In certain countries, cannabis is an option for people suffering from various ailments and seeking relief. Now, as research continues to emerge, pet parents are finding that medical cannabis can provide positive benefits for dogs as well. Whether a dog has cancer, seizures, or anxiety, cannabis oil can serve as an alternative medication to help treat symptoms. Here’s everything pet parents need to know about cannabis oil for dogs.
What Is Cannabis Oil?
• Cannabis oil is a liquid derived from the Cannabis plant. There are many ways to extract oil from the plant.
• The [cannabis] flower contains trichomes, which are glands that have essential oils.
• Once the glands are separated from the plant, they can be formulated to find the ideal ratio of cannabinoids.
Cannabis plants contain many different cannabinoids including:
- THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, which includes the psychoactive component).
- CBD (cannabidiol, the medical component).
• When you use cannabinoids together, it’s more effective than separately - the “entourage effect” offered by cannabis.
• Hemp products, on their own, contain less than 0.3 per cent THC.
• Depending on the nature of the product, if it contains little or no THC, then the dog is not going to get "high.”
What Are the Benefits of Cannabis Oil for Dogs?
Cannabis oil can be used to treat:
• Back Pain
• Gastrointestinal Issues, among other health conditions in dogs.
1. Relief is provided as the cannabinoids in cannabis interact with the endocannabinoid system - a series of receptors that run throughout the body.
2. The cannabinoids interact with the receptors in the body and modulate things like pain, anxiety, and nausea.
Unlike some traditional pain medicine for dogs, medical cannabis has no life-threatening side effects. It doesn’t damage the kidney, liver, or GI tract. The dogs aren’t high or sedated in lower doses.
What Are the Potential Risks of Cannabis Oil for Pets?
• Like any medications, overdosing can lead to potential risks for pets.
• The most significant is THC toxicity, meaning, essentially, they are high.
• Depending on how significantly a pet has overdosed, the effects of that can be quite long-lasting, even days.
• During these episodes, a pet may not be able to stand or eat.
• If you suspect an overdose, feed your pet activated charcoal.
• Life-threatening risks for dogs from medical cannabis are exceedingly rare; toxicity more often occurs when a pet has eaten a product that contains chocolate, coffee, or raisins.
• Even if the THC toxicity is not excessive, they can sometimes have problems due to these other ingredients. That said, ingestion of large amounts of marijuana has been unpleasant in several dogs. That is more so for the panicked owners.
• As with any medication, pet parents should be informed about all effects first before treating their dog with cannabis oil.
How Is Cannabis Oil Administered to Dogs?
Though there are some topical treatments, cannabis oil is typically administered orally to dogs.
• It also can be used in conjunction with traditional medications and treatments.
• Emerging research suggests there can be “synergistic benefits” between marijuana and traditional medications.
• There are few, if any, known significant drug interactions that you really need to be concerned about.
• Again, the correct dosage is imperative as is the case with any medication - success has everything to do with dosing.
• If you dose pets properly, then they are going to get the positive effect that you’re looking for while not having any psychoactive side effects.
Cannabis for dogs and cats is one thing. But cannabis for horses!? Yes, it’s true and it’s not a new concept in veterinary medicine. Cannabis has been used as a medical remedy for horses across the globe and the sands of time. From the ancient Greeks to modern-day farriers and horse owners, cannabis has been widely employed to successfully address a range of medical problems. There are numerous historical references to cannabis being used for sedation and as an adjunct to anaesthesia in equine medicine.
Overview of Potential Equine Therapeutic Applications for Cannabis
• Used in a poultice (medicated bandage) to treat skin wounds.
• Fresh leaves were used to dress horses’ sores, dried ones against nosebleed.
• A seed-based remedy used to treat tapeworms in horses.
• Used to treat colic and other gastrointestinal disorders.
Cannabis in Greek & Roman Cultures
Greek writers reported the use of cannabis in treating horses–especially for dressing sores and wounds–and in treating humans. Here we find the dried leaves used against nosebleed and the seeds used against tapeworms, but the most frequently mentioned treatment involves steeping the green seeds in a liquid such as water or a variety of wine, then pressing out the liquid, which when warmed was instilled into the ear as a remedy for pains and inflammations associated with blockages.
According to a collection of horse-remedies known as the “Berlin Hippiatrica”, the chopped leaves can be used to dress a wound: first some vinegar and pitch are brought to a full rolling boil, then wax, mustard, wheat-chaff, and roasted pine-resin are added, and the resulting mixture (presumably cooled) is applied liberally, then chopped cannabis leaves and grass trimmings are put on top before the wound is bound.
Another collection, the “Cambridge Hippiatrica,” offers a recipe for the treatment of tapeworms which is identical to the one cited above from pseudo-Galen “On ready remedies”.
A Remedy for Equine Colic? Until relatively recently, cannabis was found in a large number of veterinary medications designed to treat colic, spasmodic colon and other ailments in equine patients. The bottles of some of these drugs survive to provide us with evidence of the therapeutic benefits of this ubiquitous plant.
There was a time when U.S. Government supplied cannabis was a part of the standard first aid kit for troopers who also had to pull double duty as veterinarians while in the field.
The following excerpts are from a historical field manual issued to cavalry soldiers in the times when they rode horses rather than helicopters. Cannabis was used by the army primarily to treat intestinal disorders, wounds and other painful conditions in horses.
Source: The U.S. Cavalry Horse by William H Carter
A Modern Horse Owner’s First-Hand Account: While I have received several emails directly from horse owners outlining their personal experiences administering marijuana to their pets, one conversation, in particular, stands out.
Horse Owner Becky Flowers relayed her own experiences:
“I have owned my mare Phoenix for 7 years. She is a 13.3 hand Paso fino, about 17 years old. She has DSLD (Degenerative Suspensory Ligament Disease) and arthritis in her back and hips, mostly the right hip. She has always limped in the front.
I was giving Bute (Phenylbutazone, or “bute”, is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) on her bad days, 1 to 2 tablets. This helped some but didn’t last long.
Last month when our temperatures dropped to the teens she was unable to get up. Despite giving her 5 and 6 tablets, two blankets and leg warmers. I was having to feed and water her where she lay. On day three of barely getting up, she stopped eating. I decided to give cannabis a try before having her put down.
I gave 2 Bute and a teaspoon of cannabutter. Within 45 minutes she was up, walking, eating and drinking! I am now giving her just the teaspoon of cannabutter daily. I have skipped days to see if this was just coincidence. On the skipped days she is down and depressed.
I draw up the melted butter and water in a syringe and give it to phoenix. Every time, within 30 minutes she is up, appears pain-free, is free moving and happy.
I have been using the cannabutter for a month now and have never seen her move this well. She has gained weight, the coat is beautiful, she’s happy and walking“.
Brunner, T. 1973. Evidence of marijuana use in ancient Greece and Rome? The literary evidence. Bulletin of the History of Medicine 47(4): 344-55.
Brunner, T. 1977.Marijuana in Ancient Greece and Rome? The literary evidence. Journal of Psychedelic Drugs 9(3): 221-5.
Carter, William H., 2003. “The U.S. Cavalry Horse” p.298
Read cannabis success stories for pets HERE