On October 17, 2018, Marijuana will become legal for human use in Ontario.
You may have questions about what that means for your pet. After all, if marijuana is good for Aunt Mabel’s arthritic hip, shouldn’t it help my old golden retriever with the same problem? In short, the answer is No.
Studies have shown that dogs are much more sensitive to cannabinoids than humans, meaning that the drug will produce toxic effects and make your dog very sick at much lower doses than in humans. There has been almost no research to date to determine an appropriate dose or potential side effects on your dog. There has been no study at all on cats.
In human medicine, there is a growing body of research and evidence that cannabis products are helpful in some conditions. Research is progressing in the pet world, and we are hopeful that in the future we will have appropriate products and doses to safely use them on pets. Currently, this is not the case.
By giving your pet any kind of marijuana or hemp product, you are in effect using them as a medical test subject.
Because they are insufficiently tested, Veterinarians are not allowed to prescribe any cannabis products for pets. They are not approved by Health Canada, and there is no legal way for vets to acquire or prescribe these products.
Understanding Marijuana Products
Marijuana comes in three basic forms, almost all made from the dried flowers and leaves of the Cannabis sativa plant. There are more than 100 chemicals, known as cannabinoids that come from the plant, but the two we are primarily discussing are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), and CBD (cannabidiol).
Recreational Marijuana contains high levels of THC, which is the chemical that gets you high. THC can be highly toxic to pets and cause life-threatening illness.
Medical Marijuana is often prescribed to humans for pain control and nausea relief. It contains varying levels of CBD and lower levels of THC, but often still enough to cause a pet severe illness.
Hemp products are those that contain levels of THC lower than 0.3 percent. The products may be available at pet stores for “medical purposes”. No research has been done to determine if these substances are safe or effective. If you give them to your pet, you are at worst putting your pet’s health at risk, and at best spending money on uncertain results.
Symptoms of Marijuana Toxicity
Lack of balance and coordination
Tremours or seizures
Fatigue or weakness
Slow heart rate
Change in body temperature
Sensitivity to light and sound