Medical cannabis websites and recommendations for pet treatments and supplements are common on the Internet, and becoming more popular every day.

There are various ways to use medical cannabis in conjunction with exercise, a healthy diet, and healthy pet life choices that many websites recommend. Pets are a special part of many families, and may be a person’s only family; they should be treated well and taken care of. For some families and individuals, this may include medical cannabis in the pet’s diet or as a supplement.

Why Use Medical Cannabis for Pets?

Cannabis for pets is considered by many pet owners to be an option for skittish pets or those with high anxiety levels. During independence holidays like the Fourth of July in the United States, Mexican Independence Day in México, or Guy Fawkes Day in the United Kingdom, pets such as dogs and cats may become agitated by the noise of fireworks and revelry in the streets. Dogs seem to become very frightened by the incessant booming and sharp pops and cracks characterized by personal or governmental fireworks displays. Pet owners such as Betsy and Andy Firebaugh of Santa Cruz, California, in the United States (where medical cannabis is legal) have considered using CBD oil as a calming agent to help pets’ anxiety during fireworks displays.

People who have their own personal positive experiences with CBD oil and medical cannabis naturally want to share their success and symptom relief with their beloved pets. Other reasons people may want to offer medical cannabis to their pets is for pain relief, particularly in older animals who are suffering or have difficulty moving about. R. Scott Nolen of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) wrote of a dog suffering from cancer which had a very limited prognosis and unproductive life on traditional pain medication, but regained appetite and activity hours after receiving a medical cannabis tincture from the owner. Owners of cats and horses have reported similar effects in their animals.

How is Medical Cannabis Used with Pets?


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Medical cannabis’ success for human patients and animals depends on the proper dosage, and weight has the most bearing on dosage. For animals, the dosage must be adjusted to ensure that the tincture will be effective. Websites exist that recommend the use of medical cannabis CBD supplements and oils for animals for the following conditions:

  • Cancer
  • Digestive tract health and nausea
  • Anxiety and phobias
  • Joint pain, arthritis, and mobility issues
  • Pain and inflammation due to injury, illness, or age
  • Epilepsy and seizures
  • Aging
  • Overall wellness
  • Skin health
  • Allergies

Medical cannabis for pets comes in different forms, such as CBD capsules, CBD oils, or cat treats and dog biscuits. Some medical cannabis products in the United States are available at veterinary clinics, pet healthcare clinics, and grooming salons. In Europe, countries such as Greece, Finland, the Czech Republic, Portugal, the Netherlands, Germany, and Spain allow medical cannabis treatments and imports, which some pet owners may use for pets. Medical cannabis in the form of CBD oil, which has no psychoactive effects, is the only type of medical cannabis that pet owners should consider – high-THC medical cannabis products could produce side effects that are dangerous and undesirable for both pets and pet owners. Not all veterinarians are on board with medical cannabis for pets, however. Speaking with the vet about a pet in pain or with anxiety is highly recommended prior to treatment.

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What are the Side Effects of Medical Cannabis in Pets?

Medical cannabis products like low- or zero-THC CBD oil have very few noticeable effects in pets – the most severe might be drowsiness. In addition, cannabis toxicity as a result of pet consumption of cannabis edibles is nonfatal and causes no known long-term side effects. Due to the side effects of high-THC strains of cannabis on animals, to which dogs are highly sensitive, medical cannabis products like CBD oil which contain little to no THC are recommended for pets, according to U.S. veterinarian Steve Blauvelt. Administering high-THC cannabis products to a dog can result in THC overdose, or static ataxia. The cost of providing a constant stream of CBD oil or other CBD supplement for a pet per month is estimated at $20 to $40 per month in the U.S., which is comparable to a prescription drug for pain or anxiety. Despite these positive reviews, success stories, and recommendations, veterinarians such as Gary Richter, DVM, caution pet owners on the following points:

  • Medical cannabis affects animals differently than humans
  • Medical cannabis companies for pets have little present quality control
  • Few professional pet care specialists can provide dosage guidance
  • Illegality of medical cannabis in places like the U.S. prevents research and funding

As Richter, a veterinarian out of Oakland, California in the U.S. noted, vets generally have no problem recommending “off-label medications,” or those that are not approved for use in pets. Medical cannabis, in Richter’s opinion and those of many loving pet owners, is just like the off-label medications, and has the added benefit of helping pets live a happier, healthier, and more pain-free lives.

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