Medical Cannabis for Dogs

By January 27 | See Comments

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There are so many pet stories doing the rounds and talking about a well-known medicinal herb these days. They’re all talking about the slightly controversial substance called ‘cannabis’. The owner of a twelve-year old Labrador reports that his dog, earlier diagnosed with lung and liver cancer, regained its appetite and improved significantly after getting a cannabis tincture bought by the owner from a legal marijuana medical dispensary. And there are several such stories. So is your dog doing pot by taking cannabis? Maybe not.

Cannabis for dog ailments

There are numerous dog owners who are making use of medical cannabis for treating a range of different ailments in their dogs. These include cancer, arthritis and even anxiety. But the cannabis given to dogs isn’t marijuana, instead it is hemp. Hemp use was considered to be illegal in America and other nations for the longest time. This is because it was grouped in with the other ‘dangerous’ types of cannabis. But today the situation is different. You may be able to purchase hempseed products easily from a local departmental store, besides soaps and shampoos. These typically include hempseed milk and protein powders.The FDA hasn’t given its approval to cannabis as a treatment for pets. This is partly because there isn’t sufficient research that shows its effectiveness. Hence veterinarians are prohibited from handing out prescriptions for cannabis products. The subject is especially controversial in states where the local government has banned marijuana. In 2015, Nevada witnessed the defeat of a potential state law which would allow veterinarians to write prescriptions for cannabis to treat chronic illnesses in pets. But users continue to vouch for these products.

Research on cannabis

The first ever cannabis related research and its effect on animals was published in the British Medical Journal in 1899. This was written by Walter E. Dixon, an English pharmacologist and physician and included his observations on the response of dogs to cannabis. But it was much later that that the observation about the origin of the response being in ‘endocannabinoid system’ or ECS became known.Marijuana is a highly complex botanical containing over 400 natural compounds known to man. It has a minimum of 64 phytocannabinoids (plant-based cannabinoids). There are two phytocannabinoids which are produced in a lot of abundance: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).The National Cancer Society reveals that both of them work in a way that they activate certain specific receptors which are found everywhere in the body and generate pharmacologic effects, especially in the immune system and the central nervous system. THC is known to have psychoactive properties and gets humans high. However it is toxic for animals. On the other hand, CBD will offer the same benefits and no buzz. This is why industrial hemp (also used in paper and textiles) is now being utilized for pet products since it has negligible THC levels.

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