First, let's look at some facts.
- According to the ASPCA's animal poison directory, marijuana â€” the Cannabis Sativa L. plant â€” is toxic to dogs, cats and horses.
- Trupanion, one of the largest pet insurers, has paid over $78,000 in suspected marijuana claims to date, with marijuana toxicity being the biggest culprit.
- Trupanion has treated marijuana ingestion for dogs of all shapes and sizes. The average marijuana toxicity claim costs about $525 on average to treat.
- Dogs are prone to counter surfing and swiping items (particularly food) off the counters. Many dogs have developed toxicity not only from eating the marijuana, but from other ingredients (such as chocolate) in marijuana laced brownies, gummi bears, etc.
- In certain states, many pet owners are afraid to tell their veterinarians that their pets have eaten marijuana, so many cases go untreated or are mis-reported.
- Veterinarians have reported dogs being treated not only from ingesting marijuana but the second-hand smoke. Symptoms include impaired coordination, excessive urination and even loss of control of urination (incontinence), drooling, vomiting, lethargy, depression, dilated pupils, and light and sound sensitivity and in severe cases, seizures and coma.
- One emergency animal hospital in Colorado (where recreational marijuana is legal) reports that it treats five dogs a day for ingestion of marijuana, according to Fox31 in Denver.
There seems to be a consensus that like prescription medications, marijuana should be kept out of the hands of children and the paws of pets. If you know that your dog has ingested some marijuana, take him to the vet immediately for observation to be on the safe side.
Can Marijuana Help Your Pet?
This is where the facts get murky. Some pet owners and veterinarians are giving their dogs marijuana to successfully treat illnesses and symptoms such as cancer, seizures, back pain, nausea, arthritis, and anxiety with great results.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved marijuana for any use in animals.
- There is a major difference between veterinary and human marijuana products, and even a large difference amongst the various human products. Products containing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, have a psychoactive component that creates the 'high' many people talk about. Veterinary products generally do not contain THC but are compromised of the pain-relieving substance cannabidiol, or CBD.
- Some pet owners report that CBD is more effective in reducing pain without the side effects of traditional pain medications. It has been known to reduce inflammation in dogs who have stiffness and arthritis.
- Some preliminary studies have shown that CBD helps to fight cancer.
- CBD has been shown to help dogs with anxiety. Many dogs are anxious about loud noises, stress, separation anxiety, etc.
- One of the biggest uses for CBD is to help reduce and completely stop seizures in both adults and children that suffer from epilepsy. It is reported that up to 5% of dogs suffer from epilepsy. Pet owners report that traditional epilepsy medications can damage a dog's liver and other organs over time.
- If your dog suffers from gastrointestinal issues, CBD has been known to help with gut motility.
Err on the Side of Caution
The best advice? Talk to your veterinarian before using any marijuana laced products for your pet. It's important to choose products derived from hemp and not cannabis. Keep doing your research as more pet-friendly products and more research becomes available because no current long-term studies exist.