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How and Why People are Using Cannabis for Pets

Posted on October 06 2020

How and Why People are Using Cannabis for Pets

Although there is a lot of controversy surrounding using cannabis (and cannabis-derived products) for pets, there are a few instances where cannabis has been veterinarian approved for the treatment of recurring or chronic conditions in pets. There are many more personal reports of cannabis being used to treat and heal everything from social anxiety to cancer in dogs. Unfortunately, research is lacking in this area, which can make it hard for health-conscious pet owners to decide if cannabis is the right options.

There are some things we do know about using cannabis for pets, and some recommendations that may help you and your dog or cat tread the cannabis road more safely. Read on for a bit of the existing research regarding cannabis and CBD for dogs, the difference in cannabis for cats and dogs, and how you can potentially use cannabis for your own furry friend. 

Is Using Cannabis for Pets Safe?

The safety of our pets is often our first concern when it comes to deciding how and when to treat their ailments. Of course, seeing your pet in pain is hard, which is why many pet owners are led to trying cannabis for their own animal sidekicks. But is cannabis safe for pets? The answer lies somewhere between yes and no.

There have been several studies regarding the use of cannabis for pets, and some reports even show that cannabis (usually in the form of Rick Simpson Oil) may have therapeutic value for animals. However, research on the topic is scarce, and experts are quick to warn about the potential harms of THC for dogs and cats. Reports show that dogs are much more sensitive to THC than humans, so it comes with several risks. These risks align on the potential side effects of THC for humans when you take too much.

These side effects could include anxiety, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, paranoia, and other discomforts. In animals, they may show up as signs of extreme fatigue or sleeping more than usual, lack of appetite, panicked behavior, dizziness or trouble walking and standing, or otherwise unusual behavior. Many of these odd behaviors are due to the psychoactive effects of the cannabinoids, which are more extreme for dogs (and probably most pets) than for humans that use cannabis.

Another option that seems to carry less risk is CBD or hemp oil for dogs and cats. CBD has no psychoactive effects, so it may be less uncomfortable for your pet. There have been some studies that

How Much THC is Safe for Dogs and Cats?

Giving THC to pets can be risky if you aren’t sure how much your pet can handle. This is even more true for cats than dogs, as cats are often smaller and more sensitive to most substances. For people who are skeptical of using psychoactive material for their pets, CBD may be the best option. According to PetMD, however, the two cannabinoids are more effective when used together because they havsynergistic effects.  

The most significant risk of cannabis for pets is THC toxicity, which only happens when too much THC is given. However, a pet’s tolerance for THC depends on several factors, like his or her weight, age, size, physical activity levels, eating patterns, and multiple other factors. All these factors make it hard for experts to suggest a dose for any pet, and most of the time the pet owner must experiment to find the best dose. Your vet may be able to give you a better dosing recommendation based on experience, but many pet owners start with doses as low as .25mg for small pets and increase the dose slowly (every few days to a week) to monitor the effects.

Remember, you should use only the smallest necessary dose to control symptoms. THC toxicity (or being too high), depending on the amount given, can last for hours and even days, so it is important to be careful and move at a pace that is right for you and your pet.

Popular Uses of Cannabis and Hemp Oil for Dogs and Cats

There are a number of reasons that people may turn to cannabis or hemp oil for pets. There's a number of research efforts set to prove the benefits and safety of cannabis-based supplements, including some that are specifically keyed in on the effects of cannabidiol for dogs. According to research, some potential uses for cannabis for pets include:

  • Managing Inflammation: Multiple studies exist that outline the potential anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis and CBD products. Both the THC and CBD molecules have been linked to these effects. One study shows that cannabinoids may interact with neuro-receptors to block signals of inflammation, which may make it useful for the treatment of inflammatory conditions. One study specific to dogs shows that cannabidiol may be appropriate and effective in the treatment of osteoarthritis.
  • Managing Pain: Similarly, cannabinoids may block signals of pain as well. For this reason, medical cannabis has been approved for the treatment of chronic and refractory pain in many areas.
  • Increasing Appetite: Cannabis and its derivatives have been linked to several benefits that may help manage poor appetite. One study shows that cannabis may be effective in treating nausea and vomiting, which may help increase appetite. THC may also be an appetite stimulant on its own. Many of these effects have been reportedly useful for dogs, but more research is needed to understand the effectiveness.
  • Controlling Anxiety: Studies have linked cannabidiol to anxiolytic effects. Experts believe that Cannabidiol shows potential as a treatment for social anxiety and other anxiety disorders. However, THC may induce anxiety in dogs, so whole-plant cannabis may not be the best option for dogs with existing anxiety conditions.
  • Cancer Therapy: Some evidence shows that cannabis may be a potential treatment for the side effects of cancer and cancer therapy, like fatigue, low appetite, and nausea. A few studies even show that cannabis may kill cancer cells, but much more research is needed on this subject. Some pet owners have seen some improvement when using cannabis to treat cancer in dogs, and hemp oil for canine cancer is also popular.

    Best Cannabis and Hemp Oil for Dogs and Cats

    If you think that cannabis or CBD is right for your pet, always consult your veterinarian. This is especially important if your pet already takes daily medication or suffers from severe conditions. Once you get the go ahead, there are several options that make it easy to try cannabis with your pets. These options range far and wide but there are three options that frequently seem to outshine the others based on convenience, efficiency, and their ability to please even picky pets. These products include:

    • Tinctures: Tinctures come in liquid form and ate dropped inside your pet's mouth. They absorb almost immediately and take effect in as little as ten minutes. Tinctures make it easy to measure and change the dose each time, so they may be a good option for pet owners that are starting out and aren't sure what dose will be needed.
    • Topicals: Cannabis topicals may provide all of the same benefits of other cannabis supplements, but offer a solution that makes it easy to target ailments on the skin or in muscles and joints. Topicals, like CBD lotion or salve, may be useful for managing Inflammation, joint pain, or topical abrasions and wounds.
    • Treats: CBD treats for dogs and cats are a perfect option for delivering cannabis in a tasty way that even picky pets will love. These types of CBD pet treats make it easy to deliver a pre-measured dose and are great for pets who take the same dose of cannabidiol each time.


    No matter what you choose for your pet to manage his or her ailments, ensure that your veterinarian is on board before getting started. Working alongside your veterinarian and moving slowly is the best way to increase the effectiveness of your cannabis routine while minimizing risks, which is important for keeping your pets safe.