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With eight states in the U.S., including California, legalizing marijuana for adult use, more people are beginning to see signs in local pet stores or dispensaries advertising CBD (Cannabidiol) use for pets. Cannabis businesses are investing in the pet market, offering CBD dog supplements and other marijuana wellness products.
Marijuana use for medical purposes is becoming increasingly popular among humans. While traditional employer-based healthcare coverage, which two in five Americans under 65 have, isn’t likely to cover medical marijuana, the drug is being used to treat a variety of health issues. But unlike physicians, California veterinarians are unable to give pet owners advice or recommendations regarding medical marijuana under state laws. Depending on state rules, vets may even risk losing their license if they even talk about the subject with their customers.
Despite all marijuana products, including CBD, being illegal under federal law, pet owners are allowed to purchase CBD and marijuana products for their pets in states where it’s legal. While almost two-thirds of pet owners in 2014 said they had some difficulty finding an apartment that allowed them to live with their pet, pet owners also face other issues, like finding health care options for their furry friends.
Regardless of the controversy surrounding marijuana for medical use, many veterinarians promote medical cannabis for animals. Dr. Gary Richter, a veterinarian of 20 years, has been researching the use of marijuana for the past three years. Richter stands by the vets who want to change the regulations restricting their ability to recommend medical marijuana for their patients.
“While there are some differences in how cannabis affects pets compared to humans, they can benefit in many of the same ways people do,” Richter explained. He adds that his professional experience “has shown me that there is enormous potential to treat medical conditions with cannabis.”
While consuming traditional marijuana, with the active ingredient THC, may give animals temporary symptoms of dilated pupils, staggering reflexes, and a nervous personality, CBD alone shows immense promise in treating health conditions in humans and animals alike.
Because THC can be dangerous to animals, it’s important cannabis is used only for medicine for pets. Vets like Richter believe that cannabis should be given based on a veterinarian’s analysis and recommended dosages to prevent complications.
While there are dangers of ingesting marijuana for animals, there is scientific research that shows the health benefits of CBD. One study released by Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine gave hemp oil treatment to dogs suffering from joint pain and osteoarthritis. The study found that 80% of the dogs showed significant improvement after receiving the treatment.
Because of the regulations surrounding veterinarians’ ability to recommend CBD products, vets have made little improvement in research regarding animal use of marijuana products. But vets recommend that any owner using CBD products for their animals should be cautious of formulation and dosing.