Many pet owners turning to canine cannabis, but is it safe?
Ross McLaughlin and Sandra Hermiston, CTV Vancouver
Published Monday, July 17, 2017 6:00AM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 19, 2017 8:41AM PDT
Medical marijuana has sparked huge business in Vancouver, but humans aren’t the only ones turning to its benefits. Cannabis therapy for pets is becoming increasingly popular, and some pet owners swear by it. But before you think about using it on your four-legged friends, you should know it’s not without risks.
Kyle Neilsen's Leonberger, Anna, wasn't always a playful pooch, until he started giving her cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical compound in marijuana.
Neilsen says the CBD therapy helped Anna cope with a painful birth defect.
“From her shoulder down is all deformed,” he explained, “With how many surgeries she had, it was always sore. She's now much happier. She seems less depressed. She has a lot more energy."
Dana Larsen, founding director of the Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary, sells canine products, including oils and dog treats, that contain CBD.
"It's still a small proportion of our overall client base but we're seeing more and more interest and discussion about this,” said Larsen, “It can provide all the same treatments that you get for people."
But not all veterinarians are sold on the idea.
"As a veterinarian we don't have neither the legal backing nor the scientific research to really be able to prescribe it to these animals," said Adrian Walton with the Dewdney Animal Hospital.
But Maya Kovacevic-Miladinovic is a veterinarian at Healing Paws who supports the use of canine CBD therapy.
“We use it for osteo-arthritis pain, anxiety, seizure management,” she explained.
Both vets agree that Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the ingredient in marijuana that provides the high, is a problem. They’ve seen overdosing problems in pets who have ingested THC.
“It can actually be quite toxic and fatal to our patients,” said Kovacevic-Miladinovic.
And even too much CBD can be toxic too if people don’t follow the right amount and dosage.
“My main concern would be cats,” said Walton.
That’s because cats' livers only process meat and not plants. Still, CBD products are being marketed towards felines.
If you are considering this type of therapy for your pet, you should consult a vet first. You also want to ensure you’re getting a pure product, as well as having blood tests and monitoring done to make sure your four-legged friend isn’t harmed.
The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association has yet to take a position on the use of CBD with pets.
The BC SPCA understands why pet owners would want to use cannabis products but warns people to keep products out of pets reach especially products like marijuana butter and oil which are very dangerous because of the higher concentrations of THC.