Pot For Pets Seems Like a Good Idea, But Lack Of Regulation Worries Vets

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A recent article by CBS News shows that while some pet owners swear by liquid cannabis to help their older or ailing pets, more and more veterinarians have become concerned about pet owners playing doctor for their animals.

While marijuana-based treatments have gained popularity not only for cats and dogs, but also for pigs, horses and domesticated wild animals, veterinarians are not allowed to write prescriptions for the products since the FDA hasn’t yet approved its use for animals. Ken Pawlowski, a veterinarian and president of the California Veterinary Medical Association, stated that cases of pets getting sick from ingesting pot are increasing as marijuana is legalized in more states.

“We see those pets that come in with intoxications and they can run the gamut from being fairly mild to being very severe…unfortunately there are instances where there have been fatal overdoses,” he said. Pawlowski does state that while deaths are rare, too much marijuana given to an animal can cause sensory overload, lack of coordination and tremors.

Brett Hartmann is a pet owner with two dogs, both of whom have health issues. He has begun giving them each a dose of liquid cannabis after feeding. “Utilizing cannabis every day with him has really made a big difference,” Hartmann said, “A 13-year-old dachshund, you know, they’re going to have a lot more issues with mobility…and you can tell his quality of life is just so much more enjoyable.”

Steve Blauvelt, a veterinarian in Bend, Oregon, warns that “dogs are very sensitive to the effects of THC,” stating that pets who’ve ingested their owner’s edibles have been showing up veterinary hospitals panting and in distress.

The owner of cannabis tincture company TreatWell, Alison Ettel, states thet their product works on animals the way it does for humans: alleviating pain, calming seizures and decreasing anxiety.

“We actually use the same cannabis extract that we do in humans, so we don’t differentiate between humans and animals,” Ettel said. “And honestly, I’ve seen better results in the animals than I am even in the humans.”

Pet owners who want to try giving their pet a cannabis-based therapy but worry about the THC levels have options like those sold by VET•CBD, which is a company that sells CBD based products which can be bought without a recommendation. As their mission states “We are a California-based company founded by a veterinarian passionate about bringing premium quality, non-psychoactive cannabis to dogs and cats. Animals can now benefit from medical-grade cannabis.”