Knowing more about CBD and THC, and their different uses, helps make medical marijuana for pets safer and more effective.
Using medical marijuana for pets safely requires product knowledge. You’ll need lots of information about the cannabis products you and your vet decide to use. And we’re talking knowing more than just where it comes from or the wacky nickname.
While cannabis has dozens of cannabinoids that make it what it is, there are two that stand out: CBD and THC. Though they are both major parts of the same amazing plant, each molecule carries its own unique characteristics.
It’s important to know that different strains of cannabis contain various levels of each cannabinoid. The strain that is right for your pet depends entirely on the condition(s) you are hoping to treat. An experienced doctor or veterinarian can help you find the right balance.
Let’s break it down.
CBD (Cannabidiol) is quickly gaining ground in the medical community for its anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety and anti-epileptic properties. Higher concentrations of this cannabinoid are for pets suffering from epilepsy, anxiety, or inflammatory conditions ranging from arthritis to MS.
Studies have shown that CBD can help reduce the frequency and severity of seizures. And for anxiety? Because CBD comes with some stellar anti-psychotic properties, you can think of this as your anxious pet’s saving grace.
CBD is becoming widely available in isolated forms like CBD oil. It's even considered by some a valuable “daily” supplement, especially as it does not carry any psychoactive effects.
On the other hand is the more famous THC. Tetrahydrocannabinol sometimes gets a bad wrap, because of the psychoactive effect it has on users, causing them to feel “high” or “stoned.” But it also offers some pretty awesome benefits.
This cannabinoid can be used to promote restful sleep and control pain, even in very small amounts. THC stimulates the appetite (famously so), and soothes nausea and vomiting. It can even enhance the senses, including that of taste. However, THC isn't really the best option for pets. Their endocannabinoid system doesn't process this compound as well as a human's, and it easily leads to THC toxicity, even in small amounts.
Medical marijuana for pets most often contains high levels of CBD and low to no levels of THC. Any more than about 0.3% THC may cause problems for your pet.
Too much of a good thing is not a good thing.
All that being said, knowing the difference between these two cannabinoids is vital, because getting the formula wrong can be dangerous. Dogs have far more THC receptors in their ECS than we do, so they are way more sensitive to it than most humans can even imagine.
Giving a dog “people” pot will more than likely result in a THC overdose, as it is generally found in high concentrations in recreational or medical marijuana for humans. While many people easily handle (or enjoy) the “high” that comes with greater concentrations of THC, your pup will most certainly not.
When a dog is exposed to too much THC, it results in a condition call static ataxia. An ataxic dog would become disoriented, losing his coordination and ability to balance. He’d likely stand with his hind legs wide apart, swaying back and forth. If the dog can walk at all, he might lift his paws up very high with each step. His eyes may glaze over, with dilated pupils as he becomes listless or very drowsy and drooly. Next up is probably a very long nap, followed by a long drink of water.
Even though the symptoms of static ataxia usually wear off after about four to six hours, it would be a very uncomfortable - and likely frightening - experience for your poor pup.
Overall, the benefits of medical marijuana for pets far outweigh the possible negative side effects. The negatives can be avoided all together if you use safe practices and give your pet the correct product. Working closely with a knowledgeable veterinarian is the best way to ensure your pet enjoys and benefits from this experience.
For more about how to safely treat your pet with medical cannabis, check out Doctors Gary Richter and Robert Silva's online course.