Legal Cannabis: What you need to know for your pets

January 11, 2019

Legal Cannabis: What you need to know for your pets

Cannabis for Pets - Sickness or Cure?

Since October 17th, we've been asked a ton of questions about cannabis for pets, and seen an up-tick of cannabis toxicity as well. Some of your most frequent questions are "will my dog/cat benefit from cannabis?" and "I think my dog ate a pot cookie - now what I do?" Here are our answers!

Can I give my pet cannabis for [insert illness]?

At Pandosy Village Veterinary Hospital, we often get ask if cannabis can be helpful for a variety of ailments, and as our clinic offers herbal medicine consultations, we are particularly interested in the topic. Our veterinarian Dr. Jason Rowan has attended with veterinary seminars with Dr. Robert Silver and other vet practitioners who have personal experience with dosing pets. As this area of herbal medicine evolves, we are committed to learning as much as we can and sharing as we are allowed.

A little background: Until very recently in most US states, and until October 17, 2018 in Canada, cannabis products were illegal... except for medical marijuana for humans. So even though there is a ton of inquiry and medical evidence of efficacy for anxiety, pain management and other illnesses in humans, there haven't been any completed formal medical trials for pets. There are two cannabis for pets trials in the works (that we know of) - but nothing has been completed. So no-one knows for sure what dosing is appropriate, which cannabinoids bind in cats', or dogs' receptors... you get the picture. It's the Wild West of veterinary medicine.

We have several clients whose pets' lives have been changed positively by CBD cannabis oil (without THC!) Unfortunately, at this time, veterinarians aren't allowed to prescribe cannabis products to pets. This causes a difficult situation. Anyone can get CBD products for their recreational purposes, and folks do give these CBD products to their pets, but veterinarians are not allowed to tell them how much, how often. It's very frustrating. We are waiting for the College of Veterinarian of BC to come out with an updated position statement post-Oct17 giving us our new parameters. (Read the current position.) The College seems to be waiting for those trials we mentioned so that there are Health Canada-approved products for vets to prescribe.

CBD is now a natural health product for humans (meaning you don't need a prescription,) and we hope, as the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association does, that it'll be a natural health product for pets soon too.

Don't give your pet THC - it's important!

Funny enough, if we can't prescribe cannabis products to pets, we can warn you against what not to do.

THC, one of the cannabinoid compounds found in many strains of cannabis, is extremely toxic to dogs and cats. Our cannabinoid receptors in humans versus in pets work very differently (and in dogs versus cats, by the way.) Cannabis containing THC might make a human feel calm and relaxed, but it is extremely scary and dangerous for your dog to eat a pot cookie.  

Pets can get toxicity if they eat something containing cannabis (edibles especially have high concentrations of THC, so they can be quite dangerous,) or even if they breath second hand smoke.

If your pet displays these signs, they may have THC toxicity, and should go to the vet hospital right away:

  • Sleepiness - they will wake up, but don't want to get up
  • Depression - confused, sad
  • Wobbling, pacing and agitation
  • Sound or light sensitivity
  • Inappropriate urination - THC toxicity patients often pee or poo on themselves
  • Dilated pupils or bloodshot eyes
  • Vomiting
  • Salivation - can be drooling or frequently smacking their lips
  • Fast or slow heart rates - both can be very dangerous
  • Low body temperature - normal anal body temperature is 38-39.2 in dogs and 37.7-39.2 in cats
  • Vocalization - complaining, crying, confusing, howling....

...more "Signs of Cannabis Exposure" from the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association

My dog ate an edible! What do I do?

In more than 18 years practicing veterinary medicine, Dr. Jason has seen countless cases of cannabis toxicity. Your pet won't be the first or the last, so please don't delay treatment because you are worried what we might think. We don't judge! We just treat. Also please don't wait for cannabis symptoms to "wear off" your pet - the effects from THC may last for 24 hours, and symptoms like body temperature can get worse during that time.

If you know your pet has eaten or inhaled cannabis with THC, or they are displaying any of the signs above, please call Pandosy Village Veterinary Hospital at 778-478-7088 immediately, and we will get your pet in, to be seen by the vet.

If it happens after our hours, please visit the local 24 hour emergency hospital, Fairfield, and tell them that you are our client so we can follow up with you in the morning.

Deaths are extremely rare, but it's important that your pet is seen promptly and monitored by medical staff.

We hope this information is helpful. Don't hesitate to ask us if you have any more questions, and we hope to keep you up to date on changes to the veterinary medical system as it adapts to the new cannabis laws.

Yours in holistic pet health,

Dr. Jason, Arnica, Hannah, Dr. Pam, Jackie, Karina, Christine, Jess, Bethany, Jessie, Cortlan and Ru





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