Marijuana is now legal in 33 states across the US, with more likely to follow in coming months. Yet, although its use as a medical supplement is becoming more and more widespread for humans, its usage in dogs is at a standstill. But why is this?
Currently, medical marijuana legislation only applies to humans- pets are excluded from consideration, and should vets prescribe medical marijuana to pets, they may face legal punishment. This comes as at present, there has been limited formal scientific research about marijuana’s efficacy for dogs, with most evidence suggesting it to be effective coming from anecdotal evidence.
Despite this however, the first published research investigating the effects of cannabis on dogs appeared in an 1899 version of the British Medical Journal. Written by English physician and pharmacologist Walter E. Dixon, the journal entry described Dixon’s observations how dogs react to the substance. Finding it had somewhat calming, and even therapeutic effects, it was then another 100 years before it was the origin of where this response came from was understood: the endocannabinoid system, the same system responsible for the marajuana’s relaxing effects in humans.
Thus, as it works on the same system, many have independently experimented on their pets to cure their pains with the substance. In particular, reports have emerged about pet owners treating seizures, nausea, anxiety, arthritis, back pain, cancer symptoms and gastrointestinal issues, among other health conditions, using cannabis. In fact, in a survey published in the Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, out of 632 respondents, 72% reported using a hemp product on their dog, with 64% of these feeling it helped their pets.
On the back of such claims, companies have also begun producing cannabinoid products for pets. Although undergoing further research, so far, they have proven to be effective. Dr. Tim Shu, founder and CEO of pet cannabis company in California, VETCBD, said for example that unlike more conventional pain medication for dogs, medical marijuana does not have any life-threatening side effects- nor does it damage the kidney, liver, gastrointestinal tract, or even leave them high or sedated.