How can Cannabis be useful for animals

How often do we overlook how important our pets are to us in everyday family life? Very often we find ourselves helpless in the face of the pain and loss of our faithful companion suffering from a serious illness. Euthanasia or the administration of stronger drugs with severe side effects are considered the only options.

It is from pain that the scientific research of many veterinarians in the world has started, to demonstrate that there are palliative methods for pain and incurable diseases such as the use of Cannabis. But let’s find out what are the pros and cons of this “miraculous” plant.

The well-known active ingredient extracted from cannabis buds and resin is called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While if we administer cannabidiol (CBD) we will not have side effects to consider, the voluntary or accidental administration together with THC has shown some adverse episodes especially in dogs. Among the pharmacological effects that this phytocannabinoid is able to induce are anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, anti-depressant, anti-tumor, neuroprotective and antioxidant effects.

What does the law say regarding cannabinoids?

There have been several debates on which many veterinarians have taken sides. Most of them argue that cannabis use can reduce pain conditions in dying or cancer patients, helping them to maintain a decent life for some time by postponing euthanasia.

The American veterinarian at the head of the campaign for compassionate care for pets, keen to point out that the use of cannabinoids should only be taken orally because animals are bothersome and have problems inhaling secondhand smoke. 

Following the repeal of medical cannabis in as many as 23 North American states, as well as Canada, lawmakers are beginning to regulate veterinary cannabis as well.

We are in Nevada, which in addition to improving the therapeutic cannabis proposal is introducing a chapter on cannabinoids for veterinary use.

The law indicates provisions with which the owner of animals can administer, always subject to a veterinarian’s prescription, a quantity of Cannabis to alleviate chronic or debilitating medical conditions.

What are the palliative effects of Cannabidiol?

The beneficial properties of the plant, indicating which pathologies can be suppressed.

  • Anti-Seizure Properties: Seizures are involuntary and often violent contractions of voluntary skeletal muscles. They can be a typical, but not exclusive, symptom of epilepsy. Pure CBD has given remarkable results as regards seizures in rodents; CBD has also proven effective on Dravet syndrome, a severe form of incurable epilepsy.
  • Analgesic properties: The functionality of cannabis as an analgesic is now well established. Cannabinoids can be used for chronic pain, cancer-induced pain, spastic and neuropathic pain. In 2005, it was approved in Canada for the treatment of central neuropathic pain, and, in 2007, for intractable pain caused by cancer.
  • Anti-depressive properties:  In dogs with previous experiences in kennels or in uncomfortable environments, for example, it is very common that you manifest anxiety with fear of different stimuli and no longer distinguish phobogenic ones from others, assume an expectant posture with the front paw raised, eat at night and so on, until you lose behavioral adaptation towards the external environment.
    The experiments conducted, first on animal models and then on human models, suggest the useful alternative of CBD to the currently used anxiolytics, given the severity of the side effects.

Are there any “cons” to the use of cannabinoids?

If a dog ingests an “edible“, a cannabis-based food such as a chocolate biscuit or a piece of butter, it will surely have a toxic response to the substances. This isn’t necessarily due to CBD or THC. Indeed, the dog’s digestive system is unable to digest fatty foods or foods containing chocolate (theobromine).

Obviously not all dogs and cats will be able to take the same cannabis substance because each animal has a different physical and psychological structure. It will be a good idea to find the right dosage of cannabidiol to administer to our animal without showing any collateral signs such as loss of motor ability.

To conclude we can say that therapeutic Cannabis could be a valid alternative to many drugs to reduce pain. It is absolutely important to distinguish edible for human use from products processed for animals. Unlike humans, animals do not appreciate the psychoactive effects of cannabis, which makes the use of CBD-rich essential oils more appropriate.

However, it is important to underline that there are far too few large-scale medical studies in this field. This does not mean that it will certainly be useful to be able to try to improve the quality of life of our four-legged friends also thanks to the use of Cannabis.

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