Medical cannabis is being widely touted as a treatment for pain and anxiety, and now the product is gaining popularity as a help for pets with similar afflictions. Dogs and cats are not eating the same kind of pot that people use to get high. Instead they eat hemp-based capsules that contain only trace amounts of THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient behind the cannabis high.
At this time no state or federal agency has legalized, or made any provisions at all for, the pet supplement industry, and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) still considers industrial hemp to be a controlled substance, despite the fact that it is not psychoactive.
Canna-Pet and Canna Companion are two companies that make supplements from hemp. They are leading veterinary medicine into the new field of medical cannabis for pets. Canna Companion was launched last March by Dr. Greg Copas and Dr. Sarah Brandon, veterinarians (and husband and wife) who have been exploring medical pot for pets for about eight years. They have given the medication to their own pets and those of friends, combining information from the human world and their knowledge of cats and dogs to find something that worked well for animals.
Canna Companion capsules are made by grinding up the entire hemp plant – leaves, seeds, roots and stem – to preserve all the ingredients. They want just a small amount of THC, plus cannabidiol (CBD), in their product. Brandon notes that it is all experimental, and that they are up-front about that with people.
Both companies have positive testimonials on their websites from people who swear that their dogs and cats have been helped by the medical cannabis products. Although many veterinarians acknowledge that there are potential benefits for the treatment of conditions such as pain and anxiety, they point out that testimonials are not scientific evidence.
Veterinary experts advise caution, saying that the sales are getting ahead of the science. They advise checking with a vet before giving any cannabis-based product to a pet.