could result in the loss of a license.
Pet owners want to do whatever they can to make their pet comfortable and happy, especially when it comes to palliative care. But administering pot to a pet can be tricky, as a dog’s size and weight make a difference in how they react to cannabis, and how long the drug’s effects last.
What’s most important to know is that sharing your own pot products with your pets is not a good idea. Vets caution that human edibles with too high a dose of THC (the compound that gives pot its psychoactive effects) can be toxic to a dog, possibly causing vomiting, tremors, incontinence, or fast or slow heart rates. And many edibles for people contain chocolate, which can be fatal for dogs.
The pot-for-pets market
Cannabis-based extracts, topical ointments, and edibles are marketed as alternative medicines for pets’ end-of-life care as well as for treating arthritis, anxiety, cancer, seizures, poor appetite, pain, inflammation, glaucoma, and kidney and liver problems.
While most cannabis-laced pet products are not regulated, the majority do not contain THC. Pot products for pets do contain cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical compound extracted from cannabis, but it delivers pain relief rather than a high.
Anecdotal evidence leads the pack when it comes to feedback about pot for pets. Owners who don’t want their beloved companion to hurt have no qualms about going natural in the form of cannabis. Moreover, many owners swear that a dose of cannabis makes trips to the vet or groomer far less taxing for everyone involved.
Is it legal?
The Food and Drug Administration has not approved the use of cannabis to treat pets (or people, for that matter). What’s more, the federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule-1 drug, which technically makes the possession or use of pot a crime throughout the United States. But the U.S. government has taken no action against medical marijuana, which is now available in more than half the states, so it’s doubtful that the feds are going to come after you for giving Fido some pot-infused treats to ease those canine aches and pains.
But don’t even think about amusing yourself by getting your dog stoned (or drunk, either)—that’s abuse and could get you charged with animal cruelty.