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Medicinal Cannabis and Pet Safety

Cannabis is the genus of a plant originating from Central Asia.  There are several species of cannabis plants including Cannabis sativa and Cannabis Indica.  The plant is also known as hemp.  Although, this term is often used to refer only to the plants cultivated for non-drug use.  There are two main products or cannabinoids derived from the plants, T.H.C. and C.B.D.  T.H.C. has significant psychotropic effects, while C.B.D. is believed to possess anti-inflammatory effects and pain control properties.

Dogs have the highest concentration of T.H.C. receptors of all mammals making them the most sensitive to the effects of T.H.C.  Even the smallest amount of T.H.C. will lead to a condition where the animal is swaying from side to side, drooling, urinating on itself,  acting disorientated, and can be fatal in rare circumstances.

At this time, there are no scientific studies that have looked at the effects of C.B.D., but it has been reported to help with arthritic pain and anxiety issues.  Even though recreational marijuana use is now legal in Ontario, it is illegal for all veterinarians to prescribe to their patients.  Medical marijuana laws do not apply to veterinarians, only human physicians.  Any discussion or recommendation made by a veterinarian could result in disciplinary action.  Scientifically based studies and trials are now underway and hopefully will lead to the legalization of marijuana and the development of new products that improve the quality of life for our furry friends.

Written by: Dr. Bernard Caplan, Veterinarian

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