As of June, half of the states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of medical marijuana for humans. People wonder if it’s also suited for pets, too, and need to investigate the parameters and consequences carefully.
“It’s not legal in any state for veterinarians to prescribe or recommend medical marijuana,” says Dr. Carol Osborne, owner of Ohio’s Chagrin Falls Veterinary Center & Pet Clinic. “Done properly, it could have applications, but it’s not standardized, dosage amounts are unknown and without U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulation, there’s no guarantee what you think you’re buying is what you get.
“Dogs that get into the stash or sneak-eat marijuana-laced food can experience wobbling when walking, trembling and potential seizures,” Osborne notes. “I haven’t heard of any cases of death, but as with any prescription drug, practice responsible ownership by keeping it out of the reach of curious children and pets.”
“THC [tetrahydrocannabinol] in marijuana produces the high,” explains Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Robert Silver, author of Medical Marijuana & Your Pet: The Definitive Guide. “Dogs are extremely sensitive to THC, much more so than any other species studied.”
Silver believes there are uses for cannabinoid oil, derived from hemp, which has very low levels of THC; pet owners in an end-of-life situation with no hope of recovery have used it to ease pain, stimulate appetite and add quality to final days.
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