Every day, in every way, cannabis legalization in Canada is getting closer. But despite all the hype, noise, and publicity, there seem to be recurring cannabis myths flying around that just won’t quit.
With 14 days to go until federal legalization, Grow’s daily Cannabusters series tackles common myths by cutting through the stigma and sensationalism to bring you the facts about cannabis.
Myth: Cannabis is safe for pets.
Fact: THC and unregulated CBD products can be toxic to animals.
Cannabis is soon-to-be legal across the country for adult-use, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to share your pot with your pooch.
Dr. Katherine Kramer, a Vancouver-based veterinarian and long-standing advocate for the research and therapeutic use of cannabis for animals, is seeing an increased number of pets needing treatment for cannabis toxicity.
“One of the telltale signs is that they develop urinary incontinence and start dribbling urine,” Dr. Kramer told Daily Hive over the phone.
“It can look like anything from being dopey to hyperactive, and they will usually start to stagger.”
Dr. Kramer said that CBD products can be relatively safe, but that THC poses risks to animals.
“Dogs are much more receptive to THC because they have about 10 times the number of cannabinoid receptors in their brain than we do,” said Dr. Kramer.
Cannabis toxicity depends on the dose and what else it’s mixed with. For example, chocolate is also toxic for dogs, so if your furry friend gorges on a high dose brownie, he can develop seizures.
Blowing smoke in your dog’s face can also be potentially toxic since it sends THC directly to the bloodstream. Plus, it can be considered an act of cruelty.
Dr. Kramer said that most dogs recover from cannabis toxicity without any longterm side effects.
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CBD for pets
While THC can have potentially harmful consequences for your pet, Dr. Kramer sees many therapeutic benefits with CBD.
“A lot of pets do really well with CBD.”
“The big things that we’re seeing already and what it’s being researched for are seizures, arthritis, anxiety, and chronic pain. And there is some thought that it may help with things like glaucoma, heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure – the list goes on and on.”
In Dr. Kramer’s practice, CBD is being used to treat animals with epilepsy, allergies, and cancer, both in the form of palliative care and during chemotherapy.
“Unfortunately, it’s not legal for me as a veterinarian to prescribe or recommend CBD. I’m not even supposed to talk about it unless my client brings it up.”
The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association is openly advocating for vets to be able to use CBD as a therapy, and vets are becoming more educated about it as more courses and research become available.
Dr. Kramer also said that clients should be asking their vets about CBD.
“If enough people are asking their vets these questions, they have no choice. They have to get educated.”
While there is currently no legal way for pet owners to access CBD as pet medication, there are places on the grey market where it continues to be available.
However, Dr. Kramer cautions when choosing to incorporate CBD into your pet’s wellness routine.
“Some animals, not a lot, will get psychotropic effects from CBD. I’ve seen in my own patients.”
Furthermore, Dr. Kramer said that because people will be accessing an unregulated product, it’s necessary to use caution. She advises asking for a certificate of analysis to know what’s in the product, and also a verification of the dosing.
“Start low and go slow is the current motto,” said Dr. Kramer.
“I’ve seen in my own patients that dosing is not standard. It does tend to differ from pet to pet.”
Most importantly, Dr. Kramer urges people to talk to their vet before giving their pet CBD.
“There are some medications your pet could be on that could interact with CBD products,” said Dr. Kramer.
“Please always talk to your vet. Your vet should be involved in anything healthwise that you do with your pet.”