What veterinarians say about prescribing THC or CBD products

Published Apr 13, 2019 11:03 a.m. ET
Photo by Daniel Octavian on Unsplash

Now that legal marijuana has become an established industry, we have seen the eruption of THC and or CBD oils. The benefits of consuming both THC and CBD products for humans is well established, so it makes sense that pet owners might wonder how using oils that could be useful for a dog or cat. The thing is that a lot of people don’t realize there is a considerable difference between THC and CBD products, and that human research is limited, so pet statistics are even more difficult to come by. That does not mean these products cannot be of assistance; it’smerely the biggest reason for our veterinarian’s limited ability to work with them or prescribe them. There are also conflicting views on both sides of the argument, that stem mostly from which kinds of cannabinoids are being distributed to pets.

CBD products

CBD oil is commonly used in dog treats or on its own to treat inflammation of the joints and other medical conditions. It will not impair the animal at all as it works to alleviate painful or uncomfortable symptoms. CBD oil is derived from hemp plants and does not contain any THC.

THC products

THC oil is extracted from cannabis plants and may contain both THC and CBD. THC is the psychoactive compound that is used for both medicinal and recreational reasons as it provides a euphoric experience that can help to dull many different senses including pain in humans. The problem is that common household pets have not been heavily studied due to moral and ethical reasons, so while some vets might suggest a small dose of THC or CBD, others don’t believe that THC should ever be given to animals.

Can a veterinarian prescribe CBD products to my pet?

No, there is currently no legal way for any registered and licensed vet to prescribe CBD products. Some regions within both countries allow for the sales of CBD oil in veterinary clinics, but there are no medications that a vet can prescribe.

Can a veterinarian prescribe THC products to my pet?

Though there are currently ongoing clinical trials on pets using THC as a treatment for anxiety, pain, and more, there are no approved THC products on the market right now that are legal for the vet to prescribe for a pet.

Why doesn’t my veterinarian want to discuss THC or CBD products for my pet with me?

There are a few different reasons that many knowledgeable vets wouldn’t want to risk such a recommendation given the current status of cannabinoids.

  1. Cannabinoids have not been approved as a medication- According to the FDA, no products containing THC or CBD have been approved for medical use. This does not mean that they aren’t helpful; it just says that there are other more proven alternatives at this time. To garner official approval, the cannabinoids would need to be studied at length and show effectiveness similar to other prescribed medications on the market today which can take years.
  2. THC and CBD oils have not been heavily researched on animals- This is one that tends to be taken out of context and scares pet owners who believe that a lack of prior research means that THC or CBD products aren’t safe. Cannabinoids have been tested on animals in various ways, and so far CBD has shown to be entirely non-toxic to animals while THC remains controversial and less understood.
  3. Other traditional treatment options have proven beneficial- When it comes to our furry companions and painful injuries, it is essential that treatment is provided sooner rather than later for the best probable outcome. Often stronger more sedative medications are administered that will help a pet to remain still and rest as they heal. Since these medications have been used for years, the vet will have a pretty good idea of a sufficient amount to administer to provide relief as needed. With CBD or THC oils there is very little information to make an opinion on that is worth risking a patient's health over trying. If something were to go wrong like your pet ended up not getting relief or having an adverse reaction the vet would then be held liable which is not in their best interest.

Safe THC and CBD products for pets

If you are not getting the advice from your veterinarian, then there is always the option of doing your research. So far THC products that are under 3% THC have shown to be effective at managing pain, but that is the maximum threshold that has been monitored, and an easy number to go over. For now, it is safest to avoid THC products for your furry friend. Instead, use CBD oils either pure or mixed into dog treats. Some areas have restrictions on oils, and for them the is the option of premade dog treats like the Honest Paws line that is full of yummy healthy treats that contain small amounts of CBD (usually 5-10mg). Animals should always be started on the lowest dosage possible and monitored to scale the effectiveness. Just like with people, some dogs will take 5mg of CBD and feel great, while others of the same size might need 20mg. It’s a process that is slow and requires your utmost attention to achieve the best effects.

Benefits of CBD products for pets

CBD oil and other products can provide a host of benefits for a variety of medical conditions. CBD is great for relieving pain, reducing anxiety, fighting cancer, and reducing seizures. It’s also effective at fighting cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, depression, insomnia, lack of appetite, regulation of natural sugars, and more. CBD can also make an excellent supplement to avoid issues in breeds where chronic inflammation leads to more extensive problems later in life. It’s not psychoactive so can be added to your pet’s daily food regimen for an added boost even on the best of days.

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