CANNABIS AS AN ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
and the safest way to use it on pets
Written By: MIRANDA LASALA
The topic of cannabis has been stirring the debate scene for quite some time now. With the recent legalization of marijuana in Canada and several states in the United States, more and more people are getting into the pro-cannabis bandwagon. Cannabis for pets is a relatively new field that many are getting interested in. There are numerous anecdotal reports claiming that cannabis has helped alleviate certain conditions in animals like osteoarthritis, gout, bowel problems, asthma, and seizures among many others.
Usually, pet owners would go through a series of conventional treatments before dipping their toes into cannabis as the treatment of choice. It is maybe because veterinarians are not legally allowed to prescribe cannabis to their patients. Despite the stigma and unavailability of studies and support, pet owners are getting more inclined to use cannabis as an alternative drug in lieu of the conventional ones.
The main reason for this is the plethora of side effects brought about by conventional medications while cannabis, if used properly, has little to none. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, for example, may cause stomach ulcers, bleeding, and kidney problems in dogs. These drugs are given to alleviate inflammation and pain which are common to pets with osteoarthritis and gout.
Cannabis mimics the anti-inflammatory effect of NSAIDs without the risk of developing
these complications. Anxiolytics may cause lethargy, vomiting, weakness and low blood pressure. Cannabis, specifically cannabidiol (CBD), naturally improves mood and alleviates anxiety by activating the serotonin receptors.
Chemotherapy is the most common course of treatment in case of tumor growth. The side effects of anticancer medications, however, are the main reason why some would stop and discontinue treatment. Cannabis has anti-cancer properties and is also thought to be protecting healthy cells while stopping tumor growth.
Cannabis offers a lot of promising benefits with lesser side effects to humans and, since we are very much alike, to animals as well. Although most effects are the same, the dosage and route of administration that may work for you may not be the best option for them.
Here are 3 safe ways to use Cannabis on your pets:
Cannabis administration through tincture is the most common route especially or first-timers. Cannabis tinctures are derived when cannabis blooms are soaked in alcohol and then heated. Much of the other compounds in cannabis are neutralized after this process leaving the potent cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) behind. Some would mix the derivative in oils and other ingredients to improve its flavor.
Tinctures are usually given orally, under the tongue. This allows for cannabis to be absorbed faster since it comes in contact with the bloodstream. Some pet owners would also opt to mix it with their pets’ food. This way, cannabis becomes more palatable. Tinctures are intended to be given in small amounts, thus the dropper that comes within the package. Tinctures can be a good method of
administration for pets that need immediate relief such as in the case of acute pain and anxiety attacks.
Edibles are given to pets in the form of treats. Can you barely think of any instance when a dog or a cat refused a treat or two? In fact, they seem to be drawn to it! Pet owners may take advantage of their affiliation with treats when giving treatments seems to be an impossible task.
Cannabis edibles are ingested orally and have to go through the digestive process. It is released slowly over long periods of time while being digested with food. This means that it will take longer for cannabis edibles to take effect (usually between 30 minutes to 2 hours) but its effect will also last longer (around 2 to 4 hours longer than other routes). Pet owners should be wary of this bit of information so as to avoid giving too many treats and causing an overdose. Edibles can be harmful if ingested irresponsibly.
Edibles may be a good route of administration for long-term use such as in the case of cannabis taken as supplements and pain relief for chronic pain.
This is possibly the safest way to give cannabis to your pet. Topicals are usually in the form of lotions, balms, ointments or oils. These are applied through the skin and are absorbed through the pores. You might have to apply excessively for you to reach the desired effect due to its external mode of application. It is also because of this that overdose would not be a concern. And because it is applied through the skin, it provides a localized effect targeting only the affected area. This is a good choice for the treatment of skin irritation, allergies, and joint pains.
There are other ways to give cannabis to your pets but you may want to steer away from giving them second-hand pot smoke. It is not only harmful to their sensitive lungs, but it may also open them to the risk of toxicity as dosage through this route is not controlled. At this point, there is no single regulation as to how it should be given and how much is prescribed. Cannabis administration to pets is still at the trial-and-error stage. Should you wish to give it a try, remember to start slow and low then gradually increase. And remember to keep an open eye all the time!