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Cannabis & Pets: Is it OK to Give Medical Marijuana to Your Dog?

By Sharon Letts
Published: June 1, 2016 | Last updated: May 11, 2021
Key Takeaways

​Our pets are family. They love us, we love and care for them. Yet, they are fragile on this Earth and we are their only protectors. Luckily, within the cannabis community, help is on the way with as many supplements, therapies and treatments for our furry friends as there are for us. There is still, however, much to learn on this subject.

Our pets are family. They love us, we love and care for them. Yet, they are fragile on this Earth and we are their only protectors. Luckily, within the cannabis community, help is on the way with as many supplements, therapies and treatments for our furry friends as there are for us. There is still, however, much to learn on this subject.

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The Veterinary Oncology & Hematology Center states cancer accounts for nearly 50% of all disease-related deaths in our pets each year. With our pets closer to the ground, they are much more exposed to toxins and carcinogens found in the environment. Pet food also has much lower regulatory standards than our food, which can also cause health issues in our pets.

Statistics show 25% of dogs die of cancer, while more than 50% of dogs over the age of 10 succumb to the disease. The good news is cannabis combats canine and feline cancers and tumors in the same way as it does in humans. The challenge (just as in humans) is dosing them correctly with our high THC laden strains. And while there is a plethora of CBD supplements out there for cats and dogs, many are from hemp and often aren’t strong enough to put serious ailments into remission, though they may be beneficial as a daily supplement.

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Medical Marijuana for Pets

Cannabis oil has been used on humans for a cancer treatment around the world for more than 15 years, with many recipes and combinations of THC and CBD compounds developed for varying ailments. If you are a biological being with an endocrine system, you are also equipped with a sophisticated endocannabinoid system for receiving the cannabinoids, or CBDs, from the plant, as well as the THC, CBNs and many more benefits we’ve yet to fully understand.

According to Animalendocrine.com dogs and cats have an endocrine system identical to humans with the same function, delivering hormones to the blood stream regulating the body’s glands and organs. Hormones act as chemical messengers with many critical functions. The endocrine glands include the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, pancreas, adrenal, ovaries and testes.

Having the same hormonal delivery system enables our pets to reap the same benefits from the cannabis plant for myriad illnesses and disorders. Any upset they may have related to infection or inflammation can be helped with ingesting cannabis. Daily supplements of CBD, even when animals don’t appear to be sick, can actually keep ailments at bay, including digestive issues, chronic pain, fatigue and stress. They can also help prevent major ailments, such as cancer, diabetes and many more disorders.

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It is also interesting to note that chamomile, the mild herb tea known more readily for making one sleepy at night, surprisingly mimics cannabis in its healing benefits. Inflammation, infection, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, Rheumatoid pain, gastrointestinal disorders and fever are just a few of the symptoms quelled in the same manner as cannabis without the psychoactive effects.

A Case Study

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Charlie was a 10-year-old, 62-pound dog from Northern California who presented with bone cancer in one of his legs. His owner, a savvy California cannabis patient, had serious reservations about treating the family dog with cannabis. He was specifically nervous about its psychoactive properties. The owner did not want to get Charlie stoned or make him feel uncomfortable in any way.

Too much RSO and a pet could be put into a coma or have other adverse reactions. Pet owners are often timid about getting their pets high in the traditional sense, but we do know that THC is necessary for inducing rest and healing. How much THC pets should get is still being debated. A medicine maker helped create capsules for Charlie with part oil, part coconut solid to help digestion and ease delivery. Charlie’s first dose was 1/100th of a gram with coconut oil caps taken in the morning and again at night until he appeared to be used to the effects, slowly increasing the amount.

Instead of exposing Charlie to traditional cancer treatments such as radiation or chemotherapy, Charlie’s family, despite admitting not much is known about how medicinal cannabis heals pets, opted for the alternative treatment in hopes he would be more comfortable.

Throughout the treatment Charlie slept, played and had an appetite. His cancer was put into remission, but it was advised the leg where the cancer started be removed, and the family made the decision to put Charlie down. Though a difficult situation, the family stated it felt through the treatment process that Charlie lived comfortably and with dignity.

For more information on treating pets with cannabis, visit peta.org.

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Written by Sharon Letts | Writer, Television Producer of Off the Beaten Path & Host of In and Out of the Garden

Profile Picture of Sharon Letts

Writer and Producer Sharon Letts began her life's work at age of 24 as a flower gardener in Southern California. Sharon produced and hosted visiting gardening show In and Out of the Garden for local television; then executive produced Off the Beaten Path, a travelogue in California for PBS. Today Sharon writes internationally for many publications, has published two works of fiction, and is currently developing intelligent TV shows on cannabis as medicine.

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