The medical possibilities of cannabis for humans has been the subject of decades of research and debate. However, the therapeutic potential of cannabis for pets is almost completely unknown. Despite these circumstances, an increasing number of pet owners in the U.S. are using cannabis-derived products to help their furry companions with pain or illness.
Using Cannabis for Pets When Nothing Else Works
You don’t have to look far to find stories from owners who say cannabis came to the rescue when conventional pharmaceuticals proved ineffective. In recent years, new therapeutic cannabis products have appeared on the market, specifically geared towards pets. Companies like Treat Well, Canna-Pet, and CannaCompanion now offer owners ointments, tinctures, capsules, and more to treat a number of ailments.
Most products contain cannabidiol, or CBD, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid found on the cannabis plant. While these products are not regulated by any government or health agencies, companies argue that they can help pets with a variety of issues, including pain, inflammation, arthritis, anxiety, seizures, glaucoma, and overall quality of life.
Just like human beings, animals have endocannabinoid systems. This receptor system binds cannabinoids and causes a variety of physical and chemical changes in the body, resulting in altered physical or mental states. Like humans, animals can be affected by cannabinoids in a variety of ways. This has led many to believe that using cannabinoids to treat animals could have therapeutic results.
But Vets Can’t Prescribe Cannabis for Pets
The key difference, however, is that animals are more prone to overdose. Unfortunately, veterinarians cannot be of much help to owners on this matter. Because cannabis is still illegal under U.S. federal law, veterinarians cannot prescribe it, not even for medical purposes. They risk losing their license if they do so. In addition, most veterinarians say more research is needed into the therapeutic effects of cannabis for non-human animals. Due to the scarcity of research, veterinarians are currently unable to give any answers or advice to owners interested in using cannabis to treat their pets, despite an increasing volume of questions as medical cannabis becomes legalized in more states.
While veterinarians cannot legally prescribe cannabis, some practitioners are pioneering new ways of using cannabis to treat non-human animals. Holistic veterinary acupuncturist and chiropractor Gary Richter, for instance, offers courses in using cannabis as a treatment for diseases, illness, and chronic conditions in pets. Based in Oakland, Richter offers what many pet owners are seeking: alternative treatment when conventional pharmaceutical drugs don’t work effectively. However, research will remain a challenging undertaking for scientists until federal laws and stigmas around cannabis change.