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What to Know About Cannabis and Pets

Animal lovers across Canada frequently ask questions regarding cannabis and pets, a subject with many aspects and responsibilities to consider. Some pet owners are already treating their furry friend with cannabis for its potential therapeutic properties but it is important to know the current legalities and risks around this practice. Read on to explore more on this topic.

Public perception has again outpaced current government regulations. A good example is a 2016 survey published by the AHVMA sharing that as many as 60 percent of dog owners and 12 percent of cat owners admitted to using hemp-derived CBD products. An interesting pre-legalization statistic that is sure to increase in popularity as cannabis becomes more normalized. 

These illegal products typically include CBD treats and infused tinctures that have been available for sale mostly online. A good majority of these products are sold as hemp-based therapy. What this means is that the product typically contains a THC concentration of no more than three-tenths of one percent (0.3%) on a dry weight basis. Never self-dose your pet or assume a product is safe to use unless it is recommended by a vet and is from a legal source.

Similar to medical cannabis, there is very little research about the effects and toxicity of cannabis use for pets. Although there have been several surveys and studies done with favourable results there are still no established appropriate dosages for dogs and cats. However, there are several studies now taking place in the US and internationally which should provide more data.

Even though medical cannabis has been available in Canada for some time already, legalization is still very new and there are no regulated products for pets approved by Health Canada at this time. Veterinarians can only legally prescribe government-approved products, which means pets will have to wait until these are available for sale. Interestingly, the topic of cannabis and the endocannabinoid system is considered a holistic treatment by most vets but it is now being taught to students in their curriculum in college.

Pet owners should know that it is scientifically impossible to eliminate all THC from cannabis and all products would have trace amounts, even hemp products. An article from the GEORGIA STRAIGHT says dogs have a higher number of cannabinoid receptors in their brains than humans and caution pet lovers about the increased risk of activated THC producing adverse effects.

It is easier to make an informed decision when you know all the factors, so do your research. Always talk to your vet about your animal’s options and proceed at your own risk. Also, it is never good to blow inhaled cannabis smoke into an animal’s nose or mouth. Keep all cannabis products safely stored away at all times to prevent accidental overdoes.

References: straight.com, The GrowthOp, College of Veterinarians of Ontario, canadianveterinarians.net, Leaflyrover.com.

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