Cannabis and cannabinoids as therapeutic agents for pets is a very hot topic in veterinary medicine. Currently, there is little evidence-based information regarding the use, dosing, and side effects of these agents when used in pets. Making things more difficult are the varied number of products on the market with wide-ranging formulations, strains, and dosing regimens available.
What is it?
Marijuana is classified by the DEA as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance and includes all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa. Cannibanoids are found in the flowering tops, resin, and leaves of the plant which are then produced into the two most popular forms, THC (tetrahydrocannabinols) and CDB (cannabidiols). THC yields the typical euphoric effects seen in humans including anti-inflammatory, anti-emetic, and analgesic effects, but is known to be highly toxic to pets. While the mechanism of action is still unknown, CBD does affect the nervous system but does not produce the characteristic euphoric effects. Hemp is a third product made from the stalk and sterilized seeds of the Cannabis plant and is not a significant source of THC and CBD.
Is it Safe for Pets?
To date, CBD and hemp have not undergone the required scientific review to ensure safety for use in animals. While many products are available, no studies, doses, or uses in veterinary medicine have been determined. The use of these products in any form in animals is not approved by the FDA, as the safety and efficacy of these products cannot be ensured.
While there may be a place for CBD in the future, there is not enough scientific evidence to promote its use and owners who would like to use the product do so at their own risk. If you are interested in alternative treatment options for your pet, please feel free to discuss them with your veterinarian to ensure that the best care and long-term outcome is provided to your furry companions.
Dr. Diaz graduated from the University of Florida and joined Friendship in 2015. Dr. Diaz completed her internship at Friendship in 2016 and has been a staff doctor ever since. Her professional interests include shelter medicine and international outreach.