When your four-footed friend has a serious health condition like cancer, kidney disease or epilepsy, it’s only natural to consider all the options. So you’re not alone if it’s crossed your mind to try medical marijuana. “Although medical marijuana is not legal for pets in any U.S. state, some veterinarians appear to be recommending it,” says Carol Osborne, DVM, a veterinarian practicing in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. And “certain pet owners also appear to be administering it to their pets,” she adds.
Relief from pain and inflammation, seizure control for epileptic animals and stimulating appetite in sick animals are some possible benefits, though these haven’t been well-researched in dogs, cats or other pets for either safety or effectiveness in relieving these symptoms. That said, it’s not hard to find pet owners eager to tell their story online of how their dog, cat or horse improved after taking a marijuana tincture, supplement or edible made from the cannabis plant. An article in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association also shared some positive stories.
“While some anecdotal cases have shown very positive effects of pet-intended cannabis in dogs and cats, the reality is, very few studies have proven a beneficial effect for pets, and the risks have not been completely investigated,” stresses Dr. Osborne. “Until clinical trials and published research are documented, the [Food & Drug Administration] prohibits any veterinarian from legally prescribing any form of cannabis” – even in states where marijuana is legal and/or decriminalized for human use.
At present, the American Veterinary Medical Association does not take a stand on medical marijuana for use in pets. That may soon change, though, because in Nevada (where medical use is legal for people), the legislature is considering a newly introduced bill that, if passed, would make it legal for vets to prescribe pot to pets.