Medical Marijuana For Your Pets

Contributed by Angie Lewis, President of Alaska Animal Advocates

I am not talking about rolling a joint, cranking up the stereo and smoking with your dog.  Marijuana has many benefits, outside of recreational use. It isn’t about getting your dog high. 

There is mounting evidence and anecdotal information that suggests that, just as medical marijuana has been shown to be beneficial for human beings, it can also alleviate a host of health problems for animals as well. Cannabis-based products may benefit animals that are plagued by issues such as seizures, inflammation, pain, arthritis, allergies, cancer, digestive issues, joint and mobility problems and anxiety. Marijuana can help other animals, besides cats and dogs, like pigs, horses and domesticated wild animals, such as skunks or raccoons. 

Unfortunately, the FDA has not approved marijuana for use in animals and cautions against its use. The FDA states that marijuana needs to be studied further for safety and effectiveness.  Currently, the FDA is reviewing information about marijuana and marijuana-derived products being used for animals. It is best to speak with your veterinarian about the best treatments for your pet’s ailments. Veterinarians are not permitted to write prescriptions for medical marijuana, even in states where medical marijuana is permitted.  

Do not allow your pet to have access to your personal stash. Adverse effects have been reported from accidental ingestion of marijuana. These symptoms include depression, lethargy, drooling, vomiting, convulsions and tremors. In such cases, contact an emergency animal hospital or an animal poison control center.

There are non-medical marijuana products that are legal without a prescription. These are available online and are made from hemp. Also, when marijuana is given orally, in a tincture form, edible treats or pills, with precise dosages prescribed by a vet, negative reactions are minimalized.

The use of medical marijuana for pets is a concept whose time has come. At the very least, there must be a dialogue that will address the benefits of this plant for the many aging, suffering pets that we love so much. We need to move beyond our stereotypes and fears and embrace the potential of marijuana for animals.